About a year and a half ago I left our trusted boxed curriculum behind for my older two children for a variety of reasons. It was what was best for our family and has worked out rather nicely. I have no plans at this point to return to the tidy all-in-one boxes for them. However, I still have a preschooler and while I absolutely believe that the early years should be more play based than text based, I have followed a boxed plan for every one of my children before they entered kindergarten. This may seem contradictory, but I’d like to share with you a few reasons why I think choosing this option could be more beneficial to homeschool mamas with preschoolers than not.
Reasons to Use a Boxed Preschool Curriculum
- They provide structure.
Whether you are beginning your first year of preschool or if you are a seasoned veteran, a little routine goes a long way when it comes to little ones. They often crave regularity in their day. If you desire to begin teaching them, then I believe it’s best to set up a flexible routine. If you are used to having a rather free flowing day, then making a transition to pointed learning times (even if through purposeful play) might take a little guidance. Boxed curriculums give you a nice framework to use.
- They help give you one on one time.
If you have more than one child, you know that the more children you have, the harder it becomes to get in the same kind of time with subsequent children as you did with your first. You have more than one little person’s needs to attend to so you cannot spend all afternoon oohing and aahing over the illustrations in one of their favorite picture books or lying in one bed talking about all the reasons the clouds were shaped like a herd of horse this afternoon. You have to divide your time as best you can. Boxed curriculums, designed for your young preschooler, give you an easy way to spend uninterrupted(well, maybe not completely uninterrupted) time with your child without giving you extra lesson plans to work out.
- They often provide activities you would have forgotten.
Maybe you aren’t like me, but I know that the more children I have, the less memory I maintain. Mommy brain is real, folks and I’m the poster child of it. I spend days and weeks mapping out lessons for my older children, but because preschool is so laid back, I’ve often found myself forgetting to focus on something that I’d never dreamed of leaving out when I only had one child. Boxed curriculum lays out the plans for you. Just open and go and you’ll provide a well rounded early education for your child.
- They are easy to adapt.
Yes, it is a scripted, pre-assembled lesson plan, but that doesn’t mean that you are tied to using it exactly as written. Feel free to use it merely as a base and then expand on your own based on your child’s interests and capabilities. You can use the given plans to build a base. This will simultaneously ensure that you hit all the bases but also have the freedom to expand on topics or ideas.
- They are fun!
I have used several preschool curriculums over the years and I have yet to use one that wasn’t fun for my little ones. I’m sure there are some duds out there, but as I mentioned earlier, any of them can be adapted to suit your needs and interests.
After months of searching for what I wanted to use with my four year old this school year, I had decided to just throw together my own plan. I felt overwhelmed with that choice, but I couldn’t find anything that we either hadn’t used before or that fit the needs that I had. Then I received the opportunity to review Horizons Preschool Curriculum and it appeared that it had fallen into my lap at just the right moment.
I’ve used this company’s math program in the past and glanced at this program a few times, but never purchased. When the box arrived, my four year old was quite excited (as you can tell from my title picture) to receive her own brand new shiny box full of new school materials. We received the entire curriculum set (a retail value of $125.95)which includes two student workbooks, two teacher’s guides, a music CD, and a resource packet full of posters, visuals, and manipulatives to supplement the lessons. While there is an optional multimedia set that can accompany the curriculum that includes DVDs and more CDs, it is not a requirement to use the program.
My first impression when I opened the teacher’s guide was honestly a sense of fear that I’d made a mistake in choosing to join this review team. When you first glance at the pages, it seems like it’s too full of information and activities. However, looks can be deceiving and once I had a moment to really sit down and take a deeper look, I realized that the lessons while thorough, are not overwhelming.
There are 180 complete lessons in the program which makes it long enough to use for the duration of an entire 36 week school year. Each lesson in the teacher’s guide is broken down by topic and includes:
- Bible Topic/Focus
- Bible Memory Verses
- Arts and Crafts
- Multimedia resource suggestions
- and more
Each section gives details on what to present and suggestions on how to teach the lesson including hands on activities and projects.
The assignments on each page of the student workbooks are simple so as not to overwhelm young learners. Print and lines are large to suit small hands and pictures are bright and colorful. My daughter loved working in her own books and often asked to keep doing the next page.
One of my biggest requirements from a preschool curriculum is lots and lots of hands on activities and crafts. I think that in the early years, learning happens the most organically when it occurs in a laid back and fun environment. Horizons Preschool certainly contains plenty of these. From songs and fingerplays to coloring pages and cut and paste art projects, there is plenty to do that isn’t just worksheets! In fact, most of the time, we’ve been having discussions, drawing, making puppets, or having demonstrations rather than writing in the workbook. The lessons typically do not have more than 1-2 worksheet pages assigned in a day.
My princess has been having a blast! The one and only thing that I had to rework was that the lessons take longer than I like to spend on a preschool lesson. Length ranges from 1-1 1/2 hours. I prefer to keep our lessons to no longer than 45 minutes. I’ve found in my home that any longer than that and we lose some of the fun and spark in our lessons. I’ve taken to spreading each lesson out over two days or skipping over some of the more simple activities if it is something that my daughter already has mastered. For instance, I don’t do a ton of letter or number flashcard work with her. She’s know her letters and basic sound for well over a year and can count to 20 without help. This cuts down on the time needed on some days so we can complete an entire lesson in one day.
My favorite parts are the bible memory work and the integration of songs set to familiar tunes. There is a “Daddy We Love You” song that is sung to the tune of “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star” that is just precious. My little girl sang it proudly to my husband once she had it memorized. It was a memorable moment and she was so proud of herself.
I’m thankful that this curriculum came when it did. It has alleviated a burden and brought some fun to our schooling. We are looking forward to seeing where it takes us for the rest of the year!