Thursday, March 19, 2015

Homeschool Pre–School Resources

Resources, Resources

There are so many resources out there to make this easy for us now.  Here are a few that I have used.

1.   I know technology isn't the best choice for everything... but this one is AWESOME!  I still remember trying to do flashcards and posters to have my oldest memorize the alphabet.  It took forever!  I have literally spent no time reviewing this with my younger children, and just yesterday at the Eye Doctor, my 4 year old impressed everyone with all of the letters she was able to read.  I give all credit to  We have it on our ipad, as well as the free version on the computer.  Every day she has "preschool on the computer" time, and this is what she is learning.  Every morning, and sometimes every afternoon, when they're bored and want a movie, I suggest Pre-school, and we do that first.  Sometimes the movie idea even disappears!

2.  Speaking of aps, also has some really great ABC videos on the ipad.  We did the free version, and after you watch some, you earn credits to download more videos.  We have paid nothing, and have a ton of ABC videos.

3.  Dry Erase markers and writing board.  I have a huge Dry Erase board on my kitchen wall.  That gets used by my pre-schooler more than anyone else.  Pictures, learning to write, etc. all happen there every day, and we can compliment her on how great they are, because we see them.

4.  Minutes with Me
This curriculum she now has is very different from the first prototypes that I got with my oldest.  However, I love them, and refer to them often. As this is her new and improved curriculum that she is now selling, it's all I can recommend.  She has a free downloads page that is great too.

5.  5 in a Row, and Before 5 in a Row
This is one of my favorite curriculums.  It is all based around literature.  I only have one of these books, but it has been well used.  I would recommend 5 in a Row if you only want to get one... because the kids grow up and you can keep using it.  I ended up purchasing many of the books that the lessons are about.  It was quite an investment, but has made a lasting impression on my kids and my home.  My kids feel that those books are their friends.

6.  Math Manipulatives
Saxon Math has a box of math manipulatives that you can order.  That was one of the best investments I ever made.  Also, there are teacher stores where you can buy more stuff like this.  Tangram puzzles, Cuisinaire rods, Shapes puzzles, etc.  I have 3 drawers of math and learning manipulatives that we use constantly. 

7.  Poetry and Skip Counting CD's.  
Institute for Excellence in Writing has a poetry CD.  Or Shel Silverstein is awesome.
Classical Conversations has awesome Skip Counting Songs.  Or you can get 100 Counting Sheep.

Homeschool Preschool

To Homeschool Pre–school or to Not Homeschool Pre–school.  That is the question.

I must admit, with all of the Free VP K programs out there, even I was tempted.  I am thankful for a good husband and his advice.  He said, "Nothing in this world is free."  He was right.  Although the Free VP K programs make you think that you will have free time, a clean house, sanity, a good education, a better education than you could provide by yourself, and socialization for your youngster, VP K is in my opinion is over rated.  By sending your kids away earlier, you are simply just doing that.  Sending them away earlier.  Right when the fun is starting to begin! 

Just last month I was talking to a first year homeschool mom who was struggling.  She was homeschooling her 4th grader and Kindergartener.  She shared her frustration with me that her children had no idea how to entertain themselves, or play alone for any length of time.  She said that they had been doing day care and pre-school for such a long time that now it felt like an insurmountable task to conquer simple things like be home together and not have planned activities for the entire day.  At a point in her life when she saw the value to homeschooling, her choice to have her youngsters leave the nest too soon was biting her back!

Benefits for Homeschooling Pre-school outweigh the rest.

1.  Your child will learn how to entertain themselves at an early age.

2.  You will have a lifestyle of learning (not something that you turn off for summer, or after school time.)

3.  You will spark a love for reading because books become great things to do to fill quiet time.  (Audio books, and reading books.)

4.  You will be with your child and come to know them much better.

5.  They are open vessels for knowledge.  Who do you trust enough to teach them?

In my opinion, VP K programs are about providing daycare for working mothers, and for teaching our young children government propaganda at a young age.  It is absolutely not about what is best for the child.  A friend of mine helped me when I was tempted to send my little ones.  She was from Sweden, and she said that they believed that a child's best learning environment was in the home until the age of 7 or 8.  In Sweden, that is when you start sending your children to school.  Before then, it's all about love and trust and family.  As I am still homeschooling my children, I feel it continues beyond that.  Whole heartedly, I agree with Sweden!

I cannot say that Homeschooling is for everyone.  It is not for the faint of heart, but neither is parenting.  It takes a serious commitment to your children.  Without your constant attention, it could easily go to a neglected child.  However, with constant attention, prayer, and love, it can be the doorway to something beautiful.  They are just getting to an age where they are able to understand the world around them.  Be there to introduce it to them!  Surround them with a learning environment in your home.  Plan field trips, get together with other pre-schoolers frequently.  It just takes a calendar and a pencil, and off you go!

I homeschooled through Pre-school without really thinking that it was a big deal.  VP-K was not even a big deal yet when my oldest started.  I did a group of 4-5 mom's twice a week and we each took turns who would teach that week.  It was a good learning experience for me.  I felt that my first "Real Homeschool Year" though was Kindergarten.  I was scared, but I kept reminding myself... "This is Kindergarten".  How bad can I really screw this up?  And besides that, it didn't even count officially on schooling policy.  In our district, they have to be the age 6 before they are officially on the rosters as a homeschooling student.  Kindergarten and Pre-K are your chance to test drive the Homeschooling Car.

