As I’ve mentioned, I’m very excited to begin home-schooling our kiddos! I began looking at various curriculum options this summer and realized very quickly that I needed to back up and refine my search – there are so many different reasons that people choose to home-school their children, so many different educational philosophies, and a multitude of curriculum choices for any philosophy out there. I checked out a helpful overview book from the library that led me through examining my educational philosophy and goals and looking at my strengths and weaknesses and those of my children. One of the most helpful aspects of going through that book was confirming that there are significant elements that appeal to me from the Charlotte Mason, classical, and traditional philosophies of home-schooling.
Armed with a more defined perspective, I started looking at various curriculum options, for both pre-school and long-term. I am a planner, and while I realize that I don’t actually need to have my kids’ educational trajectories through high school mapped out at this age, I wanted to have at least a theoretical idea of how the coming years could play out before purchasing any curriculum for this year.
What I settled on – as a preliminary plan – is to use primarily curriculum from Sonlight. I’m so excited about their literature-based approach to learning, and I believe that our girls will be, too. I appreciate that they offer what I would consider to be academically rigorous options, and I also love that their curriculum is designed to be used concurrently with children of different ages and skill levels – I’ll be able to teach Miranda and Madeleine CaiQun together for years while still working with each at her own level.
Because that’s my long-term plan, I decided to go ahead and order Sonlight’s P3/4 package. I probably could have put together my own selection of quality pre-school books and ordered them separately (without duplicating some books we already had) or checked them out of the library, but we saved some money by ordering the entire package, and this keeps me from stressing over finding exactly the right books at the right time at the library. And what is one of the biggest advantages for me is the mindset I think it produces in our kids to have a school shelf full of school books that they know are special and are excited to dig into. Plus it sets me up well for pre-school for any future kids who come into our family!
The girls were SO excited to open the big box of school supplies that was waiting for us when we arrived home after our trip to Wisconsin.
The contents of the package did not disappoint!
The girls LOVE these books, particularly (thus far) the one pictured above. They were also super excited about the Mighty Mind shapes activity that is part of the curriculum. We opened it up and played with it right away that evening.
We’ve played with it a number of times since that day, and the girls are also loving the Teddy Bear memory game. I’m so happy to see them truly enjoying these learning activities!
I also picked up a Leapfrog pre-school workbook that I think Miranda will really enjoy (she’s a big fan of Leapfrog DVDs), and I ordered some pretty systematic workbooks (from Rod & Staff) for her. We definitely won’t stick with their curriculum long-term – we’re not really into workbooks as an overall method of education, nor am I sure that our educational philosophy lines up exactly with their materials. Case in point: these pre-school workbooks have instructions for “How to Color Correctly,” that include the directions to, “Choose realistic colors,” and to, “Trace the outside lines of a picture first. Then color the inside area, going in one direction as much as possible. Use short strokes and color solidly as you go.” Just imagine Matt’s reaction when I read that to him. This is the man who, this morning, sent me this picture of CaiQun from his daddy-daughter date with the girls.
However, for this year, when I want to give Miranda an opportunity to develop her fine motor skills, I think they’ll be great. She’ll be able to get some practice with using scissors and glue and writing letters and numbers, not to mention following directions.
I’ll use them to supplement our main Sonlight materials, which I think will work well, since we’ll probably stretch this pre-school program out for longer than a year, due to the ways in which I think I’ll want to use the future curriculum materials for Miranda and CaiQun together.
We haven’t officially “started school,” though I saw little point in prohibiting the exploration of our school materials, so we’ve been diving into them already, with the exception of the workbooks. Miranda asked me one morning this week to teach her how to use scissors, and I was happy to oblige.
I love the open-mouthed concentration look 🙂
We’ll probably wait a few weeks and officially start school when Matt’s semester begins. In between now and then, I think the biggest thing I need to do is to strategize about how to have some time set aside each day (or at least several days a week?) for school. I haven’t been all that successful in my previous half-hearted attempts to introduce any sort of routine to our days, outside of the general structure of meals and fairly consistent naptimes and bedtimes. We end up sleeping too late or having small children who need to spend unexpectedly long times in the bathroom or having character issues that take priority or meeting up with friends, and invariably we are able to accomplish approximately 2 of the 5 things I plan for any given morning. So…I’m not sure how all of that will play out, but I know we need more consistency, so it’s definitely something I need to work through.
I’m enjoying all that we are doing so far, though, and I’m looking forward to our official beginning 🙂