One of the most exciting times in our family’s lives is when our little ones are finally through their toddler years and are ready to get started with formal schooling. This leaves us with the challenge of identifying the best homeschool curriculum for preschool and kindergarten students. Time has shown that the Petty School courses in the Classical Liberal Arts Academy are an excellent option.
What’s the Goal of the Preschool and Kindergarten Homeschool Curriculum?
As we get started with our little ones, we have to resist the temptation to start working through academic content. There’s plenty of time for that. The goal of the preschool and kindergarten homeschool curriculum is to lead our littles to become independent students. This is what they need to thrive in their grammar school years (ages 8-12).
What are the Objectives of a Preschool and Kindergarten Homeschool Curriculum?
With our goal established, we need to consider the objectives, or short-term goals, that will allow us to achieve that goal. When think of old-fashioned schooling, we can recall the “three Rs”—Reading, Writing and ‘Rithmetic”. These are good examples for us to consider because they show us that the focus of the early years needs to be on skills rather than content knowledge. I would propose, however, that we focus on four Rs, rather than three: Reading, Writing, Arithmetic and Religion, which we’ll look at below.
Subject #1: Religion
In the Catholic faith, we hold that children come to the “age of reason” around the time they receive First Communion, around 8 years of age. Thus, in our preschool and kindergarten homeschool curriculum, we have to consider that the children we’re working with are not yet at the age where intellectual learning begins. At this age, they learn by imitation and repetition. They need to be led into a habit of religious practices.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches us:
“Education in the faith by the parents should begin in the child’s earliest years. This already happens when family members help one another to grow in faith by the witness of a Christian life in keeping with the Gospel. Family catechesis precedes, accompanies, and enriches other forms of instruction in the faith. Parents have the mission of teaching their children to pray and to discover their vocation as children of God. The parish is the Eucharistic community and the heart of the liturgical life of Christian families; it is a privileged place for the catechesis of children and parents.”
There’s a lot to process in that quote, but what it boils down to is that parents begin their children’s religious educaiton by immersing them in devout Catholic family life, and leading them in the practice of the Catholic faith. Family life, catechesis, prayer, and Church attendance provide young children with the opportunity to learn by imitation and repetition–before they reach the age of reason.
Subject #2: Reading
Homeschooling parents often underestimate the challenge of teaching children how to read. The English language is not a phonetic language, like classical Latin or Greek. In classical Latin, there are 24 letters and each of them represents one spoken sound. In English, there are 26 letters, but there are over 45 elementary sounds alone, not to mention other less common sounds that will be encountered in reading. Trying to explain to a child how to read the words rough, cough, through, though, dough, plough–it’s a mess!
A preschool and kindergarten homeschool curriculum that over-simplifies this work lead students into confusion in the end. It’s not a coincidence that so many children struggle to read and spell well, despite having been taught rules of phonics and spelling. False rules aren’t rules at all.
We need to make the effort to think differently about teaching reading, beginning with simple phonetic language like Latin and then working through the development of the English language so that our children can understand the true rules in the end.
Subject #3: Writing
When we speak of writing in the 21st century, we must include both handwriting and typing. Teaching childen to type is simple because there are online programs that work very well (see below). As for handwriting, the rule, again, is imitation and repetition. Children need to be provided with excellent examples of penmanship and ample time to copy, copy and copy.
Subject #4: Arithmetic
There is no end to mathematics studies in modern schools. The key to success in the long run is not to waste time trying to get into formal math studies in preschool and kindergarten, but to complete the basic memory work on which all future mathematical studies depend. Students need to memorize the Arithmetic facts: counting, addition, subtraction, multiplication and division. Memory work is done very easily by young children before the age of reason, and should be the focus of the kindergarten homeschool curriculum.
Choosing a Preschool and Kindergarten Homeschool Curriculum
While there may be a million and one preschool and kindergarten homeschool programs available today, you will find that very few of them serve the four objectives described above. Most of them are just money-makers, providing busy work for children. You can’t afford to miss the opportunity to select the best preschool and kindergarten homeschool curriculum available.
In the Classical Liberal Arts Academy, our Petty School Program is designed to serve the four objectives described above and does so very effectively. We not only fulfill the four objectives of Religion, Reading, Writing and Arithmetic, we do so in a way that allows children to prepare for the most excellent education available: a classical Catholic education.
Best of all, we do this very affordably. If you choose to use our Petty School program, you’ll pay only a fraction of what other programs cost–and you’ll find it far more satisfying.
If you decide you’d like to learn more about our Petty School Program, please let me know.
William C. Michael, Headmaster
Classical Liberal Arts Academy
P.S. I’d like to invite you to join our Petty School class at Typing.com.