In answer to those questions, the only two Jewish Preschool Curriculum that I own and think are really wonderful are:
From Plan to Product- Click Here to Check it out
Curriculum of the Arts- Click Here to Check it out
There are so many websites and blogs out there with Jewish Preschool resources that honestly, you can really make your own Jewish Homeschool Preschool Curriculum. Its just about proper planning and not getting overwhelmed by all the information that's out there.
At this stage in the game, its really not about content. Its about developing skills. If you take the average 4 year old in a Jewish Preschool who comes home with a state of the art Arts'n crafts project every day as well as a 5 page newsletter at the end of the week going into detail of everything the teacher covered in class that week about Rosh Hashanah, chances are if you ask them what they learnt about Rosh Hashanah they will give you the same answer as the Jewish Homeschooled 4 year old who spent the week playing, coloring, helping mommy bake round challahs and honey cakes and munching on apples and honey.
What we do need though, are things to keep our little preschoolers busy and challenged, things to help them develop those little brains of theirs. We also need our sanity so having a curriculum helps us stay focused.
With the help and guidance of my good friend and fellow Homeschooling Mama, Altie (she did a guest post on Kids in the Kitchen Here) I have put together some guidelines for creating your own Jewish Homeschool Preschool Curriculum. So grab yourself a notebook or iPad or open a word file on your laptop and answer the following questions...
What are your Goals?
In order to have a successful year, you need to figure out your goals for your days, weeks, months and year. You also need to know that as much as you plan, things will always come up and throw everything off, and that its okay.
Goals for the School Day:
The average Homeschool Preschool Day is 2-3 hours. There is so much that can get done during that time, so if used right, those hours are gold. It may take a few days/weeks to find the routine that works for you. Start out with a lose plan and tweek accordingly. If your kids work better in the early morning, take advantage of that time. If baby naps in the afternoon, grab that hour. With Homeschooling, you really need to let go of 'the norm' and do what works for you and your family.
Circle Time- Honestly, circle time never really went down in my house. It got old really quick, so if it works or you, go for it, but don't be too hard on yourself or your kids.
Davening- It's always a good thing to start the day with giving Tzedakah, singing a song about Tzedakah and then davening. Decide what prayers make sense to do with the little ones. Too much will have them yawning, acting up, scooting across the carpet and getting into trouble. Start small and add on new tefilos when you see they are ready. Have a special mat or blanket where you do it every day. Bring in a CD if you have (I recommend My First Sing-Along Siddur ) and props (a stuffed Torah, musical instruments, standing up, doing motions)- make it exciting for them. Remember, this can take only 5-10 minutes. It's okay, have realistic expectations and have lots of activities lined up for the rest of your school day.
Here are some things to include in your davening time-
Alef Bet- Hebrew Reading and Writing- At this age, its about introducing the letters to them. Make it fun, very tactile. Giving your 3 year old a matching worksheet will buy you about 1, maybe 2 minutes. Giving her a big letter Alef with finger paints to color it in will give you a good 5, maybe even 10 minutes, so plan accordingly!
Here is a list of Alef Bet Curriculum you can explore:
Goals for the School Week:
How many days is your school week? Some do Monday-Friday, Some do Monday- Thursday (thats me!) and some include Sunday. Decide what works for your family and plan accordingly.
Parshah- The Weekly Torah Portion- The weekly Parshah is a great time to learn about Halachos and Midos from that specific Parshah. It's always nice when things are connected so try bring out those gems each week for your kids.
Goals for the School Months/Year:
Yom Tov- Jewish Holidays- It is really easy to get overwhelmed when planning your school year. You know yourself and you know your kids. Take some time at the beginning of each month and write down each Holiday and underneath each one write down a bunch of fun and easy Arts'n crafts projects and activities that you will do. Designate, however many days or weeks as you want to work on these projects. Make yourself a Pinterest Board and closer to the holiday, start jotting down the days you want to do each project/activity and get the supplies you need. You dont need to do 25 fancy projects with your 4 year old. Keep in mind that simply peeling an apple by themselves and cutting it up with a plastic knife is a fantastic and very rewarding activity for them.
Here are some resources:
And here are some Jewish Holiday Crafts Books:
The above is your very basic Jewish Preschool Curriculum. Yes, it's so much easier to just 'follow' a curriculum, but chances are your child may not be interested in everything in the book. If you know your child, work with them and give them things that they love doing. I know my son has no interest in coloring, so giving him a Rosh Hashanah coloring book as an activity to fill up 20 minutes is not going to work. But giving him clay and asking him what Rosh Hashanah things he would like to make and then paint can buy me a serious half hour, maybe more! But give my daughter the coloring book and she will be busy busy busy with her crayons, markers, colored pencils and paints as she creates masterpiece after masterpiece.
So as we get to know our kids, take each holiday, Parshah, Special Jewish Day, Hebrew Reading/Writing and gear it toward them. You will both benefit because when the kids are happy and busy, mom is happy too. No need to fight with our kids to do something they clearly have no interest in doing. We all lose that battle.
So the bottom line is, have realistic expectations from your kids. If they are playing on the floor happily, don't stop them to tell them its time to do an activity. Let them play, use that time. If they are busy doing an activity, don't stop them to tell them its time to go play outside. Have lots of flexibility within your day and you will all be happy.
Most important- Breathe. Allow LOTS of playtime- work it into your schedule. I am working on a Jewish Homeschool Planner and hope to post it soon.
Have a wonderful Shabbos and I hope this was helpful!