Favorite Math Resources

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Since the day I began homeschooling, over 20 years ago, I have tried many math programs. I spent my early childhood in a private school that used a workbook style program for math, and it definitely stunted both my enjoyment and confidence in my math abilities. I want something better for my own children.

My hands down favorite of all the math programs I have tried for early childhood is still Right Start Math. Their hands on approach appeals to my child, and I can see the connections being made as we learn together. Even with the first few levels, I felt like my own skills at mental math were improving.

This year with my 3rd grade student, I also added Teaching Textbooks. I have used later grades with several of my older children, and was excited about adding as many math resources as were enjoyable. As my first set of children have reached college age, I’ve seen them manage their higher maths but not necessarily enjoy them, and I want to develop more of a love for math, as opposed to just a tolerance for it in the youngest two. Teaching Textbooks grade 3 is very engaging and simple, while incorporating a great amount of review.

Another resource we have tried this year has been Smartick. It is an app that claims to help your child advance rapidly in math in only 15 minutes a day. It has been a great  addition to our repertoire of math resources as well, giving me the help of a tutor without actually paying the hourly rates of a tutor.

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When a little younger, my children also enjoyed using the app, Montessori Preschool. Montessori style math produces amazing results and even the app helped my children with skills such as place value and other numerical skills. We limit use of devices, but found these two helpful exceptions when used a few minutes a day.

We also recognize the important math benefits of other skills and subjects such as music, art, and cooking. As we continue learning in those areas, we are developing greater levels of understanding that can also apply to math.

You can also find insightful articles about teaching math in recent bundles of Wild and Free, the one by Rachel Kovac was especially encouraging to me. Her thoughts on how the attitude of parents towards math, directly affects the math performance and understanding of children, were very helpful for me as I work to develop a love of math for my children’s sake.

What are your favorite resources for teaching math?

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Our Peaceful Preschool curriculum includes phonics, math, and motor skills training connected to beautiful literature, to help prepare your child for school success. Order your copy today!

 

 

Resources For Young Readers

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We have loved learning to read using All About Reading and Spell To Write and Read, but as my youngest child becomes more comfortable with reading, I am constantly on the look out for books related to our studies that will not overwhelm him. 

The Playful Pioneers book list is what we are mostly pulling from, but every time I hit up the library I look for more readers based on our history studies. I thought it would be fun to share a few here.

Abe Lincoln and the Muddy Pig by Stephen Krensky

From Slave To Soldier by Deborah Hopkinson

The Drinking Gourd by F.N. Monjo

Sam The MInuteman by Nathaniel Benchley

Wagon Train by Sydelle Kramer

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We also just released an updated version of our Picture Word Cards product. This new version includes 26 rhymes to correspond with each letter of the alphabet. For readers who are reluctant to actually sit down and read, this card set can provide several levels of interaction. You can start your child with just matching upper and lower case letters, and then move onto matching letter sounds with the pictures. Once they have mastered initial sounds, you can introduce the corresponding words. You can then add reading the simple rhymes and once your child is reading, they can read the rhymes and match them with the letter or picture. Best of all, the set is only $5 for the download.

If you need more ideas for helping your child gain school readiness, check out The Peaceful Preschool. It has 26 weeks of activities aimed at helping your child gain the developmental skills they need for academic success. 

If you have school aged children, check out The Playful Pioneers our delight directed year of studying the pioneers, using The Little House on the Prairie series as inspiration.

What people are saying about our curriculum;

"The Playful Pioneers helped me dive into things a little deeper. "

"The drawings, introduction to poetry and other book recommendations were helpful and inspiring."

"The Peaceful Preschool was super organized and had a wonderful book selection"

"The Peaceful Preschool is very easy to follow and my kiddos love it"


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Thankfulness

My daughter recently wrote a letter about thankfulness for our e-mail subscribers, and we wanted to share it here as well.

"I recently wrote pages of things I was thankful for because I realized I was slipping into a skewed view of life. Most of my focus was centering on areas I messed up in, and the things I wasn't doing well.

Over the years, I have seen many of my peers grow up dissatisfied with the education or experiences they received because they have focused on the wrong things.

