When Acorn first came home from the NICU, we realized we had a challenge ahead of us. He'd never seen real food. Never experienced any weather other than "indoors." Never seen another child. Never heard a car or stroked the fur of a cat.
And here we were, about to drag him out into the wide world of experiences....with the limitations that come with needing to take 50 lbs of medical gear everywhere you go, and a complete paranoia about germs.
All things considered, he did pretty well. In the beginning, he was easily overwhelmed, and we did a lot of babywearing to keep him in a nice safe space while we did all that exploring. Besides, it kept people at a distance, all the better to keep the germs away.
Once we got him into early intervention, we weren't really sure what to expect, but we heard that he was getting a teacher. We were told that "normal" kids went in to school one morning a week for their class. And since Acorn wasn't quite "normal" (and our pediatrician was adamant that he not go *to* school this year due to germs), he'd get "the same" stuff at home.
I think in my mind, I assumed this class was like a daycare center's class stuff - that there was some structure, some "readiness" things. But it appears that all it involves is playing with different toys, without much in the way of direction.
To be fair, we have a major personality conflict with Acorn's current teacher, and she's been afraid of Acorn's tubes from the very beginning, which has led to a major disconnect between him and her.
Don't get me wrong; at 20 months, Acorn learns a lot from play. But there's something to be said for exposing kids to various subjects at an early age, and there's play that has educational value, and play that involves banging toys on the window. And given Acorn's lack of speech, the more language we introduce, the better things will be when he actually gets around to talking.
Besides...we have these nurses here all day, trying to figure out what to do with Acorn between therapy sessions and naps. They want suggestionns on what to do with him. They all think (and even the horrible teacher agrees) that he's a pretty smart cookie - which isn't surprising, really, given how geeky we (his parents) are.
Over the last several months, we've been looking at homeschooling ideas for toddlers and preschoolers. I like the idea of tot boxes and lapbooks....but we need something more tolerant of stretched-too-thin parents and a round-robin of nurses.
This fall we tried a pre-packaged daycare curriculum. Each week had a theme, and had various stories, music, nursery rhymes, and coloring pages. It was interesting, but still relied on creating more toys for activities, rather than offering ways to use what we have already.
So....since we're running out of options here, we decided that creating our own plan wasn't such a bad deal.
We came up with a monthly "big picture" theme, and two sub-themes. We feel like a weekly theme is too quick of a change for Acorn, since he has so much other stuff going on as well.
For each sub-theme, we have a featured color, body part, shape, number (1-20), and letter. We also are listing out books, toys, and videos we currently have (or can get from the library). We did purchase some coloring books, and we'll be downloading coloring pages online too. We're also featuring a sensory experience - everything from dry rice to playdoh to pudding to marbles.
On the plus side, working out a matrix like this months in advance means I can do planning when I have time, and have things ready to go as weeks pass by. It also means I can adjust the activities and sensory things to match Acorn's abilities as they change, on the fly.
I'm sure there will be points where I'm completely overwhelmed by doing this, but I don't really see any other options.