I’m a teacher….it’s in my blood….Whether I have a room of 28 second graders, 19 kindergartners, 60 adults, or simply my daughter at the kitchen table, facilitating learning and helping people construct their own ideas is amazing….Towards that end, I often get asked questions regarding schooling options.
I consistently do school work at home with my kids. We began doing “school” each day a few months before her third birthday. Before she was 5, Hannah could read, write, follow directions, and grasped new mathematical concepts. However, despite her success with being “home-schooled”, she went to pre-school, and is enrolled in public school. Why you ask? (Actually, MANY people ask me that…) For OUR family, and for Hannah, public school was the right choice. (Our 4 year old son Henry, is currently BEGGING to be home-schooled, and we’ll make that choice next year.) However, I have had a BLAST and a half doing homeschool/preschool at home with the kids for now, and love giving them the extra learning boost each day. So many of you have asked me to share with you what a “school” day at our house looks like.
The absolute most important thing you can do if you are going to help your child is…
1. PLAN!!! If you are going to be your child’s teacher, you absolutely must lesson plan. The first thing you should do is find out what your state’s grade level expectations are. (GLE’S) (Washington State Grade Level Expectations) If you don’t know where to find these, ask a friend who is a teacher in your state to help you. Once you know what your child “should” learn each year, you will have a focus for your instruction. Be careful to include each of the subject areas that would be covered in public school. Getting a plan book, or creating weekly lesson plans is a critical step. Writing down your plans will help keep you on track and help you to be prepared for each day. Make sure to have each day’s supplies and activities ready to go the night before, so that no instruction time is wasted.
- I wanted to show you an example of my working “Plan in Progress”…Feel free to use the template if it helps you! Lesson Planning in Progress
- Check out my “Lesson Plans” section to see more ideas of what a week of “school” would look like for preschool instruction.
- Each week, I center my home instruction around a “theme.” I’ve always believed that kids learn better when you can tie all aspects of the curriculum to a unifying theme. They are not only more likely to retain information, but have more opportunities for authentic learning when subjects overlap. Skills are rarely used in isolation in the real-world. Why some teachers insist on teaching in isolation baffles me. Anyhow….off my soapbox…
- Choose a theme that interests your child or matches what is happening around them. Currently, we are doing a “Telling Time” theme. Here is how I tie a theme to all subject areas..
Reading– Check out books from the library that center around your theme. Look through your bookshelves. Find a wide variety of books about your subject. Try to select both fiction and non-fiction, and several different genres if possible. For telling time, I selected several non-fiction books…one on clocks, and one on HOW to tell time…I selected several stories regarding children who were running late, got a new watch, etc. I found a poem about a clock as well.
Math– Our math lessons obviously center around telling time this week. When it was snowman week, we did things like creating a snowman glyph, estimating how many “snow” balls were in a jar, etc. We’ve graphed dinosaur lengths, counted pirate treasure, etc.
Art – Henry created his own practice clock this week out of a paper plate. (You can find a craft/art project that relates back to just about any theme online!)
Media– I checked out a DVD about clocks and time telling. We found several computer games related to telling time.
Science– We did a science experiment that centered around a time hypothesis. The kids had to hypothesize how long it would take for ice to melt in several different scenarios. We talked about units of time and she was able to grasp a stronger sense of time in addition to learning about the scientific method.
Social Studies– We talked about making time for people and how we spend our time. Hannah drew a picture of her schedule.
Writing – (I focus on creative writing, rather than hand-writing) Younger kids spend a SMALL amount of time practicing letter formation, but keep this time brief. Provide engaging prompts and let your child dictate to you. Let them draw a picture about the theme, and have them tell you the story. Label. Re-tell stories. Create. Early writing is much more about developing the creative process inside, than it is about the “perfect page.”
We also like to do a cooking project each week, as well as some type of active activity. I try to take the kids on any relevant “field trips” as well. Provide EXPERIENCES, give opportunities to question, wonder, and observe. READ all the time. PLAY. TALK. Keep it child-centered.
- We do about 7 activities each day. When your children are young, you’ll need to remember that they have short attention spans (and that typically, children do not behave as well for their own parents as they do for other adults.) Each activity should last no longer than about 15 minutes, less for many activities. If your child begins to become frustrated, don’t push it. The last thing you want to do is kill their spirit and cause them to want to give up. Don’t let their first taste of “school” be a negative one. Uplift and encourage, and keep it interesting!
- Establish a schedule. Your child will do best if they know what to expect from you (and will also help them if they DO go to a regular school in the future). Keeping their supplies in a certain place will also help them learn to be organized.
- Don’t beat yourself up if it doesn’t happen every day. It is really easy to get excited about doing this and then fizzle out…life happens. Just make your best effort and do it with a smile. If you are not having fun, it is a sure bet, they won’t have fun either.
- Try it out…see how you and your kids do. This is NOT for everyone. (and that is OK!!) We are not all the same, and certainly don’t have to raise our kids the same way. However, if this interests you, go for it! I am here as a resource and would gladly answer your questions. Have fun! Happy pre-schooling!