Homeschooling, Printables

Pre-K2 printables

Julie / August 25, 2010

I just realized that I haven’t explained my new schedule on the blog, so here ’tis: since things seemed to be veering into triteness, so I decided to post Monday-Wednesday-Friday instead, which will give me a small break on the weekends, and at least two days to muse over each post instead of necessarily writing it start-to-finish all in one day.  Hopefully this leads to improvements.  (Not being pregnant also usually leads to improvement, but I can’t do much about that one!)

School is… continuing.  E has some difficulty figuring out how to tell letters apart, which is more frustrating to me than I would like.  I’m trying to teach her what kinds of things to look for to distinguish between them–and oddly, once she knows a letter, she knows it well–but telling things apart and seeing similarities and differences is a skill, I suppose, and I didn’t realize it.  I guess I thought it was like seeing: you just do it!

We read my favoritest of all favorite childhood books yesterday: The Spider and the Fly, which is a lavishly illustrated version of this poem (the right one).  Part of the way through, E started acting quite scared of the spider and was even saying things like “don’t eat fly!  don’t eat fly!”  I was afraid that she might be thus traumatized by the ending–the spider does indeed eat the fly–but she didn’t seem to mind.  I think the fly ghost might have confused her a little bit, since she probably doesn’t know what the giant stark tombstone the fly ghosts are huddled around even is!  Anyway, it’s a great, great story, and I can’t wait until the kids are old enough to really thoroughly understand it.

I’m making a new section on the blog (at the top): printables.  I haven’t had as much time to put into these as I’d like–mainly because I’m generally putting them together hurriedly at night after E goes to bed to use them the next day–but I’m hoping as the school year wears on, they’ll get more focused and diverse.  In the meantime, here are two new alphabet sets to trace.  The idea isn’t to learn how to print, but rather to encourage deeper studying of the actual letter formations themselves to enhance recognition.  (I.e., it’s more of a print-based font than a handwriting font.)

1                         2

I turned E loose on them today (just the letters she already knows somewhat) with a bright marker and she had a blast!  And it seemed to help her learn to recognize the letters better. The important thing is that two-year olds are GREAT at destroying things like formal workbooks, so I’m finding printables indispensible.  Each one covers the whole alphabet, and then we can toss “˜em when we’re done.

Homeschooling, Printables, Time Management

To-dos; homeschool day 1

Julie / August 23, 2010

So, here is the revised version of The To-Do List:

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The other one was technically working fine, but as it grew easier to stay in routine (both from building habits and from decreased mess to work with), I decided that it would be wise to try to work in all the little recurring tasks that still need done every once in a while, but which would be overwhelming to try to check every day.  So now the list has two parts: a daily routine, which is repeated all the days of the week and is the main thing that keeps our house in order, a weekly routine, which is more the tasks that only need to be considered once a week and are tackled Monday-Thursday, and a monthly routine, one part of which is tackled every Friday.  

I’m hoping that the extra routines gradually eliminate any of the mess areas in the house that had heretofore been mostly ignored–like dusting the baseboards. I also formally added mopping to the routine, which wasn’t exactly neglected before, but does require a lot of planning (because it works vastly better without children scampering about).  I still use the principles of different types of cleaning, but I didn’t delineate them in the list because I’ve found myself doing a lot more cleaning-when-the-mess-is-made (which are very short but frequent and unplannable) and a lot less cleaning bigger messes all at once (there aren’t any to clean).

 

Pre-K2

Here’s a little printable: flash cards for the alphabet, with lowercase and uppercase letters separate, and no “hint” pictures.  So simple, I know, but I haven’t actually found any in store-bought packs without pictures, which is dumb, imho, because my two-year-old gets totally distracted by… distractions.

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We officially started Pre-K2 today.  I wasn’t feeling well, and neither was E, so it was definitely a light day.  We started with some letter flashcards (this was before I made these) and learned our uppercase and lowercase A, then read some books and found the A’s in them. 

Our formal reading book of the day was The Little Engine that Couldlittlenginethatcould, which is probably my favorite children’s book now that I also had in my own childhood.  I’ve seen it redone a number of times, but I like the original one best.  It’s kind of a two-pronged message, both a Good Samaritan tale and an exhortation to do your best.  Anyway, I really like it, and since we have it, it was an easy addition to our Pre-K2 reading list.  E seemed to like it as well; there were a lot of characters (Humpty Dumpty, dolls, oranges) that she recognized, and she loves trains, so even though it was a pretty long book, she stayed focused the whole time. 

