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Homeschooling 5-year old preschool

The year is not over yet, but I have loved homeschooling 5-year old preschool. Yesterday I worked on our curriculum for kindergarten and I'm even more excited for next year. We kept D back a year (a fellow homeschooling mother of boys calls this "red shirting" and not keeping them back-- love it!). Our son's birthday is at the end of the summer so he would either be youngest or oldest kid in his class. We decided he could use another year before we started him in kindergarten. Next year we will start our first "real" year of homeschooling: kindergarten.

For us, the emphasis for preschool has been on character and community. We've been focusing on waiting your turn and taking turns, not interrupting, helping others, thinking of others before yourself, listening and following instructions, and following the rules even without direct supervision. Most of this can be taught in everyday life, especially since he has two younger brothers. We apply these lessons as he helps cook, clean, and run errands. When there is an aspect we feel needs special attention, we take the time to teach that lesson, such as following instructions while cooking and patiently waiting for the job he has to do (not rushing through it and making mistakes).

Of course we also do school. I've been following Ruth Beechick's method for reading and writing, The Three R's. We do some sort of writing every day. Usually it is informal, but a couple times a week I have him copy a complete sentence. We've been reading chapters of Who Was Martin Luther King Jr? by Bonnie Bader. After we read a chapter, I have him copy a sentence down from that chapter, a sentence of my choosing that I feel summarizes that chapter or teaches something important about Martin Luther King Jr. Often he copies words in his notebook that have something to do with that day's theme or activities, like when we were working on colors with his toddler brothers, he wrote down things that were red (strawberries, apples, Clifford). Sometimes the only writing he does that day is on a treasure map he drew or a card for a friend or family member he made. We do a lot of reading as a family anyways, Look and Find books, children's books, books on a topic that interests him. One of their favorite books is Birds of North Carolina by Tim Ohr. We bought it when we lived in North Carolina and had lots of trees and birds in our backyard. There we would sit in our sunroom and name the birds we saw. This book was a Costco find that I bought on a whim (need to get one for South Carolina now that we've moved!). We also have a large coffee table book on John Deere tractors that they love. It gives the history of John Deer and facts on each model; we read that book a lot. That book was a used book store find that cost hardly anything. Now that we are working on reading, I've scoured the used book store's children's section for easy readers (Curious George, Berenstain Bears, Clifford, etc). We usually work together on reading during his brothers' naptime when we have uninterrupted time together. I love that time, curled up on the couch together working on reading a book (and then I love when we are done for the time being and not spending 10 minutes on one word-- haha!).

Math hasn't been difficult for us to incorporate in our homeschool. I actually bought Saxon Math K: An Incremental Development (Home Study Teacher's Edition). I bought this at a homeschool consignment store in North Carolina-- best place ever! I did not buy the meeting book or the kit, which includes all the materials needed for the curriculum. I bought the materials on Amazon, like the linking cubes and such. I bought some of them before we started and some of them after we started when I realized I actually needed for the lessons. I also did not follow this book to a T. I mostly used it as a guidebook. D really likes math and it comes naturally to him. We tend to do a lot of math with him in everyday life, not just with counting bears, but with word problems and having him help solve things. For instance, "If Mommy and your brothers drive in the van and Daddy and you ride in the Jeep, how many people are in the van? How many in the Jeep? How many all together?" "I made 10 cookies and there are 3 boys to eat the cookies. How many cookies does everyone get? How many cookies are leftover?" "How many drinks do I need to buy at Chick-Fil-A so we all get a drink? If we want a milkshake after we drink our lemonades, how many drinks will I buy total?" I used the Saxon Math Teacher's Edition much more as an inspiration for a more structured lesson if I need it. I do not use the calendar plan laid out in it; we have a hanging pocket calendar we use instead. We also play math guided games: Chutes and Ladders, ThinkFun Math Dice Jr, Sorry. He seriously loves math and loves when we do anything that has even the slightest mathematical slant. A favorite game of his? Measuring things in the house with a tape measure. I make it a math game. "If the chair is 20 inches across, how many inches across would it be if there were 2 more inches? How about 2 less inches?" I really did like the Saxon Math book; so much so that I bought the Level 1 Home Study Teacher's Edition to use his kindergarten year-- again, just the teacher's edition, not the complete kit.

