Strengthen Your Family Through Biblical Homeschooling

Tag: preschool

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Homeschooling comes with some challenges in the first few years. Reading is a major stressor and then you realize you have to teach spelling as well. I have a huge hint that will help your child learn to spell better, read better, and their test scores throughout their entire education career will rise. All this with one simple thing your child and you will love.

Read to them!

The more you read to them the better their language arts skills become. They hear proper grammar and begin speaking up to that level. They can sit in your lap and see spelling and sentence structure. Best of all kids love the time you are pouring into them.

Read, Read, Read, and Read some more!

Now that you have the foundation stone for great language arts lets add some support structure for spelling. Having a curriculum to guide you in spelling during the elementary years can be extraordinarily helpful. The great curricula in our Top 10 list have gathered together word families, spelling rules, irregular words all the bits and pieces so you don’t have to. The resulting curricula have made our list because other TTD families have used and love them.

We asked our fellow homeschooling Teach Them Diligently families what do you recommend as an Elementary Spelling & Vocabulary curriculum choice? We compiled their choices about this and 39 other levels and subjects of curriculum in our FREE Homeschool Family Favorite Guide .

TOP 10 choices for Homeschool Elementary Spelling & Vocabulary Curriculum

  1. All About Spelling  All About Spelling homeschool spelling curriculum will provide complete and comprehensive spelling instruction using the Orton-Gillingham approach. Mastery-based, All About Spelling teaches encoding skills, reliable spelling rules, and multisensory strategies to help your homeschooled student become a proficient speller for life. Find the books here
  2. Wordly Wise  Wordly Wise provides engaging, contextual vocabulary instruction. A fantastic homeschool vocabulary curriculum from Educators Publishing Service, this bestseller is a top vocabulary pick! Find the books here
  3. Spelling Power  From the website: “Spelling Power has everything you need to teach spelling words and skills to your entire family to the college level. With Spelling Power, your children will master the 5,000 most frequently used words and key spelling principles at their own pace – in just 15 minutes a day—using research- proven strategies.”

Spelling Helps in Many Subjects and Skills

Spelling is a subject that spans several others. It helps several language arts areas. The obvious is reading the more words your child gets in their vocabulary the easier and faster their reading will become. Writing much like reading will become easier with memorized words at the ready. Other subjects like history or science that rely on writing out what you have learned will also increase in ability as spelling gets better.

Then there are the non-subject specific skills that increase with spelling. Memory, like a muscle the more you work memorization the better it becomes for most. Confidence in self, when you know what you are reading or feel comfortable that you can read what comes up speaking in places like Sunday School or American Heritage Girls becomes easier. Spelling is a skill that will broaden your child’s learning horizon.

  1. Abeka
  2. Rod and Staff
  3. Bob Jones University Press Spelling
  4. Sequential Spelling

Spelling using Kinetic Learning Modality

Spelling in the early years doesn’t have to be all about paper and pencils. Get out a cookie sheet and put something simple like rice in it until there is a thin layer on the bottom of the cookie sheet. Then write on a stickie/paper in big clear letters the word you want your child to work with. Have them trace that word out in the rice. The kinetic nature of using your whole arm will help memory. The feeling of rice on their finger will trigger other modes of learning and make memory easier.

Other things you could use: shaving cream, sand, kinetic sand, and beans

  1. A Reason for Spelling 
  2. Spelling U See
  3. Spelling Workout

The early years of learning to read and write are filled with books, reading, and learning to spell. Often your child is a sponge just waiting to be guided in the proper direction to learn more…more.. more! It’s an exciting stage of life and homeschooling. Use these wonderful resources to help you teach your child elementary child spelling.

Homeschool Family Favorite Guide Free downloadable

This is just the beginning of many home education curriculum recommendations. Here is our FREE downloadable Homeschool Family Favorite Guide with many other top 10 recommendation by fellow homeschooling families.

