Preschool Record Keeping

I’ve been getting into the Core Knowledge curriculum more lately as September approaches. We have the free pdf of the Preschool Sequence available from their website, but I also found a book version of the Preschool Sequence at my local library which included a monthly planning guide near the end of the book. The monthly guides were exactly what I needed in getting started. We’ll start Level 2 (4-5yrs) in September (the guides are a Sept-May schedule), and I made a list– mostly the cultural references and isolated skills (like answering the telephone)– from Level 1 (3-4yrs) that I wasn’t certain my daughter had been exposed to already that we can cover now in August. If we don’t get through all the Rhymes, Stories and childhood games, I noticed she’s well versed in some of the cultural references that appear in Level 2, so we could certainly substitute as we go.

My husband wants to keep a school record. At first I felt like, “Really? It’s just preschool.” We don’t even have to report to the school district of our intent to homeschool yet. Luckily, I ran into another, more experience homeschooling mom while out running errands and I complained to her a bit about the idea of adding another burden to my to-do list while just getting started. Her perspective was that it’s actually a great idea to start now because it will get us into the habit, and it will probably take us awhile to find a system that works for us anyway. She also reminded me that when we do report our intent to the district, we’re technically supposed to spend a minimum number of hours in session. So her record-keeping is a spreadsheet that tracks their hours in case anyone ever wanted proof they are meeting those hours, as well for their own reflection of where their time is being spent. It was a totally serendipitous meeting (I had just spent some time staring at the school-sale student planners with my heart feeling heavier and less enthused the longer I compared their merits), and I came away with renewed enthusiasm, and the ideas I had in my head solidified into better clarity of how I wanted to try to track our progress.

While my husband would rather a digital record (easy to back-up and searchable), I know deep down I can’t maintain a digital record. Not only is my time on the computer already very precious and mostly relegated to work-time, but my daughter is much happier the less I am on it as it is. Imagining us side by side at the table–her coloring or whathaveyou– and I record-keeping… she will perceive me as emotionally available if I’m analog but ignoring her if I’m on my computer or a tablet/phone.

Six months later: my time on the computer is very precious, indeed. I saved the above thoughts as a draft and never “finished” it! So… I did finish taking notes on the month-by-month 2-year guide. And I did make a digital version to print out for analog record-keeping. I’ve attached Level 2 September and October as a pdf here; pretty much a straight copy of the recommended schedule. If something was signified as a skill to be worked on all year, then I included it each month following, but at 50% grey. My idea was a chart/table, with the left side signifying the knowledge area, the middle laying out the specific skills/concepts for those spheres, and the right side is a blank column for notating dates we addressed each item. Then I’d have a regular old notebook/loose-leaf to use as a dated journal to make more in-depth notes about what we did, time spent, and other thoughts. I designed my version of the monthly guide with facing pages (2-sided printing) and enough gutter for 3-hole punching.

But, I have to admit we haven’t been really record keeping in practice. Partly because I haven’t found a good location to put my 3-ring binder so it can stay open and ready to jot notes as we go (we go with the flow around here, so it really does need to be always-ready for it to work out, I think), and partly because I have a million other things that feel more pressing than transcribing our day. Every couple of months I look back at my print outs, and instead of dates it’s more a like “hmm, recognize numerals 1-6 and match them with appropriate quantities? check. this? check. that?” Checking in with the guide has had the effect of greater confidence we are doing okay with this homeschooling thing. We may be behind on the specific cultural references, but we are reading books, and she does seem to be keeping pace more or less with their benchmarks with very minimal explicit instruction. And that’s where I’m at with preschool record-keeping (or the lack thereof) in February. I should say I am keeping samples or taking pictures of her work with idea of a portfolio-style record of sorts. What with the new baby and all, I’m just happy we are actually juggling everything as well as we are!

The Great Barbie Dilemma

tea time with Shola

The other day my daughter roped in my husband in getting down the Barbie box from the top of her closet and playing with her. I kept it on the top shelf because they are hard to dress and I’ve thought her too young for them; it’s a couple of my old Barbies, a ‘little orphan Annie’ child doll circa 1982, and a new Barbie that came with a hot pink Barbie BMW that my daughter received this past Christmas. My husband came away a little horrified at the new one in the tight minidress– I think may have been his first exposure to Barbie at close range. It turns out our daughter can dress them herself now for the most part. We hit the great Barbie dilemma.Continue Reading

Preschool Calendar for Learning

I started looking closer at the CoreKnowledge Preschool Sequence Month-by-Month outline, and have decided to condense select elements from the Level 1 activities/concepts into the rest of the summer, and start Level 2 in September. One of my first parent-generated orders of business is creating a calendar and an illustrated schedule of our daily activities.

I considered creating an illustrated velcro-dot + laminated card stock type of reusable monthly calendar + daily schedule. Pocket organizers also seem popular, because (of course) I googled for what other people were doing. While at the local office supply store, I decided on a magnetic dry erase calendar. I have some old ink jet magnet sheets lying around, and plan to use those to generate the numbers, months & holidays we can use month-to-month, year-to-year. For now I just used the dry erase marker, but I think magnets will allow my daughter to participate more fully as well as a cleaner appearance. With the dry erase we can get started immediately, and it’ll give us a good stand-in when I don’t happen to have an appropriate magnet for a special day.

Beet Bundt Cake

Beet Bundt Cake batter

This week a friend on Facebook posted that her daughter requested pink cupcakes for her birthday and asked for our best ideas because she wanted to do 3 different flavors. My suggestion was beet chocolate, and she could use the beet water to color the frosting pink. She liked the idea and asked for my recipe. Since my recipe is a fifteen-year-old magazine clipping, I turned to Google to see if it was published online. I thought I’d cross-post what I found here as well.Continue Reading