Simple Preschooling at Home

A few people (this is a wild exaggeration – one single person inquired) have asked for details about the homeschooled version of preschool I’m doing with Ella this year.

So for all of you Rachel, here’s what we’re doing.
But first, a couple of notes, because I can never resist sharing ten times more information than anyone could possible want.
1. I aim to do this Monday, Wednesday, and Friday for about an hour or 90 minutes while Ani naps. Aim being the keyword. If we have a friend over in the morning or new stickers, I don’t feel bothered if we skip.2. I would not do this if Ella wasn’t totally interested and wanting to do it. As it is, though, she cries when it’s time to stop and begs constantly, “Can we just do a little more school?” So, I think she likes it.

3. This has made my life much easier. Now instead of wracking my brain each morning for ways to entertain Ella while Ani naps, I have ready-to-go activities. All I have to do is sit on the couch and read things aloud. Which happen to be two of my favorite activities in the world. Throw in some chocolate snacks and it would pretty much be my personal trifecta of happiness.

4. We are doing a co-op preschool also this fall, with four other children her age. So, that’s the other two mornings of the week.

So! Now that you’ve plowed through those four things, here’s my very official and impressive curriculum, which I should probably patent immediately.

An easy preschool curriculum for 3-5 year olds

Math: I bought this kindergarten math workbook and she does one or two lessons a day. She loves it and always chooses this to do first. The lessons are fairly short and I usually bulk them up a little by making up additional questions or problems with the provided pictures. Once a week or so, I have her play this Todo K-2 Math app (free! and quite impressive) to practice tracing numbers, doing basic addition, etc. She likes it and I try not to fall asleep because the music is very soft and soothing.

Reading: Ella already knew all her letters and the sounds they made, so we’ve been working our way through Phonics Pathways (we checked it out from the library). I’m not at all in a hurry for her to learn to read (since she’s just barely three and I don’t feel like there is any rush), so we do part of a lesson each day, sometimes repeating the same lesson a couple of days in a row. I want to make sure it’s fun for her, rather than stressful. She also will often pull the book out in the evening and have Bart help her sound out words from the many many lists of words in the book. (I’d originally planned to use Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons, but my mom happened to mention to me that she’d used it with one of us and not been impressed at all – apparently of the four different things she used to teach the four of us to read, it was her least favorite).

Read-Aloud: I read aloud to her for about 15-20 minutes. We started with Socks (I liked it, but it’s not my favorite), and now we’re doing Charlotte’s Web which I think is much better and she seems to be following it more easily. Next, I plan to do The Mouse and the Motorcyle or Ramona the Pest. Sometimes she snuggles with me on the couch, sometimes she plays with Legos or blocks while I read to her.

Picture Books: My goal is to read all the Caldecott Winners and Honor books this year with her. We usually do three or four, depending on how long they are.

Other things I’m planning to add:

  • Handwriting. I have done zero research on this, but I’d like to add a handwriting workbook to our routine, since she loves letters and she really loves workbooks (it’s like she’s my child or something).
There are so many fun things we could do, but I don’t want to overwhelm either of us, and so far this has felt extremely manageable and kept it enjoyable for us both. We’ll save the SAT vocab word flashcards for next year.P.S. On the topic of schooling, this post by Design Mom last week about sending her two oldest children to a very poorly rated public high school was fascinating to me and its been on my mind all weekend.

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  • Reply Jenna Hatfield September 9, 2013 at 11:00 am

    Oh, I'm going to share this with a few friends. Great stuff!

    (And that link. Whoa!)

  • Reply Ash September 9, 2013 at 11:07 am

    I love that you've got plans to read more Beverly Cleary books! My favorite! Although, Charlotte's Web is up there too. It sounds like you're having a great time! My mom taught all of us to read, too. 🙂

  • Reply Elaine September 9, 2013 at 11:57 am

    You must be having so much fun with Ella! I'm sure she just soaks up whatever education you offer her. I want to remind you of the Early Learning page of my website, and also let you know about an iPad resource I have developed including lists of apps both paid and free (I added the math app you mentioned)

  • Reply Lexilooo September 9, 2013 at 4:16 pm

    Ramona the Pest! Ahhh, I adore Ramona so, so much!

  • Reply r o y a l September 9, 2013 at 4:28 pm

    So… I am a moron when it comes to teaching kids ANYTHING…. what did you do to start her learning letters? Let's back up like two years… hahaha. But seriously. Do you just do what you like or do you read some book about raising kids and stuff? Alphabet flashcards/apps?

    • Reply Janssen September 9, 2013 at 4:55 pm

      I haven't read a lot of parenting books, frankly (too many YA romances need reading).

