Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Specifics on PreK Education

Here are the specific books I've enjoyed using for PreK:

We use Saxon Math for Kindergarten. I originally got the K-3 manipulatives set, the teacher's manual, and the meeting book. There's no separate workbook for kindergarten. The meeting book is mostly calendar work and some pattern stuff and a couple of other things. I ended up not using it at all. The manipulatives are very good, especially pattern blocks. Soaking up those pattern blocks and just creating patterns and images with them is great pre-math work. The math book is a bit expensive because the entire program is scripted. I found it overkill for me, but the activities are really good. After this, switching to Singapore Math's Kindergarten program was really great. And much less expensive!!

I got a copy of Spectrum Phonics for Kindergarten in the discount bin at the local teaching store. It's been pretty good. We've focused mostly on the letter sound activities and not taking the writing assignments seriously. I've also used several $2-4 books from the teacher store whose titles I don't remember. Pretty much anything will do. I might check out the Saxon Phonics books if I wanted to spend the money, but for this kind of thing I think cheap is the way to go. :)

I can't tell you how long it took for me to settle into a reading approach that worked well for Amirah. We tried Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons and Hooked on Phonics. 100 Easy Lessons was pretty good up to about 2/3 of the way through the book, then it just didn't click for Amirah. We've been happily humming along with Ordinary Parent's Guide to Teaching Reading and are up to lesson 81 and very happy with it still. I wish I'd done that from the beginning. That's what I'll be trying out with Eli, probably after the fall holidays are over. In fact everything written by Jessie Wise Bauer or Susan Wise Bauer has totally clicked for us so far. (Visit their store at PeaceHill Press.)

Shaah Shel Menuchah, by Menuchah Fuchs, and published by Judaica Press, has been my favorite alef bet book. We memorize the vocabulary in there, go on "letter hunts" in the siddur, draw the letters (to aid in letter recognition, not so much for printing practice) on paper and in the air... Lots of the kinds of things you would do playing around with the regular alphabet.

I have also enjoyed using Shalom Ivrit as a way to do oral Hebrew with the kids (we used a lot of puppets). I haven't done it for a while (we were somewhere in book 2), but I know the kids would love it. We had quite a cast of characters - Zevi the Wolf, Achbar the Mouse, and Tzemi the Sheep. I think I need to bring them back! The kids did not use this for written Hebrew, just conversational.

The Well-Trained Mind, by Susan Wise Bauer, has hands-down been my most beloved resource for guidance on homeschooling. It outlines a highly rigorous education with references to many resources. I'm sure I've read that book cover-to-cover at least a dozen times. I pick up and re-read all about first grade frequently, and the much shorter section on preschool/kindergarten is very useful too. We're pretty much following all of the recommendations in the book, with some cutting back to make room for our very full kodesh curriculum. It's working really well for us.

The Fuchs Mizrachi School in Cleveland also has their curriculum available online and I am using that as a very helpful guide for what to study when in our kodesh studies. Go to the bottom of the page that is linked to and download the "full FMS Lower School Curriculum Handbook."

Basically, my central goals for preK/K/1st grade are to learn to read and write in English and Hebrew (much easier than English!!). And do a lot of math. Everything else is truly extra. Good night!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thanks Kerith. You are so awesome! I do hope we meet some day. Have you guys considered chicago? Meira