Tuesday, September 8, 2015

What We're Doing This Year for K4: Curriculum

We actually decided to homeschool Elanor before she was ever born. We didn't know about her special needs, so that was never actually a consideration.  But now that I see so many other special needs parents dejectedly turning to homeschooling after problems with public school I guess I'm glad we already had this decision made.

We started sort-of homeschooling last year, in what I would call K3. We used Calvert's Pre-Kindergarten, which is an all-in-one program that everyone I ever talked to said I would hate but I was determined to try anyway. Well, I tried it, and, I hated it. So you were right, everyone.

Calvert's Pre-K was just sooooo antiquated. All the stories were old and weird and most were even hard for me to follow. I specifically recall one that was about 10 pages long and then at the end you found out it was all a dream. Seriously? She's a preschooler. If I can't sit through your crap she definitely can't. It was also really uneven. Some concepts were introduced that I thought were too advanced for Elanor. Meanwhile, they never introduced any letters and numbers at all except as a crazy afterthought in the last two months. It was definitely not for us, and it's probably not for anyone. Thanks but no thanks, Calvert.

So, this year we're putting together our own little pre-kindergarten curriculum that I am referring to as K4. It consists of:

All About Reading Pre-Reading Program

I have literally never read a bad review of this program. In fact, I once saw a thread on Facebook where someone came right out and asked for a bad review and no one had one to give. This is supposed to be the reading program of your dreams. 

It certainly does seem kind of cool. Very multisensory. Every day a new letter or sound is introduced, you read a poem, do some kind of craft project, do a game involving rhyming or phonics, and then end with reading anything for 20 minutes. I'm definitely into the routine. I'm glad that there is rhyming practice because Elanor has a lot of trouble with rhyming. I'm also not looking forward to rhyming practice because Elanor has a lot of trouble with rhyming. Regardless, I'm excited to do this reading curriculum for a while. If it goes well we will move on to Level 1 next year. 

Handwriting Without Tears My First School Book

Elanor's occupational therapist from Early Intervention suggested this program when she was only 2 years old. HWOT is supposed to be especially good for children with fine motor or motor planning issues. This book is for their preschool "Get Set For School" program, and we also got some of their other stuff like a little slate chalk board and some wooden pieces that show you how to make capital letters. They call this a "crayon-only" book, and it's just supposed to get you used to the idea of writing letters. There is also this additional "Mat-Man" program that helps to teach your kid to draw stick figures, which seems cool. 

I'm not head over heels for this like I am for All About Reading but it seems good, sort of fun maybe. If we like it we will do the Letters and Numbers for Me book next year. We might also subscribe to Keyboarding Without Tears, which doesn't start until kindergarten. 

Singapore Math Earlybird Kindergarten Mathematics

I'm in love with Singapore Math. I want to marry it and have half-human, half-math babies. The Singapore method uses tens as a base and is sometimes (incorrectly) referred to as "common core math." This is the way that I have always done math in my head without realizing it, and once I did realize it and watched a video about how to do it better I was amazed at how my math skills improved. I am so excited for Elanor to have always learned to do math this way. 

Watch this! Learn it! Do it! Change your life!

The Singapore Math books actually haven't come in the mail yet, but I know other families that have used these books as a part of preschool and it seems to have gone pretty well. At this level it's  not much different than any other very early math books. You learn to count. You learn to draw numbers. You learn to add and subtract some small numbers, etc. I think it's going to be fun. 


So I'm just totally winging this part of the curriculum. We are doing theme weeks, which is something we sort of just fell into doing last year. For every week there will be a theme, and for every theme there will be a video, a book, and a craft. Part of the point of this is to force me to do crafts, because I'm not a crafty person and I don't think Elanor should suffer as a result. 

This week's theme is All About Me. Next week's theme is Rosh Hashanah. I'll let you know how they go from week to week. I'm trying to keep it very low maintenance because otherwise I won't keep up with it. 

Anyway, that's what we're doing from a curriculum perspective this year. Maybe I'll love it all and keep doing it next year. Maybe I'll hate everything and start all over. Maybe I'll give up and send her to kindergarten at the elementary school. I guess only time will tell. 

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