We finished Kindergarten level last January, and we’re now in the middle of vacation. We plan to start his 1st Grade on April. Here’s the long and short of our ‘Early Years’, and how we’ll do it all over again with the 2 younger siblings.
Charlotte Mason’s method was the closest fit for our family. I liked her concepts of the art of gentle learning, and how it seemed so natural-- developing good habits, getting acquainted with nature, exploring with the five senses, growing in their spiritual lives, and playing outdoors. (See SCM Preschool guide). We patterned our curriculum after Mater Amabilis Preschool (MA). Sometimes we used a sprinkling of other methods and materials, as each method offered something appealing. During holidays, and on very laid-back days, we shifted to unschooling.
The early years are formative years. For us, this was about bonding with the kids, and starting them with the right habits, character and faith formation. We read classic read-alouds to them while they sat on our laps. Play (see more play & learn activities) was definitely encouraged. When it comes to toys, I preferred the classic wooden toys for them. They explored outside. We listened to children & classical music CDs. And we talked to them a lot. We had no television, and they were not allowed electronic gadgets. A parent’s self-improvement was also critical at this stage for character formation because these things are caught and not taught. We also got to know their personalities, and learning style better. For this stage, I would also highly recommend Before Five in a Row.
For Kindergarten, we used Catholic Heritage Core Curriculum, a couple of its elective materials, and we continued to stay close to MA as much as possible, and also unschool, and continued the things we've been doing for preschool.