Friday, May 14, 2010

TOS Review: Ideal Curriculum

Preschoolers. What on earth to do with them while you go about the business of multiplying fractions and conjugating verbs?

Schools of thought vary. Some people enroll their youngers in a local preschool program, betting that the time away from home and hours spent painting somewhere else will be a greater blessing to everyone involved than the tension that ensues when the under-5 set demands to be the center of attention. Others set aside special school-time activities and games just for instruction hours. Still others try to juggle fitting the littles in with the olders lessons.

And others just throw themselves in headfirst and attempt preschool on top of whatever they're already teaching.

For those folks (and I admit, I'm not among them right now), some prepared lesson plans can be an absolute lifesaver. When Logan was a tot, I managed to squish him in alongside my slightly-older kiddos but boy, it was a good deal of work on my behalf. Having a pre-made back-up plan would have saved the day.

And that's what Ideal Curriculum strives to do. Using a very preschool approach, based on games and songs, Ideal Curriculum has designed nine monthly kits that function as units to build emerging skills in the very young. The themes are totally tot-friendly (transportation, weather, etc.) and filled with the kind of basic information that lays the groundwork for later learning. There are library books to discover, hands-on activities to share, and basic math skills to prepare.

I really liked the unit I was given as a sample. Honestly, it was far too involved for Oli, but I could easily see it working with your average 3 to 5 year-old. A younger sibling, too, might enjoy listening in. For $30 per month (download version of the unit), I think the curriculum is within reach of most folks interested in pursuing an actual preschool experience for their littles.

However, I will say one thing that I found to be a slight turnoff with this program: the overall philosophy represented here is summed up in this statement from their website:

Our mission is to help every child be successful at learning. 95% of all children will not pick up academic skills on their own. They need instruction and guidance.

And you know what? I just don't buy that anymore. Did I believe it when I was ushering Jo into early learning? Absolutely. But since then, I've discovered that an hour spent reading through picture books is every bit as valuable as time spent introducing phonics sounds. I've also learned that counting silverware to set the dinner table and talking about whether glasses are full, half-full, etc., is an excellent introduction to math. That's instruction and guidance right there--no financial commitment necessary!

So yes, if you're looking to purchase a preschool curriculum, I think that this one has the potential to enhance your homeschool experience without taxing your limited time. But you know ... you could also just read to your kids. That'll work, too.

Disclaimer: I was given a free copy of this product for review purposes. Refer to my general disclaimer for more information on my policies regarding reviews.

1 comment:

Joyfulness said...

95% - wow, that strikes me for some reason. I am not a fan of pushing little ones too quickly. I'm much more of the "just read and explore" camp, but I do see value in having something for the youngers to do, when schooling their older siblings. So thank you for pointing to a good resource.