Wednesday, January 27, 2016

My Homeschool Preschool

I get asked about our homeschool methods and resources quite often. After getting three questions in a row about what we do for preschool, it is time to share! Maybe you will get some ideas that work for you!

Starting at birth, we do a lot of counting, naming colors, looking at alphabet picture books, and practicing using a marker on paper. No pressure. Just for fun and play.

Starting at age 2 or 3, when I feel the child is ready, we play with alphabet flash cards. I made mine out of cardstock nearly 10 years ago, and have now used them for five children.  We start with two letters, then gradually add more. I lay them out, and ask them to find the one I ask for. I hold them up and ask what they are. I ask them to match capitals and lower case. We play with these for about 18 months--they begin to master them in no time.

I also have used this set of DK counting cards for the past five children. We simply point to the number, and then we count. Once a day.

I use a 10-cent spiral notebook to practice drawing with markers, starting at age 2 or 3. We practice coloring in shapes with specific colors, tracing along a path between two lines (without touching the lines), connecting dots--first two, then more, then before you know it, they are tracing letters and numbers.

First workbooks I love for age 2-3-4 are:
Kumon Coloring 2-3-4
Kumon Coloring 3-4-5
Kumon Mazes 3-4-5
Kumon Mazes 4-5-6

All my littles have loved these books and they are great for simply learning to hold and control a marker and/or pencil.

I also like to browse Dollar Tree for preschool/kindergarten level workbooks for letters, numbers, shapes and colors. Since they are a dollar, they are great for practice and feeling "grown up." Lots of these are great for learning how to "circle" things, for tracing letters, for attempting to make letters a certain size, for coloring, counting, and matching.

When ready for pre-K/Kindergarten stuff (the child recognizes most letters and numbers, can count to ten fairly well, knows colors, and can hold a marker to color), I use:

A Beka K-4 Phonics and Numbers (workbook only--no accessories or teacher's guides)
Spectrum Preschool Learning Letters
Spectrum Preschool Phonics Readiness
Spectrum Phonics Grade K
Making Math Meaningful Level K
A Beka Science, God's World K5

Note:  Any of the Spectrum Preschool books are great!

Spectrum Preschool Learning Letters

Making Math Meaningful Level K
I continue with homemade flash cards that have names (siblings, Mom, Dad, grapes) and words of favorite things.

I read books to them.

I also make them follow my finger as I read the instructions on each workbook page. This transitions always into them naturally reading the instructions for themselves by age 7 or 8.

Another important tip:  I never do too much. I never stress them out. I watch the "light in their eyes." If it goes out, we stop.

Sometimes we do the flash cards for just two minutes and we find it is not fun anymore or they are not interested "this day."  Some days we will play with them for 30 minutes.

Some days my kids will happily sit and work through an entire workbook. I let them. Sometimes, one page is tedious. So I encourage just one or two little tasks (color this item or try making this letter one time), then I tell them, "Great job!" And we move on to something else.

The workbooks above have lessons on each page that are easily done in just a couple of minutes.  Practicing writing a letter (or any worksheet) when you are 4 years old should not be tedious. Some children will find school fun and challenging. But most 4-year-olds, regardless of how much they love school work, can be reasonably asked to practice a particular letter two or three times, and be encouraged with their effort. And two or three times is enough for one day--because if you do that five days in a row, by the end the skill is mastered.

Bonus material:  I had fourboysinarow. They are Star Wars fans. They are also bookish school geeks. I don't know if God made them that way, or if we just cultivate a culture in our homeschool that is fun. But the above books are not enough for my 4-year-old. He often wants to do more.  He has a couple of the dollar store workbooks to attempt on his own (which he can do like a pro, now!), But then, one day, while shopping at TJ Maxx, I found these. They rock. Not only are they Star Wars, but the learning format is the quality that I demand.

Star Wars Workbooks Preschool ABC Fun Ages 4-5
Star Wars Workbooks Preschool Shapes, Colors, and Patterns, Ages 4-5
Star Wars Workbooks Kindergarten Writing & ABCs Ages 5-6

Note: They have lots of other options to choose from that include numbers, counting, and phonics.  Some are only $6.00 on Amazon!

Happy schooling! May God bless your homeschool!

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