Looking Ahead: Here's This Year's Preschool and Kindergarten Homeschool Plan (Fall 2022)
September: The month the school bus returns to our street. Summer weather lingers, ideal for a few final beach days at the lake or the river, especially now that the annual tourists have left. But there's a whisper of fall. We're harvesting tomatoes from the garden daily. Nights are cooler and the kids stay out to watch the sky change colors at sunset—since now, as days shorten, they're still awake at sunset. There's the unmistakable feeling of a coming change of seasons, and accompanying change of pace.
I feel like I was only just writing about our 2020-2021 school year. How can it be time to write about schooling again, already?
Not much has changed in three months. We are continuing some weekly activities with friends, plenty of outdoor time, and our emphasis on play, curiosity, and exposure to new activities and ideas.
This school year, our kids will be 5 (soon, 6), 3, and 1. (Here's last year's 2020-2021 plan.)
The new thing this year is a Sudbury-style co-op at a local farm. The Sudbury philosophy, in brief, says children are intrinsically motivated to learn and can be trusted to direct their own education. This co-op has just started—there's significant interest from local families, but we don't know yet how many people will actually attend regularly, or what daily life at the co-op will be like. Per the Sudbury philosophy, everything will be self-organized and opt-in, offer a class if you want to, attend the class if you want to, play, learn, explore.
I'm excited about it. The folks organizing the co-op jibe with me on their education approach. Plus, the location! The farm has over 400 acres of hills and woods, not to mention the cutest baby goats and rabbits (plus sheep, chickens, ducks, a horse, lambs…). The downside is that it's a half hour drive. We have the option of attending up to 3 days/week; because of the distance, we'll probably attend only one day most weeks. I expect we'll add a second day if the weather's extra nice or if our other activities happen to be canceled for a week.
We are continuing our forest school co-op/nature play groups, which meet 1-2 days a week at local nature parks, year round. The moms take turns leading activities—survival skills, foraging, art, crafts, hikes, and more—or organizing field trips, such as outings to local farms or berry picking. It's a great group of families and leans toward child-led and interest-led learning. A couple moms seem excited about leading lessons and getting some "real learning" in; but more of them, I think, recognize that you can't force kids to learn; you can only offer opportunities and guidance.
I'm hoping the music class we participated in last year starts back up. I'm thinking about adding swimming classes in the winter, or perhaps a martial arts class for our 5-year-old. We'll see how the year goes.
Literacy, crafts, math, and more
Our summer was full of attending local festivals, fairies, and events: Art, music, blacksmithing, jousting, more music, beaver trapping, farm animals, old cars, curly fries, and huckleberry shakes! All kinds of inspiring stuff for the kids to experience.
When the weather turns, we'll spend more time indoors—which means art, crafts, cooking, reading, and board games!
We're learning math skills through board games and cooking. I recently got a set of dominos to add to our game collection.
Our new addition on the book front are some amazing subscription boxes from a small private library run by a couple women at Randy's parish. These boxes are awesome! We get two every month, one geared toward preschoolers and the other toward elementary grades. Each box has a title book, then a bunch of others expanding on various themes from that book. For example, the first elementary box we got had a story about a girl who travels the world collecting ingredients to bake an apple pie. The box also included books on measuring and math, on the different counties mentioned, on Johnny Appleseed and how apple trees change through the seasons, a children's around the world cookbook, and so on. It's awesome.
We continue to read aloud all the time, and make regular trips to the local library. We like picking out books related to daily life. For instance, for our trip to Glacier National Park, we got books about forests, mountains, bears, hiking, and the park.
In addition to hopefully continuing the music class and attending local summer concerts, we have a selection of instruments at home; we listen to all genres of music in the car and at home frequently; we watch videos of orchestras.
As far as arts and crafts go, we will continue to do a mix of things. Drawing, painting, stamping, cutting, gluing, making necklaces and stringing beads, seasonal projects, helping with my projects (like sock rugs and rags rugs!). Our 5-year-old has shown an interest in sewing after watching me patch my favorite baby carrier; I'm thinking they might be old enough to make and enjoy puppets; we'll see what else!