Over the past several months I’ve received several questions about how homeschool preschool is going for us this year. I’m delighted to report that we are loving every second. I do, however, want to go into more detail about what I’ve decided to do for my 4-year-old and her “preschool” year (as we are calling it). So if you are at all interested in hearing more about home education and seeing how it looks every day for us, then read on!
Our Homeschool Preschool Resources This Year (2020)
I suppose I should share my approach to education as a whole before I dive into what we are doing this year. My plan (after several months of extensive research) is to guide my children through their education using both Charlotte Mason’s methods and Classical methods. I wrote all about my homeschool research resources here, so you can read about that, but basically Charlotte Mason methods require a lot of reading together and a lot of time spent in nature, playing. Classical methods are more traditional memorization of specific subjects and/or phrases as they relate to the material studied. You’d think that they’re complete opposites, but it is my experience, after our year thus far, that they can go hand-in-hand.
Therefore, the majority of our homeschool preschool year is reading novels, picture books, and poetry! We’ve also done some Bible passage reading and memory work, but it’s very minimal and very bite-sized. Lastly, we’ve engaged in lots of project-based learning and time outside with friends (crucial when you homeschool). I broke down a little explanation of each program or resource we’re using. Overall, I’m keeping our year very relaxed, and PLAY-BASED! (This last part is very important to me!)
Morning Time (The Bulk of our Learning)
Our morning time is my favorite part of our day! But for us, morning time looks different each year. I wrote about what we did for early childhood morning time last year here, when my eldest child was three. Now it looks a little different! Click here to see what our current morning time looks like!
We are using Gentle + Classical Preschool (Level 2) for our main morning time resource. It honestly serves as a wonderful morning time companion because everything is pre-selected. GCP Level 2 is where we got the memory statement cards you see on the board below. They’re just little reminders on display of what we are doing for the week. We call the board our “memory statement board” (which I believe is a very classical-esque term).
Here is a brief overview of morning time below, but I talk more in depth about Gentle + Classical Preschool and our preschool morning time in this post. You definitely will want to READ THAT FIRST BEFORE READING THE REST OF THIS POST to see how Gentle + Classical Preschool really is the bulk of our homeschool day!
Did you read about our morning time? Good! Then you have an idea of what we do every morning. This only takes about an hour, and it’s honestly the bulk of what we do. If you’re wondering about our other resources, though, read on!
The easiest way to outline what we do is to share our weekly schedule. Here it is!
Monday: morning time, introduce new letter/sound, peaceful preschool project
Tuesday: morning time, picture study/composer study (alternating weeks)
Wednesday: G (4) has a class, morning time in afternoon, nature study (science)
Thursday: morning time, review of memory work from the past few weeks, nature group, poetry tea time
Friday: field trip day
Everything else is fluid. Meaning the time we do “literacy” and “handwriting” simply aren’t written in. I know it seems crazy, but since my daughter is not even five yet, I let her take the lead, and so far it’s been extremely successful. She will bring her Dash Into Reading book (they’re small early readers similar to BOB books) and ask me to read with her. She’s basically learned how to read in 3-4 sessions and now we are working on fluency and comprehension. I’m amazed at how naturally she’s learning things because I let her decide at her own pace. Same goes for handwriting. I planned on waiting another year or two to start Handwriting Without Tears (you can see more about it below) in a year or two but she will have days where she wants to practice 4-5 letters (which means 4-5 lessons at once. Then we won’t pick it up for a week. Then she will grab it again, and say “I want to do some writing.” I leave these resources out in our homeschool room, and she really does show me when she’s ready to learn them.
I can’t say that this will always be how we do things. But for Preschool this year, and maybe Kindergarten next year, it’s worked so well for our family.
Now I’ll share a few resources I use for our homeschool in addition to our morning time resource (Gentle + Classical Preschool Level 2).
Project-Based Learning (Mondays & interspersed throughout week as needed)
We are using The Peaceful Press’s The Peaceful Preschool as a supplementation to the Gentle Classical Preschool program. I really like that The Peaceful Preschool is project-based, Montessori-inspired, and gentle for young toddlers. The program as a whole is also easy to follow with minimal prep. I follow it loosely but find the book recommendations and projects to be very relevant. My girls both love the stories every week. I also really like that they offer both gross and fine motor activities and there are life-skills written into the curriculum. It’s a great curriculum for younger kids too. N (1.5) honestly relates more to the content that G (4). I’m glad I bought it though because I can use it with both girls, and we love doing the projects together. Their book recommendations are also amazing!
