If you have preschoolers in your house, or run a daycare, preschool program or coop and are interested in a formal teaching program for them, then check out Ideal Curriculum’s website.
They have a variety of well-researched products. The product our TOS Crew focused on came from their set of 9 monthly themed kits which are designed to build on each other. Each kit contains Literacy, Science/Social Studies, Math and Calendar subjects. For review, we were given Month 1 Transportation downloadable unit.
They have several different purchase options which you can see here, but the unit we downloaded can be purchased as a download for $30.00 or print version $55.00. For the month of May, our loyal TOS Crew readers can get 10% off a first purchase by using the code welovekids.
Upon downloading our month 1 kit on Transportation, I opened the zip file to find four files: Music Files, Read Files, Print Files and Teacher Files. There were also two pdf files: Overview of monthly files, and "Read This First".
I naturally began the process by opening right up the music files . Within this file I found six mp3 songs that accompanied the program which I remembered I knew nothing about, so after my 4 year old danced around to the abc song several times, I decided I should really open up the "read this first" file to see what this was all about. I liked the fact that their mission is to make my job as an educator easier, and prepare my child for success. I was having visions of my four year old climbing on my head, using me as a jungle gym while I was trying to teach Latin to my 9 and 13 year olds. Could they really make my job easier? I wondered.
Next, I skimmed over the overview of monthly kits which lays out in chart form all the skills to be covered in each of the 9 kits.
The Month 1 Transportation unit listed the following:
*Letter names, letter lines
*Print is all around us
*Concept of time
I’ll admit at this point I began to really struggle with the look of such a formal curriculum for this age group. It was really starting to look like a daycare or standardized education program to me. I immediately begin to wonder what one of my favorite mentors Charlotte Mason would think .
But onward we marched right into the teacher files. I found three seperate teacher’s manuals: literature, math and science. Upon opening each of these I found formalized ideas of methods and tools of training your children, outlines and guidelines for using the lessons, printables, music, games, etc, and then the weekly lesson plans themselves. The first step in the literature lessons was to administer an initial assessment. I printed off the required pages and found my 4 year old looking at me like I was a substitute teacher wondering where his cool critical thinking workbooks and Before Five in a Row story books had gone. I found myself unable to assess an uncooporative preschooler. Of course since I have been homeschooling this child from birth, I really didn’t need this assessment to know where my child was in his learning abilities. I also found myself wondering just who made up these standards for my child- they don’t even know him, his learning style, or his interests. Hmmm.
So we skipped on to lesson one which had the children marching to the "Letter Song". We march and sing a lot, so he enjoyed this, but we didn’t stick to the 5 minute time limit given. Each lessons does begin with "why this lesson is important." At the beginning of the week, a possible schedule is included. This organization and lesson plan format seemed to look like it should make my job as an educator easier, but somehow the program seemed like it would take way more time than I had to give with two older students that required my attention in our homeschool.
The Science manual has 20 daily lessons, from art activities, to reading and writing, to experimentation. The ideas were very formal and certianly take quite a bit of preparation on the teacher’s part.
The Math and Calendar sections each had a page of ideas for teaching rote counting, numbers and calendar concepts for each week. I really found that most of what was mentioned were things we pretty much always do. I just feel it’s a natural thing to count with your child when they are little- but maybe it’s because I’m an older mom and I’m on my third preschooler? Not sure here, except that I suppose lesson plans and standards of development would be important in a group situation, maybe.
While I can see this type of regimented program being useful in a daycare or formal preschool situation, it doesn’t fit well for our family. I prefer to teach my littles according to their interests and readiness for skills to make learning fun, not structured. I also feel every child develops different skills at different times- especially when they are preschool age.
While there are many fun activities, games and songs that are much like what we are already doing, I prefer a more spontaneous and delight-driven basis so my child doesn’t feel as if I’m pushing him to do something he isn’t interested in. While my 4 year old son could be pursuaded to enjoy the topic of transportation, wheels and axels- my girls wouldn’t have been so interested in this topic when they were preschoolers.
This material might be useful for someone who is just starting to teach thier preschooler who is looking for guidance and formal lesson plans, or a former teacher who is used to a lesson plan format of teaching.
As for my preschooler, we will continue our storytime snuggling on the couch, some fun critical thinking and activity books to distract him while I’m trying to teach my older kids, and lots and lots of singing, dancing, playing and exploring outdoors (and yes, climbing on mom’s head while she’s teaching Latin to his big sisters- it’s just a season- preschool time is short- ENJOY IT WHILE YOU CAN)!
In closing, I’d just like to add one tidbit of advice from this homeschool mom veteran: focus on the PRE in preschool and let your littles be littles. They grow up way too fast.
I received a free download from this company as a member of the TOS Homeschool Crew for purposes of review. No other compensation was received, and opinions expressed here are my own thoughts and feelings. Thank you and good night. 🙂