Warning: This is painfully long, but I didn’t want to drag it out into a series. If you don’t have pre-schoolers at home, you probably won’t make it through the second paragraph before your eyes roll back in your head. Come back tomorrow for the usual… well, whatever it is that we do here.
I get questions on occasion about what we’re doing for pre-school. Obviously, we’ve not sent the twins anywhere thus far. Our philosophy right now is that every day, all day, is school. Our kids are constantly learning new things and developing new skills. It’s my job to encourage that. And I would hate to separate Adam from the twins, as he is picking up so much just being included in our “schooling.”
To help me come up with ideas, I’ve come across a few resources that I thought I’d share with you. The first is Before Five In A Row. This little book is a jumping off point for lots of warm snuggles and learning together. The author takes beautiful little children’s books, one per week, and gives suggestions for ways to tie it in to every subject: language arts, science, Bible, art, music, etc. I found a website that gives an order to the books that allows for teaching the letters of the alphabet, as well.
For example, we did the sweet little book Jesse Bear, What Will You Wear? One day, we read it and looked for all the flowers in it. We talked about flowers and God making them and the different colors of flowers. The next day, we read it looking for the colors blue and red, along with stars. Then we looked at the American flag and counted the stripes. We put together their states puzzle and talked about what the flag stood for. The following day, we looked for the space ship in the book. I showed them videos of shuttle launches and we looked at pictures of rockets. Another day, we watched the progress of the sun and moon throughout the book and talked about days, nights, and the heavenly bodies. For our letter work, we talked about how Jesse Bear had “ants in his pants” and we studied the letter A. The ideas are endless once you get the hang of it.
I like how BFIAR points out things I wouldn’t have noticed, gives me ideas, and then I’m free to pursue them in any way I choose. But we can tie everything back to one central story, which helps them begin to make connections. And nothing warms my heart to hear boys get all excited, weeks later, when they see the “fwag” or we read the book for fun and they want to watch some more space shuttles.
The fellas love their “special” books. They love reading them with Mommy every day. Then they pore over the pictures and re-tell the stories to each other. I know of no other pre-school that combines hugs and cuddles with Mommy and “school work.” I haven’t finished working through this little book, but I recommend it highly, thus far. The goal is to prepare my boys to learn, to think critically, to examine things closely. I want to give them the tools to read a book and hold it up to the Light. I want them to learn how to follow rabbit trails on their own, how to question what they read, and how to observe the world around them. For now, this little curriculum is teaching them that, and teaching me how to pull more out of any book that we read. This curriculum is teaching me as much as it is teaching them.
Now, about ye ol’ preschool nemesis: phonics. I think you could tie phonics into the curriculum, and we do some, but the author makes no pretensions to teaching phonics. There are wonderful ways to tie them in, but the curriculum will not teach children to read. I had tried several different methods to get the boys talking about sounds. And I’ve learned a few things. First, it’s all about readiness. When I wanted to play phonics games, they wanted to play cowboys. Now that they’re ready to talk letters and sounds, they will sit still for long times, drawing on their magna-doodles and singing phonic songs. Forcing them to be ready earlier would have ended in frustration for all of us.
What finally seemed to work was actually a video. I know, I’m mortified by it, but there it is. My neighbor loaned us a Leap Frog video called “Letter Factory.” At the same time, my grandmother gave them the “word whammer” toy that went with the video. The kids loved the video, memorized all the songs, and sing them CONSTANTLY. They play the “word whammer” game with more focus and concentration after watching the video. And now they are starting to draw letters on their own. This amazes me. I couldn’t MAKE them pick up a pencil and focus on drawing anything. I could force them to try their names, but they were less than thrilled about it, especially Sam. Now this same Sam walks around the house with a magna-doodle drawing letters. Letters I haven’t taught him yet. It’s insane, but true. Can’t knock what works.
Most of our activities end up tying back into the books we’re reading. We like the continuity that it gives our somewhat disjointed days. The boys haven’t got a clue that they’re learning anything. They just like the attention, the discussion, and the fun stuff.
Another hint, if you’re looking for more ideas, is Cullen’s ABC’s. A preschool teacher has posted YouTube videos for pre-schoolers, with seasonal ideas, fun songs, and games ideal for young ones. My friend, Aubrey, who used to work with pre-schoolers, finds this lady annoying, but I contend it’s because Aubrey already knows everything there is to know about pre-school and doesn’t need any more ideas. Me, on the other hand, I need all the suggestions I can get. Plus, the boys think it’s cool to watch videos on Mommy’s computer. I signed up for her weekly email so I can skim the new videos and look for any that might help us out.
If you need worksheets, there are tons out there, but I consistently use this site. Hat tip to Aubrey for this one.
And that’s what we’re doing around here. How about ya’ll?