Literacy (as my daughter shows interest since she’s still very young)
So, we actually aren’t doing a literacy program this year. We’ve dipped our toes into the Dash Into Reading phonics program, but I’m not really interested in starting formal reading lessons until G is 5 or 6. I’m going to let her take the reins and decide when she shows a major interest in learning how to read. We did however learn all of her letter names and letter sounds through two main games we play. The first is just a flashcard game we played at morning time, consistently. The second is a song I made up for learning letter sounds. Through these two very informal avenues, she’s learned all of her letter names and sounds. This is good enough for me for both preschool and kindergarten!
Math (as my daughter shows interest, but it’s very integrated in what we do)
I feel the same way about formal math that I do formal literacy lessons. I think both subjects are essential as a child gets older, but in the early years, I focus more on play. We have, however, covered several different math concepts from the kindergarten math standards for our state simply by talking to each other. She counts to 100. She knows all of her 2D and 3D shapes, and she’s mastered 1:1 correspondence. She can also subitize numbers. Honestly, we’ve loved learning all of these concepts in very natural ways.
Note: I purchased the book, Preschool Math at Home, in the beginning of this year, as a guide to help me in my natural integration of math concepts but quickly found out that my 4.5 year old already learned the concepts just by being home with me. I was pleasantly surprised, and do plan to keep it and use it in a couple of years with my 20 month old. It does have some wonderful games for teaching necessary math skills to young kids!
Nature (Wednesdays, during morning time)
I am actually really loving our Nature study right now. G (4) is naturally interested in birds. She loves watching them, reading about them, and learning about them. So I bought a bird field guide for $5 and each week when it’s time for our nature lesson I let her choose a bird she wants to learn about. I read to her about them. I’ll usually show her on the globe where they live (hello geography!), and then she draws the bird and what she learned. (This is a way of “narrating: what she heard back to me – which a Charlotte Mason method!) I also occasionally read to her from our Nature Anatomy encyclopedia. Children find nature naturally fascinating, so we talk about it together a lot. We also spend at least an hour outside per day. I know this isn’t attainable for everyone. Sometimes we spend several hours outside with friends, and other days we barely make it to an hour (since it’s January, this is the norm, but we still make it out every day!)
Note: I wanted to use Gentle + Classical Nature exclusively, but we ended up not getting everything ready in time and I wanted to start simple. Now that we have a good routine with the resources we’re using this year, I will probably start it up, or pick and choose units (Frogs, Birds, etc.).
Art-Picture Study/Music-Composer Study (Tuesdays, during morning time)
So Gentle + Classical Preschool comes with a stellar art/music pack. It truly is a gem. Composer study has been one of our favorite aspects of morning time, and the same goes for picture study! For music we are generally using the Story of the Orchestra text (which tells all about different composers and musical instruments) so we will read about the composer, listen to the chosen song, and learn about our new instrument. G + C Preschool 2 also has these wonderful Montessori learning cards that we love. We are studying Mozart this term!
For picture study, we follow the Charlotte Mason method. We are studying Monet right now. I show my daughter the picture and without saying anything, I let her talk about it freely. She talks about what she sees, what time of day it is, what colors are in it. Then we turn it over and she discusses what she remembers from the picture. After, we take out the Montessori cards we have for those, and she sorts them and we talk about how our new painting is different/alike compared to the other Monet paintings. It’s been so wonderful to watch G enjoy fine art and classical music at such a young age. She thoroughly enjoys it!
Handwriting Without Tears came highly recommended by a few friends and I’m so glad we decided to get it. We are using the Kindergarten Level “Letters and Numbers For Me” book, and Gracie loves it. I wish I’d purchased a second workbook for her to practice in. The language they use to help children learn letter formation is incredible. It’s very easy to understand and remember. I also love the wooden pieces that you can purchase to help reinforce the letter formations. My 4.5 year old knows her letters but some of them she would write from the bottom up, etc, so I wanted to do a good program with her to help her practice forming them. This was an excellent choice, and as I mentioned above, we do this completely self-paced, so I don’t have it worked into our week. I leave the workbook out and she brings it over and asks to do it. When she asks, we work until she asks to stop. It’s been really good!
I hope this book about our homeschool preschool year was helpful to you! Thank you so much for reading!