What Are We Learning?: Preschool and Form 1

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Two weeks into this term of school and I wanted to share a bit about what the three and six year old are learning and will be learning.

Our terms run for twelve weeks so this is what I have planned for the fall- since Advent is a holiday season for us as we prepare for the coming of the Christ Child.

Practical Life:

Daisy is now 3 and Jack is 6 which means that they can both participate in some of the same lessons. Three to six is a common age range in a Montessori classroom and I’m trying to implement many of the same lessons in practical life.

A big one is having them learn to cooperatively make their own snack about mid-morning. The big kids have lessons from 8:45-12:30 most days which makes lunch much too late for the little guys without a substantial snack. Last year I was able to stop teaching for a bit and make something for them- but this year I don’t have that luxury and with a little bit of work done before lessons start, they really can do it themselves.

During my kitchen work in the morning I prepare a tray:

I usually try to focus on one set of fine motor skills each week. In September they are working on cutting up cucumbers and other vegetables for dipping one week, and spreading the next. This was a spreading tray. They had lukewarm tea for their drink which I did have to pour as I need to get a teapot of the right size for them.  Yes, most of the sugar was eaten with a spoon!

I put the tray in the toy kitchen area of the kitchen.

After they are done with lessons and (usually) have gone outside for a bit, they come in and prepare their snack.

I do have to keep a little ear out for quarrels, but they generally do a decent job of setting things out, eating, and clearing the things back onto the tray.

The next step is to give a cleaning work of wiping the table and sweeping or mopping the floor. Daisy and I need to visit the local thrift store for a small bucket and I need to replace the child sized broom we had as the last one met an untimely demise!

There is a great sense of accomplishment in feeding themselves and cleaning up, and this is a better time for them to practice those skills than when one of the big kids is cooking breakfast or I am making supper and supervising my 4:30 Workers at the same time!

Other practical life work:

Jack has six regular chores every day:

  1. empty the trashcans
  2. empty the compost
  3. take out the recycling
  4. put away any shoes
  5. put away the prayer books and hymnals after Morning Prayer
  6. clean up his school things

Daisy generally jumps in and helps him or tries to beat him to some of the jobs. She is in a very orderly phase right now so we are trying to build good habits while they are still a pleasant desire of hers.

Additionally, I give her pouring practice or other practical life work while Jack is doing his more academic lessons.

Read Alouds

This year we are trying to get most of Jack’s lessons done before Morning Time at 8:45. The Form 2 kids (Bull in 2A and Mouse in 2B) need a bit more of my attention at the moment and Buggle (Form 3) has hit that stage of study in which we need to discuss what he is reading in some depth (so much fun by the way, this is why I teach the children to read!) so it really helps the flow if Jack is done by 9:30 or 9:45.

The little children and I gather at about 7:15 for Catechism, Memory, and Reading, first me to them and then Jack to us.

This shelf is full of the books we are reading this year. I generally read from a couple of different selections for 3-5 minutes apiece giving the children the opportunity to narrate back to me after each selection. Currently we are reading an Aesop Fable or two each day, a little chapter book called Three Boys and a Tugboat that I picked up at a book sale, The Book of Insects from Memoria Press, and then Jack reads to us from his Rod and Staff First Grade Reader and the little plaid storybooks that go along with that curriculum. They take turns narrating, Daisy first usually and the Jack fills in what she didn’t get or what he thinks was more important.

Table Work

Jack’s table work this term is mostly phonics, reading, and MEP (the math curriculum from the Math Enhancement Project)  He is flying through Book 1 in MEP and will start Book 2 in January. Two pages a day and he has a good grasp of how numbers interact with each other and can regroup by addition and subtraction with relative ease. We didn’t really practice much over the summer and while he is slightly slower than he was in the spring, he hasn’t really lost any of the concepts he learned.

Once or twice a week we also do some notebook work on Insects since that is his great love and science/nature study for the year. Daisy and he frequently go out looking for specimens to bring in a play with for a while before releasing them again. We are beginning to learn the songs for Song School Latin 1 then next term we will start to work in the book.

During Morning Time he finishes whatever writing he hasn’t done already- usually handwriting and some copying in phonics or reading, and works on coloring whatever picture he is working on for the week.

He also spends a little time each week updating his notebook for the Animals: Their Lives and Homes class he is taking at our co-op.

This is a MEP exercise in figuring out how many cubes are actually in a stack of blocks if you can’t see all of them in the drawing.

Daisy is doing MEP Reception this year, and is so pleased to be doing the book that she watched Jack finish last year. We only do it a couple of times a week (all that is planned for in the curriculum) but it is neat to watch her mind expanding.

Like most preschoolers with older siblings doing school she wants table work too, so we are slowly working our way through the Pathway and Rod and Staff Preschool books. No rush, and we don’t work every day. The other great thing is dot-to-dots at the moment, and I was very happy to find this book of simple ones from Dover Publications.

It is a fairly rich diet but only takes about an hour and a half or so. The rest of the morning is spent outdoors, in the sandbox, or hunting insects, or if the weather is really bad in the basement play area. They play very nicely together about 80% of the time, and I’m trying to work on having audiobooks or little craft projects available for the times when they need a bit of a break from the high intensity of their play.

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