We played lots of “find the letter” games throughout the day, mostly initiated by E.  Somehow she already knows quite a few letters–I’m not sure how!  Once we get more into the swing of things, I want to get her to work on drawing the letters as well her hand coordination is sadly lacking (compared to an adult’s, anyway!), but I think that it will help her learn the shapes of the letters better, if nothing else.

I’m also going to start doing sight words with her, but I thought it would be good for her to know a few letters first, so she has something to latch onto in the words to learn to distinguish them.  We hadn’t had much luck with sight words so far.

Homeschooling

Pre-K 2

Julie / August 20, 2010

(Yet another short post at the end of a long, yet fun, day that sucks the brains right out of you.)

One thing I’ve been thinking about pretty seriously is trying to put together a somewhat formalized “curriculum” to use with E this year.  I think it will really help me to have the structure and goals actually sketched out, and it will definitely help next year when it’s R I’m trying to do at this level and E has moved along to more normal school.  (I.e., Pre-K 3 curricula actually exist, meaning you don’t have to come up with your own ideas, and it’s a more important to actually hit on all the usual subjects, but I’ve never seen a Pre-K 2 curriculum, and there doesn’t seem to be a common set of expectations to meet or fail.)

The main thing is that this is making me wish (just a teeny bit) that I’d been an early-childhood ed major.  Or at least an elementary ed major.  My adolescent psych classes aren’t doing me any good with a toddler!  I’m halfway thinking about finding a good early childhood education book to read, and halfway thinking that common sense and knowledge of my own child will go the distance.

The main thing I want to accomplish is being purposeful.  Instead of picking random books off the shelf to read during “school time,” I want to spend a little bit of time thinking about it (and possibly even doing a little bit of research smile_wink) and choose books that are in line with certain goals and provide a deliberate variety.  And I want to make sure that I’m not concentrating overmuch on “English” to the neglect of math, logic, or even science.  (I’m sure I’ll neglect science, because it is my least favorite of all the subjects, except for physics, which is really math and therefore doesn’t count!)

Homeschooling

Pre-K 2

Julie / August 20, 2010

(Yet another short post at the end of a long, yet fun, day that sucks the brains right out of you.)

One thing I’ve been thinking about pretty seriously is trying to put together a somewhat formalized “curriculum” to use with E this year.  I think it will really help me to have the structure and goals actually sketched out, and it will definitely help next year when it’s R I’m trying to do at this level and E has moved along to more normal school.  (I.e., Pre-K 3 curricula actually exist, meaning you don’t have to come up with your own ideas, and it’s a more important to actually hit on all the usual subjects, but I’ve never seen a Pre-K 2 curriculum, and there doesn’t seem to be a common set of expectations to meet or fail.)

The main thing is that this is making me wish (just a teeny bit) that I’d been an early-childhood ed major.  Or at least an elementary ed major.  My adolescent psych classes aren’t doing me any good with a toddler!  I’m halfway thinking about finding a good early childhood education book to read, and halfway thinking that common sense and knowledge of my own child will go the distance.

The main thing I want to accomplish is being purposeful.  Instead of picking random books off the shelf to read during “school time,” I want to spend a little bit of time thinking about it (and possibly even doing a little bit of research smile_wink) and choose books that are in line with certain goals and provide a deliberate variety.  And I want to make sure that I’m not concentrating overmuch on “English” to the neglect of math, logic, or even science.  (I’m sure I’ll neglect science, because it is my least favorite of all the subjects, except for physics, which is really math and therefore doesn’t count!)

Homeschooling

Beginning Homeschooling?

Julie / August 13, 2010

So I know learning is a life-long process, and good mommies teach their children 24/7, right?  But I had been kind of tentatively planning to do “formal school” when E is three, which is still a day very, very far away.

I’ve been rethinking, partly because I’ve been reading a great deal about homeschooling in a large family (i.e. teaching in a one-room schoolhouse!) and have coincidentally stumbled onto various suggestions for “what do I do with my toddler while the big kids are schooling?”  And also because I am precisely NOT the sort of person who gets specific things done unless I actually plan to accomplish specific things: I need to be reminded.

