I have been asked what I am doing for “school” for my three year old. She is an active gal, likes to keep busy, and really wants an assignment. She wants to be like her big sisters and do “math” as she calls any sort of textbook. I have a few favorite things that I have put together to constitute our PK-3 program. It is a conglomeration of Charlotte Mason’s methods, classical education, and some Montessori method. Here are the actual books and curriculum I use.
Preschoolers are happiest when they play, so my go-to curriculum is A Year of Playing Skillfully. I love the ideas in this book. The pictures are plentiful and the suggestions are all focused on learning through play. It is seasonally based.
I was a little bummed to find that it was a school year of ideas, not a calendar year. They sell a supplement that covers the summer. This is a pricey curriculum. I looked at it as an investment in several years of preschool since the activities can be repeated each year. And there is no way we could cover everything in the book in one year. Yes, I could spend hours each week looking up these ideas on Pinterest and various blogs, but I would rather spend that time with my little one and trust the moms at The Homegrown Preschooler to have screened the activities for me and judged their educational and developmental value.
The second item we have been having lots of fun with is the set of three “Preschool Bundles” from The Reading Corner. The subscription is a real bargain (currently $7 a month) and there is no long term commitment. You will need a color printer for the fun printables. I like the pom pom activities, the counting bears exercises, and the the play dough projects. There are lots of great color, matching, and puzzles there, too. I am not a fan of the reading methods, but I pick and choose what I like. And there is a lot that I like.
My three year old absolutely loves books! That is why Before Five In a Row is the perfect curriculum for her. This book guides the parent through reading and discussing quality children’s literature with their preschooler. It is full of activities and projects to accompany each book. Most are classics like Courdroy and Goodnight Moon. Often we discover favorite authors through this book list and go and find other books they have written.
Believe it or not, my PK-3 kid’s favorite schoolwork is The Critical Thinking Company’s Building Thinking Skills Beginning 1 workbook. There are lots of riddles and pattern building activities in this curriculum. If she has trouble with a pattern, we then take out pattern blocks and little figurines and building the pattern several times. We use Aladdin’s magic carpet figurine to cover a block and guess which color or shape is under it. Her favorite is when the Boo figurine (from Monsters, Inc.) has to jump from pattern block to pattern block and tell me what comes next.
I do not recommend spending much time immersed in workbooks. But the methods for building pre-math skills are easy to pick up in this book and bring to the real world, using blocks, toys, rocks, and sticks. When we turn it into play, my PK-3 student begs for these activities over and over.
My bestie and I (she is a mom of 8) create our own classical co-op program using all sorts of great resources. Since the littles have to be present when we are teaching the bigger kids, we have created some really useful things for them to do. They memorize everything they hear anyway, so we give them great things to put in their memories. The Harrow Family has put out a lovely album, Sing the Word A – Z. They have a short Bible verse to memorize for each letter of the alphabet.
We learn a new song each week, and that is the letter of the alphabet I introduce to my PK-3 princess. She loves the songs and must be getting the message since she told her friend to “Do to others as you would have them do to you”. Someday soon I hope she will apply it to herself!
For each 6 week unit we have a poem, a music selection, and a piece of art to contemplate. Our whole co-op (PK-3 to 12th grade) does this and Little Miss is happy to join in. This art section is themed to match the era of history we are studying. Right now we are in the second year of our 4 year cycle, so that means medieval history. We are listening to Gregorian chant, viewing the 9th century Virgin and Child mosaic from the Hagia Sophia, and reading Psalm 8. Next unit will be the poem Lancelot, the music will be the folk song Good King Wenceslas, and the art will be The Unicorn Tapestries. We spend no more than 5 minutes every other day on this. I play her the songs in the car, or while I run and she is in the jogging stroller.
None of this is necessary. My PK-3 program is based on my child’s desires. This is way more curriculum than I used with my first two. This kid burns through a lot of activities very quickly. It is okay just to spend the day playing. We do lots of that, too. We play in the pool for hours and I point out birds and bugs in the yard (and she often responds “Gross!”). She has a fairy garden plot than she plants and play in. We do lots of “school” outdoors. Whatever you do, just be sure not to stress a lot of writing for undeveloped hand muscles. Playing with tongs is one of the best pre-writing activities there is. We pick up fuzzy pom poms and cotton balls and drop them into bowls.
I’ve done lots of “Invitations to play”, but sometimes she declines my invitations in favor of copying her teenage sisters. We still do water table and sensory bins. This kid likes options. So I give her a wide variety. You don’t need all of this, but it is nice to have choices! What are your favorites for the PK-3 crowd?
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