If you would like to read more about learning to read Click below:

Spelling Words with Bible Character Names {FREE Printable Pack}

Teach Reading with Word Sort to Young Children (Free Long Vowel Word Sort)

Benefits of Reading Aloud

Strategies for Reading Aloud to Your Children

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If the thought of homeschooling preschoolers conjures up images of workbooks, tears, frustration, and hours of teaching, then you need a new approach to instill a love of learning in your little one. Preschoolers are not designed to sit at a table with a pencil and a workbook for any period of time. They need to explore, move, and utilize multiple forms of media. During the preschool years, your child’s brain is like a sponge, capable of absorbing large amounts of information, but the lessons must be fun and engaging to accomplish learning. Here are some tips to create a learning environment that gets your preschooler excited to learn:

Help Your Preschooler Homeschool

  1. Implement Multi-Sensory Learning – We are all born with a dominant mode of learning in which we best acquire knowledge. The three main learning styles are visual, auditory, and kinesthetic. Multi-sensory learning engages more than one sense at a time. By implementing this approach in the early years, children are able to learn information via their primary mode of learning, while simultaneously exercising and strengthening their weaker modes of learning. Experts say that students better retain what they learn while using multiple senses compared to just one. In order to implement this approach, vary the media you use and be creative. Kids get bored with coloring with crayons and workbooks that require cutting on the dotted line. Instead, make crafts with paper plates, pipe cleaners, googly eyes, paint, glue, sand, etc. Variety is important in keeping preschoolers engaged. Go on treasure hunts, scavenger hunts, and play games that relate to learning!
  2. Read Aloud Quality Literature – One of the most important things you can do with preschoolers is read aloud to them. Exposer to literature at a young age has significant cognitive benefits. When selecting books, be sure to choose those with length appropriate for your child’s attention span. To keep your child engaged while reading, change your voice and have fun with it! Finally, some children need to move while learning, so don’t assume if they are wiggly that they are not paying attention. Comprehension increases for some children when they have something to do with their hands while listening, such as building with Legos or coloring.
  3. Age Appropriate – Make sure what you are expecting your child to do is age appropriate. Most 3 year olds are not developmentally ready to cut circles and straight lines, so start with simple cutting, such as making a mosaic collage. In this activity, the child will cut paper in random shapes and sizes and glue to paper to form a colorful mosaic. As for handwriting, 3 year olds and most 4 year olds are not ready to hold a pencil. Instead, have them learn to form their letters in fun, age appropriate ways such as forming their letters out of wiki sticks, or writing them in sand or whipped cream. Finally, you don’t need to spend hours teaching your preschooler. You can teach your little ones successfully in 30 minutes to an hour.

Homeschooling preschool should be a time of bonding with your child. Be sure to enjoy it!

If you like this approach to learning, but do not have the time or energy to do it yourself, check out We sell complete preschool kits with all the materials cut, prepped, and ready to use.

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Home educating your preschooler is a great and high energy season of life. Homeschooling at this age in your family might involve singing songs, park play dates, loving on and playing with  younger siblings, and coloring with big crayons. You have been teaching your child since birth but now you feel it’s time to get a more formalized curriculum.

Read a book or two on homeschooling and variation can be overwhelming. Questions abound, and that’s okay. It’s common to have more questions than answers at first, so let’s tackle one of the biggest questions and needs of your homeschooling life– curriculum.

Is there even curriculum for preschoolers? Yes, there are many that are either full preschool curriculum programs or preschool level learning for a specific subject.

What books should I use? This is often influenced by what style you are choosing from Charlotte Mason, living books, traditional style, or even a more eclectic style with the structure of a curriculum. The list below covers a broad spectrum of curriculum options for your family so you can find something that fits your style.

We asked our fellow homeschooling Teach Them Diligently families what do you recommend as a Preschool curriculum choice, and we compiled their choices about this and 39 other levels and subjects of curriculum in our FREE Homeschool Family Favorites Guide.

The response was wonderful and so many great options. We have compiled a top ten list that will ease your stress level and start your homeschooling off to a bang!

Here are the top 10 choices for Preschool Curriculum

  1. Before Five in a Row Preschool  From FIAR’s websiteThis important product has two sections: the first presenting 23 Five in a Row-style mini-units (plus an extra mini-unit) based on outstanding children’s books for ages 2-4+.  The second presents an entire treasury of learning readiness activities intended to be used in your every day life: things to do in the kitchen, at the store, at bedtime, bath time and more.
  2. Rod and Staff From the website“This series provides preparation material. Six workbooks give practice in coloring, cutting, pasting, and following directions while learning neatness and carefulness with books. The storybook gives auditory and oral practice for the child.”
  3. Abeka Provided structure curriculum for 18-24 month, 2 year, and 3 year old. From the website“Each grade will give you lessons for 170 school days. Your child will have engaging books written and edited by skilled, experienced Christian educators. You’ll have teaching aids, clear lesson plans, and the option of expertly taught lessons on video.”