      As far as alphabet, we mainly just played with some big alphabet cards and read a ton of ABC books. Plus, some letter magnets.

  • Reply Lisa {} September 9, 2013 at 4:36 pm

    (1) Rachel's one of my favorite people on this planet (she's how I heard about your blog)
    (2) My guy is a little young for this, but I can't wait to use this info. Pinned for the future.
    (3) Living in California where there are a lot of 2/10 schools, that's just the kind of article I needed to read, so thanks!

  • Reply Rachel September 9, 2013 at 5:51 pm

    Ohh, a post just for me?!?! Thank you, this is perfect. Jilly is just starting to get the idea of school and I want to take advantage while it's so exciting to her

  • Reply Elaine September 9, 2013 at 5:58 pm

    There is a great website for the alphabet and alphabet sounds.

  • Reply Jessica September 9, 2013 at 6:26 pm

    I checked out your blog today – it's really great! Love the content and your writer's voice!

  • Reply Operation Pink Herring September 9, 2013 at 8:01 pm

    I've been wondering about your home preschool stuff and actually meant to email you about it! So there's two people who definitely wanted to know. Do the other parents who do this with you have any teacher/library training? It's not like I feel unqualified to teach letters and numbers, but I just kind of suck at playing with Hannah (taking her places where she can play? I'm really good at that) and question my own motivation to make lesson plans, etc!

  • Reply preethi September 9, 2013 at 8:28 pm

    Uh, just did a post today on our little coop preschool (although different focus). Great minds, and all.

  • Reply Sarah Spitz September 9, 2013 at 8:57 pm

    That sounds ambitious and beautiful!
    I'm sure that one day your daughter will look back on those hours and be grateful for your efforts.

    Love from Germany,

  • Reply Kristen September 9, 2013 at 9:39 pm

    You guys make a great team, sounds like you both love what you're doing and that this preschool is a good fit. Nice work.

    We listened to all the Romona books while doing the endless shuffling between activities. Everyone of my kids loved them (ages 4-9). It was a great way to make car time productive, or at least not boring!

  • Reply Michelle S September 9, 2013 at 11:21 pm

    You might want to check this out.

  • Reply Erin G September 10, 2013 at 3:13 am

    Highly HIGHLY recommend – Handwriting WIthout Tears. Silly name, excellent curriculum. Teaches letters capitals first, then lowercase, in order of complicatedness to write/construct. And especially if you are starting with 3-4 year olds, you will like the component that has wooden pieces to "build" letters before you write them. (Every letter can be made with some combination of four pieces – big line, small line, big curve, small curve.)

    I cannot say enough good stuff about the curriculum. (It's what my sons 4yo preschool teacher used and it was wildly successful.)

    (I don't homeschool in any fashion. WHOA. Glad you're having fun though!!!)

  • Reply Megan September 10, 2013 at 5:43 am

    Great ideas! How are you liking Phonics Pathways? I started Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons but didn't really love it.

    • Reply Janssen September 10, 2013 at 7:29 pm

      So far so good, but we've only done a couple of lessons.

  • Reply kimmie September 12, 2013 at 11:59 pm

    Nothing to do with preschooling (I'd never be able to do it myself) but I just bought Lucy the same tee from Target. I had sworn I'd seen it before, but I couldn't remember who. Now I remember it was Ella! 🙂 I gotta love Target 🙂

  • Reply megan September 13, 2013 at 6:51 pm

    Way to go! Jack was way into learning at home too. He learned to read at 3 no problem. Learned letters and sounds around 2 and a half or a little later. I like the BOB books a lot for teaching him to read words. They start with only 3 or 4 letters in each book so it's easy for them to get confident in those letter words and move on from there. T used them too, but he was a year or two older before he was interested at all.

  • Reply Abby September 15, 2013 at 5:28 pm

    I second Erin's thoughts on Handwriting Without Tears for a handwriting curriculum. I'm a pediatric occupational therapist, and I use and recommend Handwriting Without Tears all the time. The letters are taught in a developmentally appropriate order (capitals first) and it uses a multisensory approach. Three is a little young for actually writing letters, but if Ella is interested in it, I say go for it using some sort of multi-sensory approach. Writing letters in sand, dirt, shaving cream, paint, etc and building letters with wooden pieces. It sounds like you have a plan for math and reading, but Handwriting Without Tears also has a preschool literacy and math curriculum that are great.

    I also like Kumon workbooks for developing pre-writing skills. My trick for using workbooks over and over is to tear out the pages, place them inside page protector sleeves and use dry erase markers or crayola dry erase crayons. Then you can just erase and repeat, without buying more workbooks!

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