BrillKids Forum

EARLY LEARNING => Homeschooling => Topic started by: DadDude on March 20, 2009, 03:06:40 PM

Title: Toddler curriculum
Post by: DadDude on March 20, 2009, 03:06:40 PM
"By popular request" here are just a few brief notes about how we've been teaching our little boy.  I have no idea whether we're going to stick with this plan, but for the last month or more it's worked pretty well.

I began by thinking about what general topics I want us to cover.  I thought about goals and methods, but not too much (and in some areas, not at all).

Then I put them into high priority (do daily or nearly daily), medium priority (do 2-5 times a week), and low priority (do once a week).  Here is our list as of today, but it has changed a little from week to week.  HIGH: Literature and Vocabulary; Reading and Spelling; Writing and Drawing; Music; Everyday Topics; Sports.  MEDIUM: Singing and Reciting; Rosetta Stone; Mathematics; Space; The Physical World; Human Beings and Human Society; Geography and Politics; Practical Skills.  LOW: Biology; History; Art; Morality.

Priorities depend on a combination of parent judgment about what's important for the kid right now, and the kid's preferences.  Music is "high" because our kid likes it so much.

For each area, I listed which subjects it covers (for some, like "Human Beings and Human Society," it's hard to remember), current importance, why it has that level of importance, recommended frequency of any work (ranging from a few times daily for literature, down to once a week for things like history or morality-related books), current progress (very impressionistic), strengths, weaknesses, and top recommendation.

Then for each area I've got an "Update" section, in which I write down whatever he's done in the area.

It's hard to remember everything he's done in a day, so I use a hand-held voice recorder and after we do a little something like read a book or write a few letters, I put it on the voice recorder.  I transfer these activities to the "Update" sections once a day or so--takes twenty minutes, maybe.  This becomes, in effect, an education diary.

The Updates section lets me determine if he's done anything recently in a given area.  This helps you to get an idea if the kid's work in different areas fits in with the stated priorities.

As it turns out, for our little boy, if he hasn't looked at some subject recently, there's a good chance he'll be game to look at it.  So, for instance, some time ago I noticed he hadn't read any history stories, books, or presentations (not that we have very many of these) for a week.  So I found a history book and he liked it a lot.

Finally, I've got a list of "Ideas for next activities."  These could be books on the subject he hasn't read recently that it occurs to me he should read, or presentations, or hands-on activities or "experiments," etc.

About twice a week, I make and print out a list of ideas of things to do (except for literature and a few others, because the "things to do" are very predictable).  I put in lots of things that are high priority, fewer medium priority items, and just a few low priority items.  Also, on a list of the priorities I bold items that we haven't done enough of lately (according to what the priority list says).  Then I place those "not enough lately" items near the top of the things-to-do list.

Now, and this is VERY important, we don't follow the to-do list strictly.  That would be insane.  We use it for rough ideas.  We have never finished the entire list, which is just fine.  We pretty much follow our boy's preferences.  I make suggestions--"Want to read this?"--but if he says "no," then we don't.  Often I just ask him what he wants to do, or he just tells me.

The problem with this system isn't that it's too strict or that it has the kid doing too much (in fact, you could use a system like this to organize very little study), it's that it's rather time consuming for me to manage--but it's OK for now.  Even though it seems I have everything regimented, so it might look strict and like too much to do, it really isn't.  He spends most of his time with his mama, of course (I'm upstairs working), and she doesn't do so much of the "educational" stuff with him (unless you count things like playdoh, sorting beads, taking walks, singing songs, etc.).  And when I'm doing these things with him (during meals and before and after dinner, and on weekends), he pretty much calls the shots.  But I'm able to steer him so that, when we are doing "educational" activities, he looks at the subjects I want him to look at roughly as much as I want him to.

Also, every time I look over the "update" section, I notice that he's "neglecting" some area, but I don't worry about this.  I do add more of those activities near the top of the next "things to do" list, but I never insist, even then.  If he seems to be avoiding some subject, that's OK with me.  Isn't there enough other stuff for him to look at in the meantime?  Of course there is.

One other thing I do is keep a list of "Subjects needing material."  I divide subjects into high need, medium need, and low need.  High = all existing material (books, presentations, activities, etc.) is overused or boring to the kid.  Medium = some material is available, but not a good enough variety.  Low = we have an adequate variety of interesting material.

I frequently find that if he's neglecting some subject, it's because there's a high need for fresh material.  For a while he hadn't looked at any animal-related stuff.  So we decided to go to the local zoo, and I made some quick presentations about three zoo areas which we planned to visit (the zoo's website lists the animals in each area), with actual pictures of the animals at our zoo (they were easy to find online...the Internet is great).  The presentations-in-advance greatly enhanced the experience not just for the kid, but also Mama & me.  The kid was talking about it for days afterward.

Let me conclude by saying that I'm sure that if anybody else tried to do just want I do, above, she'd probably go crazy.  It's sort of a personal system.  It is time consuming, but I think it's worth it...and it's not very time consuming.  It helps that I write and work pretty fast, for the most part (it didn't take me long to write the above, e.g.).  And besides, my kid's education is my hobby...

