As I attempt to plan out my first year of homeschool, I am hyper-aware that, at only 4 years old, my daughter is a little young for kindergarten. I want to be sure to strike a balance and not turn her off of school. I want this to be a fun learning experience. For that reason, my husband and I created a schedule that provides plenty of play time and still has some structure for organized learning. I am not going with formal textbooks for every subject area, but really felt convicted to use a few texts in areas that I wanted direction. Here is what I’m starting the year out with–and the beauty of homeschooling is that if something’s not working, I can drop it and switch:
Explode the Code–At first, I wasn’t going to use a formal “reading” book; I was planning on just continuing to read a lot to my daughter and do little worksheets here and there. Explode the Code comes highly recommended, and I really hope my daughter responds to it. It does have a more organized approach to reading and phonics, which I like. Looking through it, I would say there’s too much emphasis on writing, vs reading, so we may skip those pages. I do like all the fun illustrations and the progressive approach to stringing words together.
Now I’m Reading: Playful Pals Level 1, 10 Phonics Books–It was between this set and the BOB books for first readers, and these have better, more fun illustrations. They are highly reviewed and I hope she likes them.
Earlybird Kindergarten Mathematics (Singapore Math)–It seems like everyone I know that is homeschooling now uses either this one or Saxon Math. I got this one and have been impressed looking through it–although the activities are familiar, the text requires students to think more critically than the average math book. Example: Instead of simply asking which one is different out of a group of objects, students must identify what characteristic of the object makes it different.
I Love America, Part I is one I am totally excited about. I love this introduction to American History. It divides the school year up by months, September through May, then assigns a unit study to each month–for example, September is the American flag and we read a story about Betsy Ross and color our own American flags, talk about the Pledge of Allegiance, etc. There are all sorts of activities and coloring sheets throughout the book. Comes with 2 CDs: Activity and Music. Activity CD has games, activities, and sheet music of songs which are on the Music CD.
Super Science: Preschool-First Grade has more than 250 cross-curricular activities that teach about stuff like the five senses, plants, animals, weather, shadows, magnets, etc. I love that it’s really cross-curricular so each subject, like snow or shadows, not only has kids learning about them, but participating in games, art projects, songs, and making connections. The book includes a list of fiction and nonfiction “literature connections”–books that correspond to each science concept–if you want to check them out of the library. We will for sure be supplementing some of the units with outside books and field trips.
All About Me from Carson-Delrosa Publishing is a resource book that allows kids to share their likes, dislikes, and personal qualities. I’ll be using the worksheets in it–everything from “My Friends” to “My Treasures” to weight and height, to put together at the beginning of the school year books for both my 4-yr old AND my 2.5-yr old. Then we will repeat the activity at the end of the year, so they can see how they changed in a year’s time.
Musical Notebooks is a resource book with a CD of fun educational songs that I bought for the kids to listen to in the car and they really enjoy it. Their favorite song is “Bones,” which goes through the actual scientific names for bones, scapula and all. They also like “Central America.” Sung by a group of little kids, it’s a sweet, fresh way of presenting information. It comes with a Resource Manual with worksheets and suggested activities, but I’ll probably wait a year or two before trying them.
I’ve tried hard to put together a curriculum that will keep her interested and engaged and having fun, with plenty of songs, games, and art. I will let you know how it goes. What about you? What will you be using? Have you had any experience with the texts that I’ve chosen?