Here's what I came up with:
First, I want learning to be enjoyable to him. That is the most important thing to me right now. He is only four, and if he isn't enjoying learning at this stage, I've done him a grave disservice.
Second, I want a curriculum that capitalizes on his interests.
Third, I want something more structured, with minimal planning on my part, and something fairly inexpensive.
Here is what I chose:
For Language Arts/Social Studies and Science--Moving Beyond the Page. I'll let you know how we end up liking it once we've actually started using it, but here are some things that convinced me to try it out:
1. It's literature based. Little Bean just loves to read. He just LOVES it. He would read all day if he could.
2. You can buy just the curriculum manual or you can buy the whole set, including all the literature books. We have three wonderful libraries in our city, and the books are classic children's books like Bedtime for Francis and The Grouchy Ladybug, so I am fairly certain I can obtain the books that way, making it cheaper for us.
3. It's theme based, and the theme are big concepts, rather than just things. For instance, the first theme is Family and Friends/Relationships. I love that the theme is something intangible (rather than say, snakes or the beach). I think it encourages deeper thinking. I also love the theme based part because that means I can continue making lapbooks based on our themes.
Moving Beyond the Page doesn't include a formal reading curriculum, which I am okay with. Little Bean isn't quite ready for reading, and I feel that pretty soon it may start coming to him in a natural way (he knows all his letter names and sounds, and can do some decoding, he knows that printed words have meaning, and he tries to figure out what things say). Plus, I'm not really sure how I want to approach reading, and feel I have plenty of time to work this out since he is still so young.
For Math--Right Start. Let's be serious for a second here--it's not particularly complicated to teach math to a pre k-er. But I decided to go ahead and get a curriculum because I want something more structured and easy for me to plan with. I also want Little Bean to really understand math, not just the mechanics of it, but what the concepts really mean, and I don't think I can teach him that without the guidance of a curriculum. I liked Right Start, not just because Moving Beyond the Page recommends it as a companion for their curriculum, but also because it is heavy on the manipulatives (counters, abacus, etc). I think the manipulatives will make number concepts more real to Little Bean. I also love that I can use this same curriculum for several years since it is not grade based, but goes by age levels, incorporating multiple ages into one curriculum.
Despite everything that I just wrote, I still feel strongly that Little Bean doesn't need a very serious or time consuming academic experience just yet, so I plan to take things slow, and see how things go, I'll introduce him to academics gently and hopefully in a fun and enjoyable way.
I feel like such a homeschool newbie. Any advice for me?