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Home Schooling my Preschooler – What DO we DO?


Last month, we decided to home school our son. It was a much debated over, prayerful decision. Most of the debating happened internally. Inside me. I REALLY wrestled with the idea. If you’ve been getting to know me through this blog or you know me in real life, you know that I was a public school teacher in a kindergarten, first grade, or second grade classroom for TEN years. In fact, this is the first year I am not working at the school at all, I am home, full time with my children. With that morsel of information, you might find it entertaining that I was worried, no make that “SKEERED,” of teaching my own child. Sure, I taught up to 26 or so children all at once.  In fact, I have a degree as a reading specialist for goodness sakes. But, the idea of teaching my own child to read almost paralyzed me with fear. Could I do it? Would I be GOOD enough? What if I FAILED and he didn’t learn to read or had trouble reading?  There would be no one blame but…ME!  But, the most frightening question: Could I juggle teaching him while entertaining his younger sibling?

Home School in PreK from WholesomeMommy.com

Yes, I am aware that MANY people home school and MANY of those families have numerous children at all different levels. But, how in the world could they do that?  My head was immediately filled with visions of my 2 year old ransacking the house and pulling EVERYTHING out.  I have a way of freaking myself out and overwhelming myself with the “what-ifs.”  God’s still workin’ on me.

But, when I finally made the decision that I COULD do this and had my husband’s blessing, I made it MY JOB to find the best curriculum I could find. If I was going to do this, I wanted to give him a BETTER education than he could have received in public school. I didn’t want it to be “good enough.” I wanted it to be AWESOME! I wanted to build a curriculum based on everything I know is necessary for a young child to thrive and soak it all up. I wanted natural curiosity to drive instruction.

I emailed friends that have been homeschooling, I found facebook groups to join, asked questions in MOPS groups and other Facebook groups who I thought might have insight into local home school groups, and I private messaged some of my old co-workers who taught kindergarten and begged them to help me.  Thanks to good friends and even a few strangers I had lots of good leads. I looked at many curriculums online, read reviews, even saw some samples. But, what I found was not what I wanted. It was lackluster, scripted, and lacked “pizazz.” After teaching in public school I had my fill of scripted programs and while I was there I did everything I could to avoid them – even resorting to writing my own curriculum!

So, finally I decided not to settle on a curriculum. Instead, I’ve cobbled together a few things and we are making them work. Its a little more work for me, I can’t just open up a book and teach. It requires a bit more planning. But the results have been great! We’re having fun, learning lots, and Judah even told me yesterday that he loved school. My heart nearly exploded.

Home School in Preschool From WholesomeMommy.com

Here’s what we’ve cobbled together:

  • First, I printed my state standards. I live in Georgia. I actually printed the kindergarten ones and we’re taking it slow since Judah is only 4 1/2. I am not a “pusher.” I want his learning to be developmentally appropriate so we will go at his pace. The state standards are free to access and print. I can use them to guide my instruction and to make sure that I am teaching him the skills appropriate for his age. In reading and language there are standards. In math there are standards and even lessons that are free for the taking. And, there are also standards for social studies and science.
  • Next, I decided in order to read I needed some leveled readers for Judah to read. We are using the Bob books AND Houghton Mifflin’s SAILS program. Bob books teach through word families/phonics and the pictures are pretty simple.  The SAILS books are fun and the pictures are great. Judah looks forward to reading one each day. They are based on a sight word a week to start with {in the very early reader series}.
  • I also ordered the Draw, Write, Now books. I LOVE to draw and so does Judah. I thought this series would be fun to incorporate in our writing. It is really meant to be a handwriting and art curriculum. {You learn to draw an object and then you do some copy work that discusses the drawing}. Rather than just copy sentences, we are doing the step by step drawing tutorials and then writing sentences relative to him and incorporating the sight words he is learning. For instance, this week we have been learning “red” and “the.” So we learned to draw a red bird and then I wrote “The bird is red,” in his journal under his picture. Then he copied the words underneath it. Great for practicing his sight words and also his fine motor skills.
  • I’ve purchases several little things from Teachers Pay Teachers. It is easy to find things related to what you are doing. For instance, if you know {from your state standards} that you want to teach counting to ten, you can look up “counting” in kindergarten. I love that the money goes straight to some hard working teacher who was nice enough to share her hard work. I used this site to purchase things when I was a classroom teacher too. There is a lot of great stuff here.

Home School for Preschool from WholesomeMommy.com

So What DO we DO?

