Sorry it's taken so long to get back on this. It was a great, busy, and sickie Resurrection weekend.
Soooo, I've given you all the juicy details on how we school our little ones under four.
For the over four crowd we have two main goals:
1. Teach them to read.
2. Increase their critical thinking skills so that they can read easier and learn easier.
Here's what we do.
We teach phonics. Specifically, I've been successful (all of two times and now with the third) with Abeka phonics. It's structured (which I need) and it's Christian (well, as Christian as it can be when it's teaching a says "a" as in apple). Oh, and it typically only takes 15 to 20 minutes a day to do.
I've found that it's easier to wait and start phonics when my kids have learned to recognize all their letters. Although, Abeka's phonics does teach letter recognition. I also look for readiness signs in things they do: recognizing letters on signs, pretending to read a book, sitting with a book and actually turning the pages (not ripping them out), coloring in the lines, drawing bodies when drawing people (not just heads with arms and legs coming out of them). And, I can usually see those things happening around 4. So, we start up Abeka's K4 phonics.
And I'm mean, since I always have someone who is coming up about to use it, I don't let the kids write in the readers or other activities. Which means, I've gotten my money's worth out of it. So, there's a money saving tip for ya!
If a child's just not ready, we've experimented with other things. I have flashcards that they use to recognize letters. These can be done with an older sibling or with me cuddling up on the couch. We work through letter craft sheets. And we continue to work on our skills of listening and sitting and "doing school."
Mark and I both feel that once our children learn to read, they are ready to learn just about anything. Being that we have reading in our blood (my mom's an English teacher, Mark's mom's been a librarian), reading is just that important to us.
We also see how important it is to develop the kids critical thinking skills. It really is useful in problem solving and pretty much every activity known to man. I love Developing the Early Learner to help us with that. It's a set of four workbooks that work on developing different fine and gross motor skills on a preschool level. We've used it successfully with two kids. Liam has gone through it, but may go through it again after a break or maybe not at all. His brain is definitely wired differently than his older brother and sister so we'll just wait and see.
Once our kids turn four or five we add in Saxon Math K. It's really written on a kindergarten level and the children seem to enjoy that time. For math readiness, I look for a lot of the reading skills as well as some number reasoning skills. I also look to see if they can count past ten and recognizing numbers. If they can do those things, then we're good to go. Liam started Math at four and has picked up on it quickly. Ace started at four and Zoe started at five, so they are in the same math even though they are in two separate grades. It's awesome not having to teach a ton different maths although that may change in the future depending on how quickly or slowly they pick up on things.
All told, a four or five year old in our home spends about 30 to 45 minutes of their day "doing school." The rest is spent in constructive play and doing chores, etc.
I read at breakfast and lunch and expect all the children to sit at the table while I'm reading. It's good practice for worship and when we need to sit still and listen. I'm praying, they pick up on a thing or two while they sit!
Will this look different when Bryant comes on up and is four and five? Probably! Although, maybe not...it's just a wait and see and the beauty of homeschooling is that I can change and adapt to the specific needs of my kids!