Saturday, April 17, 2010

Ideal Curriculum

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“Curriculum is a tool to help you teach each child in the best way.”

I like this quote by Ideal Curriculum. It matches my teaching philosophy. I have seen many curricula that are designed to be used, without deviation, exactly as written, bending the child to the curriculum, not the other way around. I much prefer to use a teaching program as a tool, to teach my child at her level, and in a way that she learns best.

Ideal Curriculum is designed for preschoolers or “young kindergarteners” either in a classroom or a home setting. I received Month 1 (Transportation) to evaluate. I read and studied all the materials, but wasn’t able to actually use it because, at 9 years old, Emily is far beyond this level.

Ideal is set up as a monthly program. Monthly units may be purchased individually (although they must be used in sequence) or as a one-year package. Each unit includes literacy, math, and a science or social studies theme of the month.

Assessments and goals are included for each month. I think this is a very helpful feature to help the teacher know where she is going and whether the children have learned what they need to learn. Furthermore, the assessments and goals were presented in a clear, useful way, not dripping with “educational-eeze.”

The daily lessons include a short formal component that includes reading stories, discussion, and counting. Also included are games that can be used during formal lessons or can be used throughout the day while playing, shopping, or cooking. I love this—it is perfect for homeschoolers who want to make learning part of life instead of something separated and detached.

Each day includes a literacy activity in each of four categories: letters and sounds, phonological awareness, concepts about print, and sight words.

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Math concepts for Month One include rote counting and calendar skills.

Each month features a different science  or social studies topic. The theme for month one is Transportation. Each set of lessons includes activities and experiments, dramatic play, story sequencing, and shared writing. The authors state that the most important purpose of the science curriculum is to teach and enhance oral language skills. As a speech pathologist, I was very pleased to read this and felt that the activities did achieve this goal. Reading and discussing were a part of every lesson. Every story was told and retold by the children using sequencing cards. Yet, the lessons are all active and hands-on. This unit included many lessons on the wheel and axle, including experiments. The vocabulary and concepts taught were challenging, but not too difficult for preschoolers.

Ideal Curriculum also includes MP3 songs to help children learn the monthly concepts. I think this is a fun addition to the program.

I did not do formal schooling with my children when they were preschoolers. We learned “through life,” read lots of books, did informal science experiments and collections, and so on. But I realize that many parents do want a more structured curriculum, even for preschoolers. I think Ideal Curriculum would be a great fit for many homeschooling families as well as for day cares and preschools. It is a language-rich, hands-on, yet structured program that would not take long at all to use each day.

Ideal Curriculum sells for $30 (downloadable) or $55 (print) per month. The 9 month packages are $240 and $440. An edition for use with more that 10 children that contains larger books is $526.50.  Ideal Curriculum is offering a 10% discount on any order from May 1-31 with the discount code, “welovekids.”

I received a free monthly unit of Ideal Curriculum for review purposes.

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