Lexie and I have so much fun playing and learning. As you can probably tell from my posts about our typical day, we just use everyday life for learning; reading, crafts, playing outside, outings to the library, park, museum, etc make up our learning experiences. After the move, Lexie will be 2.5, and she is so advanced in so many areas already, I feel like maybe we could start doing more in-depth conversations about the books we read, add more structure to some of our days, more sustenance … Basically add a little more intention to how we spend our time at home. Obviously I am not going to fill every minute of our days with stuff to do- after all, just playing is how young children learn anyway. But I think this spring and summer we are going to do Before Five in a Row.
Five in a Row is a small, traditional learning platform (I wont call it a curriculum, because it isn’t) that uses great, classic children’s literature for teaching children ages 5+. It includes books like “Corduroy,” “The Carrot Seed,” and “Make Way for Ducklings.” Each story is read for 5days and you discuss a different part of the book each day, and do a learning activity (if you want to). The BEFORE Five in a Row (or BFIAR as it is shortened), is the same thing, with books for younger learners; both platforms include daily Bible study along with the story activities. Here is the description from their site:
It is just a great, informal way to start introducing preschool or school in general. Although I am not sure I believe in “preschool” as it is today, I know my Lexie; I know she thrives on learning and loves reading. Sometimes we read the same book 7 times in a row until she is satisfied she has seen everything in every picture and has asked as many questions as she can. She just loves to learn; not all children are this way, and I am sure not all of mine will be. But she is, so I want to encourage her love of learning and help it flourish.
I could very easily choose my own books, my own Bible verses that go with the story’s “lesson” or theme, and find my own activities to do with them …. But this requires a lot of planning and is rather time consuming. For $35 I can buy the BFIAR book with the ideas in it, and then enrich it with our own touch. We already have a lot of the books on the list (there are 24, but one is out of print, though I am sure we can find it used somewhere) and what we don’t have I will find on amazon used or borrow from the library if we have to. I’d like to buy them all, so we have a good collection of classic literature to always go to on our shelf; plus we can use it with each child. I also plan to create a lapbooking journal for each book. Lapbooking is a whole other topic in itself, but it is basically a project based way to “assess.” Really, you just use a file folder to glue, write and keep together all your activities for whatever topic you are learning about. Since she is a little young for that, we will keep a binder as a “journal” or portfolio, to put all the activities. It will also act as a memory book. The best thing is, the children can go back through it and recall what we did and what they learned. As a teacher, I know this is a very important part of literacy and education. Plus, Lexie Raye will love that!
After we do BFIAR this summer, and probably through to Christmas since it will take about 6 months to complete, I would really like to do Son Light P3/4. It is a bit more expensive at $200+, and is very similar to BFIAR. The difference is it is a little more intense. I really think she will enjoy it; many mamas that homeschool for preschool use both BFIAR and SonLight together. Sonlight is $269 if you get the included story books on their list, but we have some of them, and with some serious planning ahead, we can get all the books used. Then I will only need to get the instructors guide; it isn’t very expensive.
I have been reading and researching preschool stuff since lexie was born ;). J.Tom and I have always known that if circumstances provided, we wanted to homeschool for preschool, and beyond if we are able. I will do an entire series on reasons why, because the reasons are too numerous to list or discuss in one little paragraph here. But we believe we can give our children a Christ and family centered education, that is much more rich than any public school can. Education simply is not what it used to be; an older, wiser homeschooling couple made a very valid point: you send your children off to school, to be raised by someone else for 8+hours a day, submerged in a sea children that don’t share the same family values as you. Then you get them back 18 years later and winder, “what happened to my child?” For so long children were raised at home, with their mothers who also taught them. The family was a unit and we did not depend on the government or anyone else to raise out children and teach them all they need to know. Honestly, I know where education is, and where it is going and I don’t want my children in it. We want them at home, and with other families who feel the same way. It doesn’t mean we shelter them from the world and all it’s ugliness; on the contrary. it means we teach them everything we can about the world and how to be Godly in it. It means WE get to do it as a family, in God’s way. It is something that we have a lot of prayer invested in, and will continue to do so, because who knows right now where we will be or what we will be doing. OK! Anyway, I will stop here on this topic before I get too far off track. I will do another post about that later. 🙂
Back to preschool. Sonlight is supposed to be a great program that is a little more like a curriculum, and is more intense that BFIAR. After that she will be turning 4 and I’m not sure what we will do. If we love SonLight, we may do their P4/5 program. If not, we will try something else. But at least by then we will know a little more about her style and how she likes to learn.
I am looking forward to it because I think it will be fun for her. If she weren’t showing interest like she is, I wouldn’t even consider it yet. I think it will be a great way to build on what we already do; and it may actually not even be as much as we already do on our own … but for $35 we will find out. =)