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We started school at the end of August along with the rest of our county.  The kids were really excited and they have been working hard since.  They are so eager to learn!  This year, we are attempting to have more routine and structure to our day.  For starters, we all get up around 7:30am and have breakfast together.  This works out really well!  Previously, Jackson and I were up well before Aubrey.  By the time she was getting up Jackson and I had eaten and dressed.  Then, I had to feed and dress her.  It is nice not to draw out making breakfasts and dressing kids.  Now, we are able to begin school as soon as breakfast is over. We start with our morning devotion and "work" for about 2 hours. Then, we go out to play until lunch.  After lunch, we have rest time and then we finish up our school day (about 45 min).

Our school day consists of morning devotions/bible lesson, handwriting, math, technology, craft/cooking activity, language arts and science.  We are very hands-on holding to the belief that learning should be fun.  I do have the kids complete paper/pencil work as well; tying it to the hands-on learning.

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Our major themes for the first 2 weeks:
Bible: Abraham
Math: Counting and Representing numbers (Jackson to 12 and Aubrey to 30); Sorting objects into groups
Science: Apples
Language Arts Skills:
   Jackson- Letter Sounds; writing name; word recognition- mom, dad, Aubrey, see
   Aubrey- Blends; journal writing; sight words; using picture clue with knowledge of phonics

Some books we read:
Ten Apples Up on Top
How Do Apples Grow
Apple Picking Time
Apples
Apple Cake
123 Peas
Numbers: A Lift the Flap Book

Outings:
4 Playdates
Storytime @ Library
Apple Orchard

Assessments:
Letter ID- upper and lowercase
Letter Sounds
Dolch Pre-Primer Sight Word List

We finished up our apple theme in mid-September and then, took 3 weeks off when Tyler was born.  October's theme has been Fall- leaves and pumpkins.  Look for a more detailed post coming soon...

Finally, for your enjoyment, here are 2 videos of the kids performing the nursery rhyme from the first week: Little Miss Muffet.  We each took a turn playing Ms. Muffet, the spider and the narrator.  Both kids did a great job narrating and they had fun acting it out!
 
 
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In our house, each day is filled with learning.  We have fun playing educational games, using technology to reinforce various skills and taking advantage of learning opportunities through conversations and hands-on experiences. They are developing strong social skills and the ability to participate in a structured environment through outings, playdates, weekly story time, Sunday school and weekly Rainbows class.  I have been blown away by how quickly both little ones have absorbed knowledge and developed skills.  

That being said, I am looking forward to facilitating daily lessons in a more purposeful, planned manner next school year.  Aubrey is starting to read and is ready to start basic addition and subtraction.  Jackson can identify 95% of the letters and can count to 12.  He knows his shapes and colors(finally) and is eager to learn more.  Both love to learn about the world around them.  They are capable of so much and make learning together fun! :)

I have been surprised by how many complete strangers have asked Aubrey if she attends preschool.  She just answers with a polite no, but internally I am holding back from jumping in and explaining to them why going to preschool is not necessary in order to master preschool academic and social skills.  There is certainly nothing wrong with attending a preschool and many parents opt to send their children to preschool for a variety of good reasons.  We are opting not to and our children are flourishing despite this neglect. ;)  Seriously though, if you are thinking of helping your child master preschool expectations at home and ensure their readiness for kindergarten (whether that be homeschool, public or private school), there are some great resources out there and tons of free/inexpensive technology sites/apps.  Ultimately, its all about making learning fun and having fun learning together!

Our school year is going to be organized around fun themes (seasons, holidays, social studies/science topics, etc.) with hands-on learning, crafts, basic skills, technology and field trips to support them.  My hope is to post the themes we are focusing on each season, along with resources, ideas and field trips we have planned.  Here are some great resources to get started.

Planning and Goals:
VA standards provided for public school preschool programs.  Provides a helpful overview of areas to focus learning in. 

Kindergarten Readiness Checklist- provides a list of specific skills that should be mastered during preschool in a format that allows you to check off when mastery is achieved.

Milestones by Age allows you to get a feel for what your child should be doing and help select areas to focus on.  Be sure and incorporate the skills they've already mastered too!  We want to keep up their confidence, maintain skills, and allow them to make connections and extend their learning.

Let each child guide your plans.  Provide opportunities for learning that meet them where they are and keep learning authentic and fun

Gathering Ideas:
http://www.nuttinbutpreschool.com

http://www.prekinders.com

http://www.thecraftyclassroom.com/index.html

http://www.preschoolexpress.com/theme_station.shtml

Pinterest- search hands-on activities or preschool activities

*Google and Pinterest are 2 of my favorite go to places when looking for fresh ideas that support literacy, math, thematic units, etc...





 
 
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About a month ago, my daughter found some coins and eagerly shared she was going to save them to buy a movie she has been wanting.  At the time, I thought this was a great idea!  It provided a perfect opportunity to teach and reinforce saving towards a goal.  Now, one month later, she has only about $1.50 saved and she is still focused on saving for this movie.  

The issue is there isn't anything in place that allows her to earn money.  We don't pay her to clean up her toys and do other small jobs to help out around the house.  Since she is only 3 1/2, there really aren't many tasks she can do above and beyond what's expected.  The bottom line though is I want her to help out around the house because it's her contribution as a member of the family or because she is showing generosity to others.  I also want her to learn that you can't automatically have everything you want, but sometimes you can save over time to get the item you desire.  I'm struggling with how to accomplish both. Right now I'm leaning towards discussing with her the option of taking over one of mommy's jobs to earn money until she has enough to buy her movie.  This idea means I would most likely have to go behind her when she isn't around to ensure the job was fully completed because most of the things I have come up with really aren't jobs she is able to do well independently.

Do you give your kids an allowance?  If so, do they have to earn it or is it a flat sum of money you give them each week?  Can you share some creative ways to help younger children earn money?  I'd love to hear all suggestions!

 
 
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If asked whether or not my kids have a grateful heart, I would have responded with yes.  They are thankful for what they have. They offer up a thank you when served a meal, assisted with a task, offered a compliment or given an item.  You know...basic good manners.  I felt like my husband and I were well on our way to developing grateful children.  

   Then the toy catalogs from all the major stores started arriving at our house (just in time for all the holiday shopping, of course).  Already, at age 2 and 3, they are masters at materialism.  As they perused catalogs or walked through shops, I heard their chorus of "I want that!" and "I can get this!"  I realized as the world unfolds before them and they begin to look beyond our little family, the task of fostering a thankful heart has only just begun.  We have a laid a good foundation, but we must continue to help grow thankfulness through modeling, discussions, expectations and opportunity.

       Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts to which indeed you were called in one body; and be thankful. 
                                                                                                                                        Colossians 3:15

   November is a natural time to focus on thankfulness with greater intensity, but it can't stop once the Thanksgiving holiday passes.  We all must learn to meet each day with gratitude that extends beyond the materialistic.  We have just begun the journey of embracing the life God has given us with gratitude.  I can't share every conversation, prayer and object lesson we have with our children, but I will share some of the ways we are building thankful hearts this month.  

   How do you foster thankfulness with your family?