A reader asked what I intend to do with Lia, my three year old, which made me realize that I haven’t used blog space to rave about another favorite resource in a long, long time:
Ann Ward’s Learning at Home: A Christian Parent’s Guide with Day-by-Day Lesson Plans Using the Library as a Resource.
This is an old, out-of-print GEM that you can still purchase from private sellers through Amazon (Click on the link above to find $10+shipping options; otherwise, you might only find booksellers asking $60 or more.)
I began using Learning at Home when Viv was (gulp) two years old and worked through it in spurts for the next two years. I hope to use it for all of our children (though now I’ve gotten *more* of a grip and won’t begin until Lia is a ripe old 3 1/2 years old).
Why do I love it so?
* Because it covers all of the beautiful basics that I want my children to know and experience!
* Because it does not require that I purchase many (if any) other resources.
* Because each day’s work requires 45 minutes – 1 hour, which can be broken up by topic throughout the day. For example, we will cover the Bible lessons together during our breakfast devotions, enjoy the art and story time all together in the afternoons, and use the Physical Education suggestions during play time. Ward gives specific plans for each 5-day week in a typical school year, with the fifth day assuming a suggested field trip or project. It’s not a huge time commitment. (Some critics complain that Ward requires too much prep work, which I didn’t find to be the case if I just used my creativity. Way back in her day – 1995 – she chose to make all of her learning resources out of old magazines and construction paper. These days, we can print out similar exercises online, pull-together little toys, or select puzzles from our shelves that enforce the same skills. When worse comes to worst, though, Ward’s homemade ideas are simple enough to prepare while watching a movie or listening to an online sermon. Just think of the wealth you are preparing for your child! If you were sending your child to school, you better believe a young teacher would be up at night, cutting, pasting, printing, and organizing effective lessons for your little one. You can do it, too!)
* Because the content is such that Lia will gain immense riches from it, but it will also apply and enrich Vivienne at the same time. (Not to mention myself.)
THE BEFORE-YOU-BUY BASICS:
During the week, we will enjoy the Bible lessons, which cover Bible stories as well as biblical truths like the roles of family members and noble character qualities. I plan on teaching the Bible lessons to both Vivienne and Lia since they are so enriching – exactly the good and true things that I want our daughters to know and believe. We’ll also memorize the suggested verses together. I will also overlap the Science topics (called “God’s World”), since Ward’s curriculum stays pretty basic (plants, the human body, animals, etc.) and Vivienne and I can expand these topics into units with experiments, lap-books, and supplementary reading. (The Well-Trained Mind suggests that first-graders study several units covering animals, the human body, and plant life. Perfect!)
The Reading lessons typically involve simple memorization work, poetry-reading, and step-by-step development in reading preparation (i.e. exercising left-to-right eye movement).
Art lessons are simply projects that correspond with holidays, seasons, and themes of study.
Arithmetic lessons are simply step-by-step developments in math-readiness (i.e. counting, making number books, spatial recognition, etc.)
Health and Manners lessons prepare the young student for chores, personal hygiene, and hospitality.
Physical Education lessons suggest basic developmental skills that I otherwise would forget to encourage in my children like jumping forward and backward over a line, running on tiptoes, skipping while music plays and stopping when the music stops, etc. Simple and fun ideas that most youngsters think is worth a million bucks.
Many of the Music suggestions and Story suggestions are dated (do you know the song “One More River?”, so I just google the week’s topic and steel great ideas from Jolanthe, Carisa, or Confessions of a Homeschooler. I also come up with my own snappy ideas now and then. (Wink.) The point is that we sing with and read to our eager little learners every week!
Keep in mind that many of Ward’s library book suggestions might not be available at your library. I had a hum-dinger of a time finding most of her suggested resources when I first started out, so I just developed our own book list, which is quite easy to do with today’s online library search options. Studying horses? Type in the general topic “horse”, specify “children’s books”, and gather a selection of fiction and non-fiction (the non-fiction books are usually organized by topic, so once I find one non-fiction juvenile book on horses, I’ve found the jack-pot. I keep a running list of “keepers” and look for them time and time again.)
I love this precious resource because it encourages me to intentionally build into my little ones day by day, preparing them for a lifetime of learning, praying, singing, and playing together.
Do you have a preschool resource that you love?