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EFSAP Program Review by Jennifer HarrisonMeadowbrook Educational Services, Inc.
11011 South Cedar Road
Spokane WA 99224-9623
I never worried too much about having a preschool program when my oldest two sons were younger. I had plenty of one-on-one time with my oldest, and we were able to spend hours cuddled up on the couch reading favorite books and learning rhymes. His younger brother seemed to pick up everything by watching his older brother and from listening as I read to them both. After a few years, when their two sisters came along, things were much busier than when I was only teaching two children. I assumed my girls would cover the same skills in the same easy manner, but I discovered that they were often left to play by themselves while I homeschooled their older brothers. Play is an integral ingredient in the learning process, but when my daughters became old enough to join us at the homeschool table, I realized that the overabundance of unstructured play had left some gaps. I tried piecing together some of my own resources for them, but again, I found myself distracted and busy. To help keep me focused and to help them prepare for more challenging work, I decided to go with a formal program that was already organized and had lessons laid out and ready for me to jump in and teach. The EFSAP Program Kit did this very well.
EFSAP (which stands for Establishing Foundational Skills for Academic Proficiency) is a program designed to help students lay a foundation for rewarding learning. It can be used as a preschool program, a tutoring program to help older students who have fallen behind, or a learning program for students with special learning needs or disabilities. In fact, the EFSAP website stresses that the company is eager to help parents of students with learning disabilities.
The Preschool Kit comes with everything you need, including ideas for relevant snacks and library books for each lesson. After ten short pages of instructions, parents can jump into the lessons without any extra preparation. I loved being able to pull out our box and jump right in each morning. Each day's lesson thoroughly covered the basics and took only an hour to complete!
EFSAP contains 15 lessons, which are broken down into three different skill levels. Each lesson takes approximately 2 to 3 weeks to complete, making this a full year's curriculum. For older students who might only have some gaps to fill, the lessons can be completed within a week. Each lesson contains a chart with a list of skills to be taught. Once these skills are mastered, students can move on to the next lesson at their own pace.
Each day begins with gentle background music from the CD Music for Thinking from ABT Music. My girls loved listening to this CD, and I even caught my sons slipping it into the CD player as background music for their lessons. A posture exercise at the beginning of class helps students focus and prepare themselves for learning. A fun concentration exercise is next. My sons also joined in this game as the exercises became progressively more challenging. My girls loved it and did the exercises on their own time, never knowing it was helping them learn to pay attention to details.
A counting exercise is next and only takes two minutes each day throughout the entire book. By the end of the book, students are counting to 20, recognizing the quantity of sets up to 20, and recognizing the numerals up to 20. These counting lessons also help students distinguish left and right, and they aid in increasing coordination.
Students have lessons in Colors, Poems, Shapes, and Songs. They have lessons in different types of lines, such as vertical, horizontal, diagonal, and curved, which are then used in later lessons to form letters. A tracing book accompanies the lessons; it helps students learn the concepts large, small, top, middle, and bottom as well as shapes and letters.
I especially appreciate the lessons given in Rhythm. My husband and I insist our children take some form of music class beginning somewhere around the sixth grade. In discussions with our music teacher, she commented that rhythm is something in which many homeschooled students are lacking. I used to think that the little rhythm games my grade-school teacher took us through were just a game to pass the time; now I realize that there is actually quite a bit of benefit to rhythm lessons. Knowing the benefits, however, did not make it easy to remember to incorporate them into our days without a scripted lesson. The lessons shared in EFSAP require only 2 minutes per day and are fun for all of us.
Snacks and Creative Activities are suggested, and these reinforce the colors and concepts taught in each lesson. Suggestions for structured play also coincide with the lessons, such as I Spy games for colors learned, Bubble games when learning about spheres, and many book suggestions for character lessons.
A Mozart in Motion CD is also incorporated into each day's lesson. The songs on this CD are upbeat and fun. Activities and games played during this session provide coordination exercises, some mimicking occupational exercises. It is nearly impossible to sit still when this music is playing, so we also started using it for clean-up time. It's amazing how quickly chores can be finished with the right music helping us along.
Incorporated into all of these lessons are Character Building lessons, helping students become more aware of their surroundings and those around them. This sets a foundation for healthy social interaction.
This program was an excellent fit for my family. I loved that each individual topic lasted only a few minutes and that the activities could be rearranged or broken up to fit our needs. I loved the minimal preparation for each day's activities. I felt confident that my preschoolers were learning everything they needed to know even though it took hardly any effort for me. The hour with our preschool box was easy to work into my homeschooling schedule and provided us with an hour of special time together.