Monday, January 23, 2017

A few homeschool programs for preschool

Y'all know I love talking about education. Lately I've been researching various programs for homeschooling in the preschool years. There is a lot out there! I thought I might as well put what I've found together in one place.

I'll preface this by saying that we are actually planning to send my son to "real school" for preschool, because I want him to attend Montessori school for at least a year—I think it will form a good foundation for homeschooling. We found a local Montessori program that also offers Catechesis of the Good Shepherd, something that is a priority of mine for my kids. We haven't made a final decision but it's very tempting. After a year of preschool, we plan to homeschool from kindergarten on up.

First, you've got to read this article, 6 Ways to Early Years You Won't Regret. I kind of want to memorize it, maybe tattoo it to my arm. I'm often tempted to start pushing academic stuff, but my son is TWO. No need for that yet. This article is a much-needed reminder to just enjoy this time together ... and do lots of reading aloud.

These are the programs I've found so far. I know I must be missing some—please share any others in the comments!

A few friends have recommended The Homegrown Preschooler, which seems to be pretty simple and play-based. Good stuff.

The Joy School program is great if you have a few neighborhood friends interested in doing a little homeschool co-op. It's non-denominational but vaguely Christian, and seems intended to offer preparation for going to "real school" down the road.

Five in a Row is a program based on reading aloud children's literature. It looks like a lot of fun, to be honest, and I look forward to exploring it more closely.

For a slightly older crowd...

Mother of Divine Grace is a classical, more traditional, Catholic program. It seems comprehensive and rigorous, and I think we may use this program when we start homeschooling, although I haven't done enough research to say that for sure yet.

The Kolbe Academy program is also classical and Catholic, and I'm not actually sure how it differs from MODG. Clearly I need to do more research on that. Fortunately I have time.

What are your favorite resources for beginning to homeschool in the early years? I'd love to hear what else is out there!


  1. I'm all about this stuff too. :) I've been (very, very loosely and very, very slowly) working through 26 Letters to Heaven with Lucy (who is 3.75, and we started it when she was almost 3.5). It just takes each letter and builds virtue, scripture memory verse, and has a few little activities/crafts, etc, you can do with each letter. But the best are the book lists for each letter! Such treasures. I've taken to doing each letter for at least 2 weeks, because as I said above, we just do things as we can and when she kind of wants to. For the most part, she is completely satisfied to play imaginative games with Lena (2.5) almost all day long. But we have definitely enjoyed some of the stuff in that book, and I think it was a worthwhile purchase for all future preschoolers around here. https://www.amazon.com/Twenty-Six-Letters-Heaven-Preschool-Curriculum/dp/0983180067/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1485199543&sr=8-1&keywords=26+letters+to+heaven

    The other program I was waffling about was Elizabeth Foss's Alphabet Path (all free on her website). I may end up using some of that when Lucy is more in Kindergarten age range. I'm just not super into fairies and such, so I'm not sure if it's the best fit for my personality, ya know? :)

    And the last resource that I think we will definitely be referencing once she's actually ready for more formal schooling (e.g. 5.5-6) is this hybrid Montessori/Classical method called Natural Structure. If you like Montessori and Classical approaches, you should definitely look into it. It's unfortunate that they no longer print it as a book, but the whole curriculum is free online (as luck would have it, my mom actually used to own the physical book, but gave it away years ago! Sad!). http://www.nsmontessori.com/services.html

    I'm hoping to work through reading Charlotte Mason's original works before we begin. Other than that, I'm trying not to overwhelm myself with the myriad options/curriculums! It gets crazy!

  2. We use Catechesis of The Good Shepherd and are very happy with it. I then move to Kolbe Academy as they get bigger. Kolbe is very good about letting the parent switch to books and programs they prefer. In other words, I can use Kolbe for my Lit.,History,etc. but switch to a different math or science book...and they still count it toward their academic records. They are very flexible. I think MODG also does this. I think Kolbe and MODG are very similar in program structure.

  3. Great info! Could you share a post on the transition from one to two? I'll be going through this soon and curious how you found it!

  4. I attended public school for kindergarten but was homeschooled using Kolbe from 1st grade through 12th, and Kolbe offers more when it comes to standardized testing, forums, online classes and online tutoring than MoDG. Kolbe also, next to Seton, has a reputation of being one of the best Catholic curriculums out there due to the quality of their materials and advisory faculty. Most other classical Catholic curriculums used by friends were supplemented. The main difference between Kolbe and Seton (which my husband was homeschooled with gr. 4-12) was that Kolbe left it to you the parent to decide to send in materials for them to credit on an official report card whereas Seton kept you the parent as well as the child on a deadline. My family usually sent in our assignment work samples by semester instead of quarterly and sometimes just all together at the end of the year. The flexibility was great. Also, just a note, it can be both offensive and amusing to hear people refer to public or private school as "real school"; please consider calling it "normal school." If nothing else, it's more apt.

