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Homeschool Crew Review: Ideal Curriculum Preschool Kit

 

Learning happens.  It need not be formalized and organized at an early age.  If loving parents read to their child, spend time outside together, encourage him to help in the kitchen and yard, take him along on errands, and just generally live alongside their child, he will develop optimally and at his own pace, with less expense and less stress on everyone.  Most experienced homeschoolers will agree. 

 

But when it’s your first child, and you have relatives watching doubtfully, and you’re doubtful yourself, it may be hard to be this relaxed.  Then an organized preschool program may be just what mom needs to keep her sane and happy.  I do not think that a child benefits from such a program as much as he would from the lifestyle described above, but mom might.  And what’s good for mom is, in the long run, good for the child. 

 

From that viewpoint, here is what I think of the Preschool Kit   from Ideal Curriculum that I was asked to review as a member of the Homeschool Review Crew.  Since my youngest is 7, we could not try it out ourselves, but I looked over Month 1 and recalled my early experiences with my five children.   

  

Ideal Curriculum Preschool Kit

Month 1 has three teacher’s manuals, one for literacy, one for math, and one for science. There are also accompanying read, print, and music files and they are all well done.

 

The manuals are specific and detailed, with in-depth formal weekly assessments to record what the child has done (stressful and unnecessary), short lessons (good), and practice throughout the day.  At the same time, the manuals encourage flexibility (good).  Each activity is meant to be taught multiple times—but  if you wait a year or two, you’ll only need to teach it once or twice, saving all that time for more age-appropriate learning experiences.

 

The literacy component teaches the children several mediocre songs as well as the traditional alphabet song. I think that nursery rhymes, folk songs, and hymns would be more beneficial for the child as well as more fun. The children also draw various lines, play listening games ( a good idea to prepare them for reading), learn that print is all around them (from a book on the computer!), read the word ‘a,’ and recognize their own name. There’s a sound bingo game (useful), and a game to teach children how to remember multistep instructions (great idea). 

 

The math component of this program focuses on the calendar, time, rote counting, patterns, and backwards counting and is meant to be taught in short 5 minute lessons.  There’s a lot of fun in the lessons and games, although none of them are unusual.   Some parents may need to see a manual like this to understand the value of common children’s games.  

 

The science component is about transportation, and it includes shared writing, story retelling (a very useful technique, foundational to Charlotte Mason education), dramatic play (crucial, but it should be directed by the children), art, some books on the computer, and several experiments (these seem like fun).  This is the most appealing and useful part of the curriculum and I think my children would have been happy learning from it. 

 

How We Learned These Concepts

Contorting ourselves into letter shapes may be fun for some, but we tried it a few times over the years and it wasn’t fun for us.  We’d rather wade in the creek or sled down a snowy hill. Studying transportation was fun, but we used the huge Richard Scarry books and other books from the library.  Our house is full of books so our children cannot survive without recognizing that print is all around them.  We learned rote counting by playing hide and seek, and no one realized that anything educational was going on.  As for learning the concept of time, I think it is something that cannot really be taught.  A child can be told about today and tomorrow and yesterday and minutes and seconds, and can parrot the information back, but it takes a certain amount of living to internalize the concepts. 

 

We did all this effortlessly without any formal learning, and that is what I recommend to new homeschooling moms.  On the other hand, I know some moms want to have their hand held.  The Ideal Curriculum Preschool Kit is one solution to that problem.

 

Opinions and Resources

Whether or not you chose to use the curriculum, you may find the website interesting.   If I had little ones, I would explore this site for ideas, but I would not buy the program.  Even if I had been given it for free a few years ago, I would not have used the whole thing but would have adapted some of the best parts of the science component as well as a few math games and  the multistep instruction game from the literacy section.   My main ‘curriculum’ would still have been books and everyday life.

  

On the other hand, the Ideal Curriculum Preschool Kit might be helpful for a preschool or daycare teacher. Moms looking for a formal preschool program might like it and be able to justify the expense.  If you are interested in this program, you can buy one month at a time to see how it works for your family. 

 

To see what other Homeschool Review Crew families thought of the Ideal Curriculum Preschool Kit, please see the Crew blog.   

 

To Purchase

A month of the Ideal Curriculum Preschool Kit is available online for $30 US (download version) or $55 US (print version).  

 

Disclosure Policy:   As a member of the TOS Homeschool Review Crew, I received Month 1 of  the Ideal Curriculum Preschool Kit in exchange for our family’s honest opinions.

 

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