By: Delana H Stewart
1. Relax and Enjoy the preschool years: I can’t stress enough the importance of this. Too many home-school parents and preschool teachers forget that it is PRE-school (meaning not school–but before). They try to make things too academic too soon.
2. Prepackaged preschool/K4 curriculum not recommended: Most of those have really been designed for a child that is in one room of a school building day in and day out and needs to be kept occupied. Much learning at this stage comes from experiencing things and learning through play and interaction with adults and kids of all ages.
- Buying a packaged curriculum for K5. For parents who feel totally clueless in the education arena, I recommend that they purchase a ready-made kindergarten curriculum…just to get an idea of establishing a routine and getting down the basics.
- Not buying a package. For parents who are structured and have routines and have some idea of what is needed for early childhood education, I recommend that for K4/5 they focus on the basics: math, learning to read, learning to write. Other elements (science, history/social studies) can be introduced through play experiences, reading aloud (i.e. historical bedtime stories), learning videos, learning software, and field trips. For discovering which material to use in Kindergarten for the basics, I recommend that parents plan on attending a home school conference, where they can peruse, handle, talk about, hear about, and learn about a variety of things available for education.
3. Learn about the basics that will be required for Kindergarten and 1st grade: In learning what basics a child should know by the end of their kindergarten year, the Core Knowledge Series book “What Your Kindergartener Needs to Know” is very helpful. Read a lot to your preschooler. Follow along with your finger so that he/she can feel the rhythm of how we read from left to right. Point out signs and words on cereal boxes (and other media).
4. Familiarize yourself with a variety of school curriculum: Some people are not keen on mixing and matching curriculum. To new home-school parents (who do not have an education background) I recommend that they do not do this at first. Nor do I recommend it for 7th-12th grade (with the exception of a subject or two). However, for 1st-6th grades I highly recommend it. There is a variety of curriculum out there and some definitely falls short of what it should be. Many parents (myself included) have learned that the best math curriculum for our teaching style and our child’s learning style is from Curriculum “X” and the best spelling one for us is “Y.” For example, Sonlight Curriculum is a library of Newbury Award winning literary works. I did not like using Sonlight as a total curriculum, though—but their books were fabulous. For History and Science I recommend finding a Christian curriculum (or one that at least approaches it from a Christian viewpoint) because so many important details are left unsaid in secular materials. And, many theories are stated as facts.
5. Talk to other home school parents about what curriculum they use: While it is good to talk to others who have been there, everyone is going to have differing opinions. As home school parent and educator, you will need to explore the options and do as God leads you. I highly recommend reading the book The Way They Learn by Cynthia Tobias.
If you want to provide your child something a few times a week from the technological standpoint, check out this review of Miss Humblebee’s Academy.
Here is a link for an excellent article on preschool curriculum: A Homeschool Curriculum for Preschool and Kindergarten –Lillian Jones http://www.besthomeschooling.org/articles/lillian_jones_ps_kdgtn.html
For some articles on The Education Cafe about preschool and kindergarten, consider these:
For articles on The Education Cafe about curriculum and homeschool resources, consider these:
Finally, here are some posts regarding teaching/learning phonics and reading: