A couple of weeks back, I shared that Level 1 of The Gentle & Classical Preschool (TGCP) wasn’t really working well for Prima, and we had decided trial a week from A Year of Tales. Here’s an update on how all of that is going.
We ended up taking over a week off. I had a huge presentation and some other work that needed to get done by this past Sunday, so I focused on that and gave the kids a break. A Year of Tales was sweet, but it contained a lot of work that was at least first grade level. (It isn’t meant to be preschool level.) We skipped so much that it didn’t seem worth spending money on it right now. Plus, we already have TGCP Levels 1 & 2, and I do love that curriculum. After getting the presentation out of the way, I had brain space to focus on the problem at hand. In the end, the problem and solution ended up being so simple. Prima loves books. She has always loved books. She enjoys being in her own world for hours on end, acting out stories, playing away outside, and “reading.” She also memorizes rapidly, and the not-math/not-science parts of Level 1 were, simply, too easy for her.
I prepped the first term of Level 2 (including a Thrift Books order for most of the Term 1 books, hurrah!) and we started with Unit 1 this week. I keeping a few things from Level 1. We were ready for Unit 8, so I kept the science, math, and motor skills out from that. We had morning time and our first picture study and she loved it. It lasted 45 minutes, and then the kids went outside and that was that.
Now, a few more details. We’ve done the creation story several times over since the beginning of summer (which was the story for Level 2/Unit 1 today) so I skipped reading it and instead narrated while doing some really fast, rough drawings during the narration. Prima loved it. She also enjoyed handing me the crayons as I drew. For the memory board, I let her point at the pictures on the memory statement cards with a “pointer” (pencil) and then we all practiced saying the memory statement/verse. And then I skipped the Wonder Tale story and any science/nature. The next day (today) we did memory statements, and “drew” pumpkins as directed in Exploring Nature With Children (ENWC.) Let me pause here a moment and discuss this in more detail.
ENWC is designed for multiple ages. I think that a lot of it will be too much for 2-5 year olds, especially those that have never done any kind of nature study before. I am selecting just parts of the activity, or simplifying it for them. For this week, instead of spending a long time observing and sketching, I simply told them to try drawing it with crayons. Prima immediately started in with, “I can’t draw it!” Little one, I know how you feel! I told her that it was more important to try, to do her best and that it was absolutely fine if it did not turn out like a pumpkin today. The result was a vaguely oval shape with a large swatch of black colored above it. I think that it is most important that they try, that they get into the habit of observing and sketching and slowly train the eye and hand to see. Also, let’s have realistic expectations! ENWC is, like TGCP, so very flexible, allowing you to follow your child’s level of skill/development.
We are going to do school only Tuesday – Thursday. Monday is errands day. Friday is library and tidy-up-for-the-weekend day. That also means taking two weeks to go through a Unit, as needed. Therefore, I am not terribly concerned about doing every piece of each unit every day. This means tomorrow is dinosaurs day, in which we will explore all things dinosaur related, read all the books, and I’ll introduce some sticker books that I’ve been keeping back just for this unit.
We will be using Exploring Nature with Children (as mentioned already) instead of Gentle & Classical Nature. No reason other than ENWC is so seasonal and that is really applicable to my kids right now. Being out in the country this year, the seasonal changes are very apparent so they have lots of questions.
I had ordered a curriculum from New Child Montessori only to find out that the owner passed about a year ago. I’ve since ordered the Math and Language albums from Montessori Print Shop. They are simpler to use (compared to my Keys to the World albums) and that is what I need right now. I’m starting online classes full-time in a week, so I’d rather not have to do too much planning. Erin from Gentle & Classical Press says that her programs are not “open and go”, so much, but I gently disagree. They are extremely flexible and I think that they can easily be “open and go” in a sense that you simply follow the units at the pace of the child. You can certainly do lots of extensions and add-on lesson plans, but they really are great as-is.
The only other thing I’m hoping to add right now is a few simple math games. I remember some really simple, German-made ones from when I was a kid. If I can find those and get Prima naturally back to understanding numbers again, I think we will be doing just fine. Although, given her nature, it will be more likely that playing “store” or “bring me X number of” while playing cooking or doing real-life cooking will be most interesting to her.
A little aside, she is starting to pick up (on her own) the fact that certain words begin/end with the same sounds/blends of sounds. I hope that our library has a copy of Fox in Socks. I believe that there are some sound games to expand on that, so I’ve also got to check my Dwyer pamphlet and a couple of Montessori websites. She came into the realization after reciting a nursery rhyme, which is so fun to note!