A Simple & Sweet Preschool Curriculum

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Before anyone gets excited that this is going to be some amazing, hard-out homeschooling post – it isn’t. Though we’re heading in that direction, our kids are only 3.5 and 2. We’re not pushing formal education on them until they’re a little bit older. These are their foundation years with us, growing as little children.
That being said, when they show interest in something “educational” I try and take the bull by the horns for that little moment. Specifically with Josiah being a little older, I am gently encouraging him to learn the basics: counting to ten, reading and sounding the alphabet {and knowing words that begin with a certain letter}, and motor skills.
He has picked up many things organically as we’ve played and read and talked. One thing that he has struggled with right from the start is how to hold a pencil and the concentration to start the process of drawing {and later, writing}. I wanted something that we could do in a relaxed way over time {ie. pick it up when the moment arised}, that was simple, and that wouldn’t seem boring to an active, boisterous boy.
When I saw the Rod & Staff curriculum for preschoolers, I knew it was the right thing for us.

 

 

I had heard about Rod & Staff through the homeschooling web-world. HomeSchool Review has a whole page dedicated to the different curriculum that they publish which I greatly appreciate. Most reviews I saw were really positive, especially for the preschool bundle that I was looking at. So I looked a little more into them.

Who Are They?

Rod & Staff are published by Mennonite families in the USA who, in the 50’s, were concerned about the degrading textbooks used {can they imagine what it’s like now?!}. They have curriculum for all grades, starting with Preschool and Kindergarten {Preschool and Year 0 for NZ readers}.
In their Little Jewel storybook series, their mission statement says:

“The goal of the publishers is to publish books that have high ideals, teach good morals, are Biblically sound, build strong Christian character, and provide wholesome, interesting reading for your children.”

I love that, and that is exactly what I want for our little ones and their learning.

Preschool Curriculum

In the Preschool four-book bundle, each book progresses on to a slightly higher level. You begin with the yellow book, About Three, which starts the child off on practicing following lines with their pencil. Most of the book is this activity, with a little “story” to follow.
The characters are Samuel and Sarah and they like to blow bubbles {trace the bubble’s direction til it pops <— Josiah loved this}, help their mother and father sweep the floor {trace the direction they sweep}, or fly kites {follow the kite as it flies}. This element makes it fun and interesting for the repetitive nature of tracing {which children need}.
Then there is Bigger Steps which follows on just ever so slightly harder than the first book. There is still a lot of basic tracing, circling different objects that don’t match, and very beginner number tracing.

 

 

Next is Doing My Best. This has more tracing but significantly harder, with starting to trace numbers etc as well as more detailed instructions {ie. “Draw lines to show which pictures go with the desk”} There is also colouring {ie. “Colour the balloons” or “Colour 2 hats black”}, identifying similar objects {and therefore, what’s different}, and pages with multiple skills required. {<–This book is far too advanced for my lovely boy, I cannot imagine him doing this for quite awhile yet}.
Last is Colour, Count and Cut which I believe could be used alongside Doing My Best and before Bigger Steps. I’m not sure if that is how it is meant to go, but from the looks of it, it would suit the skill level {like a supplement book}.

What I Love

There are two things I really love about this curriculum:
1. It’s simple. It’s all in black and white. The pictures are all handrawn. It covers all the necessary skills young children need in early education before formal learning begins. There is no fluff. No noise. Nothing gimicky. Just simple learning.
2. It’s really sweet. In our world of high-tech must-have-the-best-and-latest, I really appreciate this enduring curriculum that is still selling strong. I love the little story of Samuel and Sarah, and how everyday home life is the focal point of their learning {which is mostly helping and playing}.
If these two aspects really appeal to you as a homeschooling mother, then I would definitely recommend Rod & Staff Preschool curriculum. The extra bonus point is that they are cheap – around $20USD.

Plus, Little Jewel Storybooks

We love reading books here at home. I know it is one of the primary ways all children learn. We go to the library each week and pick up loads of books. We love it!
But I was starting to feel frustrated that, even though lots of the stories were great, they weren’t…deep. Their stories are beautiful and their illustrations gorgeous. But I felt like we were missing out on books that were showing the kids how God wants little children to be living.
I had heard about Rod & Staff’s Miller Family books {an example}but knew they were too old for our children. Then, I discovered their Little Jewel Storybooks. They aren’t a series, just many different little books of simple stories about children, their daily life, their relationships, their feelings, their behaviour. I fell in love – character building books, just what we needed.

 

 

I chose five books {all around $4.50NZD each} and I am so happy with them. And, best thing of all, the kids enjoy them. The pictures are all very simple and done in pencil, but are very engaging and relatable to a young mind. Most of the stories rhyme and the sentences short. But, best of all, the messages are clear:
 
It’s good to help your mother and father.
Sometimes we make mistakes and we learn from them.
Being kind is something God wants us to be.
God made everything, and your family.
Listen and obey.
These messages are values I’m seeking to instill in our children each and everyday. To me, at this age, they are more important than learning the alphabet or how many balls I am holding. This is why they are home with me: to learn they are loved by God and their family; to learn to love God, their family and friends; to learn that life is not about them, but about caring for others.

So there you have it, my little review and recommendation of the Rod & Staff Preschool curriculum and their Little Jewel Storybooks. Like I said, we’re not going crazy over here. But that is what I love about these books: they suit us, they reflect our goal for our family, they’re wholesome, and they are producing fruit in our family life.

 

Have you ever used this curriculum or another from Rod & Staff? Do you have a preschooler? Are you using something different?

4 thoughts on “A Simple & Sweet Preschool Curriculum

  1. We used several Rod and Staff products during our homeschool adventure. I loved the Bible and Nurture Readers for learning to read and the Bible program for grades 5-8. We reviewed the God is Good beginning reading series – it was just as wonderful as the Jewel books. Their storybooks are worth looking at when your little ones get a bit bigger. Have a blessed day!

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  2. Yay! I had the same struggle with my kids before and I am telling I still struggle with her holding a pencil even shes already 8 years old. I will check the links that you recommend later. Visiting for Making Mondays

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  3. I've seen those, so thank you for the recommendation! I'm just loving how wholesome they are. So many books today are just silly and “twaddle”. But these just speak to the goodness God has created that lives in the hearts of children and needs to be encouraged as they struggle with their sinful natures.

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