Preschool: What are we doing?

All of Sprout’s school supplies fit in this blue basket and an old shoe box.

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What is in there?

The shoe box holds what I’ve been calling “activity bags.” I’ll share more about those in another post. The blue basket has

  • a pencil pouch that holds a couple of pencils, a fun eraser, scissors, and glue;
  • a box of crayons;
  • a book of stickers;
  • four workbooks;
  • and a handwriting tablet.

I bought most of these things from the Dollar Tree store. I intend to use a more formal curriculum soon, so I am using the dollar store workbooks as a sort of introductory course. I don’t know if we will get through all of them before beginning a preschool curriculum or not — I’m taking things one day at a time, over here.

The workbooks are about

  • colors & shapes;
  • alphabet;
  • numbers 1-10;
  • and printing practice.

Since beginning, she has only wanted to work in the colors & shapes workbook. It begins with a page about each color. Here is the first one:

dollar tree workbook for preschool at home | the Beloved Brown-Eyed Girl blog

Also at the bottom is the word for the color that the child can trace.

What is “school” like for us?

Each day, soon after breakfast, I ask Sprout if she would like to do school. Sometimes, she declines. Other times, she excitedly agrees. I let her decide. I do have two rules about scheduling: we don’t do school on Sundays or twice in one day. I want to protect her from burning herself out because she shows some signs of being like her mother. I am the sort of person who begins a project and gets so caught up in it, that I work and work and work until it is finished. I have had to learn to pace myself, and I think it is a good lesson to learn early on.

If she agrees, then she can pick which workbook she wants to work in. She has been choosing the colors & shapes book. I think that is because she is confident about it.

She doesn’t have to finish a page, but if she does, she picks out a sticker to put at the top.

She can skip to another workbook, but cannot go to the next page until the current one is completed. (We stared at a sad, blank apple before she would finally color it!)

Nothing has to be done perfectly, only to the best of her ability.

She has to follow instruction. In this workbook, it comes down to using the color specified in the instructions (she wanted to color the apple blue for one of those days), circling objects, that kind of thing.

She has to work left to right, which mostly comes into play when tracing words. Yes, she did want to trace “orange” backward.

Whenever she “does school,” I encourage her to show Daddy when he gets home. I have noticed that it helps fuel her the following day, and she will sometimes say, “If I finish this page and get a sticker, Daddy will be happy to see it later!”

If she completes a workbook page, she can do an activity from the shoe box. They are fun educational activities that she enjoys, and they make an excellent reward for her.

That’s it! Simple. 😉 Also, inexpensive. I like that.

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Homeschooling: Preschool Goals

[In my state, compulsory school attendance begins at age 5, with kindergarten (unless a kindergarten waiver is submitted). You can research your own state’s laws through the HSLDA’s website, here.]

My daughter is 3 years old. In the past 5-6 months, I have noticed a lengthening of her attention span and an eagerness to learn academic subjects (writing, phonics). I knew I would do preschool at home, so I began researching options. I quickly found that the approach highly depends on the goals of the parent. Do I want my kid to regurgitate facts? read or write at an early age? learn exclusively through play? study through “unit” plans?

Well… this is what I want for my child in the next two years:

I want her to spend as much time outdoors as possible, so that she can practice her developing gross motor skills. I want her to hang from the swing set, learn to swing herself, run around the yard, try to climb a tree, find rocks shaped like houses and triangles and hearts, lay in the grass and look at the clouds.

I want her to enjoy “school,” whatever it happens to look like for us. If she isn’t enjoying it, if it is just a chore to her, then it is wrong.

I want her to have some structure and rules around schooling, such as days and times when we will “do school,” working in a particular order and in a particular way. Doing things the right way (working page by page in a workbook, tracing letters in order left to right) is enjoyable. Kids don’t need to partake in reckless abandon in order to have fun.

I want her to practice and develop her fine motor skills for pencil-holding, page-turning, coloring with precision.

That’s it. If she comes out of the next two years writing or reading or doing any arithmetic, that would be great. If not? That’s alright, too. There are benefits to delaying formal schooling that resonate with me.

What were/are your goals for preschool at home?