The extra fun part for our littlest homeschooling students is you can go at any speed your wish. Slow it down and add in lots of enrichment projects and field trips. Speed it up for a child that is thriving and wants to learn faster than average.

  1. All About Learning Press
  2. Little Hands to Heaven (Heart of Dakota) 
  3. My Father’s World

Creating a homeschooling environment in you home that matches your family is paramount this year. From simple and sweet, basket time in the morning, to baking in the afternoon. Perhaps a more structured style that blends with your other children’s learning is needed and you have to integrate multiple grades. Your family is special and wonderful. Take the time to find what works for you with the help of other families that have been there and have graciously passed along their knowledge.

  1. Sonlight
  2. All about Reading Preschool
  3. Timberdoodle Preschool
  4. A Year of Playing Skillfully- The Homegrown Preschooler!

No matter what you choose have fun and enjoy the beginning of a wonderful homeschooling journey. Preschool is a delightful time of your child’s life when the world is bright, big, and wonderful. You are who they look up to, to guide them through this blessed life. Enjoy!

This is just the beginning of many home education curriculum recommendations. Here is our FREE downloadable Homeschool Family Favorite Guide with many other top 10 recommendation by fellow homeschooling families.


Also, check out “Back to Homeschool for Preschool Moms” on the Teach Them Diligently blog for even more tips and helps for homeschooling preschool. Click here to read that article now.

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tea spiced

It may be the right time to change things up a bit with these ten ways to spice up your homeschool in the new year!

1. Read more of the classics aloud.

Think of Charlottes’ Web,  Little House on the Prairie, or Mr. Poppers Penguins.  Read those or similar classics you haven’t gotten around to. Then, try your hand at writing a similar fiction story together as a family. Do a literary analysis by breaking down the story into parts: protagonist, antagonist, theme, plot, setting. Replace your own ideas for each category, and the fun begins! Younger children are great spontaneous story tellers and can give terrific ideas while the older ones can be the scribes and write it down. Try adding literature activities to enhance the story. Make a recipe, craft, art project or do a research paper.

2. Try relaxed schooling to instill a love of learning and less jumping through hoops.

Kids who love to learn become lifelong learners! Give your child time where nothing is scheduled by adding free play time into the day. Kids who are free to think can invent, problem solve, learn to listen to their thoughts and listen to God. Proclaim the ending of each school day at 2pm or 3pm, then don’t look at schoolwork or answer questions until the next day-just be mom and let them just be your child

3. Cook across the globe.

Learn about another culture’s music, food, and art. Try your hand at notebooking by having each child keep a notebook of all the wonderful things learned, drawing pictures and including photos. Interview friends, church members or neighbors from different cultures.

4. Join or start a co-op!

It’s enjoyable learning together. Both kids and moms make friends and a change of environment is refreshing! Check out To Co-op or Not to Co-op in our TTD365 archives for more details. It’s easier than you think and yields great rewards.

5. Use a slow cooker to ease dinner time stress.

Let each child take turns preparing it with you in the late morning. This is great for soups, stews, enchiladas, roasts, chili and so much more! Teach an older child how to plan meals and let them produce a week’s menu plan. Incorporate nutrition education. Help them prepare each meal to give them confidence then assign them one or two meals per week to prepare.

6. Try a new winter sport together as a family – sledding, skiing, ice skating, hiking, or animal tracking.

Being outdoors in winter can be invigorating if you dress warmly. It can also help to stave off those winter blues!

7. Take a risk and reach out to another mom and swap kids for an afternoon.

Your house this week, her house the next week. Chances are pretty good that she needs a break too! Plan a fun but easy craft to keep them busy or just let them free play.

8. Listen to a sermon series as a family from one of your favorite preachers.

After all faith comes by hearing and hearing the Word of God! Let little ones color or keep hands busy while listening. Teach older children how to take notes.

