pre-k - earthschooling/little acorn - Mothering Forums
Learning at Home and Beyond > pre-k - earthschooling/little acorn
olien's Avatar olien 09:37 PM 04-29-2011

So I need more structure in our day. Plan to HS/US for now. DS will be 3yo in Aug. I thought I would get some material/curriculum to get us going after the summer.


I am looking for something waldorfish/nature inspired. I like the looks of Enki, but feel it may be too much for right now. I just stumbled upon Earthschooling & it seems like something that would fit. I also like Little Acorn Learning. Does anyone have experience with either of these? Opinions?


I was thinking of getting both figuring I can pick & choose the material appropriately for when he is both 3 & 4. (& I can use them for DD too when she is old enough). Also, the Christopherous Kindy book has great reviews… opinions?


Should I just stick with one of these or can I use them both/together without a problem? Most HS/US parents I know (not that many) seem to use pieces of different learning styles to fit what works for their family. Total newbie here so any advice is appreciated.


Thandiwe's Avatar Thandiwe 10:47 PM 04-29-2011

I can't speak to those specific programs, but we have totally gotten to an eclectic point in our education.  When we first started out, I purchased a kit curriculum, but it wasn't a complete fit for us.  So instead I took various pieces and have piecemealed a curriculum together.


Have you considered just planning something on your own?  There are so many resources out there, and 3/4 is still fairly young.  You could always utilize the library and your own materials, maybe some workbooks.  Honestly, the kit I bought was for 4/5 year old, not quite yet kindy, and I was disappointed in it.  I wish I hadn't spent the money; I would have saved a ton just to create some home stuff.  At that age, the attention span is still fairly small.  You could do unit studies.  Just a thought!


I hope you find what works for you!

tankgirl73's Avatar tankgirl73 09:07 AM 04-30-2011

I'm contemplating earthschooling kindy or grade 1 for my DD for the fall (she'll be 5 in December), so I'm keen to hear others' experiences with that too.  Most of our "preschool" has been Montessori and Waldorf-inspired.  I'm using Seasons of Joy right now for circle time and stories and craft ideas.  I have some of the Christopherus materials which I got for my older son and will implement many aspects of Waldorf in general for my daughter, though I haven't specifically looked at their Kindy level stuff.  I've also used random bits and pieces of things from Little Acorn.


The thing with Waldorf for preschool, is that there really is no curriculum... it's more about attitude and methodology than about content.  Free play, creative play, nature, stories, gentle discipline, rhythm (rather than "structure") and routines and songs.  So the "curriculum" guides are generally collections of ideas and poems rather than "do this and do that".  So in that sense, the general Waldorf-homeschooling guides can be very useful for figuring out how to figure out a rhythm that works for your family -- I think Christopherus is very good for that, for instance.  I've also picked up a few things like Waldorf painting books, Waldorf-specific stuff that's not specific to homeschooling, just to learn more about the principles.  We're certainly not strict about our Waldorf-ness (I think that much of anthoposophy is silly) but very, very inspired by it.


My DD is very bookish, is an early reader and loves math too, so we're not artificially delaying academics... we started Right Start Math A when she was 3 and a half.  But the Waldorf philosophies keep me grounded so as not to PUSH the academics, to continue to emphasize the stories and songs and games and creative play, and we only do academic stuff when she wants to.


The other side of the coin for us is the Montessori aspect, which at the toddler and preschool level is mostly about practical skills.  So she helps in the kitchen and is allowed to do things many parents would never think a young child can or should do... eg,  she was cracking eggs and using the stove -- closely supervised of course -- even at age two.  The idea is that our kids are much more capable than we tend to give them credit for.  It's a philosophy of observation and non-interference, letting them try stuff and figure it out on their own rather than "teaching" everything, not jumping in with "oh here sweetie let me help you with that" at every little obstacle.  When she asks for help, we come right away, but she tries to work through obstacles and frustrations by herself first... and usually succeeds!  :)  It's been really cool to watch that side of her development, she's such a competent and capable little person now!  That all was also not done through "curriculum", just from reading about Montessori principles and applying them to day-to-day life.

Mittsy's Avatar Mittsy 06:56 PM 04-30-2011

We love Little Acorn for both Pre-K and K! It's got a great daily guide, booklists, crafts, poems/songs.... it's just enough. We're planning on starting Christopherus with our dd(6) who will be a 1st grader in the fall.


Good luck!


nicholas_mom's Avatar nicholas_mom 12:44 PM 05-01-2011

Try Enki.  All you need right now is the ENKI Guide Books Bks 1-3.  It is WEALTH of info that you can use now AND to the future for upper grades.  I started Enki when ds was 4 yrs old with the Guide Books.  I love the program so much that I continued thru the grades and I am buying  Grade 3 Enki for next year.  Also, I know some people who use Enki and also use stuff from Earthschooling.  It meshes very well together.  Enki is whatever fits your family type of program.  The Guide books are just that - A Guide, NOT a set a rules to follow.

CCJWGM's Avatar CCJWGM 11:21 PM 05-01-2011

Little Acorn Learning is great and offers activities which can easily carry over for many years.  It's highly structured for those who need it and those, like me, who don't can easily pick and choose.  I really like it for the pK/K crowd.  What I love are the book recommendations!  I can't get enough of those.


