Our Year of Playing Skillfully {Homeschool Preschool Curriculum}


I can’t remember how I happened upon the book The Homegrown Preschooler. (It’s highly likely I was browsing the library shelves.)  But in any case, that chance meeting has profoundly impacted our family. I recall crying as I read through the first chapter, “Harvesting a Bountiful Life,” feeling that I had found words to express the nagging sense I felt in my soul– that pushing my toddler into a rigorous, academic environment was perhaps NOT his best shot at success in life, that maybe there was great value in play, in savoring childhood.

From The Homegrown Preschooler I was introduced to their curriculum A Year of Playing Skillfully. With 20/20 hindsight it’s hard to believe that my finger hovered over that “purchase” button for as many weeks as it did. Quite possibly the best purchase I’ve ever made. Had I known the influence that the contents of one binder full of ideas could have– I would have jumped in a second!

a year of playing skillfully

AYOPS has brought into our home laughter, wonder, joy, inquisitiveness, and discovery.

year of playing skillfully

AYOPS has sparked for me as a homeschool mama a freshness, freedom, insight, and organization. (Is there not freedom in organization?!)

year of playing skillfully

When I look back at my photos from the past year, the ones that bring the biggest smiles, the sense that I’m doing right by my kids and their childhood– they’re shots inspired by AYOPS. While lamenting that the calendar pages flew by so quickly, I also grew to look forward to discovering what was waiting for us in the next month of our curriculum. My monthly planning night was a greatly anticipated occasion. And when the kids leafed through wide eyed and asked, “Mama, can we do this?!” (to every single page), I was equally excited to say YES. These activities weren’t drudgery; they weren’t overwhelming. They were an invitation to fun. I know that many of the activities and recipes are now part of our family culture– we’ll repeat the seasonal gems each year.

I’ve been taught what it looks like to educate the whole child– touching his heart, sparking his curiosity, exposing him to beauty and order in the world around us, and instilling character. I felt so supported as a mom through the gentle encouragement to feed my own soul that the authors pepper throughout each month; and I love that there’s a facebook group full of friendly mamas who are striving for the same goals with this curriculum.

year of playing skillfully

I don’t know exactly how long we’ll be a homeschooling family (taking that one year at a time), but I do know that this curriculum has shaped the way I will educate my children. It has set a foundation for what learning can look like– that curiosity and discovery are gold. That learning through play is the sweet spot. It has allowed me to savor this slice of my bookworms’ childhood. And, it’s such a rich curriculum that we are repeating it next year! And probably the year after that, and the year after that.  Hopefully we’ll never stop playing skillfully.

(AYOPS is recommended for ages 3-7, although my 2yo participated in the bulk of the activities alongside Big Bro Bookworm. One of its strengths is its flexibility!) If you have any questions about the curriculum–how we implemented it, what picture books we added to our explorations, what we are doing in those tiny thumbnail pics above– I would love to hear from you! Connect with me in the comments below or on the Facebook page. The Homegrown Preschooler (a 200 page, beautiful and inspiring book in itself, is available on Amazon and on THGP website, but also might be available through your library. It is on the Hoopla app through my library! The larger curriculum is offered through the creators’ website as an ebook or printed/hole punched curriculum.)

If you’d like to see last year’s post when I describe my planning for this homeschool year, you can read that here.

This post contains affiliate links. Thanks for supporting the blog if you choose to purchase. I only recommended what I LOVE. 

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