Last week I blogged about my planning process for Frida’s first “official” year of home education. You can read about it here. In that post, I promised to share some of the resources I can see us using over the coming year, so here I am making good on that promise!
Before I begin, I want to stress a few things.
I am really not into the idea of early formal education (barring perhaps languages – more on that later). I strongly believe in the early years that we should allow children to follow their bliss and develop a love of learning, allowing abundant time for play and time outdoors. However – curveball – sometimes that self-directed activity includes spending time on “academic” things! The point is that she won’t *have* to do anything academic unless she genuinely wants to, and I can see that she is ready.
However, I will be laying a “feast” of brilliant and varied living books, ideas, conversations, adventures, materials, and more for her to dip into throughout the year. Just because we are child-led it doesn’t mean that as parents we aren’t involved. Far from it; I’d venture to say that the work of observation, reflection, and inner work which goes with seeking to truly know ones child is more demanding than just following an all-in-one curriculum.
The resources I mention below are to guide me, not Frida. I will be using them to consider the opportunities I’m offering, as inspiration to add to the feast of education that it’s my role to provide as a home educating parent. Frida will not even be aware that I am using these resources (apart from languages). My plan is to use them in much the same way as I do the hundreds of books I read on parenting and education: cherry pick the best ideas, and bring them to the – metaphorical and actual! – table.
I don’t actually believe any young children need a curriculum. I don’t think ANY curricula or special resources are actually needed for this year (UK reception year, so age 4-5). As said above, these are for my inspiration and curiosity more than anything else. I can’t think of anything better than children spending the entire year doing nothing but playing, so if that’s all she wants to do, I will be thrilled!
With those points in mind, here are a few of the resources I imagine I’ll be referring to coming this year:
Jot it Down. I love that this writing curriculum focuses on developing children’s writing and storytelling skills before they can physically write for themselves, using parents as scribe and partner.
Exploring Nature With Children. A brilliant nature curriculum we will will keep dipping in and out of for years.
Mud and Bloom. I recently signed up to this monthly nature subscription box service and was really impressed. Plus, Frida loves getting post with her name on!
Messy Maths. Useful for thinking outside the box when it comes to noticing where maths gets used in “real life”, plus some fun ideas.
Wild Math (Grade 1). Also some fun ideas here, and the concepts are more challenging than in the Messy Maths book.
Maths is a big area of interest for Frida at the moment, so I’ve stocked our shelves with a large number of the Charlesbridge Math Adventures series (which is not cheap to do, it turns out! But I really like them…) and also some of the Usborne lift-the-flap maths books.
Ethics for the Very Young. This is designed for use in a classroom, but I’ll be adapting it ideas from it for use with Frida. I love that it is book and game based, and I feel like once I’ve fully read this it will be a good reminder of how simple stories and situations can spark some really juicy conversations.
One Third Stories (French). I’m still not sure if we will love this – I’ve ummed and ahhed over it for a while – but I really feel like our French learning could do with some structure and I haven’t found anything better aimed at young children yet (if you know of anything please let me know!), so I’ve just signed up for French. I’ll report back!
Song School Latin (book one). I bought this on a whim*, and I’m geekily really excited about it arriving. I need to listen to it / read it properly and decide if we’ll plunge in this year or wait until we’ve really found a regular groove with French, but part of me thinks it’s never too soon to lay down even the most rudimentary of foundations (and I’m currently teaching myself Latin so it may well help me!).
*(As an aside, I’m already feeling frustrated by how few resources there are like Song School for sale here in the UK; I managed to find a reasonably (ish) priced copy, but when I looked at the US website it was quoting $100+ for shipping alone. Home educators in the US have so much more choice when it comes to resources! I hope that home school material publishers embrace digital a little faster so that more resources can be available to all… or that the UK catches up with the growing demand for varied home education materials!)
Elementary Geography and Home Geography. I’ll be dipping into both of these to incorporate some weekly geography into our morning time; I have a feeling these books might just make it easy (!) and I like their focus on practical geography based in the home and local area.
Building Foundations of Scientific Understanding. Ok so. I have this book. I’m a bit daunted by it. And I’m quite possibly going to take a look and decide to leave it until next year, which would be completely fine (and Frida has just been bought a microscope so I can see a lot of microscope based work in our future)! It looks VERY thorough and seems to require quite a lot of reading, but I get the sense that if I make an effort with it the rewards in gifting Frida a pretty thorough foundation of scientific understanding could be huge. However, I’m also happy to ditch it if it doesn’t work for us; at this stage science is so integrated into real life it’s really not a huge priority.
I’m also going to do more research on finding an awesome science subscription box, as I feel that could be pretty fun.
The UK EYFS and National Curriculum. Although we won’t necessarily be following these (the joy of choosing our own path) I will refer back to them as a rough guide to see how Frida’s education compares (less so now but I imagine this is something I will regularly do).
So there you have it – some of the curriculum / formal resources I’ll be learning from and taking inspiration from this year. But mainly I’ll be relying on piles of living books for each subject, time in nature, time to play, fun projects to create together, and always, always remembering to put our relationship and connection first.
If you’re interested in me sharing more specific materials, plans and ideas for the year ahead, let me know! I’m sure I’ll organically end up sharing a lot of what we do anyway…