We’re a few weeks in to our pre-k homeschooling foray, and things are bumping along quite well. I’ve read more than my share of books and blogs about education (considering the fact that I am a certified teacher), and my favorite aspect of our classical academic path is its simplicity. Ideally, you should be able to educate your child with nothing more than a library card and a stick in the sand. My go-to podcasts and bloggers are Circe Institute and Amongst Lovely Things. Granted, I’m using a bit more than just those two essentials, but I’m sticking with things I already have around the house.
I’ve found that my son and I thrive on a somewhat predictable routine, so I implemented a system that keeps us on track. It has been very helpful to put the reigns in his hands — this gives him ownership and allows him to express a healthy sense of autonomy. Academic responsibility from the get-go! I made a “schedule” so he could choose the order of our daily lessons. (Juggling nap times, laundry, and trying to keep us fed left me a bit inconsistent in our daily school routine.) He gets to add a clothespin (by himself, to work on dexterity) each time we do something new. He loves it!
Learning is most effective when it occurs in a natural, integrated fashion. Today, we read Reptiles and Amphibians by Cynthia O’Brien. I used the book to springboard into phonics, math, and science. The words amphibian, frog, and snake contain blends and digraphs that we’ve been practicing — so I made an effort to point out a few of them as we read. When Asher saw a captivating photo of a green tree python a few pages in, he wanted to learn more about it. A quick Google search revealed that they grow between five and seven feet long; he ran and got the tape measure so we could measure and count the appropriate number of feet. All of this snake trivia eventually led to watching a YouTube video of a ten-year-old girl feeding her snakes (which literally left me nauseous, but I put on my brave face for Asher). We then discussed predators and prey, and I did not sugar-coat the fact that animals eat other animals…even the cute, furry ones.
Generally, I’m not a fan of doing crafts with every lesson, but I try to work something in every now and again. This paper-plate snake took minimal effort on both of our parts, but it provided maximum output. We talked about how reptiles and amphibians use their camouflage as we colored (he’s very much into team efforts), then we recounted that reptiles are cold-blooded; have dry, scaly skin; lay eggs; and breathe air.
With his homemade snake proudly displayed on his easel, he excitedly told Daddy and Papa all about reptiles soon after they walked in the front door this evening. Fair warning to anyone who happens to visit: Asher will enthusiastically maul you with newly-acquired information and boundless energy! All of this homeschooling occurred while little brother napped. After he woke up, we listened to the Song School Latin CD, and watched Preschool Prep’s Digraphs DVD. These CDs and DVDs are by no means essential to pre-k homeschooling efforts, but I use them as life-hacks so I can take care of laundry, clean up the kitchen, and prepare dinner without two children underfoot. Work smarter, not harder!