Tuesday, August 10, 2010

The Before-Kindergarten Days

I admit that I cringe when I hear people say that they are sending thier children to preschool to prepare for "real" school.  School is school.  I wonder, why go to school to learn how to go to school?  I also try to stay away from planning a formal preschool curriculum, but I'm weird like that.  Personally,  I believe that learning begins at birth and that natural learning in a natural environment is best.  However, as my children reach a certain maturity, they begin to want to delve into a little more formal learning.  It makes them feel big to be doing as the older ones and a little structure is good for us all. 

Mostly the pre-school (notice the subtle difference of preschool and pre-school) days consist of learning colors and letters and shapes  and numbers.   We also hang maps and a calendar on the wall for a bit of natural discussion if the child is interested.  (I have written about these basic topics before.  Click on the colored links for a few fun ideas.)  We also read lots and lots of books.  (After a reading session with Benjamin last night, I counted the stack out of curiosity and realized we had read seventeen board books!)

Aside from the hands-on activities, we have also found a few gems in the workbook department: 

This is probably our most-favorite source for early school days.  Gavin used several of the books in kindergarten.  Maddie used a few different ones when she was four and Owen started them this year (at age four).  Though this series consists of six books, neither of my children has ever completed all six.  Through these books, children can learn colors and Bible stories and matching and how to write their names and to recongize letters and sounds.  We start with the one whose description seems most appropriate (the first books in the series are very basic)  and work from there.  I love that these books are so fun and yet so simple.  The children love that every black and white page is an opportunity to color, once their work is done. 

  (includes Get Ready For the Code, Get Set For the Code, and Go For the Code)

This is a beginning phonics series.  Gavin knew his letter sounds very well at a young age so I never used it for him, but we gave it a try with Maddie when she was four and she loved it!  Each books teaches seven or eight letters through a variety of fun activities.  She flew through these books and I often had to tell her to stop for the day just so we would have something left to do tomorrow.  (As a side note, when she moved on to the Explode the Code series in kindergarten, the format was different and she hated it.  As in "tears and frustration" hated it!) 

Before Five in a Row is not a workbook at all, but more of a book of ideas for mom.  I used it a lot when Gavin was four and Maddie was two, and I used it a bit when Maddie was four and Owen was two.  Each week, we focused on a different storybook.  After reading the book each day, we chose from a large list of activities to help reinforce the book and help us remember the story.  Depending on time and interest, we did easy activities or complicated activities or simply discussed something we read. 


Regardless of what you choose for your child, remember that what works for one may not work for another.  Consider how many other children are in the home, the maturity of your child, and  the length of his attention span.  After praying about it, make your choices and have fun!  These are the easy years.

(If anyone would like to hear about some of the great resources we've found for Bible study with little ones or a list of read-alouds to engage young children, leave me a comment!)


  1. Great insights! We love Rod and Staff and FIAR too. Great reminder for me that I have a little one again to use them for. I better go pull out my box!

  2. i would love to know more about the Bible study you've found!

    i'm excited to start school. :) my only disappointment is for prek i haven't invested in anything more than workbooks from walmart. which aren't christian based.

    i've heard a lot of great things about fiar!

  3. We do not do a lot before K either. With that being said though, we will be using Rod and Staff this year for the first time. We also love Explode the Code but have not seen the other resources you shared. I'll have to look at them.

    Praying your week is wonderful!

  4. i'd like to hear about what you do for bible study :)

  5. I really like Rod and Staff too. Your link inspired me to order a few workbooks for Maygen and Ada. We keep it pretty simple in terms of "pre-school" around here too.

  6. Thanks for this, Kristin. I didn't even know there was a "before-Explode The Code series", and I have been wondering what to do with my five-year old who so wants to be a Kindergartner but I don't think he's really there quite yet...
    This will be perfect. :)

    Oh, and we love Rod and Staff, too!

  7. I'd love to hear your Bible study recommendations and read-alouds!

    Also, and even though I've been on this journey for seven years, I wanted you to know how much I appreciate- and need- this post! I'm on a four day getaway at a friend's house (who's traveling) for some R&R and school ordering and scheduling. I'm loving your recommendations for pre-K/K, and I'm looking into them right now! :)

    Also, we made the banana/chocolate drinks a few days ago... happy children, happy mama!

    Blessings to you- hope all is well with the little ones- inside and outside your belly! xoxo

  8. The cover of the Rod & Staff book caught my eye. We loved using that when my children were younger.


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