Well, I suppose that we are “officially” a homeschooling family–or at least as official as we can be without having a kindergartener who requires registration with the state. According to the calendars around here, Miss I would just now be old enough to be starting her first year of preschool, and will all of the back to school enthusiasm recently, I figured that it would be a good time for us to just go ahead jump into homeschooling feet first. We already had some materials that I had purchased “on a whim” throughout the year last year, but the Montessori approach has also appealed to us quite a bit. I had read a few books on Montessori, but really had no idea where to begin. After some deliberation, I decided to go ahead and get started using what we already had, and then incorporate some Montessori activities and materials as we go along.
I started with the Usborne Starting to Read Pack, which I had purchased last year to practice speech with Miss I. It has 8 early readers emphasizing phonics, and a parent guide book to help parents approach it. I’m one of those who have felt so overwhelmed by the concept of homeschooling that having some sort of a roadmap was so important in helping me to get started. (Though only a week after starting, I feel like we’ve gotten into a groove and it no longer seems as critical). The first book in the series is called Pirate Pat. So, to help motivate my daughter to want to learn the different letters, I created a pirate map to show her how to get to the treasure of being able to read the first book.
Since I knew we would need lots of practice to master each letter, I decided to do a “Letter of the …” curriculum for preschool. We’re going through the letters on the map in order, following my daughter’s interest and pace. So far we’ve covered s, a, and t. I start with the activity in the Starting to Read pack, and add in activities as I feel capable. We started doing the workbooks that we already had (more about those below), but some of the letters have already been completed, so I also introduced the Teach Your Monster to Read Game. It covers these letters in order, which is perfect in developing the proficiency we need to read the first book. This week, I put together some letter crafts (that Miss I doesn’t seem all that interested in), and I’m half-way through making Montessori sandpaper letters and a moveable alphabet. She loves puzzles and hands-on activities, so I think the Montessori materials will really interest her. After our first week I’m already feeling like she and I are closer, and she asks for more work to do every day.
If you’re curious about any of the materials or would like more details about what we’re using, I’ll be keeping a running list here.