  1. First thing we listen to a few songs from Dr. Jean, about the days of the week, months of the year, seasons, we do alphabet aerobics, and some counting. We mix it up with some of Harry Kindergarten’s stuff on YouTube {this guy is brilliant}.
  2. Judah and I talk about the calendar. He adds a date, talks about the month, day of the week and we mark it on the charts. We check the weather on the computer and look out the window and we graph the weather. Then we talk about the temperature and set it on our big thermometer. {Other than the calendar and the thermometer all of those pieces hanging on the wall came from Teachers Pay Teachers}.
  3. We usually then transition over to a coffee table that we’ve deemed our work table. We do some worksheets, some sorts, alphabet and sound games, make letters with play dough, stamp with ink and alphabet stamps, and other fun hands on letter learning things.
  4. We sing about colors and do some writing and drawing activities using Draw Write Now and a primary lined journal.
  5. I’ve made charts of poems that we read together and Judah circles a particular letter sound that we are focusing on this week.
  6. We also use chart paper to have a “Chit Chat” lesson where I ask a question and we think/brainstorm the answer. At this point it is usually thinking of words with the same initial sound or thinking of rhyming words.  Later we’ll focus on syllables, ending sounds, and medial sounds.
  7. We do a math activity, which right now is counting, focusing on the written number word, the physical representation of a number, and the written number and matching them up.  We will soon begin patterning, and simple counting and graphing.  We have also starting talking about money and are learning to count pennies.
  8. We do some painting or crafty things – both kids love to get in on the action here.
  9. We do some science or social studies. So far we’ve done lots of fun pumpkin activities and experiments and we’ve talked about dinosaurs – A LOT. {My son is CRAZY about them}. Next week we’ll start a study of polar animals and the Arctic circle.

Home School for Preschoolers from WholesomeMommy.com

How’s it working?

It is going great. We are getting into a rhythm. We have had a couple of rough days but for the most part, we get up, eat breakfast, and then head upstairs where we do home school until lunch.  We have a large guest room upstairs that we’ve converted to a classroom of sorts. It still also functions as a guest room but there is plenty room for all our instruction and materials but not too much space that I can’t keep up with the smallest member of our family.

Speaking of the little one, she usually plays with her pretend kitchen during this time. If we are doing work at the table she occasionally wants to join in and is happy to color. And, of course, if there is playdough or paint involved she is always first to have a turn.

Leapfrog Leap Reader

After lunch the Eliana takes a nap and Judah does something quiet.  He often chooses the Leap Reader.  I absolutely love this thing. It has lots of cool books, even audio books you can download without the actual book in hand, games, and even interactive flashcards. The Read and Write Series pack is AWESOME! The pen actually writes on the magic paper and it is a great way for Judah and I to extend his learning of word families and letter sounds while Eliana takes a nap.  I am super excited that there are also two sets of leveled reader books that you can use with it. I think these are a little bit too hard for him now, but it is definitely on the wish list for later.

I’ve also ordered a US map and a cool world map puzzle that will work with the the Leap Reader pen.  There are so many cool things that go with this thing we’ll definitely be putting more items on our birthday wish lists!  If you are looking for an educational toy, this is a winner on all levels. I love that he can play it by himself, it is great for the car, and it has things we can do together too. Little sister even enjoys reading the stories with her big brother and he likes that he gets to “read” to her.

Well, that’s what we do. I am sure it will evolve. My teaching always have and it always will – I am a life long learner myself after all. If you have questions about what we are doing, I am happy to share.  If you are thinking of home schooling, be encouraged.  It has been a great decision for our family.

 

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Comments

  1. Do check out the guided reading program for kids from Snap! Learning. Snap Reading Program is only $45 for homeschoolers now! http://blog.snaplearning.co/?p=217

  2. Kelly Clayton says:

    LOVE LOVE LOVE THIS INFORMATION. THANK YOU SO VERY MUCH. My little one is 3 years old , and I was looking on some of the websites you use, and they are fantastic even for pre k. Thank you so much wholesome mommy. Hopefully I can start some pre k at home.

    Cheers
    Kelly Clayton

  3. Have you found http://www.confessionsofahomeschooler.com yet? Tons of ideas and free printouts.

    • Denisesawyer says:

      Yes! She has a well known and wonderful blog. I printed some of her things to do with Judah even before I was home schooling. :) Thanks for bringing it up here though…there are others reading this post that will be happy to know about another resource.
      Denise
      WholesomeMommy.com

  4. Misty Stretton says:

    I have been terrified to homeschool. I have read what you have been going through as well as the comments. I am feeling more and more confident about my abilities. I have not had a high opinion of my public school system for a while now. I feel like they treat my child like he is just income for them. every time that he is ill they make sure to remind me that the school is losing 40 dollars every day that he is out. Thank you for helping me feel more confident and caring for my child.I felt like the public school system was all I had. You have encouraged me to take matters into my own hands and that I can do this.

    • Denisesawyer says:

      Aww. Glad to hear it. We all second guess ourselves as parents. We are much to hard on ourselves!
      Denise
      Wholesome Mommy

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