October 14, 2011

One month down!

The past 4 school-weeks have passed by quickly. I feel like we've found our grove with scheduling and fitting everything in, but I'm sure there'll be lots of tweaks and adjustments along the way.

By age, Avila doesn't technically need a scheduled school-day with things like handwriting and reading. Although I have been an early childhood educator in many different settings, I actually don't think that formal instruction should start until the child is ready. If you look at some of the places in the world that have the highest educational scores, a lot of them don't start formal education until waaay later than we do in the US. Finland (highest reading scores in the world) for example, doesn't start formal reading instruction until age 7. By pushing our kids too early (without giving them lots of time to learn through play, being read to, and discovering life through fun) our efforts can actually backfire - making our kids frustrated and turning them against a love for learning.

That being said, I only do formal things with Avila that I know she is ready for. (She kind of picks things up at a crazy rate which is why I am doing things that normally wouldn't be introduced until later. If she wasn't ready for any of this until she was 5 or 6, I would totally wait until then.)

Our basic set-up is as follows:
(this is really just meant to give an idea of what works for us. Preschooling, homeschooling, life-schooling looks so many different ways that this is, by no means, a perfect system)

-first off, I don't invent everything from scratch. that would be dumb. I search and print and copy from as many people as possible!

-I printed out the Kindergarten standards and will give ourselves a couple years (or until K age would be) to get them checked off. The K subjects are: math, reading, writing, communication, science, social studies and for us religion

-to fit those in, I decided to have a theme each week (social studies), such as family, community, creation, virtues, weather, space, dinosaurs, Mary, the ocean, etc. The possibilities are endless! We do some sort of math, reading, and handwriting everyday (total, it takes about 30-45 minutes. seriously), Mondays we do an art project. Fridays we do a science "experiment." And we fit in religion in everything we do - from feast day celebrations to randomly praying for things to going to Mass, and on and on.

-I go online on the library website and reserve a couple weeks of books ahead of time (according to our themes). When they are ready, I swing by and pick them up! Super easy.

-most of our school happens through life. For example, last week our theme was community so whenever we drove, we would point out the different street signs we saw. Whenever we heard a siren we would pray for the people in trouble. Sometimes I find that we "do school" so much during the day (just by living life) that we actually don't need to "do school" at our table!

-Here are some awesome websites I use that I would totally recommend. If you have any, please pass along!

http://www.prekinders.com/ - She has themes and everything set up for you already!

1+1+1=1 - a great resource but also kind of overwhelming. I only pull a few things from her because if I did it all I would go nuts

http://www.catholicicing.blogspot.com/ - great resource for liturgical/saint/church activities


http://www.donnayoung.org/ - any calendar, planning form, really anything you need to get started!

free Catholic coloring pages on anything you could imagine, click here and here

the internet - type it in, and you will find it :)

Here are some pictures of our first couple of weeks. We studied colors and family.

my file box. there is a folder for each week, extending into May. whenever I find something to do with that theme (handwriting sheets, activities, etc) I throw it into its folder. if anyone wants my list of themes, just let me know in the comments section and I'll post it. other folders include: church seasons, math/reading/writing activities, music stuff. We will do each theme again next year, focusing on different activities. Plan once, do it twice!!

click here for the planning form. and click on the picture to make it larger to see what we do. feel free to copy! now that I have it down, planning doesn't take long at all (hour total including prep for the following week). after the week is done, I put the planning form in it's theme folder so I can pull it out for next year!

our first day! I filled this little $2 backpack with colored pencils, watercolors and stickers. then I took them all away so brother wouldn't destroy them.

a math workbook from Costco. We are working on basic skills (counting, more/less, number recognition, mastering writing our numbers) before moving onto our math curriculum from Singapore Math.

at the beginning of the week, I throw everything we are doing into a tray. that way it's all ready and I can bring it anywhere in the house (aka: the kitchen so brother can have a snack while we work). next to the puzzle is a handwriting dry-erase book from Costco that I LOVE. she can practice her letters without wasting paper and she can reuse it a million times.

after making our own mosaic, Avila spotted a mosaic in church!

the first week we studied colors. we did lots and lots of coloring mixing.

the second week we focused on family. Avila loves Goldilocks and the Three Bears, so we did math with our little bear family. =)

OK. want to keep a little girl occupied for an hour? Give her a baby to wash.

one of our science experiments was on absorption. we would predict if certain things absorbed water: paper clip, cotton ball, the table and then see if we were right or not. did you know that a size 5 diaper can hold 180 teaspoons of water? craziness, I tell you.

PS: here's to another Bellarmine win! 49-0 last night. 7-0 for the season. Homecoming, and perhaps the hardest game of the year, next week!

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