Monday, August 29, 2011

Homeschooling by level - Preschool

When I first considered homeschooling I ordered some catalogues the first came from a company I won't name but when I looking at it I felt like it would be all fill in the blank workbooks, and dry textbooks - it would cover all the basis and I would plod through but it wouldn't have a heart.   It was completely God centered, with each and every textbook referring back to my Savior.

While instilling in my children an understanding of our faith and that we do believe in the Bible 100% is at the center of our lives and our homeschool,  I didn't want my kids to think that the world was like that.  That everything and everybody was counting Bibles and angels in their math class.  I wanted a curriculum that knowledge God and also a lost world.  I did a lot of research and I have found many things to add and take away from how we homeschool but I knew that I found something I could hold on to when I found Sonlight.  Both my husband and I liked the literature focus so we ordered their Core P4/5 curriculum and got onto some forums my oldest ds was then 3.5 years old.  I had a 1 year old and soon we had our third child.  My oldest is now 8.5,  middle dd 6.3 and youngest dd almost 4.  I ordered Core 3/4 for my youngest a year ago and we are still working on it as we use the core very informally.

Sonlight's Core P3/4

Sonlight's Core P4/5

Sonlight clearly gets high recommendations from me.   My children are not so old and I'll share about other cores in another posts.  In this post I want to focus on the preschool years.  Many people will say not to worry too much during the preschool years about formal education.  After raising my first two I would have to totally agree with them.  The Sonlight Cores are awesome if you want something loosely structured around great books that you can reread to your children many times.  I think that is the key with the preschool years.  To have fun and go at your child's pace.  I have to say with my ds I was a bit of a pusher I was ready (I thought) for him to be ready.  Each child is so different and each one reaches the ability to do skills at different ages.  That said below are some links to preschool resources that you can use along with or instead of Sonlight.  I'll comment on each one:

Horizons Preschool Curriculum Set  My youngest daughter wants to be schooled so bad - she could spit darts at you about it.  She will just turn 4 in October and like I said we are working through Core 3/4 books again this year.  She sometimes sits in on the books her brother and sister are doing but she wanted so much to have something that was all hers that I decided to order the Horizon's Preschool Curriculum.  She won't be officially in Kindergarten for two more years.  So I thought I would work through this workbook curriculum.  Having done a week of it so far - she is loving it.  It works through the numbers, letters, colors and shapes.  While also focusing on the days of creation.  I am enjoying a very structured preschool curriculum though I am not doing it as written.  I am making sure that she feels like she has had "school" too.  It gives me time to focus on her and once that is done I can say that she has done school an now needs to play.  Though for her school is play - I just want to keep it that way.

1+1+1=1 - preschool ideas and lapbooks

This blog is a favorite of mine for preschool ideas, we did a few of the tot books that she has printed here - but put them in a big envelop instead of in a folder so that it was easier for the girls to put them away.  Here is a link to:                 My blog post of our done - five-little-monkeys-jumping-on-bed lapbook

Signing Time- Weekly Signs

My parents are Deaf and so American Sign Language is very important to me.  Whenever I am asked the best thing to teach little kids ASL with I refer them to Signing Time.   If your children watch and practice the signs in the first series and then move onto the second series they will have a firm grasp of the vocabulary of ASL.  True communication with a Deaf person is what they will need after that but for a truly fun program for preschool and elementary age I highly recommend this.  The baby signing time series is also very well done; though all the signs in that set are repeated in the first series with older children.

Signing Time Full Collection 1-13Signing Time Full Collection 1-13
Signing Time! Series Two Volume 1: Nice to Meet YouSigning Time! Series Two Volume 1: Nice to Meet You

Star Fall - Learn to Read with Phonics

While I didn't use this on-line program to teach my children to read I did find it a great resource and a fun "game" site that satisfied my kids desires to play on the computer.

Kids Learning Station

A site for preschool workbook pages

Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood

I grew up with Mr. Rogers now your kids can too.  Unfortunately you can't watch this if you live outside the US like we do but if you do enjoy 26 episodes of Mr. Rogers for free.

The Children's Nursery and It's Traditions - Full Classic Children's books online

There are other places you can download an e-book of these stories, what is nice about this site is that the photos are included.  Though I am not sure how user friendly it is.

Letter Of The Week

I did some of the Letter of The Week curriculum with each of my children - this site is a great free resource.

Itty-Bitty Bookworm: A Literature-based Preschool Curriculum

She has lots of ideas related to specific books.

The Leapfrog series of DVD is great for teaching letter sounds and putting these sounds together to make words.  I highly recommend this series.

LeapFrog: Letter FactoryLeapFrog: Letter Factory
LeapFrog: Learning DVD SetLeapFrog: Learning DVD Set
LeapFrog: Talking Words FactoryLeapFrog: Talking Words Factory
LeapFrog: LearningSet, Volume Two (Three-Disc DVD + CD)LeapFrog: LearningSet, Volume Two (Three-Disc DVD + CD)

I am sure I am forgetting something.  I'll share more resources that I have found through out the 5 years of my homeschool journey so far in other posts.  I am by no means an expert and I am learning as I go along with my children.  There are days when I wonder if life would be "easier" if I sent my kids to school no matter the cost, but I know what I would have missed.

When asked why I choose to homeschool I say this:

1.  I only have a very short amount of time to instill in my children the morals of our family.
2.  For us it has made school life more consistent as we change where on the globe we are, our school stays the same.
3.  I feel that for our family at this time this is the right choice for us.  I won't say they will never go to a public or private school but for now this works for us.

More often I get asked how "can" I homeschool:

To this I say - most people who have gone through public education should be able to teach their kids to read, write and do their math facts.  If they can't then there is something to be said about the public school.   Homeschooling isn't about teaching our children everything at once, it is like the adage how do you eat an elephant?  One bite at a time.  How do you educate a child?  One idea, concept or book at a time.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Piano Anyone?

Music Education has always been the hardest for me to figure out.  I had a semester of guitar in college and played around with learning but never stuck it out.  I taught myself how to plunk out some notes on the piano but again never practiced or was really serious about learning.  I had a horrible music teacher in elementary school who just taught us to sing by ear and didn't teach us how to read notes.   Then in middle school and high school I was in the choir but faked my way through most of it.  I would like my children to understand music and I might as well learn with them.  We are currently fortunate enough to be renting a house with a piano in it so I decided to start there.  I ended up buying the first two books in this series:

Bastien Piano Basics: Piano Primer Level (Primer Level, WP 200)Bastien Piano Basics: Piano Primer Level (Primer Level, WP 200)

Bastien Piano Basics Level 1 - PianoBastien Piano Basics Level 1 - Piano

I also purchased the theory books for each level.  So far I am happy with how my children are doing on the lessons in the primer level - they are simple but progress quickly.

Mainly, I go over a new concept with my children and then have been letting them practice on their own as they have desire as we progress and as fall comes I will plan times in the day for them to practice.  I hope to finish the primer level by the New Year then move onto level 1.

Eventually I may hire a teacher that knows what they are doing but for now this is working.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Using The Public Domain

The public domain is an amazing resource for homeschooler, teachers and parents.  There are so many sites out there organizing the public domain through electronic book formats, audio recordings, videos etc.  All these sites are also free - supported through grants and donations.

Here are a few that I have found:
World Wide School
Open Culture
Book Should Be Free
Internet Archive
International Children's Digital Library
LibriVox: acoustical liberation of books in the public domain

Thursday, August 4, 2011