Friday, August 2, 2013

The Homegrown Preschooler (Gryphon House) - {REVIEW}

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Gryphon House was started in 1971 by Leah Curry-Rood &  Larry Rood.  They respected the work of teachers and parents of young children.  Thus Gryphon House was created as a distributing company for quality children's books.  To read more about Gryphon House, click here.

Gryphon House distributes many books.  The one that I was able to use for this review is The Homegrown Preschooler: Teaching Your Kids in the Places They Live.

When we had our first son, Jonathan, in 2002, I was able to stay home for the first year of his life.  Then after not being able to make ends meet I wound up working in the evenings.  I couldn't bear the thought of being away from him for 10-hours a day.  Unfortunately, I wound up having to go back to work full time and Jonathan went into daycare and eventually preschool. 

I was saddened that I wouldn't be able to let him discover things.  Play dough, finger paints (I still have many of his first paintings), drawings, writings, and memories.  They were things I wasn't able to take part in with him. 

Then when we had our 2nd son, I was resolved to be able to stay home and homeschool him and his brother (when he got old enough of course).  I started Jonathan in Kindergarten and Jordan was just a wee baby.  We followed a traditional curriculum (which is a good curriculum) but I now see how confining it was to us.  Or rather that I made it that confining.

I want my children to be able to live, to explore, to create, to learn by the things around them.  It has taken me 5+ years of homeschooling to finally realize this fact.  I still have 2 children (at this point in time) that will be going through the pre-school phase. 

One of the things I find myself lacking confidence in is my skills to let my children learn where they live.  I was thrilled to see this book come up for review.  Mainly because I had used another Gryphon House book about 2 years earlier. (I will talk about that later)

I try to find time in the evenings to read books, pen and highlighter in hand.  I love to mark things that I plan to do with my kids.  You will see my books dog-eared just so I can find the pages quickly.

 photo GH_10322_zps89a912af.jpgI almost hated to do that to this book because of all the beautiful pictures in it.  Note I said almost.  ;)

The Homegrown Preschooler was written by Kathy H. Lee & Lesli M. Richards.  Both have their families with their unique set of circumstances.  We all know that not all families are alike but these two moms came together because of their love of early education and children.  They wanted to give their children the best possible.  To let them learn where they lived.  One always knew she would homeschool, the other knew she had to make a change for her child and chose to bring him home.

The book is divided into 2 different sections.  The first half deals with setting priorities and goals for you, your family and your children individually.  There are also sections for organizing your home, stories and tips from the authors, how to handle the changes and challenges that come with life.  (These moms have 20+ years in homeschooling experience)

The second half gives you so many ideas for activities for your child (or children) that will help their love of learning to grow.  It doesn't just focus on the subjects of math, science, language, or art, but lets them experience those subjects through creative activities. 

There is a weekly activity checklist (which I found useful) that gives you many activities from the subjects so your child is learning from all subjects. 

We started homeschooling all year round in order to keep things fresh through the summer.  This allows us for larger breaks around the holidays, birthday weeks, and several more breaks through the year.  I like to keep things light during the summer, mainly keeping my oldest doing math and language so he doesn't lose what he has learned over the year.  However, I have often been at a loss on what to do with my younger children.  (6,3,1)

The 2nd half of this book had me so excited to see the activities.  They have you in the bathroom, kitchen, outside, in the garden and there is even a section called cleaning activities.  That one definitely caught my eye.  I am always looking for ways to get my little ones excited to clean (but not necessarily realize they are doing so). 

There is information on fire drills which is something that every child should learn.  We go over that several times a year here.  I set off the alarms and we pretend there is a fire and I show them what to do and where to go.  The book also has a link to a PDF to help you create a home escape plan.

My boys loved the science section.  Especially when I mentioned the word hypothesis.  Now how could a 3 and 6yo like the word hypothesis?  They had seen it in an online game and LOVED to create a hypothesis, test it and see the results.  So to do this at home, well that was bonus.  I also love to hear the word hypothesis said by my 3yo.  It is so cute! 

There is also sections for gross motor skills, fine motor, nature, math and so much more.  The boys love when I let them take scissors to paper (or string, ribbon, cardboard) so the activities in the fine motor section kept their attention really well.  They are very hands on and most of the activities we chose allowed us to use our hands.

Toward the back is where I like to look.  It has the checklists!  I like to know what I need that I might not have in my house at the time.  This is where you will find that information.  Instructions to make some of the furniture that they talk about is in this section as well. 

Overall, this was a great help to me as I continue to let my children learn in their environment.  My boys enjoyed the activities we accomplished.  I plan on incorporating even more throughout the school year (which officially starts for us later this month).  Seeing my children thrive in their own environment is important.  This book can definitely help you figure out some great activities to do with your own children as they go through this time of exploring and learning.

The Homegrown Preschooler costs $29.95 and you can get it by clicking here.

I have also been able to use another resource from Gryphon House.  Global Art is a great book to incorporate art styles from all around the world.  We used this when we were doing a world study curriculum.  They listed it as their art curriculum.  There are a lot of different crafts.  Jonathan and I loved the ones that were selected to go along with the study we were using.  Each one dealt with a different type of art activity.  From collage, painting, printing, & construction, we learned so many different techniques and also learned about many different cultures.  It was definitely a fun learning experience for us both.  I definitely plan on pulling that one off the shelf again this year. 

Global Art costs $16.95 and you can get it here.


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