I attended public school and always did well in the classroom. Being good at taking tests, my scores earned me the label gifted. I never felt like I learned anything much as it was taught and wasn’t challenged like I could have been. There were times in high school when I wished that I was homeschooled: I would have been happy to work independently and at my own pace and get the work done. After college, I became intrigued with the idea of homeschooling. I liked the idea of being able to provide a customized education for my kids. So when they showed an interest in learning we got started with preschool!
Tot School, Preschool
I started my research to see how to get started with preschool once I became a parent. I came across the idea of Tot School, a relaxed preschool at home. Carissa who writes at 1+1+1=1 had a daughter the same age as mine and for her it was her third kids so she had some time to perfect this toddler/preschool learning at home. I was in love. The idea of Tot School is to choose 2-3 activities to present to your child. Following their lead to play with them purposefully for a short time. With the birth of my second kid, Tot School came in handy. It was a structured way to give Big Sister some one-on-one time. We would color together and name our crayons or use the shape sorter together.
Quickly, I could see she was ready for something more and I set my first homeschool goal.
Do a Letter of the Week, starting with Aa, and get all the way to Zz.
That was my goal. It seems simple on the surface but it also seemed huge to commit to. 26 weeks of purposeful activities seemed like a huge amount. I enjoyed the planning and loved the resources I found from Homeschool Creations, and Confessions of a Homeschooler in addition to Carissa at 1+1+1=1. I made lists and found books to go with my weekly theme we could read together. Usually I would print some letter pages to color and have some preschool packs with hands on activities. In the end it took us a year and a half to get to Zz. We moved twice during that time. Little brother was joining us for our learning time by the time we got to Zz. Big sister wanted more challenging activities and even wanted to read.
What I learned from preschool at home
We learned several important things during our first A-Z year, which contributed to our success. First, I learned how I like to plan and what kind of activities I wanted to do as a teacher. I also learned what activities my daughter responded to best and how she wanted to learn. The confidence I gained was valuable as we tackle teaching more complex topics, because I showed myself I could stick with it and I discovered I enjoyed it. I hadn’t yet discovered I had out of the box kids yet, that didn’t come for a couple more years.
For Pre-Kindergarten we used a program called Five In A Row which pairs a variety of picture books with suggested activities across the various subject content areas. We read Grandfather’s Journey by Allen Say and used it to jump off and learn about Japan, tree family and travel. We also learned beginning handwriting, reading and math.
Kindergarten and beyond
Kindergarten was when I discovered I had an out of the box kid. She started reading the American Girl books at bedtime to herself and even took them to school to read, where she attended for a semester. She was homeschooled again the second half of the year. I couldn’t find a Kindergarten math program that fit her. In hindsight I know now its because she wasn’t doing kindergarten math, she was starting first grade!
The rest of our homeschool journey is history as she never went back to a traditional classroom and we started teaching her where she was and left the grade level behind.