Yesterday I began a journey with my eldest son to which I have been long looking forward: homeschooling. Although I have been engaging him in a number of educational activities at home (and he attended a local preschool while I was still teaching) yesterday was our first “official” day of “school.”
For now I’ve decided to use the Sonlight PreK curriculum – loosely. Rather than being tied to the curriculum, I have decided to use it as a guide and a basic blueprint to guide me each day. Before even ordering the Sonlight PreK curriculum, I put together a list of objectives that I want Finn to have mastered by the time he’s ready for Kindergarten (or P1 in Bermuda). When planning what we’ll do in a given day, I base our activities off the list of objectives and the suggestions in the Sonlight program. I particularly like the Bible stories, Bible verses, character traits and songs suggested in Sonlight’s program. Using the curriculum for this purpose alone has saved me time and effort in planning.
Because I have a teaching background and didn’t want to spend nearly $600 on a full preschool curriculum (especially since I knew that if I really wanted to, I could just plan everything myself), I decided to order the Sonlight teacher’s handbook and some key books that they recommend. For example, I loved the books they recommended for teaching character. However, I didn’t order all of the supplementary recommended trade books; instead, I am using trade books that I already have in our library. Since Sonlight’s preschool curriculum is literature based, this will work perfectly. Of course, some of their recommended activities will not align with the books I have on hand, but that’s fine. Instead, I’ll just rework the activities and improvise to create activities that align with the books that we do have. This helped to save me at least $400 (I did spend about $200 on some books and other materials).
Although Finn is three, I have decided to begin teaching him phonics and math. For phonics and reading I’m using the book: Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons as a guide. This book was recommended to me by a friend and I’m giving it a try. The lessons are quick and easy (so easy that Finn likes to joke while doing them!) For math I am using the Horizons K book. I love that the Horizon’s math program starts at such a basic level that Finn has no trouble with it, but that it spirals and builds, one concept upon another.
Here’s the fun subject that I’m planning on starting tomorrow: Spanish! It’s funny because I don’t know Spanish myself, but I am learning. (Thanks DuoLingo app!) I’ve downloaded Whistlefritz’s lesson plans and have purchased Usborne’s 1000 First Words Spanish book.
For now, our morning (or hour and a bit) is as follows:
- Bible story, review verse and character trait (Sonlight)
- Read aloud (as recommended by Sonlight or books from our personal library) These read alouds include books about science and cultures.
- Phonics: Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons
- Math: Horizons
- Perceptual growth: Developing the Early Learner Book 1
- Spanish (Only a couple of days a week to start with)
The first two days have been great! Baby Ty slept the whole time and we finished the above essentials in about an hour and 15 minutes (which has included extra stories and activities as per Finn’s requests).
I break up the ‘workbook’ type of material so Finn doesn’t feel like we’re sitting and working in a book for too long. We’ll do some sort of outdoor or physical activity between the more intense lessons (phonics and math). This has worked well. I’ve also decided to include some additional activities to make the lessons fun for Finn. So on some days we’ll take breaks from the books and instead we’ll just do extra play-based activities practicing the skill he is currently learning. For example, in phonics he’s learning the ‘m’ and ‘s’ sound, so tomorrow we’ll play, ‘Whack that sound’ with foam letters and for counting we’ll be counting outside using his rock collection as motivation.) In his read-aloud time he is learning about winter and snow, so to supplement this learning, today our water table was filled with shaving cream and ice.
I love that homeschooling thus far is giving me time to focus on spiritual growth, inspiring curiosity and learning but also allows for plenty of time for independent play. Finn is valuing his role as a ‘big helper’ in our family and is assisting with Ty, which is priceless to watch.
Don’t get me wrong, my son also tests my patience, but those moments are few and trivial compared with the joy of watching him grow in obedience, love and knowledge. I’m excited for what lies ahead.