It wasn't until March of my first Kindergarten year that I caught the light of homeschooling.  I went to my first Homeschooling convention in May, and have been hooked ever since!  Don't think I haven't threatened to send them all to school multiple times...  :)   As, it is a jungle out there!  I am hooked though, and I think it has changed our family forever.  We will always be a homeschooling family... even if we do end up sending some of our kids to school one day.  We think differently!  This is a lifestyle of learning.

Take it with a grain of salt!

Pre-school Groups

I happen to love groups.  It keeps me focused, committed, and willing to put in the extra time to plan.  When I do it on my own, it seems that I spend all of my time cleaning the house, and getting mad a the kids because they are so messy.   I know it's not for everyone.  You can also find Non-Profit groups that focus on Early Childhood development.  The YMCA, or something similar has Mommy and Me programs that you pay for to have bonding, learning time together.  Just realize that there are options out there.  I have seen:  Gymnastics have pre-school time, Sunflower Creative Arts has Mommy and me classes where I live.  Joy School is also a program to purchase that has it all laid out for you're looking for guidance.

1.  Pick 3-4 families that have the same mind set as you.  You can find them at church, from library story times, or by visiting a local Homeschool group and asking who has little ones.  With just two families, it falls apart too quickly when someone is sick, or just not in the mood that day.  Be committed to finish out the Semester, or the Year.  Whatever your plan is.

2.  24 weeks through the year work the best.  12 from August to Thanksgiving, and 12 from January to April.  Plan a one week break in the middle for an off week.  It helps for unexpected emergencies.  Sometimes you can shuffle that week if needed.  Everyone has great plans to school during December, but don't do it. It's just too stressful!  Also, when you finish in April, you can get together afterwards for informal playdates in the park if you still want to get together.  No lesson plans, or start planning next year.  You could even plan a 6 week summer playgroup, or art class.  Giving yourself a set time to school, and a set break are important.

3.  Where to meet?  You can rotate different homes, or do it at one house each week.  If you have good weather, plan it at the same park each week that has good shade, a good table, and bathrooms close by.  Have a back up bad weather plan.  

4.  Stay in touch.  Create an email list so you can quickly update everyone if there is a sick bug, or bad weather plan.  Texting also works great for this.

5.  Have a Leader.  Too many times things fall apart because of lack of leadership.  This can take a lot of time if you let it.  Meet together with the other parents during the summer and make a plan... For example, in March, we'll learn about the Circus, and Spring, and Bugs.  Pick your teachers for the day, etc.  Then, it's your responsibility to email each week or verbally communicate and remind everyone what they said they would do.

6.  Cost?  It's easy to have everyone donate $2 or something small to art projects.  You can do this at the beginning of the year, or have a jar for each week.  If you do the each week however, there's a big chance you'll never get paid.  

7.  Celebrate!  When you finish the year, throw a party and congratulate the kids and yourselves for sticking to it!  Go swimming, or have a potluck!  You can make little caps and gowns out of black plastic bags and black paper plates for hats.  So cute!

I found this schedule from long ago.  To me, it seems exhausting to do so many weeks close together, but we did it.  :)  Hind site is 20/20.  I'd definitely spread it out over a longer time period and allow more breaks now.  This may have worked well because it was only an hour.  I think a couple hours is probably a better time, as it takes time to drive to get there (in my case anyways.)

Good luck!

I Need a Break!

We all feel that way!  You can figure it out with prayer.  Just because we homeschool, doesn't mean we absolutely love being surrounded by our kids 24/7.  It's a roller coaster. It's harder to clean the house, feel presentable, use your brain.  If you have lots of little kids younger, that is crazy to think that the only way you can get a break is to send them away... to Pre-school.  Use your head, and think.  All great leaders have to think outside of the box.  This is your moment to invent something awesome for your family!

I have tried all of the following:

1.  Hiring someone to come in a help babysit for a couple hours a week while I am home schooling my older kids.
2.  Go the YMCA and exercise.  Free babysitting for an hour, or do a class together.
3.  Hire someone to help clean once a month.
4.  Find a local 12 year old and pay them a couple bucks to help.
5.  Do your schooling at night when your husband's home to help.
6.  Take lots of educational field trips.
7.  Plan days to be out of the house at least 2-3 times a week.  Even if it's just for an hour or two.

You will not break the bank or be considered a bad mom if you hire someone to help you every once in a while.  A clean house can be therapy.  I personally think that having a friend from church come and help is worth it's weight in gold.  Sometimes I pay... sometimes I repay with cookies!  When there are no friends available, I ask my neighbor's cleaning lady to come and help.  Not quite as fun, but it gets the job done.  Ahhh.... progress.  My house is clean for exactly 20 minutes, and then the chaos begins again.  Take a picture, and look at it.  Relax!

And by all means... Go On Dates with your Spouse!  Get them used to having a babysitter for a minute or two!  They need it and so do you.

See my post on Pre-school Resources

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Ward Choir- Easter 2015

Easter Sunday will be observed on Sunday, March 29, 2015 due to General Conference being on Easter Sunday, 9:00 a.m.

Sunday, 2/8/15     12:15 p.m. in the Chapel
Sunday, 2/15/15    5:00 p.m. in the Chapel
Sunday, 2/22/15    5:00 p.m.
Sunday, 2/29/15    8:15 a.m.

What to Wear:
Pastel Top, or Neck Tie.
Men:  Suits if possible.  If not, White Shirt and Pastel Tie.

Beautiful Savior, SATB by Sally DeFord
Download music

Listen to Beautiful Savior

Please listen to your part here:

All Parts:  Our Choir Singing...





That Easter Morn, by Robert Cundick, Arranged by Danielle Isaacson

Listen to That Easter Morn:  Last verse only on piano.