Friday, March 16, 2018

Charlotte Mason Pre-K: A Mid-Year Peek at our Year 0

Since I have been sharing updates for the big kids, I thought I would share how things are going for Year 0.  I technically have two Year 0 students, Eleanor (just turned 5) and Eloise (just turned 3), but in reality only one of them is currently eager and precocious and bugging me to do school all the time.

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Even though this post will mostly focus on Eleanor, please don't think my three year old is left out.  She inserts herself, rather assertively, when she wants to join in on the fun.  Now, back to the topic at hand.  I will say, since we did our transition back to a more pure Charlotte Mason approach with the older kids, I felt a sigh of relief in regards to the littles, as well.  My natural tendency of just let them be in the preschool years suddenly felt justified.  There was no need to plan anything.
"A child will have taught himself to paint, paste, cut paper, knit, weave, hammer and saw, make lovely things in clay and sand, build castles with his bricks; possibly, too, will have taught himself to read, write, and do sums, besides acquiring no end of knowledge and notions about the world he lives in, by the time he is six or seven."  ~ Charlotte Mason

Eleanor, at barely five, can do almost everything on this list already.  I'm finding that when I follow their lead, the results are far more valuable, because they are wholly engaged and learning exactly what they need.  So in following their lead, we just take it one day at a time.  It is so much more natural and in-tune with my relaxed tendencies anyway, so it is working rather nicely for all of us.

Literature/Living Books
Eleanor listens in to a lot of the boys' books (audio books in the car, free reads over lunch, etc.) but I want to make sure she has special book time with me.  We're working through two book sets this year.  The first one is Before Five in a Row.  I had actually intended to use B4FIAR this year, but the truth is - I was already lousy at planning preschool when I knew in my heart it wasn't truly necessary, so we weren't really getting many rows accomplished anyway.  I'm still using the books from Before Five in a Row (and some related titles), because they are lovely books.  I just don't have a schedule or plans or expectations.  I like this book list because even Eloise, with her short attention span, will listen to many of these.  The Pre-K class at co-op is also using Before Five in a Row, so it's fun for Eleanor to tell me about the book they read, then for me to pull it off our shelf for a bedtime reading!

The other set of books I'm working through is the Beatrix Potter set we own.  I wanted to also pull some quality books from the Ambleside Online Year 0 list for Eleanor, which we've unofficially used even when we weren't following AO.  I try to just mix these in with the other titles, because as quaint as they are, I couldn't just read straight through a dozen books by one author.  Again, I don't have a reading schedule or plan, and I don't ask for narrations, though she does offer them regularly.  We just read, enjoy and sometimes reread our favorites of course!

The girls listen to the boys' poetry frequently, as I usually read those over lunch.  Well, Eleanor listens.  Eloise tries to talk over me, but that's another issue for another day.  However, sometimes Eleanor will ask for her own poetry book, and The Real Mother Goose is great for the girls.  I found our copy at a book booth when Elliott was using AO Year 0 and it's been a mainstay for years!  I also bought The Real Mother Goose Coloring Book for Eleanor, because she loves to color, so sometimes she does a page out of it.


Fine Arts and Handicrafts
She joins the boys most weeks for Picture Study, Folk Songs, Hymns and Composer Studies.  She loves doing art, and currently our favorite supplies are Kwik Stix paint sticks, Magic Stix markers, and watercolor crayons.

A bird trying to get grapes.  

For Handicrafts, both girls have spent some time making bracelets and necklaces from a wooden bead kit.  Eleanor has also been enjoying Super Beads, which are great for younger kids, especially since they do not require an iron.  I'll have more on these in a review next week!

Again, there are no formal academics, but Eleanor is precocious and begs for school-ish activities, so I follow her lead.  Sometimes she wants to do "letters" (early reading lessons) and we do some gentle CM style lessons.  She's in the CVC word building stage, but she knows a few other words that we haven't explicitly covered, and does stuff like this when I walk away.

Sometimes, she does a little workbook or worksheet because she asks for it, but I don't ask her to at this age.  She also plays around on Reading Eggs, Math Seeds, Starfall, La La Logic or CTCMath.  We received all of these as reviews at some point.  When she requests to have school on the computer like the boys or to play the iPad/Kindle, these options give her something relatively appropriate to do.  She does these activities at her pace, and occasionally Eloise will sit with her and watch or play around on the app a little herself, particularly with Starfall.

Nature Study/Outdoors
She loves playing outside - no matter the weather!  She won't be the one to pick up bugs, but she likes jumping in puddles, squishing in mud, digging in the dirt, examining rocks, birdwatching and picking flowers.

Of course, she loves to draw, and is always drawing birds, flowers and trees.  This was the series she drew when the boys were studying an evergreen tree.  I think it's time to get her a nature journal of her own, and probably a sketch book just for her drawings.  There are always drawings everywhere.

That's our Year 0.  It doesn't take into account all of her free play - dolls, kitchen sets, building with blocks, games with her siblings - but to her, most of this is free play.  She delights in drawing and books and folk songs.  She chooses to engage herself in these ways.  Which shows you, that children are naturally drawn to beautiful things that fill their minds and souls.  I just let it happen naturally.  It is simple, but rich.  I'm realizing that with Charlotte Mason, I can facilitate and provide direction, but they get to own their education.

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