Oh hello there, June!
Ashley and I officially began our homeschooling journey this week. We’ve been homeschooling for as long as I can remember (playing, dancing, singing, and reading together) but I’m more intentional now in preparation for her K1 level education next year or straight to Kindergarten level in 2 years depending on the final birthday cut-off that the DepEd will impose in line with the new K-12 education program. By more intentional, I mean being more focused, particular and consistent as we prepare Ashley for her formal academic training by the age of 4 1/2.
After countless research about “informal homeschooling”, I opted to take the Letter of the Week Curriculum as my primary guide in teaching my preschooler. This program provides recommendations of topics and activities in a particular subject that is based on the Letter of the Week. What I like best about this free online curriculum is that it’s an easy, 38-week program that can be tailored to the preschooler’s needs. As such, we’ll also be infusing the Before Five in a Row Curriculum since half of the books in the list are in our book collection. I’ll also be customizing some areas specifically the Math, Science, Bible & Character Education subjects. I’ll also include some Montessori methods in my way of teaching. Going through the overview of the weekly lesson plans, I couldn’t help but get excited because the lessons and activities do not feel “lessons” at all. We’ll just be “playing” all year long! After all, “learning through play” is what informal homeschooling exactly is all about. What makes me personally more thrilled is that my child will learn all of these first from no one else but me!
The Alphabet Intro Week
According to the curriculum, the Intro Week is the Orientation Week. This is the time to introduce the alphabet and determine if the child is ready to start or gauge one’s familiarity for a more fun and better lesson planning ahead.
I also took this time to start making our weekly calendar of lessons and activities. I made a weekly calendar template where I can jot down the day-to-day activities and subjects we’ll tackle so it’ll be easier for me to plan ahead. I’m using a pencil for my weekly notes so it’ll just be easy to add, remove or change if there’s an adjustment to be made. I think a Homeschooling Planner is necessary for an OC, busy and sometimes (or should I say, most of the time), absent-minded Mom like me for an organized and smooth-sailing homeschooling journey.
To begin with, we made use of our magnetic letter alphabet on our fridge door and took note of the letters that Ashley is already familiar with. This is for me to know and monitor her progress as we go along. The 14 out of 26 letters she can identify well are: A, B, C, D, E, F, L, O, P, Q, R, S, X, and Y.
Books about the Alphabet
Reading aloud or story telling is one of the core activities of this Curriculum. Reading is the best way to help one become an effective learner. So for a beginning reader, at least 20 minutes of reading time with someone must be spent.
We don’t follow a strict time schedule for reading. We read at any random time of the day although from experience, Ashley is in her high mood to read after her bath time in the morning, and before sleeping at bedtime. There are times when Ashley asserts the book she wants to read but most of the time, she gladly welcomes my book recommendation for the day. Here are the books we read for our Intro Week.
1. Little Folks’ ABC
2. Brainy Baby ABC’s
3. Chicka Chicka Boom Boom
4. Harold’s ABC
5. Dr. Seuss’s ABC
6. Paddington’s ABC
Our personal favorite among these books is Chicka Chicka Boom Boom by Bill Martin Jr. and John Archambault. We love the colorful pages and the rhyming and easy to memorize lines. Personally, this is the best intro book for someone learning the ABC as it does not concentrate on presenting not just the uppercase letters but the lowercase letters as well. Expert educators say that uppercase and lowercase letters must be taught at the same time to beginners since lowercase letters are what will be mostly read in all reading materials.
Our ABC Craft Book for our Letter of the Week craft activities will be compiled in this scrapbook, the cover of which is inspired by Chicka Chicka Boom Boom. I initially wanted to use art paper for the letter cutouts on the cover but opted to use felt stickers instead so it can also serve as Tactile Letters. This is the sensorial material closest to Montessori’s Sandpaper Letters that we can come up with. Ashley wrote her name at the bottom (with my guidance) so we can have something to look back once we’re done and see how her writing and letter familiarization have progressed.
The ABC Chart
* Name Familiarization and Coloring Activity
Since we don’t have a blackboard or a whiteboard yet that we can use for our visuals, we’ve come up with our own ABC Chart which we’ll complete (the letters) as we go along. For the Intro Week, I printed Ashley’s name using a chunky, hollow font (ColorFont) and she colored them each day.
I observed that Ashley holds her pencil or crayon the Tripod Grip way which is the recommended way by many Occupational Therapists and Educators as it helps the child have good control of the writing material and allows greater comfort. From what I have observed, Ashley didn’t go through the other early grip ways so it looks like Ashley has a remarkable fine motor development foundation.
The ABC Sensory Bin
Sensory plays have a vital role in a child’s early development. They learn best when they engage in activities that stimulate senses: touch, smell, sight, taste, sound, balance, and the sense of where each body part is in relation to the rest. For our sensorial activity, Ashley used scissors to cut my old credit card bills. I love this activity because it’s like shooting 3 birds with 1 stone. It’s a fine motor development activity (cutting), preparation for the letters sensory bin, and woohoo! I got a personal paper shredder.
We filled the box with shredded paper and I hid the magnetic letters underneath the pile. Ashley enjoyed taking out the letters one by one and she gamely identified them.
We were once hooked with the Loom Band craze before so with our unused bands, I crafted letter alphas to spell Ashley’s name by following the step-by-step Youtube tutorials of Made by Mommy. Using a string attached to the loom band hook, Ashley had an instant fun fishing game with a twist! She spent about 15 minutes concentrating and fishing in this game.
This is the activity that Ashley enjoyed the most. Even her Kuya joined us and requested that I make more similar fun games. I printed the Bingo Template, and made use of our magnetic letters that my kids enthusiastically draw from the basket. Ashley was tasked to identify each drawn letter. Every time a player wins and shouts BINGO, we happily sang the Nursery Rhyme B-I-N-G-O.
Ashley absolutely had a blast in our first week. At the end of our Intro Week activities, I asked Ashley to identify the letters one by one and to my surprise, her letter recognition skill dramatically improved. She can now identify with conviction 21 out of the 26 letters. So that’s learning 7 new letters in just one week of reading and play-based letter recognition activities! This accomplishment certainly inspires me and keeps me spirited as I prepare for our first letter week: letter A.