Got a preschooler on your hands? Are you feeling the pressure to get her prepared for kindergarten next fall? Relax. Teaching preschool at home can be easy, rewarding and one of the greatest things you can do for your child. But because you truly do want to formalize a plan, let’s think of preschooling your child as homeschooling. Since you’re interested in teaching your preschooler, you’re probably already doing it, but just need a bit more awareness of things like life skills, routines and basic academics. The great news is, there are plenty of ways to integrate these three things into your day with your child, remembering that play, exploration and discovery are the most important lessons for little ones while they are young.
According to Caring for Your Baby and Young Child, the essential parenting guide from the American Academy of Pediatrics, “the crucial factor that determines whether a student will do well or poorly in school is not how aggressively he was pushed early on, but rather his own enthusiasm for learning.”
So your goal is to spark a love of learning in your child — easy! Let’s focus on 3-year-old kids, because that’s the age that a little one is ready for preschool.
Little ones depend upon you a lot for their daily upkeep, but at age 3 you can start working with them on things they can do for themselves. Your job is to look at EVERYTHING as an opportunity for teaching and learning. You can encourage independence in your child by teaching a process then guiding them through it.
For instance: Hand-washing: You can’t just say, “Go wash your hands,” you have to teach each step:
1) turn on water
2) take one pump of soap
3) rub hands together on both sides
4) rinse soap off hands
5) turn water off
6) use a towel or paper towel to dry hands
7) return towel or throw away paper one
Other life skills you can teach (as a process) to a preschooler include:
• Being polite: Saying, “Hello,” “Please,” “Thank you,” “Excuse me.” Practice with examples and make it fun.
• Dressing and Undressing: Young kids require some help getting in and out of clothes for a while, but teaching them how from an early age gets them on the right path for wearing clothes neatly and learning to match.
• Tying shoelaces: This is tricky for little ones, so make it a fun activity. Watch a video on the Bunny Ear Method on YouTube to get started.
• Brushing hair: Let your preschooler try combing her hair first and then you can fix it if you aren’t satisfied with the results.
• Self-control: Beginning at age 3, little ones can begin learning self-control through game play. Use these games: “Red Light, Green Light;” “Freeze Dance;” “Simon Says;” “Ring Around the Rosie;” “Mother, May I?” and others.
• Putting away things: Encourage your child to put things back where they belong so he can learn order. Picking up after yourself is important when living with others. You can use baskets in your child’s room to help make the learning easier.
Teaching a little one that there is a time and place for everything is a big lesson. In raising a learner, preschoolers can know that they eat breakfast then do a few morning chores. After that, you can have some loosely structured play and learning times with a plan for rest or nap as well.
Routines aren’t meant to be unpleasant; routines are meant to provide what we can look forward to, so routines lead to rituals, and rituals build closeness. If your child knows that after brushing his teeth you will meet him at his bed for story time, that makes brushing his teeth easier to do. Remember also that routines require consistency, and consistency helps children feel secure and aware of what’s happening around them.
Preschoolers learn by doing. Once they get into more formalized education (in kindergarten), you will be able to identify your child’s learning style and be able to tell how your child learns best. But the main thing is, play is their job and education during the preschool years. That said, here are many of the things your future kindergarten teacher will want your child to know once he lands in her classroom:
• name the letters of the alphabet
• sit and listen to a book
• retell events from a favorite story
• draw and write shapes and letters
• write his first name
• label drawings
• tell a story through drawing and/or writing
• sort objects
• make simple patterns
• name shapes
• identify numerals 1 - 10
• count to 20
• speak clearly and in complete sentences
• take turns talking
• listen to and follow instructions
• identify emotions and feelings
• engage in activities for 15 minutes or more
• follow rules
• play well with others
• hold pencils, crayons, and scissors properly
HOMESCHOOL CURRICULUMS FOR PRESCHOOLERS
($10 a month; ages 2-8)
Activity ideas for every day of the week and lots of creative ideas.
A YEAR OF PLAYING SKILLFULLY
(thehomegrownpreschooler; from $129)
Detailed instructions in language and literacy, math, science and sensory, art, music and more for ages 3 - 7.
MORE BEFORE FIVE IN A ROW
(fiveinarow.com; $49; ages 3 - 5)
Focuses on language and early literacy skills through a picture book.
(Monthly Plans; ages 2 - 5)
Hands-on learning with supplies separated into daily packets.
($20 a month for preK)
Specifically targeted for pre-readers, this curriculum aims to engage with verbal directions and graphics.
(Package or individual books; all ages)
Christian-based. Two options for preschoolers include “Journeys of Imagination” and “I’m Ready to Learn.”
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