Child Care with the comforts of Home
Preschool with the merits of Homeschool
Classical Learning Adventures (PV108066)
4186 Bruce Avenue
Billings, MT 59101
Now a STARS
Full- and Part-Time Child Care and Preschool
Before- and After-School Care
Best Beginnings Scholarships welcomed
CACFP Food Program participant
Lindsay Bell-Martinson, M.A., M.Ed.
Please call for more information and to set-up a visit!
Child Care with the comforts of Home
Preschool with the merits of Home-school
As a child’s habits of learning and communication begin to form, exposure to what keeps the heart and soul enchanted will positively impact his or her developing mind. Thankfully, we have our world. Past and present, the world is a beautiful place full of sounds, stories, scenery, songs, and discoveries that have either stood the test of time or remain unknown, yet to be found. The world offers us a living museum. That children explore and participate in this museum, our world, is imperative.
Stories, songs, exploration, art, pretend, and play – a treasure trove of our world’s marvels and novelties – indeed tie and bind our preschool curriculum. Such activities encourage curiosity and nurture a child’s sense of wonder, leading the way to natural, instinctive learning.
At Classical Learning Adventures we found an instructional gem in The Homegrown Preschooler’s curriculum: A Year of Playing Skillfully, written by Kathy H. Lee and Leslie M. Richards. Available for purchase at The Homegrown Preschooler website, the curriculum is also endorsed and sold through award-winning publishing company Classical Academic Press. The curriculum holds multiple accolades: per its description on the Classical Academic Press website, Cathy Duffy, author of 101 Top Homeschool Picks for Homeschool Curriculum, gave it a top-spot in her curriculum review. Authors in education, such as Cheryl Swope, M.Ed., Sarah Mackenzie, Rebecca Keliher, and Elizabeth Foss likewise praise A Year of Playing Skillfully, citing the curriculum’s character-building component, its emphasis on cultivating wisdom and curiosity through imagination and play, and how authors Lee and Richards are “reclaiming play in early childhood” (Cheryl Swope, M.Ed.). Elizabeth Foss states that, “Everything that is important to the education and development of a young child is here—and it’s beautiful.” (Classical Academic Press, 2019 Page accessed 16 March 2019).
A Year of Playing Skillfully offers a nine-month thematic curriculum. Each month focuses on a character trait and provides learning activities that go hand-in-hand with the month focused on. April, for example, heeds the onset of Spring. With Forgiveness as the month's character trait, we're reminded that it's time to begin anew. Art, music, language, literacy, science, sensory, gross- and fine-motor, social-emotional, math, reasoning, manipulatives, and outdoor plans all revolve around the newness that comes with the Spring. Baby animals play a part in math, literacy, outdoor, art, social-emotional, and science plans; garden activities play a roll in sensory, social, gross- and fine-motor skill plans. Forgiveness also receives attention as we focus on character: what does it mean to forgive? why is it important that we learn what forgiveness means? why is it important that we learn to forgive? Simply put, the curriculum offers a wealth of ideas to keep children active and engaged, all while paying tribute to the time we find ourselves in. Additionally, we find how the child – and, ultimately, us – has the opportunity to become a better person to others and to himself or herself. This curriculum unfolds before us month-to-month as we explore and participate in this beautiful museum we all inhabit: our world. The authors suggest that the teacher (or parent) incorporate formal phonics and math instruction as seen fit, when the child shows that he or she is ready.
Along with the thematic activities and character-building foundation in A Year of Playing Skillfully, Classical Learning Adventures also holds language -- the word -- in high esteem. Our children will grow older and one day begin concentrated study in other areas, such as mathematics, science, history, and foreign languages. Language, however, on its own terms, demands full attention from the beginning. If a child struggles with reading, writing, speaking, or listening during the preschool years, and if this deficiency proceeds without remedy, other areas of study may suffer. Language serves as the basis of all to come in learning and in life, and we take care to heed this reality. We sing the “ABC” song multiple times daily, read throughout the day, and play audiobooks even if they fade into background noise during another activity. In the age of text messages where the writer turns three words into three letters, or uses emojis in place of words altogether, there may never have been a time more important than NOW to expose children to the proper written and spoken word.
