It seems funny to finally be sharing about our preschool plans as we are in the last half of October but that’s how I’m rolling lately… always behind and setting our own pace.
We’ve been in preschool mode since the first week of September and it’s been a whirl-wind of activities, flexible schedules, fun activities and trial and error when it comes to how we are approaching preschool this year.
You see we are doing a super simple hybrid approach to preschool (although the title doesn’t sound very simple at all!) So what do I mean by a hybrid approach?
Basically my oldest two go to an in-church preschool a few mornings a week and the other mornings we do preschool at home. So it’s kind of like the best of both worlds, they go to school and they stay home.
My oldest will be entering Kindergarten next fall (I’m still not entirely sure how that is possible) and we are on the fence about what we will do for school. Part of me loves the idea of homeschooling full time but then part of me doesn’t. We are spending a lot of time praying and talking through this through the remainder of the year until we have to come to a decision for next fall but for the time being, we are happily working through preschool, both at home and in school.
A few years ago we first sent our son to a one day Mother’s Day Out at the same church the preschool is housed. It was good for both him and me. He got to experience a little structured play and learning time with lots of art projects, music, free play, manipulatives, stories and socialization with other kids his own age. I got to spend some one-on-one time with my daughter for one morning a week and I learned to be OK with him being away from home for a little bit.
The next year I enrolled him in a two-morning a week preschool and this year he is in a three-morning a week Pre-K classroom. He has really thrived in this setting, learning all sorts of wonderful things but the biggest thing for him is getting comfortable being around new teachers and friends.
He is just like me, a shy and quiet introvert, so it’s been good for him to be in a setting where he can be challenged to come out of his shell a little bit. Plus both he and my daughter love going to school on their school days and always come home to reenact what they learned by playing school, which is really the best kind of learning anyway.
Even though they both go to school I knew that I would want to spend our time at home intentionally. I don’t take my role as their first teacher lightly. So we do preschool at home the mornings when they don’t go to school.
My main goal for our at-home learning is that they begin knowing and learning about God. While their preschool is in a church, outside of mealtime prayers and holiday celebrations, they don’t really focus on Biblical teaching. So at home my main goals are:
- to instill God’s Word in their hearts through Scripture memory, Bible stories and songs, and activities that expand on those truths.
- reinforcement of the skills they are learning at school such as identifying and writing out the ABC’s, number recognition, fine motor skills like tracing, coloring, cutting, lacing, etc., and basic life skills like sharing, chores and helping around the house
- character development through understanding who they are in Christ, and how and why they should treat others.
- a love for nature and the world through free play outside, nature walks, natural science exploration, and some planned science activities, along with the introduction of some basic geography concepts
- creating special memories and traditions that build our family up in the ways of the Lord by enjoying spending time with one another, experiencing activities and adventures through field trips and special events.
So what does all of this look like on a daily basis?
Bible & Character Development
For our main guiding “curriculum” (I use that word loosely because I don’t follow it to a T, and mostly use it for it’s Bible stories and basic activities I can do with both kids), we are using God’s Little Explorers. Each week is centered around a Bible story and activities that go along with that story. There is also an ABC component with it, learning a new letter each week, but I don’t really use that since I follow along with what my son is learning at school (more on that below).
Along with using GLE for teaching Bible stories, we also practice one memory verse a week using the book My ABC Bible Verses: Hiding God’s Word in Little Hearts. Their little memories are a sponge at this age so I’m doing my best to help them hide His Word in their little hearts through Scripture memory as well as working through Catechism questions.
To teach character development, we are doing some of the lessons from ABCs for Godly Girls and Boys. Although recently I learned about Character Badges and am thinking that might be a good fit for us. We are having some discipline issues common for a two preschoolers so I want to help them begin understanding WHY we treat others with respect so they can own it for themselves.
My son is learning his ABCs in order at school so that’s how I’m reinforcing them at home. So each week I print off the corresponding letter work from Raising Rockstars Preschool, which also dictates what memory verse from My ABC Bible Verse we will work on for that week.
As an additional supplement I am using the All About Reading Pre-Reading Curriculum with him. This was the one big curriculum purchase I made but I love that I can use it again and again with each of my children over the next few years. Both my kids love Ziggy and the different activities based on the ABCs.
It goes without saying that the bulk of our language arts is based around LOTS of books and read alouds. We read every single day. One thing I do want to get into the habit of doing is starting to read aloud early chapter books at lunch, but since I’m still preoccupied feeding Jack during that time, it will have to wait a few more months.
Using the number and math component that is built into GLE, we are practicing writing our numbers, counting, sorting, ordering and comparing. The main focus of emerging math skills is mainly just using manipulatives through play like sorting shapes, counting different groups of items, and identifying shapes.
I’m also getting my kids in the kitchen as much as possible to help me. Currently their favorite foods to make are pizza and pumpkin bread. They love to help and I love that they are counting and helping me measure.
Occasionally I may print off a counting worksheet but I try to limit our worksheets to his letter practice and keep this mostly focused on hands on learning. There will be plenty of time for worksheets later in his school.
Science & Social Studies
GLE has some basic science components built in, like playing outside, exploring nature and outdoor activities. We read a lot of science and nature books but honestly my main goal is just to get outside every day, especially while the weather is still nice. At his school they do a lot of science experiments too, so once we are forced to stay inside this winter, we will also do some exploratory activities.
We received a few Green Kids Crafts craft box earlier this year as one of the bonus offers from the Ultimate Homemaking Bundle and fell in love with it. Each box is created around a science and discovery theme with hands on activities and crafts. Some where too hard for my kids but the majority of them where perfect.
Speaking of the Ultimate Homemaking Bundle… there will be a special encore flash sale happening soon if you missed out last spring. Stay tuned for more details, including how you can get a your own Green Kids Craft box!
I want to use the Little Explores Preschool Edition to begin teaching my children about the world. Each month’s theme pack is based on a specific country with facts and activities perfect for little ones.
Music & Art
My kids do art activities every single day. They love to color, paint, glue, play with play-doh and other creative activities like that. They also love to listen, sing and dance to music, so I keep a special basket of their favorite CDs on hand for them to listen to.
Special Activities & Seasonal Studies
Field trips and special activities are a fun part of our months. I try to plan at least one field trip a month along with play dates and activities to get us out of the house, exploring all the fun (and free!) events our city has to offer and to play with others.
This Christmas we will also be using Truth in the Tinsel, which is hands down my favorite Advent curriculum. I also plan on doing Sense of the Resurrection around Easter. Of course we will do other themed seasonal activities throughout the year to celebrate and enjoy the smaller holidays and enjoy the different seasons.
All of this sounds like a lot but I can assure you we don’t do everything every day. Right now we are mainly working through GLE and focusing on the ABCs and Bible lessons. Some days we do more, some days we do less but that’s what makes our approach to hybrid preschool so simple and flexible. I don’t even write out a daily lesson plan!
So there you have it! Our super simple preschool plan that we do at home on Monday and Wednesday mornings, along with some afternoon carry overs on the other days of the week.
Are you currently, or have you in the past, doing preschool at home? What did your days look like?
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