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Friday, May 14, 2010

Ideal Curriculum review

It always amazes me the sheer number of resources of available to homeschoolers today. I am on my fourth "preschooler" and even in the few years between my first child and this one, there are SO many more options available.

Ideal Curriculum is a researched based preschool curriculum designed to prepare your child for academic learning. Ideal Curriculum's mission is to help every child be successful at learning. Below are some of the curriculum's goals (as stated on their website):

•Letters and sounds- Learn letters very fluently; upper and lower case, quickly and accurately, recognize letters from different fonts and sizes
•Learn basic sight words- There are about 30 level one sight words that provide the foundation for reading and writing. There are about 100 sight words that build reading fluency.
•Exploring the ability to write- Develop motor skills and hand strength, gain a concept of themselves as a writer, learn to write their own name, learn to write the letters and move into writing sentences and stories.
•Be able to hear, recognize and manipulate sounds of language- Develop skills in rhyming, breaking sentences into words, breaking words into syllables, breaking syllables into onset and rime, breaking words into individual sounds or phonemes and blending them back together
•Oral language and vocabulary- expanding their vocabulary, understanding concepts, increasing their ability to express themselves using higher level language structure.
•Science and social studies- Developing concepts of how the world works.
•Math- Build and use a mental number line, master rote counting (counting in order, forwards and backwards), one to one correspondence (be able to touch and count pennies or m&m’s), cardinality (how many), adjacent values (what is next to 7? 6&8), basic Shapes, number recognition.
•Calendar- Learn basics of scheduling and remembering and learn parts of the calendar .

Each month's curriculum is themed and covers reading/language, math, science, and social studies. Some of the themes are transportation, color, weather, animals, and the world around us, just to name a few. The curriculum is detailed, and lays out what the teacher should cover either daily or weekly depending on the subject. Lessons incorporate different methods of learning such as music, dramatic play, and art projects as well as the more traditional reading and writing. The curriculum is available either in print or as a download. You can buy it by the month, 3 months, 6 months, or a year (9 months). In print version, each month is $55. The download is $30 a month. Three months at a time is $156 in print or $85.50 as a download. If you purchase the whole year (9 months), the price is $440 in print or $240 as a download.

The pros: This curriculum is very comprehensive. The goals are well defined and the methodology is thoroughly explained. Each topic has its own teacher's manual. Supplemental books are recommended that tie into the theme.

The cons: While I try to remember that everything is relative, I have to say the price blows me away. I guess if you were going to pay to send your child to preschool but chose to do this curriculum instead, it might not seem so astronomical, but $440 (or even $240) for a PRESCHOOL curriculum??? I just don't understand that, no matter how good it might be. Beyond that, the curriculum definitely seems more geared toward use at preschools than in a homeschool environment, unless your homeschool style is to recreate "building school" at home. If you are new to homeschooling and afraid you might "get it wrong" you might find the thoroughness and stiffness of the curriculum reassuring, but I for one was a bit overwhelmed at the thought of a preschool curriculum that requires three different teacher's manuals each month. And yet with all that, I thought the math part of the curriculum was a bit light, although we only got to see one month, so perhaps it beefs up as time goes on.

The bottom line: I want to be clear that I tend to be in the "better late than early" camp when it comes to early childhood education. Preschoolers by their very nature are inquisitive sponges. It is literally impossible to KEEP them from learning. So to devote so much time and money to their education at such an early age is foreign to me. But with that said, my youngest currently goes to preschool, and IS getting a lot more formal education than she would at home (prekindergarten is free in our state-even at private providers, and family issues dictated that having her at school for half a day was best for all of us), and if you want to give your homeschooled preschooler the same experience, this curriculum would be a good resource to check out. Ideal Curriculum currently is offering a one week free trial if you sign up for their e-zine HERE. I'd recommend checking the curriculum out that way, so that you can decide for yourself if it is right for you.

To see more about Ideal Curriculum and check out their free resources available on their website, go HERE. To see what other members of the TOS Crew had to say, go HERE.

Legal Disclaimer: As a member of the TOS Crew, I received a download of Month One for the purpose of writing this review. That download was the only payment I received for my review.

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