Are you having a frabjous day? I’m doing my best to make my day as frabjous as possible. 🙂
Welcome back to our blog! One of our readers gave me the topic for our first real post. It’s interesting that I was asked to think back for this one. Preschool was quite a few years ago for us. However, since we home-schooled three kids who are spaced far enough apart that trends and products changed and grew over time, I hope I have several insights to offer. And with that said, I’ll jump right in.
To begin with, I remember reading aloud every day. We also sang songs to and with them. We played lots of different kinds of music every day. Our kids loved watching educational programs like Blue’s Clues, Sesame Street, Wishbone and Zaboomafoo. I don’t even know if any of my readers will know about those last two. Gotta love PBS!
We used a monthly subscription service for a little while which supplied us with a reading book, an activity book and a craft each month. The activity book taught things like cutting, pasting, writing letters, and putting parts of a story in order (comprehension). We also used Fisher Price activity books for our oldest daughter.
We didn’t read dedicatedly to our youngest daughter, but she did sit in on all the classes the other two were doing. There’s a lot of benefit in a younger child doing that. They pick up so many things in unexpected ways. She had (and still has) some difficulty sitting still for long periods of time and when I read, I usually read at least a chapter a day. That presented a challenge. Blocks and crayons and paper solved that problem on most days. For the older two, I remember reading our way through many of the Redwall series books and The Lord Of The Rings trilogy. We also read The Hobbit. These were all read aloud while they were still too young to tackle chapter books. One of our all-time favorite books since our son was young is “The Missing Piece” and I highly recommend it, or any other book by Shel Silverstein.
Here are some resources you could check out for purchasing curriculum at the pre-K level:
1. www.currclick.com – I absolutely love Currclick.com. It’s been a big help in putting together curriculum of all kinds for several years. When I need something quickly, I go check there first. Things you’ll find here:
- writing and copywork
- unit studies and topic studies
- lots of fun options
2. www.amazon.com – When I can’t find it at Currclick.com, I check Amazon. Their used book selection is pretty amazing. Don’t forget about free Kindle books for kids, too! There are so many animal books and how-to books for kids on Kindle. While you’re at Amazon, check out the art supplies. Young children love to do hands on things. Paint, clay, glitter, pompoms, pipe cleaners, feathers, blocks, paper, scissors, glue, etc…just don’t forget to stay with them when they’re using all this fun stuff. Why should they be the only ones to have all the fun? 🙂
3. Kumon Publishing is the place to find the Kumon workbooks I wrote about. You can buy the books there or in many bookstores. You can also find them at Amazon. I see as I look at their website they are creating activities for use on tablets. That’s so nifty! We could’ve started our youngest earlier on these books but I didn’t discover them soon enough.
4. Charlotte Mason Method – I didn’t really discover the Charlotte Mason Method until after our youngest was already past Pre-K and K but I wish I had. I think it would’ve been so much better for her. She loves being outside and learning about nature and the tiny creatures and the furry creatures. Not only is being outdoors a great opportunity to learn, but it’s healthy, too. Nature journaling would’ve been awesome for our youngest daughter and probably for our son, too.
5. Teachers Pay Teachers – This site offers some curriculum items you can download free but some of them are for sale. There’s a wide variety available and the price range is just as wide. You should know the topic you wish to study before going there and you should also pay close attention to the format of the download. It won’t do much good to have a pdf file if you do not have Adobe Reader or a similar program installed on your computer with which to open that file. Yikes!
Creative play is very important. Children of all ages learn when they play. What they learn differs as they grow older, but they are still learning. Here are some ways to include creative play for little ones (and also include fun things for the older ones joining in the activities!):
- The SCA – We started doing medieval re-enactments with the Society for Creative Anachronism when our youngest was two. We stayed active in the SCA for about 3 years until we could no longer afford to do so. It was the best thing we ever did as a family. The opportunities for learning were amazing and varied. The skills taught in the SCA can actually still be used in today’s society, as well, so it’s definitely not a waste of time or effort. My particular focus was on sewing and weaving, with a bit of illumination thrown in here and there. You’re probably wondering what a 2, 3 or 4-year-old might learn by going to medieval re-enactments. Well, mine learned to stay close to mom and dad when out in a crowd. She learned how to treat people as people no matter how they dress or what their faces look like. To me, these skills are valuable life skills for a child.
- Arts and Crafts – Hands-on activities are a must for pre-K. If you don’t even know where to start, I suggest books like this one: “The Little Hands Big Fun Craft Book” or this one: “365 Ways To A Smarter Preschooler.” Both of these books include tons of crafts that can be created using items already available in most homes. If we had to purchase any items for these crafts, those could be found at most bargain stores. That fit into our budget really well! Also, be prepared for a mess. My motto when doing crafts and artwork is: “If you’re not making a mess, you’re probably doing it wrong.” This attitude works super well for little ones since they seem to enjoy making messes. It offers another opportunity, too, to teach them good habits when you work together to clean things up.
- Music – I truly hate most of the music that is marketed for kids. I have for a long, long time. I think it’s cool that a lot of these songs are teaching good things with the lyrics but I think it’s incomplete. Teaching good habits can’t be done with a song. That happens in the day-to-day routines each family goes through. I think it’s important to expose children to music you believe is good. If the music is of good quality, classical music is just one example, children will learn so much more than they would listening to music of poor quality. I think it’s also good to make music with them using things you find around the house such as pots, pans, cooking spoons, two blocks, hand-sized rocks…all with adult supervision, of course!
I guess the advice here is to observe your child(ren) well. Learn about what they are interested in and what they love. As they learn about the things they are interested in, you can slowly introduce new topics they haven’t encountered before. Then go from there. As a pre-schooler, the joy of learning should be just that…JOYFUL. Proverbs 17:22