Not my usual sort of review, because this isn’t a book you’d just read – it’s a curriculum for preschoolers. Because yes, I do have a preschooler.
I’ve done a ton of research about homeschooling, especially preschoolers. I know schooling at that age doesn’t have to involve a lot. I also know that I am not good at many of the things that seem to come naturally to some moms and caregivers. Reading books? I’ve got that covered. Doing crafts or creative things? Not so much.
I stumbled across this curriculum guide and, after viewing all the links to the free version she has online, decided to buy the full download. If you’re great at coming up with ideas for your kids on your own, or if you love searching the internet for ideas and crafts for your own self-designed plans each week, this may be unnecessary. For anyone whose doesn’t want to spend tons of free time planning and deciding what to do, I think this would be completely worth the fifty cents a week it works out to be.
What do I like?
- It’s all laid out for you, in an easy-to-find and easy-to-follow-structure. Not just a weekly plan, but ideas for each day.
- She includes some ideas for younger siblings. Awesome.
- The crafts seem doable for me, the crafting-impaired. Simple projects, simple to find items.
- The structure and how it follows the Bible story.
- The assessment forms – to do (if you want to) before beginning the program, at the halfway point, and after finishing it. What I liked the best about these is it was a quick snapshot to see what my son knows, and what he doesn’t know so perhaps I should remember to cover those things.
- There are a list of suggested books to accompany each theme – while I don’t have trouble finding books to read on any topic (understatement of the year), it’s still nice having theme there, both for extra ideas, and so that if life gets crazy and I don’t have time to search myself? It’s right there.
- That if the cost is prohibitive, or if you want to preview it to see if it’s right for your family, you can get many, if not most, of the ideas from the website for free. I wanted the convenience of the all-in-one download, and I wanted to support the author for her time and effort for developing this, so I bought the paid version. (The extra freebies only included in the paid version are nice too, although they’re not essential.)
- She’s using proceeds from sales of the book to fund the building of an orphanage in India. How neat to think that I helped towards that, even a tiny bit.
What do I not like?
- The PDF doesn’t have the Table of Contents linked to the content. In other words, I can’t click on a page number in the TOC and jump to that page. I’ve got some PDFs where that works, and it’s super handy. Yes, I’m being picky, but it’s an aggravation.
- I underestimated just how much I do not like assembling crafting supplies and supervising craft projects (it stresses me out, always trying to keep two kids from destroying the house or each other), in addition to making sure I have themed books available for the right week. I like getting library books. I don’t like trying to coordinate holds dates and specific titles.
- Many of the craft projects and other ideas link back to her website for additional details, so if you don’t have easy access to the internet the book itself is not completely self-contained. Even if you do, it’s slightly annoying to constantly have to switch between the book and the website.
- If you don’t have convenient access to a printer, it’s a hassle. While you don’t have to print things out, it’s a lot easier if you do.
So, we “followed” this plan for a week and a half, and that short period of time taught me that as much as I love this program, and love the idea of following it, it’s just not a good fit for me and our family. I can easily see it being a great fit for others though, so I still wanted to share my thoughts about it.
Some of the problems were, in addition to my craft-aversion, that my son already knew so much of it – he knows all of his letters, and most of their sounds. He doesn’t like coloring, and he wasn’t interested in the lessons. If I’d tried it last year when he was three, I think the lessons would have been a better fit for him (except he hated coloring even more last year.) My daughter isn’t quite old enough to be interested, although she does love coloring, painting, gluing, and anything else of that nature I’ve tried with her. I may try this again with her next year, as it seems to be a better fit for her interests.
While this program didn’t work for us, I don’t regret trying it. It gave me some more insight into teaching and learning styles, and what is important to me from a curriculum, and what is essential. I do think it’s well-done, and that for other families, it could be very successful. That and since you can get access to most of it for free and see if it’s a good fit for your family it makes it very easy to still recommend God’s Little Explorers.
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