Friday, October 31, 2008

Preschooling at Home

I am beginning to preschool our daughter this year. At 2 1/2 years old, she has already been showing signs of being ready to learn. The things that we do with her are simple and are based on her own interests. For example, Abbie loves books. She enjoys being read to and will often spend time herself looking through her books. One of her favorite times is when her Daddy is reading to her. Abbie's eyes light up and there is alot of giggling as he makes funny sound effects and faces for the characters. She mimics him and they have a wonderful time together. This is something we are going to be developing into a night time routine right before her bedtime. Another activity she enjoys is when she is asking you to identify the objects in the pictures. As you name each one, she repeats it back to you.

I have been making Abbie's art supplies. I found recipes for everything from finger paints to play clay that I am making for her to play with. When her baby brother is napping, we get out the art supplies and she spends time creating things with them. With the holidays approaching, I am collecting ideas for her to make both as decorations and as gifts.

At her age, Abbie is like a little sponge. She soaks up everything she is exposed to. What a blessing to no longer have a TV that can bring into the home things that a tender mind may not be ready for. While I understand that children will eventually be exposed to the world, I don't think she needs to be bombarded with it at this age. I am all for her having a time of innocence at this age.

Toddlers are still building their vocabulary. This is a wonderful time to introuce them to music, especially good quality childrens' music. Abbie loves to sing and dance. Often as we have music playing, we will hear her singing to the music. As she is singing, she is also building on her vocabulary. We also play games of reciting the ABCs and counting from 1-20. Though she may not be able to recite them on her own, by doing this often enough she will gradually learn to recite them on her own.

There are those who may be reading this thinking that we are pushing her through preschooling. That is fine. We know that we are only building on Abbie's own interest. We also keep it a fun game. As son as we see her begin to tire of something, we stop. Sometimes she may go a few days of not wanting to say ABCs. That is okay. We know that when she wants to do it, she will. We simply make the option available. The key to not over burdening her with too much too soon is to watch her reactions. If she is having fun and enjoying it, then we continue. As soon as she is no longer having fun, we stop.

There will come a day when she will not have an option of only doing the "fun" parts of homeschooling. Rare is the child who wakes up in the morning with great eagerness and excitement to do a Math or History assignment. Blessed are you if your children are always excited about their schoolwork and eager to start working on it! Each child though will have a subject that they don't like and it can be a struggle to get them to work on it. When that time comes, Abbie and her little brother will learn that not all things that are necessary in life are "fun" to do. At her age though, we are keeping it fun to help build her enthusiasm to learn.

After her 3rd birthday, we wll begin to work more on teaching her to write her letters. We are waiting for her fine motor skills needed for controlling the pencil to develop a bit more. One of her favorite toys to play with is a Fisher Price Doodle Pro. The Doodle Pro is great for helping to develop the motor skills she will need when learning to write with a pencil. Of all of her toys, this is the one she gets out to play the most. One additional benefit is that the Doodle Pro comes with 4 magnets in the shapes of circle, square, triangle & flower. Through playing with the Doodle Pro with her, we have been able to teach her the names of the shapes and their colors.

In the coming weeks, I will be posting resources and ideas for homeschooling your children. The ideas will hopefully be a help to both those with toddlers/preschoolers and those with older children.