Curricula: What We Use, Part 1: Preschool and Kindergarten

Curricula What We Use PreS and K Part 1There are times when I am overwhelmed by fear because of the pressure I put on myself to make sure that our lifestyle choice – to homeschool – is always successful. I try to hyper manage all the details of our outward expression of home to comfort myself that my children are learning, thriving, and growing in the right direction.

Until I try something for myself or see it in person, I think I have a fear of failure that I won’t be doing the best or the most I can for my children. I know that’s an elephant I bring into the room when I ask what someone else is using with their kids.

One huge point of growth for me each year is in the process of choosing a curriculum. It takes so much faith to put off the desire to have something “packaged and perfect” that guarantees my child’s success in order to put on prayer and faith that God will lead me every single day in teaching and training the persons He’s gifted to me for this season of motherhood.

So I grow in baby steps.

This year I wanted to know more about educational theories and the “why” behind the “what.” There are so many philosophies out there that it can feel burdensome to try to find the best one for your family.

Curricula What We Use PreS and K Part 1 3

Let me be quick to say 2 things before I even share what resources we used for preschool and kindergarten:

First, even if you never purchase an official curriculum – God will provide all you need to teach your children at every age.

Second, if a curriculum feels too expensive or too strict – then it probably is. Don’t get caught in the trap that you need to have an impressive curriculum to prove you’re doing the right thing for your family.

And I want to be clear that I’m not sharing what we’ve done as a prescription, but rather for review and as a history of our family’s growth in owning this homeschool lifestyle. I started out wanted all the impressive packages and gold-stars; I didn’t even know I was operating from the Traditional theory. I’ve had to change a lot of my behavior to align with our philosophy and I hope you will too.

Curricula we used for preschool and kindergarten:

  • Ages: 2-5 – We did the PreS and the PreK of Sonlight, a literature-based curriculum that is known for having some of the best reading lists.
    • For the PreS I just bought the Instructor’s Guide (IG) and picked up the rest of the books as we went along. We bought some and we borrowed some. The Harper Collin’s Treasure of Picture Book Classics was our family’s favorite.
      Since we knew early on that we were going to homeschool, this curriculum was a great way to build our children’s literature library. On my own, I didn’t know the best books to read at these ages. I really enjoyed the IG for the PreS package because it was filled with fun, easy activities to do with young children.
    • For the PreK we purchased the whole package new. We didn’t like the schedule for the reading portions in the IG (really choppy and too many books going on at once). So around October I scrapped the IG and just read through the books on our own. The down side of that was that we didn’t get through all of the books because we lost interest or just forgot. Also, we missed out on the overlapping effect of having the subjects line up across multiple categories of stories. Overall, we had polar feeling about this package – some books were amazing (Robert Wells books, all the History & Geography books, and Uncle Wiggily’s Story book) and some were duds (A Treasury of Mother Goose Rhymes, The Lion Storyteller Bedtime Book, and Stories from Around the World). For us, we felt like the dud books taught a underlining principle that we didn’t agree with. Curricula What We Use PreS and K Part 1 2
  • Supplements: because I struggled to feel like I was “doing enough” just reading to my children I spent a lot of time and money on printing and following 1+1+1=1 resources. We purchased the PowerPoint and set up the whole system for the Raising Rock Stars Preschool – complete with poster board for changing weekly units. (Side note: I now see that my feeling like a constant failure was due to simply trying to do all the “good” things and not being content to just stick to the best. Burden lifted.)
  • Ages: 4-6 – We moved over to My Father’s World for Kindergarten.
    • My oldest thought this curriculum was boring and monotonous, but that’s mainly because at this point she was completely sick of worksheets (again, here’s where I saw I was operating out of the Traditional theory). The style of this package is unit studies that focus on an animal or something in creation (sun, moon, water) and a character quality that can be seen in that animal or created thing that points to God. The student worksheets in this package are good and it is not meant to be a worksheet driven curriculum. They are included in order to round out the materials and to create a notebook for memory.  My daughter (at age 6) reproduced the whole sequence of units just for fun, drawing the picture and writing the character sentence. I think she did enjoy it. My son (5yrs at the time) loved the worksheets and looked forward to each day’s work. Curricula What We Use PreS and K Part 1 4

In the spring of 2014, I was really thinking we were going to do Sonlight’s Core B for “1st grade” for both kids and supplement material for my daughter (7yrs) to be classified as “2nd grade.”

But while we (my husband and I) were at The Great Homeschool Convention we didn’t like the Sonlight science when we saw it in person. They use mainly “Usborne” books – which are beautiful and informational – and we own many books by Usborne already, but they do not hold to a “young earth” philosophy. And we felt like that was a deal breaker for us. I didn’t want to have to “unteach” what the book said about dinosaurs living billions of years ago.

SO we prayed a lot and trusted God’s leading – and He was so good to us! We are loving this year’s resources – and we had to piece it together ourselves (something I thought I would never be able to do)…To Be Continued

Further reading and resources:

2016-HOMESCHOOL-CONVENTION-DATES

 

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