It’s easy to do. We forget and are jealous and insecure about our and other people's education or lifestyle. But one thing I truly believe is that I had the best education ever. Not because it was always perfect, and not because there aren’t things I missed, but because it was genuine.

It was unique, and thanks to my mom it was genius and motivating and outdoorsy and beautiful. I had a good education. But here’s the second thing that made it great; thankfulness.

I recently read Viktor Frankl’s “Man in Search of Meaning’ and he talks about how in the concentration camps, the men he was with, dying men, would leave what little warmth they had to watch a beautiful sunset. They displayed what Frankl calls the greatest human freedom, which is our freedom to choose our response to life.

You and I get to choose our response to circumstances in life. And when I am thankful for my education I am also able to take full advantage of every bit of it. 

Thankfulness started early, with my parents gently and lovingly equipping me to deal with a world that sometimes hurt, with people who don’t always love themselves like they should, and with way too much advertising and competition trying to tell me that I am not enough.

So, we read books about thankful people like Mother Teresa, Amy Carmichael, the Arnold Pent Family, Rani Snell, and Corrie Ten Boom. We would go around the dinner table sharing what we were thankful for. When we went tide pooling and watched hermit crabs molt, or grew gardens, or nature journaled, or sweat our way from historical monument to monument along the East Coast, we embraced the wonder of it and were thankful. And we continue to be mindful of when our hearts are thankful and when they are not.  Thankfulness creates joy in us, and an ability to enjoy our life, no matter the circumstances." (Emelie Pepito)

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This Thanksgiving season, we wish for each of you the ability to cultivate gratitude in yourselves and your children. As you prepare for the holidays, take the time to jot down your intentions for this season, and then create traditions that fit with the values of your own family.  Perhaps even take time to interview your children about their own favorite holiday memories and then prioritize the activities you will participate in.

The holidays don't have to be characterized by exhaustion and disappointment. We can take the time to create our own traditions, and break free of expectations that don't reflect the gratitude and peace that we are working to cultivate.

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If you are looking for creative activities to build more connection in your family, check out The Playful Pioneers and The Peaceful Preschool. Each parent guide is full of weekly lesson plans for literature based learning, using lovely books that encourage gratitude.

More posts on creating a happy holiday

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Christmas Stories

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Math For Young Children

As a child, I went to a private school that focused on reading quickly, but did nearly all math instruction through workbooks. This method left me ill-prepared to understand more advanced math, and I labeled myself a struggling math learner from then on. 

With my own children, I have been motivated to use more hands on methods to teach math, but have still vacillated between several math programs, because while I might wish for a magical math that teaches itself, there is no such solution. Believe me, I have searched. With my oldest children, I was especially pressed for time and usually chose a method that involved hands on learning, but that was also easy for a student to complete fairly independently. 

As those students grew, each of them struggled with algebra. I used several different programs, Saxon, Teaching Textbooks, Horizons, and Math U See, but it wasn't until they were in an actual math class at the local junior college that algebra began to make sense for them. Although none of my oldest students have gone on to pursue a career in math, those who are pursuing college have been able to complete the upper level classes necessary for their degree.

I feel like there are a few lessons that I can take from the experiences my oldest children have had with math. The first lesson is that math requires a teacher (even a non math loving mother can be that teacher), and the second is that early-hands on math experience is essential for later success.

With these lessons in mind, I have switched to Right Start Math with my youngest son, and I am moving slowly through the lessons. I would rather do each lesson thoroughly and make certain that my child is understanding it, than to push quickly through and end up with roadblocks as he approaches upper level math. Right Start uses many concrete examples and activities to make manipulating numbers second nature for your child. 

Right Start also uses playful activities such as games to reinforce skills instead of tedious drills and flashcards. Playful forms of learning are much more attractive than drills and flashcard to many of us as adults, as well as to our children. They also help us retain the information that we have learned.

Finding the right math program for your early elementary student might require a little research. Each parent and child has a different learning style, and learning styles have a lot of bearing on your child's success with a program. As well, many children are not developmentally ready for abstract learning, so programs that rush this with too many worksheets can ultimately make math more difficult later on.

For your preschool learners, keep using the counting and fine motor skills included in The Peaceful Preschool curriculum, as well as playing math games and counting throughout your day.

