Incorporate “Preschool” Everyday

Colorful Blocks Homeschool Preschool

I was told by a former co-worker that her child was better off at preschool than at home because she could not do all of the activities that they do with him. (Insert my blank stare here.) The preschool employees are not doing anything that you cannot do yourself.  YOU are your child’s best teacher. Don’t doubt your own abilities.

Even though Ava is only 15 months old, preschool has already begun. We do not do any form or formal teaching. Preschool is just that, the learning your child does “pre school”. We actually practice more of a Montessori style of learning at our house.

Eventually I plan to set up a more formal Montessori playroom, but for now we just try to incorporate learning into our everyday routine. Our current living space is fairly limited.

So what do we do to encourage learning? Here are a few activities we regularly do.

  1. Allow your child to cook and clean with you. Ava loves to help cook. I let her get right in the action. (I want her to have a kitchen helper stool like this one. I will probably build her one this summer.) She helps stir and add ingredients. This is a great way to introduce your child to the kitchen. She knows that the stove is hot and that knives are sharp. I also allow her to feel the different textures of food as well as taste new things. As a result, she has a very broad palate. This girl loves everything! She also loves to “help” me do the dishes. These activities may result in a little extra clean up, but it’s so worth it.
  2. Use everyday objects in play. Ava has a whole collection of random containers, jugs, an old cell phone, and a wallet among other things. We don’t buy a lot of commercial toys, we just don’t need to. An old oatmeal container becomes a drum. A small shopping bag is perfect for sorting blocks.
  3. Play! Yes, play. You may think that your life is too busy or that free play is not important; make time for it. Free play encourages your child to use his or her imagination. Children who engage in more imaginative play have more self-control and a longer attention span when they get older.

See the blocks in the picture above? They are actually gram weights that I picked up for $.50 at The Salvation Army. Right now Ava loves to stack them and sort them by colors. She also loves to put them all in their bag and then dump them out. When she gets older, we can use them for counting, building patterns, and as actual weights. There are 1, 5, 10, and 20 gram weights. And if you were wondering, they hurt just as bad as legos when you step on them. =)

Do you “preschool” at home? Do you have any advice?

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8 thoughts on “Incorporate “Preschool” Everyday

  1. My kids are now 7 & 9. I was a SAHM and did all the things you suggested and some additional ones as well–if I were to add anything, it would be to read read read with your kids. Teach them to love books. Make the library a fun destination, weekly if you can pull it off. Your children will reap the rewards. Think about the outcome you want to have–a child who is delighted with books and entertains him/herself with them, or one who only wants to play video games (I am not opposed to video games, but I have never heard a mom say “Oh, I wish Johnny played more video games”).

    That being said … both of my children attended preschool. They were at about age 4 and I did it more for the social interaction as well as learning classroom rules/expectations. Not every child needs preschool, nor can every parent afford it. My family tends to be shy and quiet with outsiders and it was beneficial for them. They also were very attached to mommy and small doses of time apart made it easier for them to transition into full days of school (which is now mandated where I live). Know your kids and their strengths and weaknesses. Know your own strengths and weaknesses, as well. Maybe mom NEEDS a break. With 2 kids two years apart, the 4-6 hours a week they spent in preschool was a huge blessing to me as well as them.

    • Thank you for bringing up reading. How did I forget that? We read multiple books everyday. Ava is one of those children that will sit down with a book and entertain herself.

      We go to the library on a regular basis and recently started attending story time. The love of reading is a “forever” gift that you can give your child.

      • I thought you probably read a lot with your daughter! 🙂 Really, any and all play experiences are great for kids–playing on the playground, jumping in leaves in the fall, building a snowman, simple crafts, music, etc. The most important thing I think any of us parents can do is to build a relationship with our children. Truthfully, sometimes I was bored out of my mind with some of the toddler activities, but to them it’s all new and exciting. I also think it’s important for children to learn that their parents don’t exist for their sole entertainment–it’s good for them to learn to entertain themselves and if they rely on you for all their “fun”, how will they learn to problem solve for themselves?

        At the risk of boring you with my comments … try to eat a meal as a family together on a regular basis. Depending on work schedules you may have to get creative, but I have found that if you hang with it, eventually the kids will learn social skills (ok, that’s an ongoing struggle … ), good nutrition, and it helps establish a family identity. My anecdotal observations are that so many families I know are trying to help their children be “successful” in their future lives (whatever that is supposed to mean) that they fail to teach them how to be an active, involved family member who cares about others in the family. That’s a pretty important skill to learn if your child wants to someday have a marriage and family of his or her own.

      • I totally agree! I think having dinner as a family is so important. It is something we try to do, but with daddy’s crazy schedule, sometimes it’s just Ava and me. She and I still have dinner together.

        Children are constantly learning. They watch every little thing we do. I always try to remind myself of this.

  2. Maybe you should understand that most “preschool” teachers have more than a high school diploma if you are looking at going to a preschool worth it’s weight in salt. While I agree that you can play with your child at home and teach them equally as well, you sound ignorant and judgemental of people who think that they might not have the same capabilities to teach their children as other professionals.

    Not everyone is as lucky to stay home, many don’t want to, many don’t want to teach their children all day every day, and chastising mothers who do want to use preschool makes you seem narrow.

    • I agree with you that there ARE qualified preschool teachers out there at good schools. That being said, a lot of them aren’t.

      I have not always been a stay-at-home mom. We have worked very hard to get here.

      When I was working, I was working on an early childhood education grant. I did a lot of research on this topic. Sadly, most preschools just don’t cut it.

  3. As a former pre-school teacher (before I became a state certified teacher of all grades) I quickly realized that many pre-schools actually have lesson plans for their classrooms and a well thought out curriculum. Also, I had attended many, many training sessions on reading, sensory play, etc, and had to take college classes to be a certified pre-school teacher in Delaware. While that may not be the case in every state and in every school, I think that there is a lot more that goes into early childhood education than what people realize.
    My experiences teaching have been with 2 year old children through high school age, so I felt a little out of the loop for what to do with my 8 month old. She loves sensory play, songs, and other games like peek a boo, etc…
    I just recently found this site: http://www.productiveparenting.com/ They send you a daily email with an age appropriate activity to help teach your baby a new skill…from birth through age five. Some of it has been pretty cool so far!

    • I will have to check out that site. It’s nice to hear that some states require preschool teachers to have some sort of training/certification. In Florida (where we moved from) most “preschools” are little more than a daycare. With the Internet, we have access to so much information. There are a lot of great websites to help your child get ready for school. I’m constantly looking on Pinterest for new ideas. Thanks for the input!

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