9. Make phonics cards with preschoolers.

This is a great way to keep little hands busy! Have you kiddos cut an 8.5 x 11 piece of cardstock in half. Have them cut out their favorite magazine pictures. Afterwards dot the alphabet on half of the sheet so they can trace the letters, then let them paste the corresponding picture on the other half. Hide the cards around the room. Upon finding one, search the house for another object that has the same sound.

10. Take regular teacher in-service days!

I was shocked when I read the local public schools taking off again for another teacher in-service day. Teachers need regular breaks to regroup, refresh and stay up to date on educational techniques. We need to take this seriously! It is one of the most frequent words of advice I give to new homeschooling moms. Obviously, we homeschool moms have different needs. Assess you needs carefully. Remember: going to the grocery store alone my be part of your in-service day, but not all of it! Schedule a teacher day on dad’s day off, so you can take time to get away and breathe!

If you’ve found a way to shake things up a bit when life got overwhelming, let us know by sharing your ideas in our Facebook group or in the comments below!

This article was originally published on our Homeschool Launch Blog.


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reading aloud to chidren

Few things appeal to me more than the idea of curling up on the couch with a hot cup of coffee, a good book, and a warm, handmade afghan while snow glitters outside. The only thing more desirable in that picturesque image is my three children quietly occupied with their own books and hot chocolate.

If you have struggling readers, as I do, cozy winter read-alouds are the perfect addition to that dreamy scene.

Life rarely (ok, pretty much never) works out in picture-perfect ways. In addition to my two struggling readers, I have one busy fella that will sit still only long enough to read Lego directions.

Rather than giving up on my perfect vision, I’ve compromised a little bit. For years now, we’ve enjoyed read-alouds on winter afternoons. They are a great way to share my love of books and reading with my reading-skeptical crew.

Turns out, they love stories. They just aren’t fans of the actual practice of reading. Yet.

Here are my best tips on how to use family read-alouds to share your love of reading and good books with reluctant or struggling readers in the family.

Be Patient and Don’t Give Up.

As I said, my kiddos love stories and have plenty of patience for long books, as long as they don’t have to do the reading themselves! Our afternoon reading time can last for two hours or more.

If reading aloud is new to your family, your kiddos might only have the patience for a few pages or a chapter at a time. Stick with it daily. Their interest, and ability to follow for longer periods of time, will grow.

Use Their Comprehension Level.

This guideline is particularly important for struggling or reluctant readers. They might only be able to read Pete the Cat independently, and that’s boring! But, they can understand The Chronicles of Narnia if you’re reading it to them. Now that’s exciting stuff!

Using comprehension v.s. reading level helps them love books, expands their vocabulary, and exposes them to great writing while their independent reading skills mature.

You can easily check comprehension every few pages, or at the end of a chapter, by asking some questions. Back up and re-read as needed. Remember:  you are growing comprehension as you stretch and expand patience and attention.

Pick Good Books.

Since you’re reading aloud at a higher level than they can read themselves, you are exposing them to a wider variety of literature, writing styles, and information.

My crew loves adventure stories. I love history. So, we do a lot of historical fiction together. Fantasy adventure is another family favorite here. We take turns picking out books. We just started A Wrinkle in Time.

I can also fit in a lot of biographies if I consider these guidelines:

*Have we studied this person in school?
* Have we heard about the person on the news?
* If not, is the person around their age?
* Does the book have a narrative-style within their age & interest level?

Let Them Multi-task!

I have found our children can follow along better when their hands are as occupied as their minds. A good way to start is to read aloud while they eat lunch. We also let them build Legos, do hand sewing or stitching, color, draw/sketch/doodle, use sticker books, or other quiet activities.

I allow anything they can do without making me raise my voice to be heard. Again, by checking in every few pages or chapters you can make sure they’re following along. I’ve always been pleasantly surprised how letting them “play” while I read keeps them focused for much longer periods than if they only sit and listen.

Incorporate Non-Reading Elements!

Follow up by watching a movie adaption together. Read the Little House series and then go to a frontier museum. Read a biography and then google images of your main characters together. After reading the Viking Quest series by Lois Walfrid Johnson, we looked up Viking food recipes and had a fun cooking day. You can also go the reverse direction. Let a movie you watch or news story you hear lead you to some books on the topic.


Need more fun ideas to get you percolating?