Earthschooling is gem as well.  You will receive stories and accompanying crafts as well as a whole wealth of info.  It's a little less structured and a little more to go through. For some reason I always gravitate towards LAL.  I think it's the type of crafts and the book recs. 


Many US/HSers mix and match what works.  Waldorf, Unschooling, Montessori, Charlotte Mason, and Classical are all mashed together in my house.  I have many resources at hand to draw ideas from and never had relied on one resource for everything we do.  Often, though, LAL is the framework which gives me a great jumping off point. 

umsami's Avatar umsami 10:47 AM 05-02-2011

I love the Christopherus Kindy book.  It's very inspirational--and affordable as well.  I also purchased one month of LAL a year or two ago, but as we were living in Florida--the seasonal approach/ideas really didn't apply. :)  I do think the guides are great, though--especially if you live in a more traditional four season climate.


What has worked best for us is an ecclectic approach.  We use stuff from Christopherus... literature ideas from Sonlight (which now has three week sample guides--so definitely check out P3/P4), and Montessori ideas from "Teaching Montessori in the House: Pre-School Ideas."  (As well as a bunch of ideas from various websites and blogs.)  The thing that worked best for me was to have a rough schedule of what I wanted to do each day.  I don't remember exactly what we used, but it was something like this:


Mondays: Baking with Mom, introduce practical skill for the week (Slow and Steady Get Me Ready (oh, another great resource :)), Montessori, etc.)

Tuesday: Painting

Wednesday: Play dough, library arts & crafts, pick out new books for the week

Thursday: Coloring plus "science" (reading from the Berenstein Bears Science book or others, fun experiments, nature walks, gardening, etc.)

Friday: Craft project and field trip


Every day we read, sang, went to the park, etc.  My kids all learned their letters from watching Leap Frog's "Letter Factory" DVD a few times--honesty it didn't take much.  I'm not sure how they learned their numbers, but they did.  Around 4 or so, we did some counting activities... using an old egg carton with numbers written in each space.. and then counting out cheerios, blueberries, fruit, M&Ms etc.


DS2 was very interested in writing, so I had the Handwriting without Tears Preschool book...I think it was called Letters and Numbers for Me.  It also dealt with colors and shapes.  All of my kids have also loved the Kumon activity books relating to cutting, pasting, tracing, etc.  

onyxravnos's Avatar onyxravnos 12:38 PM 05-02-2011

i've used all of those. if i had to choose one i would pick Little Acorn . it is fun, easy to do, easily adjustable for ages/abilities, and it is layed out in an easy format for mom.

  • verses / songs / books
  • what to do for monday what to do for tusday etc...


all the programs you mentioned are great and work well with each other. I pull from all of them to round things out or if i don't care for a project LA has suggested (doesn't happen often) 


for just starting I think LA is the best pre-k program out there.

MomtoDandJ's Avatar MomtoDandJ 10:20 AM 05-03-2011

Since your ds is still so young, you might want to think about holding off on starting a formal hs/us curriculum for another year or so when he's really ready to follow a curriculum.  For us, when my son was 2.5-3, it was easier to follow a less structured program where we did crafts one day, songs and games the next, and worksheets the next.  We use this site a lot, they have printable worksheets and general information on preschool and kindergarten development so it gave us lots of ideas of what to try at home.


Good luck!  It may seem overwhelming now, but you'll figure out really quickly what works for your family!

annettemarie's Avatar annettemarie 08:46 PM 05-03-2011
I think the absolute best thing you can do in the preK years is get into a good rhythm. I've often said that there are rhythms I first set into place 11 years ago when my oldest was just a toddler that I'm still using today. Especially if you're planning on following Waldorf methods, the preschool years are a great time to do the inner work and start to figure out what you believe, what's important to you, and why. To that end, there's a great blog called Parenting Passageway.

Heather is absolutely right when she says that in Waldorf preK there is no curriculum. There's stuff out there that can help you form the rhythms and give some shape to your day, but what it's really about is working on your relationship with your child, with yourself, with your days. And when you have those rhythms in place, when you do finally reach "official homeschooling" age, you'll be better able to add that stuff in.

When I just had itty bitties, some of our rhythms included:
MONDAY: crafting
TUESDAY: coloring
WEDNESDAY: painting
THURSDAY: modeling
FRIDAY: crafting for others

Then maybe when they were 4, we might add
MONDAY: New story
Tuesday: Read again and tell a different way
WEDNESDAY: Make a craft that goes with the story
THURSDAY: Make a recipe
FRIDAY: Some sort of creative dramatics

I always did a little "circle time" from infancy on, although I stopped early on trying to make it look like a Waldorf school circle. Instead, I focused on creating a reverent space with a candle and we would sing some songs, do some rhymes, etc.

We worked on cleaning and slowing down so they could help. We figured out how we wanted to celebrate holidays and Holy Days. I worked on making sure I had times when my children saw me crafting and reading and praying and taking care of my home and taking care of myself.

I practiced staying home, LOL! It's really tempting to run around all over the place and join every program, but I knew that was counterproductive. So instead, we had marketing day and library day and worked a daily walk/nature exploration into our routine.

Hope this is helpful. orngbiggrin.gif

ETA: Which isn't to say that the books and materials out there can't help you achieve these goals, but if it's Waldorf, it probably isn't billing itself as a "curriculum".