If you’re new to homeschooling or trying to figure out where to start with your 3-5 year old (beyond play), two of my very favorite curriculums are Handwriting Without Tears (handwriting and literacy) and All About Reading (reading, phonetic/phonemic awareness, comprehension, and puppets!) . Both programs use a multi-sensory approach to learning language (ideal for this age group and beyond), meaning your children practice and learn language with all of their senses (and often their whole body). Also, both programs offer teacher manuals, ideal if you’re intimidated about homeschooling and prefer a more directed approach to education — BUT if you prefer to simply offer your children quality materials to play with and introduce more indirectly (child-led learning), they both offer several quality products all of my children enjoy.
In short, both of these programs easily adapt to whatever style of education you choose for you home. I’m somewhere in the middle, often borrowing ideas from several different styles and programs and adapting them to our family style. I’ve always loved the Montessori approach to education, especially for young children who are so eager to learn and work independently — “I can do it by myself!” If you’re interested in Montessori at home, this book is simple to read and follow. I’ll link to Montessori materials I use in addition to these program. They are not necessary, but I/my children love using them.
For a while now, I’ve wanted to show little glimpses of our homeschool here to help encourage/inspire other families. Here’s one of last week’s morning activities with my daughter Olive (4) and nephew Shepherd (3). We are practicing the sounds of E.
- sandpaper letters or HWT option
- wood pieces for capital letters (teaches handwriting strokes)
- capital letter cards
- The Zig Zag Zebra read-a-loud (or any other alphabet book)
- ABC poster (not shown)
We pull out my box of HWT materials. The kids are excited and immediately begin pulling out the wood pieces. Olive grabs the small container with our sandpaper letters from the shelf. I open the alphabet poster . We sing the alphabet together, pointing to each letter as we go. I ask them what letters we’ve already talked about (A-D); I point and they tell me the names and sounds. I place the A-E sandpaper letters on the floor, scrambled; Olive puts them in order while Shepherd watches.
I ask them what letter comes next in the song, “E”! So I make sure they have the right wood piece to build E: one big line, three little lines. I pull out the capital letter card and we look at the picture of the E. I trace it with my finger — “one big line with one little line at the top, one little line in the middle, one little line on the bottom.” They build their letters on the floor. I ask them if their E looks like the E on the letter card. They make adjustments. I congratulate them for making an E! We then sing the Leap Frog song for E, “E says /eh/, E says /eh/, every letter makes a sound, E says /eh/.”
I ask them to get their pointer finger ready for writing E. Where do we start our letters? At the top! (We sing the HWT song, “Where Do You Start Your Letters?”) I dictate the strokes and they trace their E wood pieces. ” We start at the top with a big line down. Now, frog-jump back to the top. Make a little line at the top. Jump to the middle. Make a little line. Now to the bottom. Make a little line.” They repeat a few times. Again, big hoorays, “you made an E with your fingers!” “What does E say? “/eh/”
“Now let’s read a short story about elephants. Elephant starts with /eh/ E.” We read the three page story a couple of times. And then they’re ready to play outside, so we clean up our materials (throwing the pieces back in the box and returning it to the shelf). This took about 20-30 minutes.