Title: Re: Toddler curriculum
Post by: jemjem on March 20, 2009, 04:26:53 PM
Hi DadDude,

You really are awesome  :biggrin:

How can you do all of these stuff?  I salute you!

BTW, what do u do in Music? what is rosetta stone? 

Title: Re: Toddler curriculum
Post by: purplefungi on March 20, 2009, 10:06:42 PM
I think that it is awesome that you (as a dad) are so involved in your child's education! I like the idea of thinking of things in priorities.

I am still trying to work at a curriculum/semi schedule for my little one so we can stay more organized. Once I get things more hashed out, I will probably post my thoughts.

Do you do any Montessori-like activities with your kiddo?

Title: Re: Toddler curriculum
Post by: mmetlich on March 20, 2009, 10:36:39 PM
I have the Rosetta Stone demo that includes two lessons of each language. I like that it is based on listening rather than speaking as the most natural way of learning a language, but how do you manage your kid to do it? how old is he? I know it is just moving and clicking the mouse, but how do you do it?

Title: Re: Toddler curriculum
Post by: ed on March 20, 2009, 11:05:38 PM

I'm trying to do some educational diary for my son but I need more time  :yes:

Title: Re: Toddler curriculum
Post by: DadDude on March 20, 2009, 11:56:33 PM
How do I do it, you ask?  Well, it's like I boy's education is my hobby.  I think that before the advent of public schools, this was more often left to the father anyway y'know...not that that has so much relevance today, of course.

Music, let's see, these days, we:
(1) Show him my "Big Classic Music Pieces" I-X, he hasn't gotten tired of these and likes to go back to older ones more than look at newer ones, actually.  The pieces grow on him.
(2) Listen to The Complete Idiot's Guide to Classical Music containing 99 minute-long snippets of classical music, and play name that tune.  He likes this quite a bit (but we don't do it too often).
(3) Just listen to music in the background.
(4) On a piano keyboard, I show him where middle C is, play scales for him, point out various things about the piano keyboard, etc.
(5) We look at other music presentations like the one about musical symbols (he knows "fortississimo!" and the treble clef).
(6) His mama and I play our own instruments for him from time to time.
(7) He has various musical toys like drums and such, but he doesn't really play with them all that much.
( 8 ) We sing songs to him and he learns them.
etc...  Obviously we don't do all of these things every day. ;)

Rosetta Stone is (expensive) language learning software, pretty similar to Doman stuff but written for adults.  He just learned how to point and click (last week!) but we'll still be moving the computer screen up close to him and letting him point, and I operate the mouse.  I find we can't actually do this more than once a week.  Otherwise, he gets impatient.  If we didn't already have the software (I bought it for myself a few years ago) we probably wouldn't do it.

Montessori-like activities, I don't know, I don't actually know much about the Montessori method.  He does play with beads and other "manipulables" a fair bit.

Educational diaries, I tell you, hand-held voice recorders are the way to go.  Then it's just a matter of transferring the voice notes you give yourself to a computer.

Title: Re: Toddler curriculum
Post by: Kimba15 on March 23, 2009, 10:11:18 AM
Hi DadDude.

Wow, it is amazing what you do. I have a few questions for you though.
1) Do you work full time or part time and if so how do you balance your work life and educating your son?
2) Do you have any other children? and if so do they respond the same to your educating methods or do you have to mix it up a little bit?


Title: Re: Toddler curriculum
Post by: DadDude on March 23, 2009, 12:14:57 PM
Suffice it to say that we're in an almost ideal situation to do what we do.  Yes, only one child.

Title: Re: Toddler curriculum
Post by: KL on March 23, 2009, 03:47:46 PM
(2) Listen to The Complete Idiot's Guide to Classical Music containing 99 minute-long snippets of classical music, and play name that tune.  He likes this quite a bit (but we don't do it too often).

Do you mean "Classical Music For Dummies"? Idiot's Guide doesn't seem to have an accompanying CD but Dummies does...

I may just get a copy!

Title: Re: Toddler curriculum
Post by: patreiche on March 23, 2009, 04:24:36 PM

This was the site with clips of 100 classical music songs.

There is also this site.

Title: Re: Toddler curriculum
Post by: DadDude on March 23, 2009, 05:24:11 PM
(2) Listen to The Complete Idiot's Guide to Classical Music containing 99 minute-long snippets of classical music, and play name that tune.  He likes this quite a bit (but we don't do it too often).

Do you mean "Classical Music For Dummies"? Idiot's Guide doesn't seem to have an accompanying CD but Dummies does...

Nope--as far as I know, it's a stand-alone CD, now out of print.  I got my copy from an Amazon affiliate.  "Complete" isn't in the name though, I got that wrong.  It should be: Idiot's Guide to Classical Music.

This was the site with clips of 100 classical music songs.

That's the list I'm following as I (slowly) make up my "Big Classical Music Pieces" (now up to part 10!).

There is also this site.

That's precisely the "Idiot's Guide" we're using.