As soon as we are settled in Chicago, we hit the ground running with the homeschooling. Nat is three and a half and her peers are in school now. I think it's odd that a few of the homeschool groups I've tried to join won't let you in until your kid is of compulsory school age. It is definitely unusual for a child of Nat's age with parents of our socio-economic niche not to be in school and parents like me could use the support of a group. That said, I did find a couple of groups to join, so all is well.
I made a list of things we will be doing this fall and slotted them roughly into disciplinary niches, not so much to create a curriculum of any formal sort as to just keep me from forgetting what we're doing and why.
For what it's worth, here is Nat's fall:
Art: art time daily: finger paint, water color, crayons, pencils, markers, clay, collage; continue to review drawing concepts from Drawing with Children. I would like to start formally sitting down with Nat and doing the lessons from the book, but she isn't quite there in either attentiveness or fine motor skill. After a few months of Suzuki violin, I think she will be ready.
Music: tap; Suzuki violin; informal dance and song at home. The tap lessons are super cheap--almost free, really, through the Parks and Rec department. The Suzuki violin? I don't know yet. I assume it will cost a fortune. Our downstairs neighbor (for another week), the professional quartet violinist is doing all kinds of legwork to find us a teacher he likes.
Movement: tap; informal playground play etc. If Nat is behind her peers in anything, it is gross motor skills. She can do everything, but she does it with great caution (except swimming, it seems). The more opportunities she has for success in the physical realm, the better. I wanted to start her in capoeira this fall, but it looks like we'll have to wait until she's 6 or 7 to go to the school I found. Meanwhile anything that helps her with timing, balance and rhythm is probably good groundwork for it and tap should fit the bill (plus she is soooo excited about tap!).
Reading: informal books at home, library, bookstore, etc. That is, no real change from what we're doing now. Nat's reading is coming along quite organically. She can read well enough to make it through a K-1st grade reader, based on what they have in those sections of the bookstore, but we never sit down and make her read. We read to her and she picks up books and reads on her own when the mood strikes her (some from memory, some completely made up and sometimes the actual words on a page), reads to Selina; she reads signs and labels etc. and generally seems quite pleased to be in on the secret code and picking it up more and more every day. I hope I never have to burst her bubble by drilling her in any way. Hopefully she'll just continue along like this without a hitch.
Other language arts: French class sessions twice weekly, one afternoon with fluent baby sitter weekly, French videos on other days; informal "writing" letters and words as Nat is interested. As with reading, writing. Nat likes to doodle letters and short words (okay, mostly her name) but I don't drill her in this at all. See fine motor development above. When she's ready for drawing lessons, we'll do some writing too--as long as it's fun. As for French, I found a corporate language school for kids and plan to take her to twice-weekly, 90 minute classes. I also found a fluent baby sitter who isn't available during most of the times I need someone, but is available at least one afternoon per week. According to a book I read about helping your child acquire a second language, this should be just enough if you add a video or two on our "off" days and a reading session or two with our French language picture books and the occasional, word or two of reinforcement from me. (My French is dreadful.) There is also a chance we may be able to get a deaf or otherwise ASL fluent baby sitter for some of our baby sitting time, but I haven't met anyone yet. Cole has a contact in an ASL program, though, and we are hoping he can refer us somewhere to post a job ad. Otherwise, I will keep up the ASL as best I can with both kids. Eventually I would like to do an interpreter's program myself. We will see.
Math: tap; violin; money concepts; clock, time and calendar concepts; cooking. I figure I can start drawing Nat's attention to money and how we use it, how it is valued and how the things we buy are valued by it (paying attention to the price tag on grocery items, etc. and talking about how much it is and how we pay). I can start using a calendar for the family that is out in open sight unlike the one I have now tucked behind a cupboard modestly, and showing her dates and days every morning. We've started saying "five more minutes" or "fifteen more minutes" to her and she has no clue what that means (nor should she, at her age!), but I am planning to just start telling her how long things are and letting her begin to get a feel in her bones about the relationships between numbers and time. Then we can do the whole thing with clocks and learning to actually tell time. I want her to have a rough idea of the concept before I throw the technology at her.
Science: cooking; nature and animal observation; regular trips to the aquarium (Cole bought us an annual family pass!)
Social Sciences: learning about different family structures; following the presidential election and introducing the concept of voting and democratic government. Nat's really been interested in the makeup of different families lately. With that comes race and gender and all the complex intersections that make up our own family. She is an avid fan of Barack Obama (because we have made her one) and we watch the news every night. No, my three year old doesn't actually understand the news. but we can start talking about ow we live in a country and the people in the country choose a leader by voting etc. Great opportunity for that!
Socializing: area homeschool play group; Black families homeschool play group; queer families play group; church. And then there's every stranger who walks down the street. Nat is best friends with the whole world.
Free play: baby sitting four afternoons weekly with unstructured play time. And--ahem--the unstructured play time that happens when Mama Shannon says, "go play with your sister and don't ask me whether dinner is ready one more time! I will call you when it's ready!" and the like...
In the spring, I will add gardening! Whatever we end up doing for our permanent housing it will have a full sun area for food growing. I bought two books on container gardening for food and one on organic gardening. I am so ready to grow my own food, and Nat will love worm composting!
Wish us luck.