Saturday, August 22, 2009

Preschool Homeschool Resources

We recently saw an article on homeschooling stats and it impressed us that:
1. homeschoolers scored 37 percentile points above public school students on standardized achievement tests
2. homeschooled boys (87th percentile) and girls (88th percentile) scored equally well
3. the income level of parents did not appreciably affect the results (household income under $35,000: 85th percentile - household income over $70,000: 89th percentile)
4. even children whose parents did not have college degrees scored in the 83rd percentile, children whose parents both had college degrees scored in the 90th percentile.

Our little Merlin on his way to storytime

I guess an article like that really inspires us to homeschool. And we do tell everyone we homeschool our 2 1/2 year old son. Homeschool a toddler? Yes and it's fun. What we really do all day is 'play' together, make exploring fun and this is really how our son learns. And after researching on different homeschool styles, we discovered that we have naturally practiced the Charlotte Mason method: lots of reading, short lessons and lots of free time outdoors. Here's a list of what our son enjoys:

Curriculum:

Core Knowledge Preschool Book and Activity Books 1 and 2 - our son loves most of the activities, some of it we tweak

We supplement with:

Art:

Art Notebook - he's had one since he was 1 year old and it is great to see how his drawings have changed

Colouring Pages of Artist's Work - look at artist's paintings and colour a similar one

In the Shower - we place shaving foam and a few drops of different food colouring in ice trays and our son goes to town on the shower doors

To try: Princeton On Line and Storyboard and Art

Trips to museums - we put up the artist's work for a while and have our son do his own version, we also go museums just for fun

Language:

We love our local library and our librarians! They work with us and send us 30 appropriate books every week.

Booklists - there are so many around but we've used The New York Times Parent's Guide to the Best Books for Your Children, better yet was Some of My Best Friends are Books, we discovered the Carl books on the Early Reading List on Simply Charlotte Mason which are wonderful books - mostly illustrations that help children narrate their own story, we also use the Ambleside List

Homemade ABC books - doesn't it make sense that they will learn quicker with what is most familiar?

TAG books - I used to be against anything electronic, but he can preoccupy himself in 'reading' and learning words for half an hour or more. There are also nice National Geographic booklets with animal sounds, characteristics and geography mini-lessons. He learned to read the word 'but' before he was 2 1/2 - just because he thought it was really funny.

Mandarin:

Big Bird in China - more a geography introduction but gets kids interested in China and Chinese

Chinese Printables from Hong Kong International School - songs, rhymes, numbers

Follow Jade - similar to the Mei Mei videos below, numbers, greetings, etc.

Language Co-op - we have started our own. We started out with a teacher but the kids were not enthusiastic about it. We do need a proper PK Mandarin teacher but till we find one, we now just meet weekly, with a lesson plan and parents contribute fun games. The kids have learned more vocabulary than when we had a teacher. We all supplement with videos, website help and fun revision with parents at home. Our goal? Watch this.  I have recently discovered My First Chinese Words and my son loves it!  Together with the Mei Mei videos, it is pretty much a complete Mandarin curriculum!!!


Mei Mei videos - the Dance and Learn Video #4 is especially a hit and our son memorised most of the songs before we learned Mandarin

Ni Hao Books - if you don't have time to make your own books

Personalised Mandarin Word Books - we make our own books with our own personal pictures - our son learns much quicker this way. This has worked much quicker and is much more fun than the books we bought off the web.

Math:

Sesame Street - I used to be against watching TV, but am more relaxed now with videos , computer and youtube. It's amazing how much they learn by watching!

Miscellaneous Activities:

Enchanted Learning - a lot of different printables

Montessori Ideas:


New Child Montessori Curriculum - we have used this before. There is a lot of information here from book lists to art/geography/language projects.

Multi-lingual:

Language Guide - this is GREAT even for toddlers who can move a mouse around! They have pictures of colours for example and when the mouse goes over a colour, a voice tells you the word in the foreign language and the word comes up on the screen.

Early Advantage - Muzzy Stories in DVDs and software for Mandarin, Spanish, French, English, German and Italian

Music Appreciation:

The Children's Group - our son recently discovered The Magic Flute and he has listened to the whole CD everyday or twice a day for the past week or so. We have made our own character books: left side of the page is an image of a character and on the right side our son's own drawing of the character or his picture rendition of the aria.

Look also at the right hand column for more music articles.

Music Together - what a great introduction to music for kids!

Play = Learning: lots of free time to learn by himself

Blocks
Cars
Costumes
Games invented by family are fun!
Pretend/Role Play
Stuffed Animals
Trains

Outdoors:

Daily play outdoors: water, sand, nature...
Our Waldkindergarten solution: nature walks once a week.

Science:

Mudpies to Magnets
- what's there not to love about this book. Easy homemade and fun experiments. They suggest ages for which to conduct the experiments, but our son loves most of them.

Zoo - lots of zoos have preschool programmes - check your local one out! Or just a day at the zoo is fascinating.

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