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Pre-School through Kindergarten Curriculum Wishlist


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If you could design a classical curriculum for ages 3 through 6 what would it include? Would you make it separate levels or have flexible years of instruction? When would you start teaching phonics? Writing? Math? Basically what would your ideal curriculum look like?

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Hardly any seat work.


Reading Lessons Through Literature

Ray's Arithmetic

Cuisenair rods and Education Unboxed


Beginning Geography

A History of Me

Classical Conversations Timeline Song

Snap Circuits


Daily nature walks

Drawing With Children

Artistic Pursuits or Home Art Studio

Sonlight 3/4, 4/5, Core A, and Ambleside Online year 0

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I would do exactly what we did: minimal reading and writing lessons, lots of read alouds, lots of repetitive stories (like The Three Little Pigs) to act out and retell, lots of art, play, music, nature, and handicraft. Math starting in K, math play in pre-k. Math heavy on manipulatives and oral work for K - nothing fancy.  MEP if the child could, Gattegno if it fit better.


To turn the question, if your goal is a classical foundation later, what are the base skills needed?


Awareness - a child should well know their place in the world and how they relate to others.

Able to follow a story - a child should have practice retelling simple stories in order.

Exposure - a child should be able to know, touch, and explore their world so they aren't hearing about it for the first time in books.

Vocabulary - a child should be given childhood classics in the form of beautifully illustrated copies so they can enrich their vocabulary

Ability - a child should be given the gift of slowly working toward independence and the chance to discover new things in books themselves

Discipline - a child should only work as long as their attention span, but by the end of K be encouraged to just keep at it a minute or two more.

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Well, this will be the official K year for our oldest. I am happy with how things have/are going.

We've done lots of free play and outdoor with tons of RA.
I don't start formal phonics or math until they are interested/ready or until age 6. 
Did I mention free play and RA?
We haven't done any handwriting as the fine motor/pencil grip isn't there for our oldest yet. I am in the process of researching pencil grips and once I've ordered one, will start handwriting sometime this fall. 

I don't expect phonics, math, and handwriting to take more than 20 minutes a day (that's all together) for a while yet.

As for specific curriculum, we use Webster's Speller with a side of Progressive Phonics. Math is CSMP with some Miquon. Handwriting will be DIY sheets I have.

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I wouldn't design it because I believe it already exists.


I am coming at homeschooling with the idea in my head that I want my children to grow into very well educated adults, and I don't believe we can get that in the public school system currently (with a few minor exceptions). I come to the classical approach because it makes the most sense to me as a way to accomplish this goal.


In the very early years I believe that there are certain things all children need to learn. With my older son I didn't see the need to teach him the calendar early on, for example. I am a SAHM and he didn't need to be burdened with dates. I was wrong, he needed the calendar to put 1 and 1 together to get more 1 to 1 correspondence connected in his head. He could count but he didn't know what it meant. 


With my younger son, I set out to get something for him that would fill the gaps I saw in my older son's education. On a recommendation on here, I looked at Mother Goose Time, and after recovering from sticker shock, I decided to try it for a month. I justified it in my head saying it could take more then a month and I just want to see how it would be for my son... honestly I wasn't expecting much, after all my son was barely 2.5 and this is for 2.5 to 6 years of age.


To my shock, my son started counting and clearly had 1 to 1 correspondence in his limited counting. He started reading. He was showing me all sorts of things he could do, that I didn't know, because I didn't require or ask of him before. After a month, we were hooked, and we have been having fun ever since. 


It works because it is designed to work. This pdf shows what they use to hit every area of learning every month (not all months will have every area, but they will hit as many of them as they can). http://www.mothergoosetime.com/wp-content/themes/mgt/pdf/EEL_SkillsContinuum.pdf It is like that fancy private preschool that few can afford, put into a box that you get monthly.


My older son is smart, and doing well in school now. He is doing mostly 3rd grade work and he will turn 8 in September. However I believe that had he had this when he was my younger's son age, we would be at least a year ahead of where we are now in some core subjects. That is how much I believe in this product. 


