Friday, September 21, 2012

Preschool Expectations

I don’t have too many expectations for preschool.  I don’t do flashcards or thick workbooks.  I want to be careful not to kill the joy of learning by forcing my little man to sit at desks for hours listening to me lecture.   In my opinion, that is not what preschool is about.

That isn’t to say we avoid learning.  Preschool isn’t a four letter word to be avoided. Preschool means before school. Preschool for my kids began at birth.  I named the object that they saw.  I let them play and explore.  I talked to them and read to them. 

Now my son is three I answer questions constantly.  “Where did the sun go?” or “Why can’t I eat a cookie for dinner?” 

Play is an essential part of learning at this stage.  Pretending and building towers or castles out of Legos is more valuable that piles of worksheets. My son is learning to work with others, to share, and discovering the world around him.  After crashing innumerable towers, He knows to build a wide base for a taller tower.  After trying to build a tower on my dog, he knows that flat surfaces are better too.

Just because he doesn’t do a math worksheet doesn’t mean he can’t count.  We count everything: the steps on the stairs, the scoops of flour for the pancakes, the petals on a flower, the wheels on the bus and the dinosaur toys on his shelf.  He learned to count down when he turned a box into a shape ship to blast off in.

I still read to him constantly, I use a great picture book reading list and load up at the library.  He shows and interest in helicopters, fire trucks, or the rain forest I check out a book on the subject.  Now, he knows about rotors, CRVs and sloths. 

I don’t force him to write his letters.   However, he does have his little notebook he carries around pretending to take notes. He uses crayons and he has proper grip of the crayon.  That will help him transition to pencil later.

He paints with tempera paints that he can mix together to know that two colors can mix together and make another color.  He has learned the colors because as I pour the paints, I call out their names and when I give him a choice of shirts, I ask if he would like to wear the green one or the red one.

Preschool doesn’t have to be high pressure and stressful.  It is as hard or efficient as you make it.  The most important part of preschool should be developing the love of learning in a natural unforced way.  It doesn’t have to happen at a desk or in a circle.  It can happen in the grocery store, the kitchen table, or a mother’s lap.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

My experience with Lower Level Saxon Math

I think Saxon Math gets a bad rap.  I have read so many bad reviews from home schoolers.  Some have likened it to “watching paint dry” or as being “torture.”  Based upon these types of reviews, I avoided it like the plague for a long time.  I switch my non-abstract thinking child from Singapore, Math in Focus, and too Math Mammoth to name a few, that was torture. 

They didn’t work.  She just didn’t get it.  She needed more review on basic facts before even considering abstract multi-part word problems.  She is mildly dyslexic and needs to review math concepts many more times than my non-dyslexic child.  Saxon’s math fact cards are great for this purpose.

She also needs hands on manipulatives.  Saxon includes geo-boards, dominoes, pattern blocks, and linking cubes.  She loves them all.  Rather than repeating a concept over and over and getting a deer in the headlights look, she can play with the manipulatives and see what I mean.  She finally gets math.

Saxon is also great for the non-STEM moms and beginning home schoolers.  The lower grades contain scripts so you know exactly what to say, what manipulatives to use, and what to review and when to review it.  It can give the educator more confidence.

The spiral aspect helps keep things fresh.  She doesn’t have to wait another year before seeing addition again or money.  She gets to review money, calendars, and number patterns daily.  She enjoys the routine of the program. 

While Saxon might not work for some, if your child is struggling to fit in a Singapore style math, consider a less abstract math program like Saxon.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Near Year Started 15 days ago...

I can’t believe how smoothly everything is going this year.  Sonlight is working like a charm.  I have finally found a flow that is working for our unique family.


Blue Grotto, Capri, Italy
My 8 year old and 7 year old are both using:
Sonlight B& C for History, Bible, Geography, Reading
NOEO Physics Level I for science
Discovering Great Artists
Piano Lessons for music
All About Spelling for Spelling
Rod & Staff for Grammar

My 8 year is doing well with Singapore Math so I am not switching.
My 7 year needed more review and lesson abstract thinking, so we switched to Saxon Math.

I took an unschooling approach to Health and Physical education.  As interests and topics arise, we discuss them, read about them, or try it out.

My little self proclaimed scientist joins in and observes NOEO Physics.  He also enjoys Sonlight Preschool Package for 3 year olds.  He loves sitting on my lap and listening to stories over and over again.  His favorite this week is caps for sale. 

The girls have loved listening to the Sonlight book selections.  They really enjoyed Red Sails to Capri.  They are now saving their allowance money to visit the Blue Grotto, in Capri. Currently they have $4.74 dedicated to the trip.