*Have pajama day while you read aloud together in someone’s bed.
*Depending on your story, read by candlelight, lantern, or flashlight.
*Read outside in the woods, in a fort, or bundled up on the porch in bad weather.
*Read winter-themed or seasonal books.
*Have a special snack time while you read.
*If you have strong readers, take turns reading aloud.

What is your favorite, cozy winter read-aloud? Tell us in the comments below.


Authored by Tabitha Philen of Growing up Homeschooled/Meet Penny

This article was originally published on our Homeschool Launch Blog.


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snowman in the snow hand made

What is a Word Family?

One of my favorite ways to help young readers learn to read is to use the patterns found in word families. What exactly is a word family? Word families are words that share the same ending chunk (rime), but have different beginning beginning parts (onsets). For example, words such as cat, bat, sat, fat, that, and mat are all a part of the -at word family.

The How Behind Word Families

There are several reasons reading and writing by word families are helpful.

For example, word families can help those younger readers who struggling with blending words together. Word families also help kids write new words by their shared patterns. Let’s say your child knows how to spell cat. But in his writing, he needs to spell bat and he’s not sure how. You can say, “How do you spell cat?” (Child spells C-A-T). Now you can help him relate it to a word he knows by saying, “Well, since bat and cat are in the same word family, all you have to do is take off the c on the front of the word and put a b there instead.”

Reading new words by word families works very much the same. When your child comes across an unknown word that is a part of a word family, relate it to a word he already knows that has the same pattern. It is absolutely amazing how many words can be read and spelled simply using the most common short and long vowel word families.

Christmas Tree Word Family Sorts

To integrate a little Christmas fun into your word sorts, download this FREE Christmas Tree Word Family Sorting activity. It features 10 short vowel patterns and 10 long vowel patterns.

cut out the ornaments and sort on the trees by word pattern | Teach Them DiligentlyPrint out a Christmas Tree mat with a certain vowel pattern you’d like your child to work on (say, short o). Then print out the corresponding ornaments. Cut the ornaments apart, mix them up and ask your child to read each word and sort them on the correct tree (using the pattern on the star as your guide). You can choose from the patterns created or there is also a blank Christmas Tree and ornament template for you to write your own.

Also included in the pack is this writing template. After your child sorts his ornaments, he can write the pattern in the star and then record all his words on the trees with lines. Merry Christmas!


To download a FREE copy of Christmas Tree Word Family Sorts, click HERE!




Becky is a homeschooling mama to four little blessings who keep her on her toes {and knees}. Desiring an “outlet” to share her ideas and passion for literacy, she started, where she posts printables, literacy curricula, and learning activities.


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christmas placemat

Advent Christmas Season

With Christmas quickly approaching and our to-do list ever growing; we may wonder how to keep the kids busy and focused in the right direction. One of my favorite holiday projects has been to make placemats for the Advent Christmas season with an easy cut and paste method that helps to keep those important reasons for the holiday season in clear view.

How to Make Placemats

homeschool craft project

We save Christmas cards sent to us each year so we have an abundance lying around and its great way to up-cycle them. Then we trim and glue them in collage fashion on large 11 x 14 inch construction paper. There may be a special Christmas card sent from cousins overseas last year or ones from grandparents and close friends.

I start by clipping the corners of the construction paper then place it on top of holiday wrapping paper and cut around it. Now I trim the wrapping paper one inch all around and glue it in the middle.

One year we wrote Happy Birthday Jesus on holiday stationary to add in! I even added Language Arts by having the children write a sensory poem to glue in the middle then add all the Christmas cards around it.

  • Christmas sounds like…       (have your child fill in the blank) 
  • Christmas looks like…
  • Christmas smells like…
  • Christmas tastes like…
  • Christmas feels like…

We retell the Nativity Story by using those types of Christmas cards and gluing them onto the paper. Some cards even have the names of Jesus on them written in beautiful script: Prince of Peace, Immanuel, Messiah. We cut those out to use as embellishments. The dollar store is a great place to find inexpensive cards if you don’t have any to use or throw a Trade Old Christmas Card’s Party. When finished, laminate the placemats inexpensively at the local teacher’s store or Office Max. Little ones love to sit and eat all through the season on these festive placemats! They can recount the nativity story scene by scene and keep the most important things in front of them.

For more crafts visit my blog Homeschooling for Jesus.