  5. Hi Tess,

    This is making me soooo happy! I was homeschooled K-12 and looking back, it was the best thing my parents could have ever done for me for schooling.

    My cousins (ages 7 and 12) are using Seton and enjoy it. Several of my college friends also graduated homeschool through Seton and they liked it as well. Some supplemented Seton with community college classes in high school which worked out well for them. I've heard that it gives a solid Catholic education (my 12 year old cousin is going through the Confirmation program at her parish and she already knows everything her class is learning lol!)

    Another program I've heard of is Classical Conversations (Christian, not specifically Catholic). Their motto is "Classical Christian Community" and some families I know with little kids really like this program. I don't know too much about it, other than that it works well for them.

    As for myself, my parents used an eclectic homeschooling curriculum (meaning several different curricula for different subjects)...
    - Shurley English for English/Grammar/Writing/etc Grade 1-7
    - Random (or maybe not so random) Writing Assignments/Papers Grade 8-12
    - Editor in Chief - learning grammar skills and how to edit Grade 1-12
    - Reading Detective - reading comprehension skills Grade 1-8
    - Explode the Code - phonics Grade 1-8
    - Spelling Workout - Spelling program appx Grade 1-6?
    - Singapore Mathematics for Math K-12 (Singapore is consistently ranked first or second worldwide for their students' math skills. This math program emphasizes word problems.)
    - Usborne Science program - appx K-6
    - Apologia Science - I did General Science, Biology, and Physics during high school. They have elementary level books as well. Apologia is awesome because it is taught with a Creation Worldview (God created the universe! Wow! An amazing idea! lol!)
    - Story of the World History (by Susan Wise Bauer -> teaches at College of William and Mary) Teaches history though a storytelling writing style approach with plenty of resources, projects, and references should you want further exercises. There's only 4 books, but you can re-read them and do other projects to get more out of it as you get older. appx K-10
    - "Christ the King, Lord of History" and "Christ of the Americas" - I believe Seton uses these same books and they are wonderful. I actually read both books the last semester of my senior year of high school... whew! I wouldn't suggest it but they are great for homeschool or really anyone who wants to learn more about history and Catholicism.
    - Rosetta Stone for foreign language (I did French and Latin)
    - Sign Language class at a community college
    - I think we used Sonlight for PreK and K... they are Christian, not specifically Catholic, and they are "literature-rich."
    - I also was dyslexic so I actually didn't learn to read until I was around 8-9 years old. It was very difficult but thankfully my parents took me to training though the Davis Method (based on the book "The Gift of Dyslexia" by Ronald Davis). BTW, I highly recommend reading that book.
    - I'm sure there were more that I can't think of :)

    Good luck!

  6. I LOVE, LOVE , LOVE Five in a Row. It is simple, sweet, easy to do and literature based. We used it with each of our children when they were pre-school age and it definitely instilled in them a love for literature which has endured. (Our oldest will be going off to college in the fall and will read only great classic literature- Les Mis, Phantom of the Opera, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Wuthering Heights, etc.... It started with 5iar.) Curiosity in the other subjects naturally grew from their love of the stories and they never felt like it was work to do our 5iar.

    It also made our school time an enjoyable, shared experience for the whole family. The older kids always listened in and participated with their younger siblings. They weren't required to, or even invited to, they just couldn't stay away because they remembered the books from their pre-school years with fond memories and didn't want to miss out on the chance to re-visit them!

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  8. Hi Tess! I'm also very excited to hear you are planning on homeschooling! I'm a homeschool graduate, and really loved the experience and the preparation it gave me for college. (I'm finishing up my bachelors in nursing this spring.)

    My Mom mixed and matched a lot of different curriculum, drawing from Kolbe, Mother of Divine Grace, Homeschool Connections online classes, and local group resources. For preschool to kindergarten, the main focus was on books- especially picture books, read alouds, and recorded books. In my opinion, once you have established a love for literature in kids, the rest of homeschooling grows out of that on its own! I've seen this in both my own family and the other homeschoolers I know. A large portion of the best of my education was just picking a book off the 1,000 Good Books list and reading it. (I've linked to it here) http://www.classical-homeschooling.org/celoop/1000.html