Tuesday, November 25, 2014

How We Do Preschool

Preschool is not Charlotte Mason (not in the Santa Monica-preschool sense), but we "preschool" anyway.

Over the weekend, a mom asked how we do preschool, how much time we devote to preschool daily, and if we have a particular time set aside for "school."

I started by backwards-planning. I looked at a kindergarten readiness checklist and, because I am preparing her for a Charlotte Mason Year 1, I took that into consideration, too.

Not only do I want her to know shapes and colors, I also want her to be exposed to classical music, to watch a caterpillar turn into a butterfly, to collect rocks, to learn memory verses, to listen to stories, to sing hymns, to visit museums, etc.

When my daughter was two, I went down the kindergarten readiness checklist, checking off the things she knew and teaching her the things she didn't. One example, we focused on the numbers 1 through 5 using Mathematical Reasoning Beginner 1. Another example, I gave her scissors and bought Kumon Let's Cut Paper books.

Now, we are doing kindergarten in terms of reading and math, but calling it preschool, and when she is in "kindergarten," I'll tell her she's in kinder, but we'll work on skills at whatever level she feels comfortable and challenged.

We do reading lessons and math lessons just about every day, including weekends. For reading, we use Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons. Last night, we completed Lesson 76. For math, we use all sorts of stuff, but our primary resource right now is Mathematical Reasoning Level A.

Lessons are SHORT. We only work for as long as she's engaged. If she becomes distracted, I close the book and stand up, which usually results in her pleading "nonono" and finishing the page she's working on. She can "do" math for 30 minutes. Her attention span for reading is shorter, maybe 15 to 20, but she plays a lot during her lessons. I highly recommend this. During reading, she dances or acts out words or runs out of the room for a prop.

We don't have a set school-time, but reading and math are done in the evening. (During the day, my husband takes our daughter to parks, ballet, Church Mice, co-op, etc.)

We read Bible stories, talk about what she learned in Church Mice, watch VeggieTales DVDs. We do science experiments and read Lets Read and Find Out books. My husband speaks to her in Spanish some of the time, and I'm adding in some more explicit vocabulary instruction. We go to museums for art and history. My husband plays just about every instrument and we've been talking about him starting piano with her using the Alfred curriculum. We're going to see The Nutcracker in December, so we've been dancing in the living room to Tchaikovsky. We completed Lollipop Logic Book 1. She learns a memory verse each month, like psalms, and is currently learning the Lord's Prayer set to music (Readeez's Our Father on YouTube). We work on please, thank you, listening to Mommy and Daddy, and other habits.

This is the gist of how we do preschool.

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