We began our “school at home” yesterday, as my daughter proudly announced to the circulation librarian (as we checked out so many picture books that I had to take the step of opening a card in my daughter’s name to accommodate their 40-book limit).
My mother, having worked as a preschool teacher’s aide for a number of years, had made my daughter an alphabet book for handwriting, arranged in the order that they taught at her school. It includes capital and lowercase letters together. Each page is rote practice sheets on the familiar solid baseline & cap lines with the dotted mean line (typographically speaking). The order taught at my mother’s school was LITFVWKYXHMNAEOCGQJDBPRUSZ. This is different from what I was taught, which was also a LOTW (Letter of the Week) method via The Letter People which started with Mr. M (Munching Mouth).
I remembered that the Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons (DISTAR method) I had picked up secondhand also started with the letter M (and S). I wondered about the philosophy about the differing LOTW orders, but due to just wanting to “get started,” I went with my mother’s book. My mother may not be entirely keen on our choice to homeschool, but like other parenting choices we’ve made, she always finds a way to show her support. <3 So, we did eye-dropper watered-down tempura paint “line painting” on her easel. We went to the library as mentioned and I grabbed picture book after picture book with characters/subjects that started with L like lines (drawing), lions, leopards, lizards, lights, lungs, leaves… to set us up for a full week of the letter L. Being that most of us were probably taught via LOTW, this method is familiar, conveniently orienting in terms of activities/subjects, and gives a nice sense of progression and movement. A form of LOTW seems to be used in Montessori as well, a popular educational method locally-speaking. Further intrigued, I looked up the Handwriting Without Tears order, which is part of the curriculum at my daughter’s former preschool and our local school district. (I liked that HWT includes tactile wood block shapes, and was considering investing in some of their supplies for homeschooling. HWT also includes cursive which I had filed away in my mental curriculum note-taking.)
But, in the back of my mind, I recalled that I didn’t remember her former preschool using LOTW. The first letter my daughter learned was the first letter of her name. She was taught to recognize her name apart from her classmates’. She learned by seeming osmosis the letters that her classmates’ names started with and began to recognize random letters, more and more. The environment was very much matched to each child with a lot of personal attention given their extremely low student-to-adult ratio– one of the reasons we choose the school for our daughter. The school is NAEYC accredited and earned 4 stars via Qualistar CO on their first-ever assessment. Some simple googling about LOTW and what order to teach the letters led me to this article that explain that NAEYC has moved on from LOTW to contextual letter recognition, which seems to describe what I remember from my daughter’s class, including beginning with the book Chicka Chicka Boom Boom.
CoreKnowledge doesn’t use LOTW either as far as I can tell. They have a preschool month-by-month concepts guide, which begins in September. Assuming they incorporate associated seasons and/or holidays into their knowledge/unit-based type of curriculum, I wasn’t going to start prepping for CK-type activities until closer to then… this LOTW/not business is all quite interesting to me, and honestly, the unit/subject themes make more sense to me as a format for themed activities over the random list of subjects I had gathered from the library yesterday. But, it will get us through the week while I do more diligence in orienting a year-long vision for how we want to go about this, and attempt to keep up with work and home at the same time.