For kindergarten students, keep on counting and playing math games. If they are ready for more math, start with Right Start Math or Math U See. 

For later elementary students, if they have a strong command of underlying math principals through Right Start or Math U See, you could try switching to Teaching Textbooks. Make sure they have learned good study skills, including concepts such as writing math problems clearly, and labeling papers before you set them up with a more independent math program. If they need additional help, and homeschooling is your educational choice, look for a math tutor or group class that they can join. Even Khan Academy can be a valuable resource in making math meaningful for your children.

Finally, no matter what math program you choose, try to use positive words to describe math, and help them to see that math skills are an important part of our daily life.

To purchase The Peaceful Preschool CurriculumPicture Word Cards, or even grab some of our freebies, click here.

For a complete list of picture books used for The Peaceful Preschool, click here.

 

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Teach Your Child To Read

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My seventh child is now reading on his own, and I am thrilled to have successfully taught all of my children to read, and for the most part, to love reading. 

When I started homeschooling 18 years ago, my research led me to the Spell to Write and Read program. It worked very well with my oldest child, but with my second daughter, who had auditory processing difficulties, I needed to supplement with sight words. Because her auditory sequencing was poor (activities in The Peaceful Preschool program work on building this skill) she needed the boost of sight words to make reading less laborious. It was just too frustrating to try and sound out every single word.

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I continued to use Spell to Write and Read with my children, along with reading games that I created from Montessori literature I had read, and it continued to be effective. None of my children were super early readers, but they all (so far) have become avid readers. The child who learned to read the latest, is also the child who has read all the works of Shakespeare.

With my youngest child, who being the baby, had less well-defined motor skills, I switched to All About Spelling materials. It is very similar to Spell to Write and Read, except that their approach is slightly more multi-sensory, and their teacher guide is much easier to understand.

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This system worked very well with him, and when he occasionally lost interest his All About Spelling lesson, I would introduce a reading game, such as the Montessori Object Game, or Command Game. The process took a little longer with him, in part because I was a more laid back teacher, and content to let him play, but he is reading, and especially loving the easy readers produced by All About Spelling.

With all my readers, I supplemented with workbooks such as Explode The Code, and with easy books to read. Teaching my children to read wasn't hard; it took some steady reinforcement of phonics sounds and the discipline to set aside time each day to listen to my children painfully sound out words, but once you get past that learning curve, schooling your own children becomes much easier. A child who can read, can also read a recipe, or directions to build an Ikea shelf, and they can certainly get lost in a great novel, which you can then count as "history reading".  A child who loves to read, is a child who can take initiative over a large part of their schooling, and ultimately, is a child who becomes a very interesting adult and friend.

If you are just getting started with teaching your child to read, I hope that you feel excited. It isn't rocket science, and the same skills that you used to teach them to eat with a fork, and get dressed by themselves will help you to guide them into this new skill as well. The steps are simple, teach them the sounds that letters make, teach them to blend those sounds together to make words. You can do it.

 

Our Favorite Resources

All About Spelling

Explode The Code

Spell To Write and Read

Reading Games Post

Living Montessori Now

This post contains affiliate links for products we use/used and love. 

What letter are you on? Share, by tagging #thepeacefulpreschool on Instagram, or in our encouraging private Facebook group, available with your curriculum purchase. 

To purchase the CurriculumPicture Word Cards, or even grab some of our freebies, click here.

For a complete list of picture books used for The Peaceful Preschool, click here.

a simple santa mask

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Check out this sample day, from The Peaceful Preschool curriculum. The daily activities are tailor made for a mix of active and quiet learning, and seasonal play is an important part of the curriculum. 

You might also enjoy:

Handmade Christmas with Children

Christmas Stories

Christmas Books and Toys for Intentional Families

Favorite Books For Advent

and A Simple Santa Mask

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What letter are you on? Share, by tagging #thepeacefulpreschool on Instagram, or in our encouraging private Facebook group, available with your curriculum purchase. 

To purchase the CurriculumPicture Word Cards, or even grab some of our freebies, click here.

For a complete list of picture books used for The Peaceful Preschool, click here.