Children see and work with their names daily: we spend time on the letters in each name to foster recognition in print and in name, and we enunciate the sound each letter produces. If a child’s name contains a C or G that takes the “soft pronunciation” (e.g., Cindy or George, instead of Catherine or Gregory), or if it has a long-vowel sound (James instead of Jim), we focus on the sound that the letters produce in this scenario. Otherwise, at the preschool level we teach the “hard” pronunciation as it's the most common pronunciation – c, as in cat; g, as in goat. The s is taught as the s in sun – there’s no need to draw attention to other sounds the s makes in words like “as” and “rose” at the preschool age. Additionally, only short-vowel sounds are taught. Long-vowel sounds, diphthongs, and a host of letter blends will present themselves to the child in due time.
When children begin learning to read, it's soon apparent that some words lack a predictable “C-V-C” pattern (e.g., “b-a-t” or “n-a-p”) and are difficult to “sound-out.” Word recognition becomes necessary in these cases – in some cases; still, a majority of educators today teach reading with the “look-say” method as the primary means of instruction (along with “invented spelling” instead of old-fashioned “correct spelling”). Referring to words as “whole words” or “sight words,” with “look-say” the child is to memorize the word based on the way it looks, not on the sounds the letters produce. While application of word-recognition skills is unavoidable (e.g., “the” or “of”), Classical Learning Adventures finds time-tested phonics more reliable than “look-say.” A solid resource that we use is Phonics Pathways (Dolores G. Hiskes), which provides a clear road-map for phonics instruction; nothing new, nothing fancy: each letter stands as a symbol with a sound attached to it, and multiple symbols and their sounds create words. For phonics instruction we also utilize the decades-old Letter People curriculum. Out of print and quite a rare find today, a fellow educator tracked down the curriculum, compiled it all, and made it available for download on Teachers Pay Teachers. This was an exciting find!
Our pre-writing activities include tracing lines that run straight, curve in different directions, and encourage the hand to move in a counter-clockwise formation. This lends itself to future letter formation where proper penmanship requires the hand to predominantly move left -- in print and in cursive. When ready, the child will focus on tracing and/or writing actual letters (and numbers).
Mathematics and early reasoning skills entail sorting, ordering, matching, and counting; number, shape, and color recognition (in form and eventually print); and early addition skills when appropriate. The days, week, and months are also focused on, along with seasons, weather, nature, and animals.
Children also participate in activities that tune their fine motor skills: cutting and gluing, coloring, using "do-a-dot" markers, stickers, cotton balls, pipe cleaners, foam, etc. We've created many sensory learning tools (numbers, letters, sequences, and patterns) using everything from various fabrics to sandpaper to backyard rocks! I'm devoted to arts and crafts and take pride in the fact that a lot of learning aids we utilize – colorful flashcards, memory games, puzzles, textured lace-up (lace-around) number cards, matching games, beaded counters, various alphabets, etc. – I made myself!
Regarding general arts and play, we have cardboard castles that cater to hand-puppet shows. Art supplies abound and we all love to paint and work with clay. We have an extensive book collection for all ages, materials from Learning Resources for science and shape-building, bins of dress-up clothes for pretend play, musical instruments for the kids to make music with, blocks, Legos (all sizes), and Lincoln Logs for building, nesting toys and buckets, dolls, and many re-released Classic Fisher Price toys that we remember from the 1980s. Our list goes on. We also have a huge back yard with toys and apparatuses that cater to a child's needs each season, and that entertains at all ages.
At Classical Learning Adventures, children will practice their good manners, kindness toward others, and how to be the best they can to themselves. With a focus on character, we encourage wonder and curiosity, and to instill an early love of learning to last a lifetime.
¿Habla español? ¡Está bien!