I feel very strongly about early childhood education; just not your typical head start style. Children are always learning, and exploring their world, even before they are born.
It’s amazing to watch their wonder at discovering something new to them for the first time, and see them make connections in their world.
Preschool should be a time for encountering new experiences, exploring, using ones imagination, and reading many books together.
This is what I used with Sparky this past year, and how it has worked for us.
Before Five in a Row was our main curriculum. We have really enjoyed this and will be continuing through the summer with it.
The very best activity idea books for us have been, Preschool Activities in a Bag volumes one and two, and Making the most of the Preschool Years.
Another activity book was Recipes for Play. While I really liked the ideas in this book, I found that being busy with a young infant, I just didn’t want to mess with the mess involved. I still hope to use to use this in the future now that Blossom is older.
I had intended to use Baby Play and Learn with blossom, but didn’t. I found that most of our play was spontaneous, and I didn’t have a lot of time to look up a baby game to play. Also planning out activities doesn’t work well with my babies. Its best to go with what they are interested in at the moment rather than trying to distract them from it to play what you have planned. When they are bored and cranky is a good time for new things, but a bad time for looking stuff up. I probably won’t keep this one in my library.
Sparky really enjoyed the toddler sticker and workbook set from kumon. We are still working through the maze and Tracing workbooks, and he has started the cutting and coloring books for age three. We also are enjoying Teach Your Child to Count to Ten and Number Time from The Thinking Tree. Sparky isn’t quite ready for the second half of these yet. We are also using Ember’s Favorite Things to Color (also from The Thinking Tree) for both the children when they need something extra to color or draw in.
John has been teaching the children Hebrew. They converse in almost all Hebrew together, and enjoy reading Usborn’s First Thousand words in Hebrew. I’m teaching them a few words in Spanish here and there, using DK First Spanish Picture Dictionary. Since I can’t converse in Spanish, they don’t pick it up as quickly. We also have Teach Me Everyday Spanish, and Teach Me Everyday Hebrew for the children to listen to. I was a little disappointed that it isn’t native speakers, but the children enjoy the songs.
These Montessori books are multisensory. I find it works best to leave them out and let the children use them at their leisure. Usually they sit looking and tracing. When they want me to tell them what things are, they will bring me the book to look at with them.
The children have learned so much this year from real life: watching baby lambs be born and grow, helping gather and stack wood, planting and picking in the garden, helping papa work on the truck and cars, riding a pony, and camping. Living out in the woods they have observed so much about nature: different kinds of birds and bugs, lizards, wild flowers, helping gather wild edibles, watching the stars, listening to owls and coyotes, seeing deer, and planting fruit trees.
For rainy days and times Sparky needed something to do the Lauri toddler tote, pegs and peg board, and color and shape sorter were a challenge until he was almost three. He still enjoys them, but they are too easy now. He also enjoyed playing with Bubber with plastic shape cutters.
For myself, Fun-Schooling For Mom’s of Preschoolers by Georgia Janisse and Sarah Janisse Brown was very helpful. It does have some activity ideas, but the bulk of the book deals with development at different ages, how they think and process information at each age, and how to effectively communicate with and help them learn.
This past year has been full and productive for us. Focusing on making time together with Sparky helped him adjust to his new sister, and made sure he still had special time with mom. Now Blossom joins in with the literature, and other activities.