I have been working on preparing for the next school term over the past few weeks. I already had the curriculum chosen, but have a bit of extra work to do to get ready for the next term. Abbie has been doing preschool for 2 years and in that time had completed Kindergarten level work also. Joe and I are wanting her to have a curriculum that is Bible based. We believe that if we give the children a strong foundation in the Bible, then when faced with worldly ideals, the children will be prepared to make better choices.
I am ordering Abbie's curriculum from Rod & Staff publishers. It is a Mennonite run company so we are secure in the fact that the lessons will be based on the Bible. Not being Mennonite ourselves, we are pleased that though the curriculum has a definite conservative view, it does not preach Mennonite theology. One of the weak areas in the curriculum however is the lack of Science and History/Social Studies at the 1st grade level. For this, I am having to come up with my own curriculum.
I am using the workbox method of organizing the schooling this year. This is based on "Sue Patrick's Workbox System: A Parent's Guide" by Sue Patrick. Ms. Patrick is a homeschooling parent of an autistic son. She based it on the TEACCH system which uses task boxes to teach children. Each box contains a single assignment or activity along with all needed items to complete that task. The method work beautifully in that the child has a definite beginning and end to the task or assignment.
In homeschooling, families find that having the workboxes makes a more organized and orderly way to educate their children. The child feels more in control of their learning. As they complete each box and set it aside, they can see their "to do" boxes gradually disappear and are motivated to continue. Intermixed among the school assignments are fun activities or diversions that make the day more enjoyable. A little snack, an educational game, a 20 minute break to go outside and play, and more can be included in the boxes.
For Micah, this is also a learning approach that will benefit him. I already have workboxes planned to use in Micah's education. At this point, much of it is therapy based but even that can be a learning tool. Learning to sort by color, developing fine motor skills so that he can learn to write, pointing to pictures of items being named can all become a valuable lesson for him. I love the TEACCH approach in that it helps to promote independence in a child. This is critical especially with a special needs child like Micah.
I am setting up our living room as a homeschool room. I drew out a map of the room with shelving, desks, etc. Having a small room, it was necessary to me to be able to see how much shelving I can fit in there. We will have space for my desk, a child's desk for Abbie, a Little Tykes table for Micah to work at, and bookcases on all available walls. Under the windows I am placing the shorter 4-shelf bookcases which are slightly taller than the bottom of the windows.
Abbie will have one small bookcase for her 12 workboxes. On the top of her bookcase will be containers for storing her pencils, crayons and other school supplies. She has an old school desk that was given to us by a neighbor. Above her desk, on the wall, I am going to place a whiteboard. Her workboxes will contain her daily assignments in the Rod & Staff subjects of Math, Reading, Writing, and Art. She also will have hands-on activities for History & Science. Lastly, she will have her "Keepers of the Faith" activity. One extra project that she is wanting to do is notebook/lapbook activities for chapter books we read. I found through Homeschool Share a series of activities to correspond with the Little House series of books.
Micah has a Little Tykes table and chairs set that I am putting in the room for him. He still needs work at learning to sit still while working on a task, but this will help him. His workboxes will be on their own bookcase. He also has 12 workboxes. Seems like a lot for a 3 yr old, huh? Well, for him it is easy. The tasks are all very short in duration. I give him 4 boxes at a time. Each task takes only a few minutes to complete. After finishing the 4th box, he has a break for an hour or so to play. Then I get out 4 more boxes. We repeat this 3 times a day. Each session takes about 20 minutes at the most. This means that Micah does only 1 hour of work per day. As Micah gets older and able to do more, his activities will take more time to complete. The point with him right now is to develop the routine of using workboxes.
It is taking me some time to get this all together. I am getting there though. It is fun seeing Abbie get excited about the upcoming term. As I am making preparations in the room and getting supplies, she is getting more ready to start. It is so exciting as a Mum to have a little one so eager to learn!