I think it would be good, for me, for E, for our little family unit, to begin some sort of formal school now.  I’m thinking I’ll try to fit it in before our naptime–I’ve been finishing the day’s chores early lately, and also been more fatigued and wanting to sit down, so it will be a good, calm time for us–and drag the kids up to the nursery, which has lots of books and not too many other distractions, and probably mostly read books, since E isn’t even two-and-a-half yet.  But I’ll try to get her to sit still and listen and look along, and begin to gently teach R to sit still.  I want both of them to become accustomed to the idea of a structured, disciplined time where they do activities Mommy chooses instead of whatever their little hearts please.  Once we get the hang of it, these are the activities I have planned:

  • books–read-aloud picture books, but also working in some longer/fewer-picture “listen” books
  • alphabet books–a little Baby Einstein set of 26 books, one per letter; I’m going to try to do one of these every day
  • word flashcards, homemade (for variety and personalization, but also because I can’t find any in stores without pictures!)
  • premade flashcards: Same/Different; Shapes & Colors; Alphabet; Numbers
  • a Pre-K3 Reading workbook
  • a Pre-K3 Math workbook
  • focused drawing
  • counting–I have little rubber blocks, but I’m also thinking other things would work quite well
  • some activities from The Toddlers Busy Book, which is the best toddler-oriented game/learning book I’ve come upon yet

I am presently thinking to do one reading book, one alphabet book, and one of the other activities every day.  It’s kind of hard to think of activities that a toddler can do that are more “learning” than “play.”  I’m not sure how long it will take her to learn the alphabet–she already knows quite a few by sight, and can say most of them in a row–but once she gets that, we’ll move on to phonics.  I’ve noticed that a lot of “Pre-K” books require more hand coordination (drawing, tracing, circling, coloring) than E has yet, so once she grows in that area, that will be an easy route to continue down as well, because already she could grasp many of the activities, if she had the manual dexterity.  I’m hoping the Pre-K3 workbooks help her move in that direction!

Homeschooling

What we teach.

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And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart.  You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.
[Deuteronomy 6:6-7, ESV]

What’s really important?  What do we really want our children to know, to understand?

I don’t think most of us would hesitate to spew out the correct answer–the things of God, the fear of God, the worship of God; to know God.

I’ve been extremely bothered lately by the realization, however, that when it comes to academics and education, most of us are right there with the rest of the world in holding forth the “Three R’s” as our goal.  But the most valuable thing the world has to offer is infinitely less than the smallest morsel of the knowledge of God.  It is better that they grasp an ounce–a very grain!–of His truth than that they be the most accomplished in all their field of academia.

I tweeted earlier that there’s something wrong with our priorities if our children can discuss Hamlet better than Zephaniah, if the words “to be or not to be” come more readily to their lips than “The Lord has taken away the judgments against you; he has cleared away your enemies. The King of Israel, the Lord, is in your midst; you shall never again fear evil” (Zeph. 3:15) or any of the rest of that amazing passage, or any passage at all that has fallen from the pen of the Almighty God.

Shakespeare was a linguistic genius in whom we can see how much greater must be the genius of the One who created him, and yes, there are moments of truth to be found in the bard’s many lines.  And Shakespeare is just one poignant example.  But do we really want to say that a good understanding of Shakespeare makes our children more “well-equipped” than the armor of God (Eph. 6:14-18) does?

I am struck by the detail and intensity of the passage in Deuteronomy.  I realize that the context is different from ours (in the sense that it’s talking about the law, and talking to a theocratic nation), but here we have a tiny, graphic picture of how God thinks people should be teaching children about Him: first by ourselves loving God with all our heart, all our soul, all our might, by writing His words on our hearts then by talking about His words when we sit, when we walk, when we lie down, when we rise; by carrying them with us always and holding them before us always.

That when-you-sit-walk-sleep-wake-up part really gets me.  Be talking and thinking and meditating on God all the time!  And in case we start to think that “all the time” just means some vague incomprehensible thing like we chalk up “pray without ceasing” to be–He spells it out.  Talk about God with your kids when you sit down, when you walk, when you go to bed, when you rise in the morning.

I don’t think it’s wrong to teach Shakespeare and Hamlet.  I pick on Hamlet, in fact, precisely because British literature was always “my” subject–I even did my undergraduate senior seminar on Shakespeare.  But I’m really concerned with the division of time that we plan to use with our kids.  I’m perplexed at the idea of spending hours a day in pursuit of things the world deems educationally important (reading, writing, arithmetic) and not spending those hours in equally formal, dedicated, focused pursuit of God and His words.  I look at passages like the one in Deuteronomy and I fall so short.  I am so completely saturated by worldly ideas about what things to teach our children, even toddlers.  Have I tried harder to teach E the alphabet and numbers and shapes than I have tried to teach her Christ?  Would that our catechism was offered with half the enthusiasm and desperation with which we present grammar and addition!

We think that our children need a good education, to be well-rounded and intelligent individuals who are well-prepared for anything the world might throw at them, including college.

They need Jesus infinitely more, and I don’t mean just a “saving knowledge.”  He’s our bread and water and life-giving sustenance: we need every morsel.  And that’s no small amount of learning–no small amount of training–no small time investment.

It’s a lot more than Shakespeare.