I took my own advice. I chose five words to embody my vision for homeschooling my toddler and preschooler this year. The words I chose were:
Those five little words have been a haven from the raging tempest of perfectionism, ambition, and over-planning that so often overwhelm me at times like this. They have helped me keep balance. Two words have become a calming mantra: Relaxed and fun. I am doing this to enjoy my children and this incredible season of curiosity and growth in their little lives. When I start to nit pick and work myself into a tizzy of worry and over-analysis, I take a breath and tell myself to relax. I’m doing this for fun!
With fun in mind I’ve decided to choose a theme each month.I think themes work especially well for the preschool years, although they can work with any level. For the month of September I’ve chosen…drumroll…Apples! Think about it; back to school, the beginning of fall, the harvest of apples, which leads to all sorts of delicious apple desserts. I can’t go wrong!
I have really developed an affinity for Pinterest! I started out uninspired until I typed in an apple theme into the Pinterest search box. I went from no inspiration to inspiration overload in one click of the mouse. The trick was to pin things to my Preschool Fall Activities board then go back later and comb through ideas grabbing the ones that resonated the most with me. Then let the rest go!
I had previously listed out all the subjects I would be covering with my almost 4 year old in a word document. As I found apple activities for each subject I copied and pasted a picture with a description to the document.
Next, I went to the Dollar Tree and Hobby Lobby. I giddily loaded up my cart with baskets, trays, fake apples, and even some leaves, pumpkins, and acorns to carry us through the fall season.
Practical Life: Pom, pom scooping and apple tweezing. Haleigh will do this with a whole hand transfer.
Botany: Life cycle of an apple and parts of an apple.
Apple Math: Apple cards and counters, apple patterning, apple dice game; roll dice and add apple seeds to match the number. I will be using chocolate chips as “seeds”!
My core curriculum is Montessori. Montessori is a very hands-on approach to learning. I purchased what I consider to be the most necessary materials for preschool from Adena Montessori at 50-80% discount. I still spent $375, but the materials will be used through her Kindergarten year. The materials arrived very quickly, nothing was broken or missing, and they are beautiful!
Linear Counting and Base 10: Red and blue rods, Spindle Boxes, 10 board and teen board, bead chains 1-10, and intro to base 10 with golden beads.
Language: Sandpaper letters and Movable Alphabet
I took a look at my September calendar and decided to start the day after Labor day. I then realized I have a Dr. appointment that day . I had two choices: Ask my husband to substitute teach on the first day of school, or start on Wednesday the 7th. When my husband threatened to have recess all day, I decided to go with the September 7th start date. See how relaxed I am?! I’ve also decided to do official school only three days a week. I think this will give us enough time to cover material, but also give us the space we need to move gently through this tumultuous season of tantrums, teething, nap schedules, and cuddling.
My planner breaks each week down so I’ve started filling in specific lessons, books, songs, art projects, etc. Basically, I am sequencing out the lessons I want to cover this month. I’ve done all of this in pencil, because I expect change. I expect that my girls will lead me as to what they are ready for and what they need from me. In fact, they already have. I’ve seen Hannah’s interest in learning, which prompted me to start homeschooling in the first place. Many of my choices for work have been based on my observations of her interests and skills (or lack thereof). My observations of Haleigh are that she loves to transfer things from one place to another and into and out of containers. She too has influenced my preparations.
I am excited about the discoveries my girls will make as they work with the materials. There is nothing quite like watching them make connections as they work. I am looking forward to what I will discover about them as learners and simply as my children!
I have a bit more organization to do and a few more materials to make, but I’m confident we will be ready. We will at least be ready to have some fun!
Are you having fun with your kids?