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Need curriculum advice for nephew

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I really need some help figuring out a program for my nephew, who is with me during the day throughout most of the year.  Eventually, he will attend a private Catholic school.  Due to his medical status and needs, I am not sure when that will be.  It could be as soon as age 6 or as late as age 8/9.  I really desire to provide him with the proper environment so that he is prepared for a B/M school atmosphere.  As such, I am wondering what the proper curricular approach is.  This was never an issue around here, so I am out of my depth.  I think it should be more structured, have some workbooks, etc... We never did much of that, but I know that this is the world his brothers are in; and, ultimately, the goal is that he will be able to attend school.  Understanding that he will be confronted with so many other issues attending a traditional school, I don't want to cause an additional problem in the way that I teach him.  I don't know if this makes much sense; it is just so important to me that I be a help and not a hindrance to this precious little guy.


Are there any programs out there that might strike a balance between traditional school model and classical?


Thanks for any advice you can offer!

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He is learning to read (reluctantly), writes well and loves doing Singapore math with me. He will play math games and is a quick study but is stubborn beyond belief.  I am one of the few people who will put my foot down with him.... people are very reluctant to do that with him because of his special needs.

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Welcome back to homeschooling! :)


To ease the transition to Catholic school later on, perhaps consider using some of the Catholic materials for homeschoolers? Check out:



Angelicum Academy (online classes, but they list what materials they use)

Our Lady of Victory

Catholic Heritage Curricula


Christian that is not specific Catholic in denomination, but is more structured:

Rod and Staff

Memoria Press (classical)

Veritas Press (classical)




The wording of your post suggests he is not of school age yet… Agreeing with previous poster that knowing his age and current abilities would make it easier to help suggest what areas to work on, and materials that might be a good fit. How kind of you to open your home to this little guy! :) Warmest regards, Lori D.


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Thanks for that long list of options!  I will look into them.  He turned four this past November.  Due to his special medical needs, I don't know when he will be able to go to school.  It makes it tough because I really wouldn't be so concerned if I knew he would be with us until, say, age 8.  He needs to overcome some medical issues before he can attend private school, so it is really up in the air.  I am thinking something structured would be better preparation to integrate into the school setting. 

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I don't have anything to add for curriculum, but I wonder if you would like to gently introduce some... schoolways, you might call them. A pocket chart for the schedule, anchor charts on a bulletin board, a standard of dress (maybe not quite like his brothers' uniform, but no showing up in your PJs), a book to bring home to read with a parent in the afternoon/evening, etc. That way if he's thrown in at first grade, it won't be so confusing to him.

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I wouldn't worry so much about methodology at this point--just getting the skills done is enough at 4. My kids learned a great deal at home with me while in their underwear sitting on the living room floor because that is what they happened to be wearing when I had the time and energy to give them a lesson. We didn't have any trouble transitioning into PS because they had to sit at desk and wear pants.


I say that when he is 6 and either going into 1st grade or has completed his official first grade year at home, then I might start integrating more school-style stuff into his day lest he go to 2nd unprepared but really, I wouldn't worry about whether his work looks like school, play or something in between. Just do what works at this point. 

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Seton and Our Lady of Victory are very traditionally scholastic/school at home. Catholic Heritage is very gentle and wouldn't likely prepare him for the rigors of brick and mortar Catholic school (well, not used on grade level). Anglicum Academy and Kolbe are both classical and structured.


At this age, regardless of where he's going to school, I wouldn't push reading too much. It can do more harm than good (ask me how I know, lol). If he enjoy math, do that with him. Buy some Handwriting Without Tears pre-k books, and pop in Leapfrog. When he knows his letter sounds very, very well, maybe try PAL Reading (game based and my son loves it).



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Since he's only 4yo, I am definitely agreeing with previous poster Gil. :) That's a BIT young for formal seat work. You can work on attitude and obedience outside of academics, and will most likely have a much better success by training self control now, for when sitting at a desk is required later. :) (JMO!)


For homeschooling a 4yo, I would go for solid pre-school types of activities:


- LOADS of quality read-alouds

* picture books (from the 1000 Good Books list)

* classics (from the Ambleside Year 0 book list)

* discovery, science, etc. (from the Sonlight pre-school book list)


- "morning circle time" with things like (depending on his abilities):

* pledge of allegiance

* weather chart

* calendar / seasons / holidays

* basic health and nutrition (brush teeth, balanced diet, make & eat healthy snacks, germs, etc.)

* health and safety skills (stop-drop-and-roll, stranger danger, fire escape plan, etc.)

* memorize parents' first & last names, phone number, full address


- basic phonics/letter and number exposure

* letter of the week activities: Brightly Beaming Resources (free);  Pinterest ideas (free)

* "living" books from the library -- alphabet books, counting books, etc.

* counting songs

* number and word activities that come up in real life

* games that incorporate letters and numbers, basic counting skills, etc.

* when he's a bit older: Peggy Kaye's Games for Math, Games for Reading, Games for Writing, Games for Learning


- learn/play traditional pre-school songs and games


- learn/sing classic patriotic or folk songs (Wee Sing series)


- exploration and discovery learning

* water table

* shaving foam

* finger painting

* tub of bubbles and kitchen items

* pouring and measuring different materials (beans, rice, etc.) in a tub

* magnifying glass and explore outside

* simple science experiments (I like these for ages 4-7: 365 Science Experiments with Every Day Materials; 365 More...


- fine motor skill activities, that will help later on with writing

* shoe-tying

* cutting

* simple mazes (pencil control)

* using big plastic tweezers to pick up and transfer pom-poms or other items from one container to another

* lacing cards

* working with play doh or homemade salt dough

* using pinch clothespins

* "fishing" (cardboard with a paperclip on them; fishing pole as a dowel with a magnet attached at end of string)

* stringing patterns of beads on a lace

* stacking / building

* using a hand hole puncher

* more fine motor skill ideas


- "workbooks":

* sticker books

* paint by number

* dot-to-dot (number and letter)

* Kumon -- folding, cutting, pasting, alphabet, mazes

* Rod and Staff - age 3-4 -- 4 books, starting with eye/hand coordination, visually comparing, exposure to numbers, color, and last book introducting coloring, cutting and counting

* Rod and Staff (age 4-5)

A,B,C series -- cutting, pasting, following directions

G,H,I series -- preschool scholastic foundation

* Complete Book of Preschool

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Thank you for the great ideas!  I have been rather anxious about how to move forward with him, I guess in part because he is not my child.   Thank you for the reassurance about transitioning from home to school.  I have no experience with that, so I have been getting apprehensive.  I really never did workbook type stuff with my children when they were young, and I know his brothers spend most of their time learning in a way completely foreign to our approach around here.   Needless to say, I really appreciate these great ideas.  I feel much better about doing this now. :)


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