New Millennium Girl Books Author-homeschool writing books


Jan May is author of New Millennium Girl Books: Christian mid-grade novels for girls and interactive creative writing books that hook even the reluctant writers! She is also a fifteen year homeschool veteran and creative writing teacher. Jan enjoys igniting creativity in children and believes that given the right tools and encouragement, any child can write and love it!



This article was originally published on our Homeschool Launch Blog.


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More Blessed to Give

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“More Blessed to Give”

The Christmas season is a wonderful time of year to instill in your children the joy of giving. 

How are you instilling the joy of giving in your kids? 

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alphabet refrigerator magnets

Here are eight fantastic ways to promote pre-reading skills (without mess or fuss!) using alphabet refrigerator magnets.

8 Ways to Use Refrigerator Magnets - All About Learning Press

The letter sets with uppercase and lowercase for the activities below are perfect because the color of the letters match the letter tiles used in All About Reading and All About Spelling, but you can use any set that you have on hand. And if magnets don’t stick to your fridge, you can do these same activities using a metal baking sheet or the front of your dishwasher.


Alphabet Soup

Pour all your letters into a sauce pan or soup pot. Have your little one give the soup a stir and dish up some “Alphabet Soup”! Hold out your bowl while your young chef serves you up some “A Soup” or “F Soup” (or whatever variety is the special of the day!).

Alphabet Train

Mix up the letters in random order. Show your child how she can make a “train” by placing the letters in alphabetical order, singing the Alphabet Song as she goes.

Letter Lookout

Help your child recognize that there are letters everywhere! Pick out a few picture books or boxes of food. Have your child choose a magnetic letter from the fridge and try to find that same letter in the book or on a box.

Mix-n-Match ‘Em

Arrange the letters right side up and have your child organize the letters in matching sets. For example, can she find all the letters that have long sticks? How about short sticks? Can she find letters with circles? How about letters with dots? Sort out all the red letters. Can she find the letters in her name? How about the letters in her friend’s name?

Hide-n-Go Letter Seek

Scatter your letters around your school room or living room. (To avoid frustration, be careful not to hide them TOO well!) Give your child a basket and encourage her to say the name of the letters as she collects each one. You can use this activity to increase phonological awareness by calling out the sound of each letter instead of the name of the letter. Download our free Letter Sounds app if you need to refresh your memory on the sounds of the 26 alphabet letters.

Dig for Buried Letters

Bury your letters in a large bowl filled with lentils, rice, or cracked wheat. Have your child dig for the letters with a magnetic wand. As she finds each letter, have her shout out the letter’s name and the sound it makes.

Go Fish

You can use your magnetic wand for this activity too! Make a fishing pole by tying a string to the end of a yard stick and then tying the magnetic wand to the end of the string. Spread your refrigerator magnets on the floor, and it’s time to go fishing! Have your child dangle the magnet wand to catch “fish.” Have her say the name and/or sound of each “fish” she catches.

Word Wranglers

This one is the most advanced of all the activities, but it’s perfect if your child is at the beginning reading stage. This activity will help your child learn that you can create new words by manipulating and changing sounds. Build an easy three-letter word on the refrigerator. See how many new words you can make by changing the beginning and/or ending sounds. Here’s one using beginning sounds: Start with cat. Change the beginning sound to make fat, pat, and hat. Now start with bug and change the ending sound to make bun, bus, and but.

In Summary

Interacting with letters helps your little ones get ready for reading and spelling. With these simple activities, your child will develop print awareness, letter knowledge, phonological awareness, and listening comprehension—four out of the Big Five Skills that lay the foundation for learning to read and spell. (To add the fifth pre-reading skill, motivation to read, share some great picture books with your child!)


Author info:
Marie Rippel, curriculum developer of the award-winning All About Reading and All About Spelling programs, is known for taking the struggle out of both teaching and learning. You can connect with Marie on Facebook and Twitter.



This article was originally published on our Homeschool Launch Blog.


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A Hands On Approach To Educating Your Preschoolers

Teach Them Diligently 365 members, listen to:

“A Hands On Approach To Educating Your Preschoolers”

During this video session we will define the components of a quality preschool education, identify some of the important skills preschoolers need to learn, and learn how to create lessons and activities using a thematic hands on approach and look at lesson examples.

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