Homeschooling Curriculum Resources: Pre-K
Last week, I promised a list of some of the sites that had helped me through the curriculum development process. I won’t go into exhaustive detail about each one, because I really and truly believe that you need to spend time working through the process yourself. Back when I was a graduate teaching assistant, I remember frantic teachers running around, begging for a lesson plan to help with semi-colons, or something to help them teach the difference between ethos, pathos, and logos.
If all teachers thought and taught the same way, that would be great! But simply mashing up what others have done, and trying to present it to your own students, is a bad idea. That, and these requests usually came in around 20 minutes before their classes were to start. Oy!
If you have not gone through the research and discernment phase yourself, then you won’t have a very thorough or strong understanding as to WHY you are doing what you are doing.
You risk poor delivery, alienating your child from what you are trying to teach, abandoning one curriculum after another, wasting time and resources, in an attempt to find something, anything, that fits; finally, you risk abandoning the homeschool project altogether, having not given yourself or your child a fair chance. Please do not do this to yourself or to your child — you both deserve better. You both deserve a healthy, happy, productive, and loving shot at this.
Of course, if you have to abandon the project, that’s what you have to do. There is NOTHING wrong with that. It won’t work for everyone — and it may not work for us. Only time will tell. But I also believe that investing the time into this discernment means that you are also discerning, before you even begin, whether or not you are committed to homeschooling. If you can’t interest yourself in reading up on different methodologies (Montessori, Classical Education, Charlotte Mason, Unschooling, etc.), then homeschooling may not be for you.
Sure, you can order a pre-packaged curriculum that others have approved, but how can you be certain that it will work for your personality and temperament? Your children’s learning styles? How will you be able to navigate its various components, and to make the necessary adjustments?
I do not mean to make any great pronouncements on who is and who is not allowed to homeschool — I mean to make it very clear that this is hard work, and that you need to be dedicated to it before you even begin.
Here are a few helpful sites to get started:
Successful Homeschooling: This is one of the first websites I devoured during my early research. Approaches, learning styles, organizational strategies, everyday survival tips, and more can be found here — very well-organized and easy to navigate. Warning: don’t start reading this until you have a free hour or so. You’ll really get into it!
PBS Parents: I made a new note in Evernote (lovelovelove) to copy and paste each and every category of development listed here, as well as the various traits for each category. I then made a separate note, and spent time assessing T.’s abilities in each area. For example, he’s years ahead in literacy, but is behind in mathematics abilities. For each trait requiring more attention, I copied and pasted that into the new assessment file, and wrote down notes and suggestions as they occurred to me and as I discovered through various other resources. This helped me to see clearly where T. needed my help the most, and helped me to better focus my curriculum search.
Core Knowledge: A wonderful range of resources, including a sequentially appropriate and coherent curriculum, learning objectives, assessment tools, and more. This will really help you create a sort of benchmark as to where you stand in your own homeschool development. Perhaps you can even use many of their materials yourself! I am finding it useful for keeping me organized and focused, rather than attracted to all of the sparkly possibilities that homeschooling can provide. It serves as a useful reminder that I need to build a good foundation now so that my children may build upon it, that each day’s plans need to have A Point. In short, I see this website as a sort of partner in my own efforts. Lots of free materials to download. We like free!
HomeSchoolReviews: Exactly what it sounds like! Parents weigh in on many of the popular curriculum choices out there, as commonly found at homeschool fairs or on various homeschool materials websites. Not every book or curriculum has a review, and, yes, you WILL be frustrated because the reviewers aren’t providing full, professional reviews that speak EXACTLY to your concerns. :-) But it’s a good start, and can help you avoid wasting time reviewing materials that simply will not work for you and for your children.
HSLDA: The Home School Legal Defense Association is a must . . . we all need to be members, once we’re committed to homeschooling and/or our children hit the mandatory education age in our respective states. They provide legal assistance and protection, in the event that local school districts or government agencies overstep and try to (illegally) infringe on your right to determine your children’s education. They also have a lot of articles and ideas on how to begin and to run your own homeschool. If you are a secular homeschooler, a number of the materials won’t apply to you. Please don’t be discouraged, though — enjoy the materials that DO help, and be sure to avail yourselves of the organization’s protection. I hope you won’t need it, but it’s better to be safe than sorry. Finally, they also provide detailed state-by-state details about paperwork, testing, record-keeping, and other such information that you need to be legal and responsible as a homeschooling parent.
Mater Amabilis: Whether or not Charlotte Mason-style education (with a Catholic twist, no doubt!) is your style, I recommend checking out what they have compiled for the various grade levels. Their notes and organization were very helpful when I was writing my own program of study for T. We love the literature selections, too.
Please, if you have specific questions, need help finding certain resources, or have suggestions or resources to add, use the combox or contact me! I’d love to hear about everyone else’s journey, too!
Fun tip: If the weather is foul where you are, whether too hot, too cold, too wet, or too dry, bring the garden indoors, and let your little one dig away and help arrange flowers, herbs, or whatever you’d like to grow into a variety of pots. Your child will LOVE having his or her own indoor garden, and you can help it grow together!