ABC Books

Repin and Share…

Repin and Share…

Alphabet books have been a big part of our reading instruction. It is a good idea to read to our young children anyway, so reading picture books, where you can reinforce phonograms is a win win. 

To maximize the phonics potential, I teach the sound of the letter, along with the name. For instance instead of saying "A is for Alfred", I will say "A says "a", "ay", "ah"". Ditto for every phonogram. Once our children understand that letters represent sounds, they can string those letters together to make words. I might also say the alphabet with my child, either before or after reading the book, but our main focus is teaching them the sounds.

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"So Many Bunnies" is one of our very favorite alphabet books. It has a sweet story, includes some simple counting, and the illustrations are beautiful. 

"B is for Buckaroo" is a fun story for your little cowboy. It also includes some details about cowboy life, so you get a book that will grow with your preschooler, and might spark other studies. You can also find "C is for Castle" which introduces items related to the middle ages, among thousands of historical themed alphabet books.

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If you are looking for a simpler story for a very young child, this one, "An Alphabet in Bloom" is lovely. The cut paper illustrations could lead to cutting a collage with an older preschooler, and the wordless pages provide lots of visual interest and even some mystery as you discover what each letter is represented by. Some other favorite ABC books for younger children are "A is for Apple" which includes tracks for your child to trace each letter, and "Eric Carle's ABC" which would be a great read on those weeks when we are doing "The Grouchy Ladybug" or another of his stories.

One of my most well loved alphabet books, is "A is for Annabelle" by a favorite children's author and illustrator, Tasha Tudor. Her beautiful illustrations and creativity come through in every page. We also love finding ABC books about nature and animals, such as "Discovering Nature's Alphabet"

Finally, a wonderful way to play with letters, and even to work on articulation with your young children, is with our Picture Word Cards . These would make a wonderful Christmas gift for your child. Simply laminate them along with a few phonogram bingo cards, add some nature themed bingo counters, such as acorn caps, and you have an inexpensive and educational gift.

What is your favorite ABC book?

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Gentle Reading

Reading happens at different times for every child. Some will practically teach themselves to read, and others will need much repetition until they are able to read fluently.

I have taught all seven of my children to read, and they have definitely proven this to be true. A couple of them were late readers, and took lots of repetition, and others learned with very little formal instruction. Aside from the youngest, who is still gaining fluency, all of my children love to read, and read often for pleasure and for learning.

GENTLE READING / preschool homeschool / www.thepeacefulpress.com

The phonics activities that are included in The Peaceful Preschool curriculum, are activities that I used to provide multi-sensory phonics input. As you flash the letter cards and carefully articulate the sounds, even encouraging your child to repeat after you, you are reinforcing the idea that letters represent sounds. 

Phonics aren't the only thing involved in developing reading fluency, however. Some children are well served by also giving them sight words. With my second child, who had auditory processing difficulties, her reading took off once we started doing sight word flashcards with her. We would read a simple reader together, and when she struggled with a word, I would quickly jot it down along with sounding it out for her.

Later, I would write any of these problem words on flash cards, and then flash them a few times a day, in short, 5-minute sessions. It was a small time investment, but as she began to acquire a larger repertoire of sight words, reading became more fluid and fun. She is an adult now, and continues to devour books; she is one of few people I have met, who have read nearly all of the works of Shakespeare, for fun!

The video below demonstrates a few of the multi sensory reading activities that we have done together to reinforce sight words and phonograms. If you have purchased the full 26 week curriculum, we also have a video in the private FB group, that explains how to do a few more activities for developing early reading skills.

Until your child is reading fluently, keep expanding their vocabulary, and their love for literature by reading aloud to your child, and by memorizing poetry with your child. These special times of reading together not only give your child an advantage academically, they also provide the spark which will lead to hours of imaginative play and projects.

A poem we are working on now.

For more ideas on how books spark play and projects, check out this episode of The Read Aloud Revival.

This article from a neurodevelopmental therapist explains why memorizing sight words is important for beginning readers.

What letter are you on? Share, by tagging #thepeacefulpreschool on Instagram, or in our encouraging private Facebook group, available with your curriculum purchase.

For a complete list of picture books used for The Peaceful Preschool click here.

For hands-on learning with your K-6 grade students, check out The Playful Pioneers and The Precious People.


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