I am amazed how blessed I am to live in a time where there are actually multiple early childhood homeschooling curricula that are Orthodox. I had personally hoped to be able to begin Letters of Grace and use it exclusively this year, but since it is not yet finished and I am one of those compulsive planners (don't be misled: I rarely do half the things, if indeed any, that I plan) I went with another curriculum that I'd been looking at.
Our Khouria keeps a copy of the Children's Garden of the Theotokos curriculum in her personal library. I've been borrowing her copy for the past year. While we were doing Five in a Row for our lessons last year (preschool for my daughters and an opportunity to "get my feet wet" homeschooling) I probably couldn't have managed it without the scheduling ideas, songs, and Circle Time resources I used from this curriculum. So, with what at the time looked like the loss of LOG (but thankfully, is not!), I went ahead and ordered the updated version of the Theotokos Garden curriculum.
I highly recommend this resource. It's still slightly confusing to me in some aspects (or might be if I hadn't been using it off and on in some capacity over this past year), but it is worth figuring out and putting together. Part of what makes it overwhelming at times is that since many of the Main Lessons are about Feast Days of the Church, one wants to plot them out on the calendar near the actual feast. So Ms. Lewis cannot offer a complete schedule. You have to customize it, which actually turns out to be fun—for me, at least! I'll probably post more thoughts about this curriculum at some point, but this is really an introductory post to something else. (I promise I'll get to the point eventually!)
The Theotokos Garden curriculum suggests that one aspect of the daily schedule be acting out or telling the life of the Saint of the Day to your kids. Unfortunately, this is one area that requires the parent to get quite creative. Ms. Lewis provides several examples for September saints' days, but to continue, I would have to get good at retelling on my own. I could probably do it, but I kind of like stories that are written out for me.
Lightbulb! I have the Letters of Grace reading list! (And now—thank you, Mary—so does everyone else!) Another component of the Theotokos Garden is a daily focus on a particular letter of the alphabet or number. My epiphany: what if, I use some of the resources from Letters of Grace with the Theotokos Garden curriculum? Instead of a daily changing saint's life, we'll use the same saint three times a week (we're planning school for three days a week). As I learned from Five in a Row, kids love repitition of stories, especially over a short period like a week.
We will begin to add the titles from the Letters of Grace saints' reading list to our home library, in the hope that LOG will be finished some day. And even if it isn't, we could still use saints' lives books in our home that correspond to the letters of the alphabet.
OK. Here's the point of this post: while there are many beautiful retellings on the LOG list, some letters' saints are not to be found and some are as yet nonexistent. Enter my husband. In preparing for school, he asked what he can do to help. He is at work during the day and, except for the rare day, will not be around during our school days. One of the things I ended up asking him to do for me is to fill in some of the saints' lives gaps by writing up his own retellings that I can read to our kids (ages 3 and 5 years).
The Point: I will be offering these here for your use! I'm very excited to be able to contribute something that may be of use to those who are already using the ideas and resources set forth by the creators of LOG.
We are beginning with the vowels and then moving on to the consonants so that we'll have introduced all of the vowels before Nativity so that we can use the Nativity Vowel Poems as part of our Main Lessons during Nativity Fast (can you believe I'm writing about that already?). So, it won't be quite in the LOG order.
If you're interested in using what we come up with, please search for or click on the Saints by Letter label. Enjoy!