It was a difficult decision to not do a community preschool again. Strawberry thrived in preschool last year. She loved her teachers. She loved the people. She loved the crafts, the toys, and the anticipation that she was going again. Our choice to do preschool at home came down to the fact that I missed having a free homeschool schedule, and preschool was a huge cost each month.
With community preschool, we had to say no to playdates and field trips. We had to make sure to be somewhere at a certain time. We could not do storytime at the library. We could not take impromptu walks or bake cookies on days when we felt like it. Instead, we had to make sure to keep preschool schedules on the calendar. This year we’ll be doing preschool at home and with friends, and I hope the atmosphere of spontaneous learning, reading, and playing will translate into a love for learning at home.
I’m delighted that instead, this year, Strawberry will be taking classes at the co-op as well. I’ll even be teaching one!
At co-op, Strawberry will take a Creative Dance class (which she is incredibly excited about). She also has a preschool level STEAM class. STEAM is short for Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Mathematics. I believe she’ll be extra excited about co-op day because this year she does not have preschool to look forward to.
Finally, at co-op I’ll be teaching a SALSA Spanish class. This will be based on the Salsa videos at Georgia Public Broadcasting. The children will watch the videos at home with their parents. Then, during class time, we’ll play games related to the vocabulary in the videos. I cannot wait to see how much fun it will be!
Play Date Preschool
Another day each week we’ll be joining with two other 4-year-old friends to do a basic regular “play date preschool.” The idea of this is that the kids will get play time with friends, a simple circle time and craft, and then more playtime. Our emphasis will be on play but I hope that by putting some mini-lessons into the day, we’ll also enjoy learning about the world around us. I know my daughter needs practice listening to a teacher figured as well! She works best on semi-structure: not too much, but not too little.
Since I love picture books, I think I’m going to incorporate these into our Friday mornings. It should be fun to have a regular, standing date for this mini-preschool.
Other Preschool Learning
Strawberry is signed up for weekly library storytime beginning this week. For mathematical concepts, we’re going to play with the C-rods using ideas from Education Unboxed. If Strawberry seems ready and shows interest, we may begin Logic of English Foundations A.
I have activities for Strawberry to do with Boom Cards. I am also super excited about the many teaching units, ebooks of ideas, and activities included in the Early Years Learning Bundle. It seriously has taken any stress away from me when I think of homeschooling preschool! There is so much in there, we can be doing preschool for years to come. Finally, we may do swim classes or gymnastics in addition to the dance mentioned above. She has lots of wiggles!
At home, our main goal is to read a lot of great books and enjoy playtime together. I want Strawberry to enjoy spending time playing, sometimes with me and sometimes without me. She is a very extroverted soul, so she is always wanting to talk and be a part of my day. Obviously, as I teach my fourth grader, I’ll need her to be more independent!
Since we started school last month, Strawberry has already improved at letting me help Raisin with his work while she finds an activity for herself. We’ll keep nurturing that, because I need her to learn that lesson!
Keeping Baby Busy
A big distraction this year is the almost-walking baby. To be honest, the baby is the easiest one to take care of. She lets me pick her up and move her wherever we are going. Kitty is pretty good natured, so she is a delight.
In our playroom, we have a gated area to keep the baby somewhat contained. I love the gate system we have because the sides can stretch longer or close up shorter. It also has a door so kids can go in to play with the baby. I assume that as Kitty gets older, she’ll become more vocal about not wanting to be in the gated area. For the first part of the year, however, I believe she’ll be fine.
I plan on making time to sit and play with Kitty during our school mornings as well.
Baby Kitty loves music. She also loves hitting things together. Here are some of her current joys to play with.
I don’t intend to do any formal learning with her. For her, every time we say a word or show her a new life experience, she is learning! She’ll learn to walk and probably run in the next year. She’ll start to say her first words. It will be an amazing year of firsts for little Kitty. Although having a baby around does provide a distraction from teaching fourth grade, with her dedicated play space and my conscious choice to make time to play with her each day, I am sure we’ll make it work out.
Keeping Focused on What Matters
Each year, I find I make great plans and then life happens. Last year, of course, I knew that the baby would join our family. I knew we would not get everything finished. It is not lowering expectations to change the plan and find what works. It’s adapting to life.
The most important part of homeschooling is helping my kids know that they are loved. Nurturing a feeling of love in our home is what I want.
This may not be easy to do if I let the pressure of academics bother me. When Raisin really needs assistance in finishing a writing assignment I’ve given him, Strawberry and Kitty may be underfoot, calling for assistance. Sometimes, we may have to let the academics rest while we all get control of the situation. Homeschooling is great because we can do that.
Nothing should be more important to us than each other. Remembering that is this year’s goal.