Wednesday, August 5, 2009

HomeSchool Planning

To set the records straight again. We do not have the intention to fully homeschool our little T for the time being. However, we believe that we can do more as parents for a preschooler / kindergatener than solely rely on the rigid traditional school system.

It is not about trying to make her the smartest kid around, but our bigger concern is to try to cultivate her interest in learning and encourage self motivation. I always worry about the method and approach to learning/teaching and how it can influence a person for live on what education / learning is about.

Give an example. During T's year end review with her school teacher. Teacher disclosed that T does not boldly use colours in her drawings and looks very 'stressed' and always colour only in one area of the picture. She doesn't seem 'creative' and 'confident' enough to change her colours and colour outside of an area. I was quite surprise about this as T is complete opposite at home. She keeps changing colours, is very happy and makes a 'mess' of colouring all over the page. After a short discussion, we concluded that in school, teacher always reminds them to colour nicely / neating, try not to go over the line, so as a result, the colouring session becomes more demanding than simply colouring as you wish. That is why T then opts to just stick to one colour and only one area. On the other hand, during our 'toilet wall' painting sessions at home, there's no limit set on what she can draw and we don't judge her for quality of drawing / colouring. For me, at 2.5 years, I really don't mind if her apple looks like a triangle and a pink blob of paint is a pretty flower to her. I think at this young age, its more important to encourage them to continue to draw / colour, be bold to use all the different colours / mode of arts as they wish and when they are older we can slowly introduce the rules of the game. I understand that traditional schools are there to teach the child the rules of society, to conform and obey, to respect and not question authority, etc..., but there are other approaches to life too.

This is the main reason why we try to maintain some homeschooling activities at home, so I can have a chances to expose her to less traditional method of learning, encourage her to attempt to solve the problems and find answers by herself and also observe for myself her strengths and weaknesses. Being 1 to 1, I can adapt our materials and lessons to her learning style and making timely decisions to change our lessons to match her current interests (windows of opportunities).

I realised these weeks when we try to pick up on the homeschooling that I lack a focus and direction on this topic. What we do is too random and ad hoc and I have no clue if the activities are age appropriate, if I am missing an important element to build a good foundation, if we are moving in the correct direction? As such, I also spend / waste alot time doing random research and getting distracted by all sorts of information that I think may be of interest, but might not really be useful. The conclusion, some proper planning needs to be in place so we can be more efficient and effective in our efforts.

So I put aside 2 whole days and seriously researched into preschool / kindergarten education. First was to find out what are the norm milestones for a 3-4 year old to reach, second was to think about besides these basics, what other 'stuff' to we wish T to learn during this time? Lastly was to organize the information in such a way so that we can make lesson plans and easily track and follow up on how we are progressing until we achieve the goals.

I gathered the info online from a variety of sites, reviewed, filtered and consolidated what I felt was reasonable for 3 - 4 yr old into the below charts. (I haven't figured out how to put downloadable files on blog, so if you are interested, you will have to print them or save them as photos). For curriculum planning and tracking, I referred to and got some templates and ideas from her, made some customization and now I have a thin binder book to help me track our homeschool progress. If you are interested in taking a look at my homeschool planner book, drop me a line in the chatbox. With these tools in hand + my Montessori pre-school teaching manuals + the lovely BFIAR recommended curriculum for lapbooking, I now feel alot more confident that we will be able to have an enriching and enjoyable preschool home school experience at home. I also no longer spend alot of time browsing and researching like a headless chicken and wasting alot of time, instead, I just have to put aside a couple of minutes a day, or an hour on the weekend to plan ahead for next week's activities. Its been a great time saver (goes to explain why I have time to update the blog now)

By the way, we've worked on 2 more BFIAR books these weeks, stay tuned for post on them once we finished.