Tomorrow is the day.

I have promised my little one she gets to start "school" this semester. Part of me is excited for her, and part of me thinks I have lost my mind.

I already have such a hard time fitting everything in, I can hardly imagine squeezing in another "thing." But that's just the "thing." She is not a "thing." She is my child, a precious, vivacious, joyous preschooler who deserves some of mommy's time.

No, time doesn't have to mean academic work, and I am not even saying it always will. But as sad of a parent as is makes me, I am choosing to schedule one on one time with my 3 year old because she has been slipping through the cracks... and I am not ok with that.

We started a few things here or there but have not been very consistent, so tomorrow starts a fresh slate.

J will be 4 in February. Sheesh that blows my mind. My baby isn't a baby. OK...OK, I'll dry the tears and move on.

Here is the Pre-Preschool plan--

I plan to do "school" with J 3 days a week. Probably in the range of 30 minutes a day on Tuesday/Thursday/Friday -- the "less" hectic school days for my two older ones.

A few things we have planned:

All About Reading: (pre-level)
I recommend the Basic package, but if you can add Ziggy, we love him!
We have already started this and J loves it! Ziggy the Zebra always brings a smile to her face. It has been awhile since we have done it so the plan is to start over with it this week.

Handwriting without Tears 
We plan to start the preschool book going VERY slowly, mostly focused on the manipulative play-- playdough, chalk, the iPad App "Wet Dry Try" that she loves!

Hands on Math

Right Start Abacus/cuisenaire rods

We will begin basic counting and place value using the abacus and Cuisenaire rods  (Education Unboxed has some great videos on how to use C-rods.) We will probably use this free printable book for Cuisenaire rods.

Sonlight reading lists (we don't buy the cores, just use the books lists as library lists)

P 3/4
P 4/5

A few activities we enjoy--

Melissa & Doug Alphabet stamp set
Wikki Stixs Alphabet Fun Cards
Busy Bugs Learning set
Alphabet Puzzle Cards (we don't have these, but we have similar ones)
Preschool Pinterest board of ideas

My goal is to play with her...Lots of games, lots of stories, and only when she is interested. The goal is relationship and giving her face time. If she learns something along the way, great! I want her to enjoy the learning process, and enjoy the relationship with me. I am looking forwards to playing games and enjoying her. Aside from trying to get to All About Reading regularly, I will allow her to guide the learning process. She is at such a fun age and I want to be more available to her.  Bring on Pre-Preschool!

Fresh beginnings.

Though not the beginning of our school year, January still offers a new start after a much needed break. The semester break offers time to reflect on the first semester and make any necessary changes to make the rest of the school year the best it can be.

The New Year brings a time of reflection-- a time to reassess our challenges and rejoice in our successes.

Fall Challenges

E-- Probably our biggest challenges with E are writing and lack of free time (which actually has more to do with my challenges than hers!) She is doing amazing well! We are not prioritizing writing as much as I would like, and that is one change we will make in the spring. E has been complaining recently that she only gets to "play" on the weekend. The reason for this is three-fold. 1) We are starting too late (my fault) 2) We are not as scheduled as we need to be (my fault!) and 3) She spends 13 hours a week at gymnastics (this one is all her!)

New Approach:
For writing, I plan to create a new routine and stick with it. Also, I want to have a writing focus on Fridays to work on Brave Writer projects I have not been great at fitting in. As for free play, as long as she chooses to remain in gym this won't change a lot, but I plan to do what I can in the scheduling area to maximize time.

C-- C's biggest challenge is his distractibility. He is amazingly smart, but really works best in short bursts. Since it is easier to just sit down and "knock out" all of his schoolwork, I have a hard time with this.

New Approach:
My plan is to approach schooling C differently in the spring. Focus on his strengths, and split reading into two shorter sessions a day instead of one long one. I also need to work on my own frustration and keep it positive at all times.

J-- J biggest challenge is simply that she just needs more time with me. Finally old enough to play independently, it is all too easy to send her away to play and she all too often gets ignored.

New Approach:
I have promised J she can start "school" in January. She is almost four, so instead of waiting for the new school year, we will begin her "pre-K" year. This is really less about academics and more a recognition that I need to spend more one on one time with her. Since she begs to do school, this should be a good change in our routine and grant her the time she needs.

Fall Successes

E-- E's diligence and character constantly amazes me. I am so pleased with her work ethic and continuing independence. She is about to begin Math Mammoth 4 and is reading amazingly well. She is really a delight to teach, and I am so grateful for her.

C-- C is such a hard worker with a tender heart. He is so eager to please, and cares deeply about others. He is reading well, and about one third the way through All About Reading 3-- slow and steady in his progress. He just started Math Mammoth 2A and will start spelling in the spring. He is progressing well and loves to play.

J-- J brings so much joy and laughter to our home. She is full of energy and can often be found upside down following in her big sister the gymnasts footsteps. She is showing readiness of learning to read and already has a great grasp of numbers and counting. She loves to pretend to read and be read to. Finding enough things to keep her busy mind and hands occupied is always a challenge!

Curriculum Challenges 

Bible was a bit of a fail this year. We love Bible Study Guide for All Ages, but the primary pages were no longer enough and the intermediate was too much. I now understand the need for the primary pages they are developing, but they don't currently have them for year three. Our plan for the spring is to just read through the Egermeiers Bible Story Book, use the BSGFAA Bible Summary cards, and dust off our children's catechism book we haven't used in awhile.

Curriculum Successes

I am amazed at E's progress in piano, and her talent in drawing is amazing. C's math intuitiveness constantly amazes me, as does Journey's constantly growing vocabulary and sass.

I am enjoying history more this year than ever before. Making our own plan has been well worth the effort.

Science-- Education Exploration has been a major blessing. It has been so easy to use, and the kids can do most everything by themselves.

E's favorite subject is Art, but handwriting is a close second. Amazingly, math is gaining ground. She loves reading as well

C's favorite is "copywork, then reading, math, science, and history." (His answer when asked the question!) :)

J's favorite remains Ziggy Zebra (from All About Reading). I just need to kick it into gear and get it out more! 

This year is progressing well. The last 3 weeks of break were very needed! The kids and I needed that time, and we are (almost!) ready to get back to it on Monday!

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