There are other subjects that we do regularly. I keep track of everything in the Homeschooler's Journal. We try to remember to do our calendar everyday and we usually do. Before I got the pocket calendar, we crossed off days on a wall calendar. My neighbor and I have big plans to make an adorable felt calendar! I'm very excited about that. Everyday at breakfast we read from the One Year Children's Bible. The boys love their Bible story and pull it down while I get their breakfast plates on the table. I like how short the stories are so I can actually read to both our preschooler and our toddlers without losing their interest. We also do a Bible verse with our preschooler. I do not have him learn a verse a week, just more on his pace. He must learn it word for word, but when he's ready to learn the next part, I teach it to him. He just learned Isaiah 9:6 and now we are working on John 3:16. We also talk a lot about the Navy, since their dad is a submariner. The toddlers are very interested in submarines, ships, and boats. Our preschooler is very interested in how the submarine works. They all love that there is a submarine in Despicable Me 2.

And part of our homeschooling plan is teaching that everyone needs to help out around the house. He feeds the dog every morning and changes the dog's water. They all bring their dishes to the kitchen sink or kitchen counter (depending on the dish-- I bet they could break their Corelle bowls chucking them in the sink). They have to pick up shared living spaces throughout the day, when they change activities. I do not require either the toddlers or our preschooler to move all the toys from the family room to where it necessarily goes in the playroom, unless I'm having our preschooler pick up toys that he got out and a mess he made (like his puzzles or his craft stuff). That is too much of a task for the toddlers to grasp (keep picking up toys in the family room and put them away where they go-- they get distracted). After they bring the toys to the playroom, I sit in there and help put them away or direct where they go. They all help with housecleaning, tidying shared spaces, dusting, sweeping, wiping down counters. This Rubbermaid Dual Action Microfiber Flip Mop has made it so easy for our preschooler to help with the floors. The toddlers dust with dusting cloths and they help clean either with paper towels or rags sprayed with vinegar water. They all help fold laundry. Surprisingly, they actually can all help, not the kind of help children often give that is in no way helpful. The toddlers can fold rags, towels, and pillow cases quite well. Their shirts and things are often folded by them in interesting and unique ways, but when they get a bee in their bonnet to fold a load of laundry, who am I to stop them? Our preschooler can fold just about anything; he gets frustrated when I drop a big load of laundry in front of him and will hum and haw. Once he gets going he is fine. The smaller loads he handles with no complaint. I really, really, really make an effort not to complain about house chores in front of them. They do, after all, have to get done one way or another, so it might as well be cheerfully. I have Philippians 2:14 hanging in their playroom, "Do everything without grumbling or arguing."

As for socializing... We do lots of playdates and activities, some structured (held a paper airplane contest), some not (park picnics or children's museum trips). There are neighborhood kids to play with at home and homeschooling families that we've really been connecting with since we've moved here. And we are looking into our homeschooling co-op options for next year, joining one of those in the next couple weeks. He's part of organized sports and, most recently, a preschool piano class. The best thing about homeschooling preschool is that our schedule is open and we are available for playdates and get-togethers that are held during the day. I've been really excited looking at the co-op options for next year and the homeschool families we've connected with. The other thing I'm really excited about is that my hubby's schedule is going to a little crazy next year and homeschooling is going to give us the flexibility to spend as much time as possible with him! I know we haven't started the kindergarten year yet or had baby #4 yet, but I loved homeschooling preschool this year and I think kindergarten is going to be even more fun. :)

Picture taken by A McTaggart


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