I mentioned in April that we were going to give homeschooling preschool a try for a bit and see how it worked. It has been interesting. Here are some random observations in no particular order.
What Hasn’t Worked Well – Repetition
Caroline does not enjoy doing the same thing or similar things more than a few times. We started out making those cute foam letters and by the time we got to about F or G she had totally lost all interest. It didn’t matter that they were different or super cute. She just didn’t care to do the same kind of project again. She craves variety and thrives on new experiences.
So that means the preschool curriculum I purchased was not really helpful. It has not worked well for us for a couple of reasons. One, Caroline was already well past a lot of what was in it. And, two, many of the activities are ones that are repeated multiple times with multiple letters. Again, Caroline has no interest in doing something again and again and again for weeks.
I’ve also realized that a great deal of what I have saved from teaching will probably never get used. I have lots of files that I am going to pitch because they won’t be relevant with the child I have.
This past week David and I talked again about whether or not we should consider sending Caroline to preschool this fall. I admit that part of it would simply be for a break, even if just for this year. But now that she is already reading words all over the place, I think she would be bored. She’s definitely not ready for a kindergarten class. But when I read the four year old curriculum online for the place I was researching, I think she would be bored.
I have lots of little readers that she’ll be reading in probably another week (as soon as I sit down and work on some basic sight words with her). And even when I think about the fact that I would get a break, I think of the running back and forth to drop her off and pick her up and the volunteering in the classroom, etc. It really would not be a break. So I think we’ll just stick to hiring a babysitter to come in once a week for a break for all of us.
What Has Worked Well – Variety
Starfall.com has been a great tool. Caroline is thoroughly enjoying it and has learned a lot simply by playing games on there. Using the LeapFrog videos was also very instrumental in helping her. We have had the first two since last winter.
We haven’t bought this one yet, but will since it focuses on long vowel sounds and I know it will be helpful.
This weekend we bought this one and she’s already talking about commas and periods.
I looked at this at Target this weekend, but am not sure.
It has two sets of phonics books you can buy to use with it (one short vowels and one long vowels) which could be helpful.
But so much of the rest of it is marketing propaganda (Little Mermaid, Dora, Cars, etc.) and I don’t want to go in that direction. (We do Hello, Kitty! and Pooh. That is enough.) The books are kind of pricey so I’m not sure I want to open that can of worms. Ten bucks for a DVD is one thing. The entire Tag thing will get a lot more expensive and I’m not sure it will make that big of a difference. So the verdict is still out on that even though we’ve really liked the other LeapFrog things we’ve used.
What Should We Do This Fall?
So now I’m trying to decide what to do about the fall. I’ve been looking at the Sonlight curriculum this week, but I’m not sure we really need that much for a four year old. I’m thinking just an organic, teachable moments-based learning approach will probably still work just fine for this year.
One of the other big things I’ve learned admitted to myself is that I do not want to spend a lot of time in planning. Reading through the 27 Reasons Families Love Sonlight and 27 Reasons Not to Buy Sonlight was helpful in a few different ways, especially after doing our practice preschool.
While I thoroughly love doing research and planning out units, I do not have the time to do it at this point in my life. When I went through my elementary education program, I was in a selective, specialized program called Academic Learning. The focus was on developing curriculum. I ab.so.lute.ly. love to develop curriculum. But if I am honest with myself, I just do not have the time and energy to devote to it. So I think we will eventually end up with an all-in-one type curriculum where everything is basically planned and then we’ll supplement as necessary. But I’m thinking we are still a year away from that (at least). (Update years later: Ha! This is exactly the opposite of how things turned out. LOL!)
So that’s where we are. Learning is happening all the time because we’re just three learning type people. And it will all continue to evolve as we move forward!