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I know, I know. It’s ridiculous. But I am.
As with just about everything else we do, we’re not going the traditional education route with B and he isn’t heading off to preschool this fall. This is true for several reasons, but right now the main one is cost. Lack of a main income and the fact that we’re both home right now makes preschool an unnecessary expense. In all honesty, we probably wouldn’t have done it anyway, but the cost factor keeps us from even really pondering it as an option.
In preparation for B eventually reaching preschool age, I’ve spent the last few years looking around for a curriculum I could use when the time came. Last year I picked up Oak Meadow’s preschool books which aren’t really curricula, but rather an introduction to how to educate your children as well as how to establish rhythms and routines to our days and incorporating things like art and music. They have kind of a Waldorf-y approach, but without the weird anthroposophy stuff, which I very much appreciate.
They also emphasize the fact that children under the age of six or seven really shouldn’t be taught how to read just yet which pretty much blew my mind. The mantra I’ve heard over and over again when it comes to reading is the earlier the better! So this was a little out there to me, but, after reading the book and seeing their basis for this approach, it makes a lot of sense to me to use this method with our family.
So with that in mind, I started to look for a real curriculum that could give us at least a little structure to our days. Obviously I’m not interested in drilling B on his numbers and letters or having him sit down and do worksheets or anything like that. In reality, I wanted a curriculum more for myself so that I had at least a few activities planned out for him each week (that someone else thought of since my brain is mush these days) and all the better if they followed a theme.
I ended up with the Wee Folk Art preschool/kindergarten homeschool curriculum and I’m probably a little unreasonably excited about it. In its favor:
- It’s FREE! She recently released a second edition that you can buy in magazine form for $12, but the first edition along with a page that outlines the changes is still available for download on her website for free.
- It doesn’t emphasize reading readiness or learning written words. She does include introductions to letters of the alphabet through coloring pages, but by no means is this instructions on how to teach your kid to read. We’re actually just leaving that part out altogether this year and I may do it with him next year (along with the art appreciation section) when we repeat the preschool curriculum.
- The craft and field trip ideas are budget-friendly. I started to follow another Waldorf-y curriculum several months ago and while the activities were awesome, the supplies needed were expensive. This one is mostly local free places and items we have around the house, or at least art supplies that don’t cost an arm and a leg.
- It’s not so structured that we can’t do anything else. It’s such a simple, basic guide that we can fit it into our schedule whenever we have a gap. Obviously this approach won’t work when B is older and doing more actual schoolwork, but it’s perfect for us now.
A few weeks ago, I actually sat down and started planning out the first 12-week section. I set aside a file holder and made a folder for each week of the section and put in one journal entry page and one planning page (both from the curriculum printout). Then I looked on PaperBack Swap to see which, if any, of the books were available there and grabbed them (the rest we’ll get from the library). As the books have come in, I’ve put them in the appropriate folder for that week. Then I loaded up Google calendar and took a look at our schedule to see where we could fit each of these things in. Every week, I planned out the following:
- Introduction of the books and poems in the unit. This is usually very brief on Monday mornings where I read the books and poems to B. This week we read Tops and Bottoms by Janet Stevens as our fiction book and The Vegetables We Eat by Gail Gibbons as our non-fiction book. She suggests one poem for each month during the section with the idea that it’s repeated often throughout the month, allowing the child to memorize it and this month’s is Little Boy Blue. Along with this, she mentions a flower fairy alphabet poem to read to the child each week as well and this week’s is the bugle fairy.
- Craft or activity. E does consulting or class work two mornings per week, so during that time B and I alternate playdates with the craft or activity for the week. This week we made “veggies” from modeling compound (recipe from Oak Meadow’s Learning Processes) and then painted them. B absolutely loved this. 🙂
- Field trip. We plan a family activity during the day once per week now that E is home. Not every week has a field trip idea, but most of them offer up free or very cheap ideas to follow the theme of the week. This week she suggested a trip to the produce department in the grocery store and having the kids ask the produce person questions. I decided a trip to the local farmer’s market might be a little more fun for B since it’s more out of the ordinary, so that’s what we planned.
- Repeat reading throughout the week. We try to read the books and poems to B at least once per day since repetition of stories is key to reading and language development. It’s also been fun to read the books and pull random things out of the fridge and pantry like beets, carrots, and potatoes, so B can compare the book to the real thing.
- Journal pages. We haven’t done these just yet so I’m not sure how this part will go, but I may just have B try and recite the fiction story back to me and maybe draw a picture if he’d like. I’m sure these ideas will evolve as we go.
It’s been somewhat of a challenge, but a fun one, in figuring out the field trips. Next week, the book is about milk and I contacted our dairy to see if we could make a trip out to get a tour. It’s things like that that make this fun in that we’re doing things out of the ordinary each week and I don’t have to be too creative in coming up with ideas.
We’ll see how the rest of the section goes!