Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Teaching Toddlers: Choosing Curriculum (YIKES)

Why is it that this word is so scary? When we were first looking into homeschooling I was terrified of having to choose “the right curriculum.” One thing that I am loving about homeschooling is the options that are out there. And I have found that there is no “right curriculum.” Every home looks different, every child learns differently, and every parent/teacher has a different preference for how much work they want to put in to what they teach. HOW GREAT IS THAT?!

With that being said, finding the right fit for us still seemed like an overwhelming task. A very wise and seasoned homeschooling mom encouraged me to write a list of what I needed as a mom out of a curriculum, and what I thought my child would need. This helped SO MUCH to narrow down our options. These were my lists last fall when I started researching:

Thankfully most moms that I talked to were more than willing to let me get my hands on the curriculum they have used. It is so helpful to actually read through the material that you'll be teaching, look through the books, etc. For me, just reading online reviews and talking to others wasn't enough, I needed to really sit and study each option. This of course took time, lots of time, and probably lots of unneeded stress. I was so focused on choosing “the right one.” Once I got over that, (which took a long time and lots of reassurance from Tim) I realized it wasn't stressful, but really fun to pick what was going to work for our family.

So without further ado; the main “curriculum” that we've decided to use for Preschool and Kindergarten is called Learning at Home by Ann Ward. A big reason we chose this is because the lesson plans are all laid out. It's a 36 week program and each week is divided up into 5 days, each day has everything laid out for you. This curriculum covers subjects such as: Bible, Reading, Music, Math, Phys Ed, Art, and Health/Manners. Every Friday is a field trip (we won't be doing all of these) and each Friday they give you a list of all the supplies you'll need for the next week. The lessons are really gentle, once you complete the preschool portion of the program, the second half of the book is for Kindergarten, it's the same lessons as the first year just beefed up a bit!

Like I said, I love homeschooling because we can customize it however we need. Some of the lessons are things Amelia already knows, colors, shapes, hopping on one foot etc, so we will be leaving out some things and adding others.

For the additional things that we're adding we are using Rod and Staff preschool workbooks
(where we got our workbooks)

There are also several websites that I've been using for preschool resources, to gather ideas and activities, my two favorites are:
Confessions of a Homeschooler

These sights offer great free printables, as well as lots of creative ways to introduce concepts to your toddlers. Even though Amelia is the one doing preschool this year, Sophia will soak up a lot of the material as well, we've already tried several of the activities and both girls are able to do them just at different levels.  Just to give you an idea, here are a couple of the activities that we've already tried that both girls LOVE!


Pre-writing mazes.  These are dry-erase and Amelia is surprisingly  very good at them, they work on "letter shapes" (curves for "s", mountains for "n" and "m" etc) and keeping a straight line. I bought this book on Amazon after seeing it on a few other sites and so far Amelia LOVES it!

 Letter mazes from Plus 1.  Both girls can do these, we use do-a-dot markers, or magnets or pom-poms.  I've also put these in page protectors so they can use dry erase markers and do them over and over (Plus 1 has these available A-Z for free).


 Practice tracing numbers, we use page protectors and dry erase markers.  This is Amelia's favorite page because she's 3 years old so she asked me to show you this page!  This is also available at Plus 1 in the TotNotebook (link below).


 Letter recognition and tracing!  Again, Amelia picked which sheet to show you, since this is "her letter" it's her favorite!  Plus 1 has these available A-Z in the TotNotebook (link below).

Amelia has been so excited for school to start that it has rubbed off on Sophia and I just don't have the heart to tell her she won't be able to “go to school.” So we are doing TotSchool with her, basically special activities for her to do while Amelia is doing her work. I'm hoping they both love it!
Here's the link to TotSchool: and the notebook I'm doing for Soph:

Phew!  Lots of information but I am so, so, SO excited to get school started!  The girls would start TODAY if we could, however with a new baby coming in September there's a few things I feel need to get done before we can start full-force with the school year!  Our first day will be August 1 and Amelia is counting down!

Not Back to School Blog Hop

We've had an excited week so far, stay tuned Friday for our week in pictures!


Briana Jeffers said...

Looks good. Preschool is fun!

Andrea @ No Doubt Learning said...

Love the prewriting mazes...that's new to me. What a great idea! I have a 5 and 3 year old and they both love mazes. I'll have to check it out! Found you on the Not Back to School Blog Hop :)