Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Ideal Curriculum - A Review

Product: Monthly Preschool Curriculum Kits

Price: $30/Download per month
$55/Print Version per month

Company: Ideal Curriculum

Where to Purchase: Order Page

Other Products Available:
Kits on various subjects such as Math, Calendars and Science.

Brief Overview:

The Level 1 monthly kits thoroughly prepare young children for academic learning.
  • Each skill area for reading, writing, math, oral language, and science is developed in a sequential, systematic way and tracked by short assessments.
  • All activities are based on games, songs, and play so they are appropriate and fun!
Ideal Curriculum is so convinced that you will LOVE the preschool kits that they are giving you a free trial!

In-Depth Look:

Ideal Curriculum has created a 9-month preschool program, covering math, literature, language, social studies and science. Each month is centered around a different theme. I received month 1, Transportation. Units 2 - 9 may be pre-ordered and should all be available by the end of the summer.

You can order a print or downloadable version. I received the download, containing 6 folders: music files, print files, read files, teacher manuals, overview and "read me". Everything downloaded and displayed without any problems, including the music files.

The overview file breaks down all the skills your child will learn in each subject over the next 9 months. For example, month 3 has a science theme of weather and month 9 has the math skill of number recognition.

The "read me first" file lists everything that will need to be printed for the current month. The other items will either be listened to or viewed on the computer screen.

Of course, the music, print and read files are self-explanatory. The music file in Month 1 has 5 songs and 1 sound bingo game. My children used to play sound bingo when they were younger and they enjoyed it. The print file in Month 1 includes workbooks, activity sheets and assessment pages. The read file has 4 cute, full-color booklets. You could print these, but I think they are short enough to enjoy on the monitor.

There are 3 teacher guides: math, literature and science. The books are very detailed and thorough. They are intended to be used on the computer. But I would print them out. It is a matter of preference and I prefer to have the manual in my hands. A nice thing about the computer version, though, is that the index is click-able...bringing you directly to the page you are looking for.

The manuals suggest weekly schedules to help keep you on track for the 9-month schedule. Each lesson is broken down into sections...
"Why this lesson is important"
"Direct Teaching Lesson" - with approximate time required
"Practice Throughout Your Day" - to reinforce the learned skills
"Assessment Questions"

The skills start out very basic and simple, then build upon that. Little by little, over time. The program is very hands-on and active with things like freeze dance to practice listening skills and name hide-and-seek to create name recognition. Lots of creative learning ideas are included to work with the different learning styles.

What I Like:
*The program is thorough and well-laid out.
*The activities work for different learning styles and active youngsters.
*It is a complete package, covering all subjects.
*The printables are colorful and appealing.

What I Don't Like:
*The program is very scripted (which may be a positive to some)
*Since it is geared towards a preschool class, some activities may need to be adjusted for just one or two children
*The price seems a tad expensive, mostly for the print copy.

My 11 and 8 year olds are too old for this program and my 1 year old is too young. So I looked over the program on my own. And then tried to think of it in terms of what I used for preschool when my two older daughters were preschool age. I used lots of hands-on activities and manipulatives. I also occasionally bought those boxed kits that came in the mail once a month, because I liked the idea of themes. And also because it was fun to get something new to use every few weeks.

I think I would have liked using this program. I like the themes and the variety of activities. But I would have adapted it towards our needs and style. I doubt I would have followed the guide too closely, but would have gone with what worked best for us.

I don't think I could have justified the price though, knowing all of my other less-expensive options. However, if you compare it to the price of an actual preschool and then decide to "do preschool" at home, it would be quite a bargain.

Disclaimer: I was asked to review this product as part of the TOS Homeschool Crew. The above is just my opinion. Please remember that opinions may, and do, vary.

Read other opinions and experiences here.

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