I should end this with I am not a paid representative of Mother Goose Time. I am a mom who REALLY likes a product. I get nothing from MGT by saying this. I honestly was scared of the price when I saw it (which is the #1 complaint I hear when I tell people about the program) but you really do get your money's worth. I could go on but I will stop for now.

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I would have lots of different math manipulatives included with the child's toys. I would read to the child often. I would introduce phonics towards the end of this time, starting with the letters and their sounds and moving in to something like Word Mastery when the child is eager to learn to read.

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In my dream world:


Age 3 to 4 would be very Waldorf-style - follow the seasons, daily rhythms, have a nature table, lots of read aloud, songs and poems, lots of imaginative play, free art and seasons-based projects, outdoor time, "helping" in the kitchen and the home.


And because I'm not a purist in the least...


...around age 4 introduce brief periods of instruction in math and pre-reading skills that are play based and hands on  --


--for math: Stern Structural Arithmetic Kit A  (pretend money is no object, cuisenaire rods and education unboxed if we're being realistic), magnatiles, attribute blocks, maybe some workbooks if the child is excited by that


--for reading: pre-reading games from my favorite book on the subject, maybe a curriculum like Letterland that introduces the letters in a fun and memorable way, AAR pre-reading is also right on target for this too and I really like it. 


Season-based rhythms and lots of imaginative play and read aloud would continue, taking full advantage of the Science museum's activities, the zoo, the aquarium, the farm museum, and just getting outside all the time. 


Also, this is important, Puppets -- different ones with different personalities -- would alternately teach and learn all subjects with the student(s).  :laugh:


Around age 5 or 5.5 we'd move up to Stern Kit B for math, and more serious phonics. I'm currently nerding out on the Structural Reading phonics program from my mom's stash of ancient curricula and I'd love to bring it back to life. I think i'll be using at least some of it on DD--although we may end up doing AAR level 1 too if I can't find complete materials for Structural Reading.



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For "ready to go" programs, I think Memoria Press looks pretty good!  I recently picked up their Classical Phonics book and love how it's set up.  DD is using their enrichment for 1st grade, and I really like it so far.


My favorite picks would be:


  • Math: Saxon K along with R&S books C & I--These are great for ages 4-6.  
  • Phonics: ETC Primers to teach letter sounds, letter tiles to teach blending, Classical Phonics or Webster's Reading Handbook plus McGuffey Readers for phonics instruction.  I'd also continue with an inexpensive phonics workbook (ETC, MCP, etc.).  After going through 1/2 of McGuffey Primer, I like to add in some easy readers like Bob Books, Frog & Toad, or Dr. Seuss.
  • Copywork: I limit this to phonics workbooks until 1st grade, then we add in some easy sentences.  Cheerful Cursive starting in 1st or 2nd grade.
  • Enrichment: FIAR, MP Enrichment Guides, Wee Folk Art, SCM's Outdoor Secrets, etc.  I love the concept of lessons involving a picture book for this age group!  
  • Extras:  R&S workbooks, Kumon workbooks (especially cutting & pasting ones), floor puzzles, Melissa & Doug toys, art supplies, etc.  I pull these out on days they want more to do.

As far as reading, I let them lead.  If they are picking up letter sounds and retaining what they learn, we keep going.  If it's a struggle, I give them more time before continuing.  I had two reading at 4 and two reading at 5.5/6.  When they are ready, it goes much faster (and without the stress).  

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Having taught K twice now, I will keep it quite simple for my 4 year old when he starts K in a year. I will teach reading with a combination of OPGTR and Bob books, practice handwriting with Getty-Dubay and then simple copywork (family names, our address, etc.), and do a gentle introduction to math via Miquon and cuissenaire rods. We already read a ton so we will keep that up too.


He always has the option of sitting in with his older siblings and often does. He will likely get the best education of my three kids because I'm more relaxed now but he is also learning from his older siblings.

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