Thursday, July 28, 2011

Everyday Activities That Teach Your Preschooler

If you are homeschooling for the first time, try not to get overwhelmed by all the curricula, activities, downloads, etc., that are now available online. The worst thing you can do is get carried away trying to teach too much information. This is preschool - not grad school!  

Their actual "school time" shouldn't really last longer than an hour or two each day. Some only school their preschoolers two (T-Th) or three (M-W-F) times a week. Remember, they are learning so many other things throughout the day! And you can still create fun, teachable moments in your daily life. Here are a few enjoyable - but educational! - activities to help your preschooler strengthen their skills:

Bring on the laundry!

Socks, socks, glorious socks. Who knew the lessons hidden in a pile of clean calcetines? Wash a load of socks, then toss them on your bed and have your preschooler sort away. Understanding "pairs," counting by one's and two's, and shouting out colors as she goes are just a few of the basic skills she'll be learning.

You can also show them how to fold hand and dish towels, as well as their clothes. This simple act promotes self-sufficiency and really challenges their hand-to-eye coordination. It is also an opportunity to introduce them to sequencing and fractions: "First, fold the towel in half. Next, fold it in fourths (or half again, depending on your perspective).

And don't forget about showing them how to hang laundry on a line to dry. Using clothes pins really helps them to develop that pincer grip they'll soon need to write their names...and everything else.

Set the table...

Arranging napkins, plastic cups and plates teaches preschoolers about helping around the house. It also makes them think of numbers. How many are in our family? How many place settings do we need on the table? Giving your child a job also helps to build self-confidence and feel like a valuable member of the family.

And along those same lines, let your child fill up salt shakers. This can be tricky for little fingers, but it really helps to develop hand-to-eye coordination!

Stacking cans...

After your weekly (or in my case, almost daily) trip to the grocery store, have your child carry in lighter bags. If the bags are too heavy, give him the task of holding doors open. Both actions serve to reinforce the idea of helping others. Once inside the house, assign him the task of unpacking and stacking the canned goods. Be sure to caution him about stacking them too high!

Sweep them off their feet...

The simple act of sweeping the floor can entertain a child for ages. To make it even more enjoyable, buy a small broom that is just right for his or her age. In fact, small hand brooms that come with a small dustpan are perfect for cleaning up messes. Lots of homeschoolers use "sensory" bins with their children. These are made up of one small to medium tub that is partially filled with beans, rice, or other substrate. Small items with various textures can then be buried in the substrate, which almost always spills out onto the floor below making it the perfect opportunity to whisk out those hand brooms! But be sure to keep an eye on children during this activity. Putting a bean or grain of rice in the mouth is dangerous and a big no-no!

Gardening 101

Watering the plants - inside and outside - is a great way to teach science. From planting seeds to watching them grow, your child will be fascinated by the process. Learning to identify living things and what they need to survive are really big concepts. So be prepared to answer questions! Brush up on your plant anatomy before hand.

Everybody do your share...clean up!

Teaching children to put away their toys, hang their coats, and make their beds will save you endless work. (Trust me.) But it also reinforces the idea of orderliness, and the concept of "A place for everything, everything in its place."

Teaching your child to be neat can be a difficult task, but it is an important one that they will be able to apply in almost all areas of their life. These actions also teach them responsibility and the value of working together as a group.

How do you teach your child through daily activities?

Con mucho cariƱo...


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