This year I purchased the Junior Kindergarten core from Memoria Press to use with my (very young) four year old. You can see a sample of the curriculum manual here, which gives you a great idea of what it includes.
What it is:
There are several components of this curriculum. Ever day has prayers to memorize, devotions, recitation, a typical preschool calendar time,an alphabet lesson, show and tell, a number lesson, activity or craft, literature, music, and poetry. The alphabet lessons proceed through Alphabet Books 1 and 2, teaching how to print the letter as well as the the sound it makes. The Show and Tell activities vary greatly, from oral language exercises in describing something, to mixing colors, to learning about the senses through hands on activities. The number lessons teach writing the numbers, counting skills, and basic number awareness. One day each week has a letter related craft and the other day schedules a craft that correlates to the literature selection.
Everything you need is included in the set EXCEPT supplies for crafts (although we did receive all the templates we need) and the literature books. A different book is read each week, discussed in detail, and has a related craft. I already have about half of the books on the list and my library has almost all the rest. I have not purchased any of the others, just picked other books that were on a similar topic. In my honest opinion, the act of reading aloud to a child this age is the single most important educational activity you can do. However, you don’t necessarily have to read a prescribed list as long as you include quality classical stories regularly. So, I do try to do these books when we can get to them easily, but either way we are reading through a short stack daily and discussing as we go.
Our day looks something like this:
Couch time: We sit down to read the prayers, devotional, poetry, music and literature selection.
Movement: We do the recitation while marching around the house. Sometimes we stand still for this, but honestly its nice to get some wiggles out. I’ll also use the nice alphabet flashcards for some active game time (if you say the right name of the letter, hop towards me; or go find the card that makes the “s” sound…).
Calendar: We go over the calendar questions in the guide and fill in the date on a simple paper calendar that I printed for free.
Workbooks: I show the wall chart for the letter we are working on and we discuss its formation and sounds, then do the pages from the Alphabet Book. We complete the other workbooks, usually a counting page and a scissors page.
Show and Tell/ Craft: Sometimes we get to these, often we don’t. A lot depends on his interest or our time.
Typing it out makes it look like a lot, but its a very efficient use of a small amount of time! The whole thing takes us about 45-60 minutes, depending on how detailed we get in our coloring and discussion. Without the craft, we might even be done in 30 minutes some days. I do like to supplement with additional books and a children’s Bible during our couch time, so that makes it longer.
What age is best?
This was a hard one for me. Like I said, my son is a young four with a September birthday. I started using this with him in August, so he was only three at the time, and the printing was too demanding for him then. Forming the letters was extremely difficult, so we took a break and just worked on the coloring books for a few months. Around December I pulled out the curriculum again and found that he was much more developmentally ready for it by then. He enjoys tracing the letters and numbers now, and can use scissors better than before. I think four year olds are great candidates for this curriculum, but beware of younger ones who aren’t ready for much pencil work yet! You will likely find it more enjoyable and successful if they are ready to trace and print letters.