Gearing Up for Early Preschool

My big guy turns 3 this summer – I can’t believe it!

In the past several months, E’s vocabulary has just exploded. We’ve come a LONG way since struggling to get more than a handful of words out of him.

He has really started showing an interest in reading books together, and in the past month, he has even learned to recognize several letters. I was honestly a little surprised when he started pointing at letters on my shirts and trying to name them.

In addition, just in the past week or so, he has started counting objects. He can distinguish between one and two items.

Ender_sabot

Our plan has been to start some early preschool content this summer after the new baby arrives. I want to spend the next couple of months getting materials prepared ahead of time so that I don’t have anything to prepare or plan while tending to a newborn and an 18-month-old.

I love the Letter of the Week concept. Our local library branch does an ABC club each week, and plans stories, crafts and activities that focus on one particular letter. I have also seen a ton of ideas, as well as curriculum variations, online. If you follow me on Pinterest, I’ve been pinning ideas to incorporate into our preschool.

I have been putting together a list of materials to prepare and hope to have a full year of Letter of the Week prepared. I will also be introducing more computer and app time, and of course lots of reading!

Confessions of a Homeschooler: Letter of the Week This is a wonderful resource with many printables available. All are free on the website, or can be purchased as a bundle.

Brightly Beaming: Letter of the Week Wonderful book and activity suggestions for each letter.

ABC Jesus Loves Me: Preschool Curriculum Wonderful activities, printables and ideas. Can be purchased as a bound curriculum or available free from the website.

No Time For Flashcards Lots of printables, theme and craft ideas, book suggestions.

Starfall  Lots of online content. Songs, stories, letters, and numbers. And they are transitioning to being ipad friendly!

Before Five in a Row Not a letter of the week program, but great activities to go along with wonderful reading selections.

Preparing for our second homeschooler has really solidified our identity as a homeschool family. This is a lifestyle we have chosen to embrace and I am loving it! I am so excited to start preschool with Ender!

Our typical day with a 7-, 2- and 1-year-old

I know that homeschooling schedules are as varied as the people who count themselves as homeschoolers, but I always find it enlightening to see how other people manage their daily routines.

We are now halfway through our third year homeschooling, with our oldest being a 7-year-old second grader, and our two littles being 2 ½ and 1. We’ve also got a baby due this summer, which I am sure will require more adjustments to our school schedule.

We are year-round homeschoolers, but we do follow the “traditional” school calendar for some of our subjects, since we are participating in a small co-op that meets weekly. I also try to plan for a lighter schedule in the summer to allow for more outdoor, unscheduled activities.

We typically have two days during the week that we have activities. One day a week we spend our mornings at co-op working on science demonstrations and experiments, followed by a weekly park day with our local homeschool group. Since this keeps us out of the house most of the morning and afternoon, I do not schedule any “school” time at home. One day a week we spend a few hours at our local library branch participating in childrens’ programs and checking out books for the week. On library day I try to have a lighter school schedule that can be done in the mornings.

Julian_coop
The baby keeping me company during co-op.

The remaining three week days, I try to devote to school work and getting housework done.

With our 2-year-old becoming more independent and wanting more interaction and activities, we have struggled to find the perfect schedule that works for us for the days we are home. At the beginning of the school year, I tried to start school by 9:00 and allow for longer breaks throughout the day. We would work through one subject area, and then the kids would have a break to play and get wiggles out.In theory I had planned to use those short breaks to accomplish my own tasks, but between caring for our youngest and refereeing the older children, very little on my personal task list was getting accomplished.

After the holidays, we changed our daily schedule up trying to find something that fit our family better. So far our days are running smoother, though I am constantly looking for ways to further refine it and be more efficient and productive.

We are not a family of super early risers, so the first part of my day from 7:00 to 8:30 is spent getting my husband ready and out the door for work. The children typically wake up sometime during this time and either have breakfast or spend some time playing.

I split the remainder of our day into three blocks of time.

9:00 – 11:00 Household tasks, breakfast if needed

I now have our 9:00 – 11:00 time block devoted to household tasks. Dogs are fed, the dishwasher loaded, and some light straightening up of the living area downstairs is done. If anyone woke up late, breakfast is served. I try to cycle some laundry, and do any administrative tasks during this time period. If the kids are done their tasks, they have free time. I try to keep us screen-free until after 5 PM, so their free time typically consists of playing or reading, or some type of paper craft.

11:00 – 2:00 School work (typically Math, Language Arts, Art/Music Appreciation and or Logic)

At 11:00, I have our school materials for the day downstairs from our classroom and set up on the dining room table. While we have our dedicated classroom space upstairs, it is much easier with the younger children to do our work downstairs. We do math and language arts daily, history and science reading one day a week (not usually on the same day). A couple days a week we spend working on Hebrew, and depending on the day, we may do some Five in a Row reading, art and music appreciation and logic.

Ender_artworks
Toddler tornado at a recent art field trip.

During our 11:00 – 2:00 block, both babies are usually awake and wanting some attention, so I try to have us cover subjects that are “interruption friendly.” We tackle math and language arts, and depending on how settled the littles are, we will get through art/music and any logic we have.

Short breaks are taken as needed, as well as a short lunch.

Around 2:00 our 2-year-old goes down for a nap, and if I am lucky our 1-year-old is either content to play quietly in his playpen or also falls asleep. It takes 30 minutes or so for me to get the 2-year-old settled for his nap, so this is free time for Kyri. Unless we have a lot planned for the day, I will typically not start back up until 3:00 so that we both get some free time.

Kyri_relax
Break time between subjects!

3:00 – 5:00 School work (reading intensive subjects like Science and History, Hebrew)

By 3:00 we are ready to wrap up our school work for the day. We have a 3:00-5:00 block of time set aside for any remaining school work. I try to save our subjects that have a lot of reading for this afternoon block. We get through our science and history reading, and any narration we have for those subjects. We also work on our Hebrew. We don’t often work until 5:00, but I keep that as our end time  to keep us screen free until then. If we finish early Kyri has free time to do reading or crafts or playing, but I try to keep TV, computers and tablets off.

So far our new schedule this year has been working for us. We’ve been quite productive with our studies. I’m still trying to optimize my housework schedule, but that is a whole other beast to tackle. Having mornings dedicated to household tasks have definitely helped, though.

Our schedule will change again this summer when we have a newborn, and we start early preschool activities for our middle child, who will be turning 3.