Wednesday, December 5, 2012

If we did Sonlight...

Sonlight is one of the first curricula I'd ever heard of, and the literature-based aspect really appeals to me. I'm aware of some of the drawbacks and I'm not certain if we'll go that route later on, but I'm at least considering it (and many others!)

I emailed one of their advisers today to ask how I might go about combining a Core for the kids. Since Johnny and Vivie are 24m apart, it seems reasonable that in theory I could combine them for a few things. Maybe?

She said I could start Johnny on Core A when he was 7 and Vivie was 5. I don't know if that means the school year in which they turn those ages, or wait until they hit those birthdays before starting. Perhaps I could start more with Johnny and ease back a bit for Viv. I have no idea how it would look in practice.

The adviser said I'd start the 3Rs with Johnny when he was ready. And I guess wing it for other areas.

I could do their Core 3/4 prek and their Core 4/5 prek in the meantime with him, if I wanted.

At this point, I think it's too early for me to tell if that option would work for either child. A lot will depend on how Johnny's learning style and needs develop, as well as Vivienne's. She's a wild card at this point! I know more about how Johnny learns since he is older.

Part of me likes the idea of combining certain areas, but part of me wonders if it truly will work. In other areas, "one-size-fits-all" usually translates to one size sort of working for a few people, but not nearly as well as a personalized fit.

I may not even go with Sonlight, but there could still be a way to effectively combine the kids for some things (science, read-alouds, music, art, maybe history).

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Books on my to-read list

Before I make any additional curriculum purchases, I'd like to read through a few books I own so I can make a better-informed decision.

On my to-read list:

The 3 R's by Ruth Beechick. I read through these booklets a few months ago and loved them, but I would like to read them again. I'm a fan of Beechick's ideas, and these booklets detail how you can approach reading, writing and math for grades K-3.

A Biblical Home Education by Ruth Beechick.

Educating The Whole-Hearted Child. This is a thick book with tons of information. A bit overwhelming at first glance, but I'd like to flip through sections that could pertain to these early years and make some notes.

Teach a Child to Read With Children's Books by Mark Thogmartin.

A Charlotte Mason Companion by Karen Andreola.

For the Children's Sake by Susan Macaulay.

Note: All links are Amazon affiliate links.

Our curriculum for this semester

I detailed a smattering of what we might be using for preschool this school year, back in May 2012. Seven months later, I'll give an update on how things are going.

I stated: "I don't want this year to be academic. At all. I want it to be fun, no pressure, and just introducing some prek skills. I want to read great books with my kids, do simple (keyword SIMPLE!!) crafts with them, and explore the wonderful world around us."

So far, so good! I haven't felt stressed by anything, and we've just gone with the flow. Because seriously. My son is 3 (for another 2 weeks, anyway).

I went on a shopping spree and bought some materials. Too many things, honestly. Most of these items we keep in our "school closet" so they stay organized and so pieces don't get scattered about the house.

We started these activities somewhere around August.

We don't have a schedule (though I tried to make a loose plan, and that lasted for less than a day). We just pull things out whenever there seems to be an interest.

I bought the My Father's World preschool package with the intention of doing the activity cards, but we haven't used those. (Though I would like to). We've just been playing with the materials on an open-ended basis. There are a lot of ways you can use these items.

I also bought a few things from the Timberdoodle catalog. Some items were fun; others were meh.

The Hape Zoo animal blocks puzzle is an interesting concept, and it's a challenge for Johnny but he is gaining on it. It's expanding his brain, that's for sure.

I had higher hopes for the Night & Day puzzle. Johnny can do it, but it doesn't hold his interest for long. Vivie likes to slide the pieces on, but she doesn't have any understanding of following the picture in the guide book.

Kumon: We're big fans of the mazes book, and their First Steps series (we have the cut paper; sticker & paste; color; and fold books). Because we don't pull them out often, Johnny still hasn't completed any of the books.

I'm preferring to take a slow approach with these, to let his fine motor skills develop slowly and naturally with the help of these books, and other projects he does on his own.

I plan to buy more Kumon books for his next level once he completes these. He can probably move out of the First Steps series, but I'm glad we started with that rather than jumping into their older set.

I can see a big improvement with those skills, and I think the workbooks have helped a lot.

Beyond the above activities (which again, don't happen daily or even weekly), we are reading lots of books together. Some are from our own growing collection, and others are from the library. We aren't doing any activities with them; we're just reading and enjoying them and talking about them if there's an interest.

I own the guide for Before Five in a Row and now Peak With Books, so perhaps I'll incorporate some of those books and activities at some point.

Overall, I am satisfied with how this fall semester went. Low-key, no boxes to check or schedules to follow.

I am still sorting out what I'd like to consider for this spring semester (maybe being more deliberate about using our materials, or following some of those literature ideas). And I'm still thinking about what to do for this fall. I will still consider Johnny to be a preschooler, with the fall 2013 being his last year before kindergarten.