Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Our Preschool Plans (K3)

Well, I've given in.  The more I plan and organize for Sophie's learning activities in the fall, I realize that we have crossed from Tot School to Preschool.

Our transition started as an organizational need - I couldn't figure out how to leave her learning materials out in a way that she could make selections without having Miles get into them.  So I started holding back the materials and just giving her the next activity.  However, at the same time, I wanted her to know what to expect and be able to take some ownership of our activities.  Most of our learning is done together, not independently, so we weren't quite ready for true workboxes.  But, in reality, we are using a modified version of workboxes as a way to organize and structure our learning time.  I'll share more about this after I have a few weeks to perfect our system, but so far it has been working really well for us.

Beyond organization, our activities are looking more and more "preschoolish" as well.  Sophie is on the verge of starting to learn to read.  She knows all her letters and sounds, rhymes words constantly, and can recognize and spell her name.  As we finished up the Fruit of the Spirit curriculum and I searched for our next steps, I realized I really was looking for a preschool curriculum - one that would help us start our journey into learning to read (a process that totally overwhelms me!  I was mostly an upper elementary teacher and have very little experience with students just starting to read.)  I also realized that if she were going to "school" instead of staying home with me, she would be going to Preschool (K3).  Cue the emotional monologue about how my baby is growing up WAY too fast...

So, here we go, we are officially doing preschool at home this year!

Schedule and Routine

Sophie wants to do Tot School/Preschool every single day except Sunday - and then only because we are not home in the morning!  Some days she will keep wanting more activities for two hours.  Last week, we went through everything I had planned for the week by Wednesday at 9 am.  She will repeat some favorite activities, but really likes the surprise of something new (even if it is just a slight modification).

Even though I know needs for preschool do not require activities everyday, Sophie has come to expect them and loves them, so, following the lead of the child, I am planning activities for five days per week.  I will have lots of flexibility built in, and if opportunities come up that disrupt our plans, we will take them and push off our plans to another day.  However, I want to be prepared with enough material to feed her curious and willing mind all week long!  

We used to do our Tot School time when Miles took his morning nap.  This gave us perfect, uninterrupted one-on-one time.  However, with Miles trying to drop his morning nap, it is throwing a kink in our perfect schedule.  I'm trying to work out how to keep him safely occupied so that I can work with her, but I haven't quite figured it out yet.  Some of the items on his Tot School shelf require supervision, so I can't just let him explore those things.  I'm thinking some busy box/bags are in order.  I'm also working to include him in as many activities as I can, or a modified activity simultaneously. They both love doing the same things as each other!  It will fall in place.

Our Preschool Resources

I know this is a long list - we certainly will not do everything from all of these resources.  I have always really enjoyed the process of piecing lessons together from lots of great places, so these will be my main sources of ideas.

Before Five in a Row (BFIAR).  I have had my eyes on this guide for a long time.  I love the literature-based approach using these classic stories.  I cannot wait to share these great books with Sophie and there are so many fun resources online and in the guide.

Reading the Alphabet.  This FREE program looks PERFECT for Sophie.  It is described as a "PreK reading curriculum designed for those Pre Kinders who already know their letters and letter sounds, but who are not ready for a faster paced, full-blown Kindergarten curriculum."

Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons. I plan to begin using this whenever Sophie is ready, even if that is several months down the road.

Teach Your 3 to 7 Year Old Math. This book had some great suggestions for hands-on math instruction using the Montessori approach.  It seems really helpful to me in providing a progression of sorts, helping me know where to start!

MathStart Level 1 Books.  I just discovered that our library has this entire set!  I'm really looking forward to reading these with Sophie to help introduce some math concepts.

My First Hands On BibleWe will be using this during our family devotions and occasionally doing some extra activities to go along with and reinforce during our preschool time.  We'll also continue our Scripture memory and catechism questions from My First Book of Questions and Answers.

I'm also looking for something good to use for teaching character.  I'm considering Playing with Purpose. Everything else seems a little too old for Sophie still.  I'm open to suggestions if anyone has a good one! :)

Lots of other ideas for science experiments, fun themes, art projects, and other activities from great websites and things I found on Pinterest, as well as lots of manipulatives, games and learning toys we have already.  

Right now I'm thinking we will do BFIAR every other week or so, with the in between weeks being used for themes Sophie is kind of obsessed with (think ballerinas and princesses), topics she has taken an interest in (musical instruments, doctors and human body), or seasonal/holiday activities.  Some of my favorite sites I'll be using for activities include:

Writing this all out makes it look so formal, but to Sophie, we will still be "playing preschool." The majority of our day is still spent in free play and simply living life at home and around town. My guess is that an average of an hour a day will be spent on preschool (even then, only because Sophie is asking for more!)  Even though my plans are more formal, her love of learning is still top priority.  If one of these things doesn't work, we will change our approach, and if the day comes that she needs a break from any formal learning, then we take a break!  (Though somehow, at this stage, I don't think that would fly!). We'll "officially" start in a few weeks after spending some time with family. I'm really looking forward to it.

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