The first two weeks of homeschooling my preschooler have not been easy. We had engaging preschool activities from our preschool curriculum. But, even then, we had chaos, we had frustrations and we had fun. Most of all, I learned that as a mindful parent, we want to do it all. But, sometimes we just can’t. Being the teacher and the parent can be two conflicting roles. Balance is called for here.
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The first packet will go out mid- January for both January and February.
A bit of a background first. From the age of 13 months to about 2 years old, my son did Montessori based activities every day. He had a Montessori shelf with activities that he can repeat throughout the week. He loved all the activities. From the age of 2 years old to 2.7 years old, we have mostly transitioned to doing more Waldorf style learning: imaginative playset stations, art stations, crafts, cooking and free play.
Even though I was mindful in getting him ready for doing more “curriculum” related work in his activities, he still didn’t like the structure and wanted to do activities in his own way.
The first day of homeschool preschool went very well, it was the week after that I started to see what works and what does not. Below are a few things that I have learned.Repeating themes for multiple days
1) Repeating themes for multiple days
One of the biggest issues from the first two weeks was the fact that he worked on “his schedule” as far as themes go. He literally did not want to work on other themes until he’s done with the theme. I learned very quickly that the scheduled “work” was not likely to be done on schedule. So, I quickly let him have “free play” time with the “themes” he wanted to play with until he’s done with them. Instead of going according to a set schedule, I started to slide in activities during his free play time so that we can accomplish the curriculum when he’s more receptive to structured learning.
2) Flexibility in the curriculum
As soon as I was done putting together the January curriculum, thinking that he was not that interested in explicitly learning “letters” and “numbers”, he showed an interest in learning phonetics. It was completely out of the blue and caught me off guard. I had to revise some of the activities so that we learned some words in the process. We also ended up with a little more reading time so that he can process the words read from the page.
3) Sensory challenge
At first, each day’s sensory bin was the easiest activity for me to compile. I expected it to be a huge hit. It turns out that even at almost 3 years old, he needed to play with the materials using his entire body. We sat in the bathroom for a few of those sensory bin activities. I also had the vacuum out almost every afternoon.
4) Crafting does not equal listening to directions
I thought to craft might teach JJ to listen to instructions, but he did not like it as much as I thought he would. Particularly, he did not like being told where the nose should go, where the eyes should be or where he should stick that circle. He rather play with glue, pieces of paper and scissor without censor. That is exactly what we ended up doing. I let go of my preconception of the fact that “he has to make the craft”. Instead, I ask him to watch me if he didn’t want to do it. Afterward, he can free play with the materials.
5) Sensitivity around materials that are remotely academic
JJ is onto me! After the first week, as I slyly asked him to count when we played with rocks, he knows exactly the skills that I’d like him to learn. Now, he simply refuses to do it. I caught him counting to himself while free playing but he simply won’t do it when I ask him during preschool activity. Fun is really the key here. The only way he learns is if he’s purely in play. I’ve learned to just introduce activities as another one on one play session. I also let him play with the materials first looking for opportunities where I can cue him instead of cueing him directly.
6) Laminator was the savior
After the first two days, I laminated all of the print-outs. I put scotch tape in the back of the laminated pages so that JJ can stick them onto our felt board. This has been the savior of multiple activities. It also took out the crafting component and focused on the learning instead. Even close to 3 years old, he still tears paper and tantrum at not being able to glue everything in sight. The only way out of this is to use laminated paper and tape.
7) Imaginative play at the end of each activity
As a strategy to get JJ to focus on the task at hand, I had to almost tell him a story for each of the activities. He relished the story so much that toward the end of an activity, he always wanted to do imaginative play with me. We role play a simple story with a snowman, an angry heart or a boring rock. It was great fun and gave me confidence at being able to inspire him with the curriculum.
Check out our Homeschool Pinterest Board for new activities in your homeschool preschool.
8) Importance of cooperation
Soon after the first week that I realized that our cooperative household ultimately was the key to homeschooling. All of this year that I stayed home, we homeschooled in a very “free range” way. Our bonding time was often a huge learning experience for him. As he played more independently from me, he relished in the fact that during preschool activities, I proactively spent the one on one time with him.
9) Try not to be a “teacher”
After the first two weeks, I realized how it all works better if I’m not the “teacher”. When we learn together, JJ often performs better and concentrate better. So, I’ve taken to be the “older sister” when we are doing the activities. I also make myself a set of the activities and we do them together side by side. Playing the role of the “big sister” has really helped me shift the mindset from being a parent to being a “facilitator” in our preschool.
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