Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Starting School(ish)

People started asking me about Zinashi and schooling in January, right about the time we'd recovered enough from the holidays to make our way out of the house again. "Is she going to school?" was second only to "How is her English?" Which is to say that even if I'd wanted to let the topic rest, it never would have been allowed. It was brought up time and time again, and thus I had many opportunities to think about it.

It took some time to figure out what I'd do, if anything, at this point. I'm not of the "early reading is awesome" persuasion. I want Zinashi's first school experience to be enjoyable to her, and I want to be able to present things as she is ready for them. I never considered sending her to a regular preschool; it just wouldn't have been a good fit for her or for our family situation. Still, I wanted to introduce some school concepts and perhaps have a little time with a group of kids so she can get used to being in a group of her peers some of the time. So for what would be considered her Pre-K year, we are doing homeschool and participating in a co-op twice a month. I think this will give us a good starting place, allowing us to see if homeschooling is workable for us. My hunch is that we'll do fine, and that we will want to supplement with another group activity along the way (such as soccer or a dance class). But for now, this is where we will start. Our first co-op day is this Friday, and in the meantime we've started with my homemade curriculum. It looks like this:

this week's "school" features

And this:

our first "school" book

I'm borrowing a little from a series called Five in a Row, but using books we already have. I understand that a lot of homeschooling moms really like to have things laid out for them, but I find that I like choosing my own focus and activities at this point. After all, it's preschool. We don't need to get too intense. Each week I'll choose a book, and we'll read it each day of the week. Four-year-olds love repetition and learn well that way, so we are largely doing the same thing every day, with the goal at the end of the week being proficiency in our limited tasks. After we read, we talk about the story. We look at the letter of the week and find it in the book. We say the sound the letter makes. (P has been a really fun letter to start with, by the way.) Then we practice writing the letter. Next, we talk about the shape of the week and see if we can find that in the book and around the house. Then comes counting and the number of the week. We count to whatever our number is, and I choose something new to count every day. Our number this week is four, so yesterday I got out four napkins, and today we used four chocolates. Zinashi sometimes mixes up the numbers or skips some, so we are just working on a good solid count of one to four. Finally, I draw a four and let her practice drawing some fours, too.

After that, it's just a free-for-all. If she wants to write another number or letter, I'll write it down for her and let her practice. If she'd like to see her whole name written out, I do that, and sometimes she writes more than just the Z. If she seems keen on reading, I'll get out some hastily-written word cards and let her tell me which word is which. That's it. No pressure. It takes less than an hour for the actual "school" part of the day. When it is not school time, I do try to work in references to what we're learning this week, but it's nothing intense. It's just a good place to start. Because she's still four years old, and a lot of her learning still looks a lot like this:



  1. I love this curriculum! We could do this with our girls still spending a full day in day care. Not that I feel they aren't learning enough, but I'd also like to establish a learning relationship with them, if that makes sense. Thank you for sharing.

  2. So many parents get so wrapped up in intense schooling for children that are still so young. I'm a homeschool mama who focuses a lot on life skills. I believe the world is are classroom and feel so many teaching opportunities are lost when you have your head constantly stuck in a text book. And keep it waaaay simple the first couple of years. Their little brains can only handle so much as their bodies are developing rapidly-that takes a lot of work in and of itself. For my older kids, yes we have a classical curriculum that we stick more closeley to and love but there are still those days when we don't open a text book at all but have other activities from which we learn from. Before I write you a sermon I will close with-GREAT JOB MAMA MARY! Keep it simple, keep it fun, keep it real, keep building those memories with your little doll Z!


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