Although we decided long ago that we would homeschool Benjamin during his preschool years, we’re still figuring out exactly what that will look like. Whenever his interest in a certain thing is peaked, we try to follow his lead and offer him resources to learn more. School for us this year is very flexible and I don’t think Benjamin has made a distinction between playtime and schooltime (and they are essentially one and the same right now.)
But Daniel and I have two goals in mind for him this year: mastering the alphabet and learning about our Catholic faith. Although Benjamin has been able to recognize the capital letters for ages, I want to work on lower case letters and learning to write out the letters this year. I also want to study the saints with him. And y’all, I found the perfect curriculum for us: it’s titled Twenty-Six Letters to Heaven by Sarah V. Park.
If I had to classify it into a certain homeschooling methodology I think I’d align it with Charlotte Mason. It’s very literature-centered, simple, hands-on, and imaginative. For each letter of the alphabet, the author provides options for a saint of the week (Saint Anne for A, Saint Benedict for B, etc.) as well as a coloring page for each saint and a list of picture books about the saint’s life. Also included is a Scripture verse to memorize about a particular virtue (Bravery for B), crafts and activities (such as making ants out of construction paper for A) that promote learning in art, math, or science, recipes (Ants on a Log for A) and, what I love most about this curriculum, fantastic booklists of picture books featuring the letter of the week. I think of myself as pretty well-versed in children’s books but we have checked out so many wonderful twaddle-free books I have never seen before due to Park’s suggestions.
The other aspect I love about this curriculum is the flexibility. It can easily be fitted to your child’s needs, development, and level of interest. In fact, there’s one aspect of the curriculum that I’m just completely skipping. The author suggests making a collage each week of magazine pictures of objects starting with the featured letter. I hate keeping up with magazines and the idea of little pieces of magazine creeping throughout the house because of making these collages makes me feel a little crazy. But leaving that out doesn’t make the rest of the curriculum fall apart. I love it. And you don’t have to do certain activities on certain days or follow a particular schedule (something I wasn’t at all prepared to do this year). You can do everything in one day or spend two weeks on a letter. The art projects are easy and don’t require a trip to the craft store for supplies. It’s very simple and natural curriculum, but provides just enough structure and foundation that I don’t have to come up with all our homeschooling ideas myself. (I am so NOT SKILLED in the ways of crafty artsy projects.)
This week we’re studying the letter B. So far we’ve read all of our “B” picture books from the library and yesterday Benjamin wrote his own book and illustrated it. Making your own book out of construction paper is such a simple idea but I wouldn’t have thought it up myself without some effort (especially with my “pregnant brain.”) He dictated his book about trucks to me and had a blast illustrating it.
“You can’t touch a truck’s engine because it might be hot.”
It also includes other vehicle safety tips from Benjamin like, “Don’t try to drive a car without your Mama and Daddy.”
Tomorrow we’re going on a field trip to a local living history museum so we’ll probably wait to talk about St. Benedict and explore some of the art, science, and math ideas next week. (Oh, the flexibility!)
I highly recommend Twenty-Six Letters to Heaven if you’re looking for a wonderful Catholic curriculum for your three-, four-, or five-year-old!
Disclosure: Hillside Education graciously sent me a review copy of Twenty-Six Letters to Heaven. I was not paid to review this curriculum. All of the above opinions are fully my own.