Multiple people have asked me if I was ever a preschool teacher or if I have a degree in early childhood education, but I really am just going by the seat of my pants.
My son was all set to start his first year of preschool this year at a place the next town over. We toured the facility, though he was very shy. He got to meet the teachers and some of the kids there, and we had even put down a deposit. This was last February. We all know what happened a month later…
I had called in July to find out what their plan was, if they were still opening (yes) and what their plan of action was (fewer students, following guidelines, etc). Though it sounded like they had a great plan in place, I wasn’t comfortable sending my son. He can be extremely shy in situations where he is uncertain, and when we went to tour the place, he wouldn’t come out from behind me until it was their snack time. How was I going to just drop him off at a place he had only been to one time and not be able to walk in with him, stay for a few minutes, and reassure him he would be ok and have fun? How could I just let him out at the door and send him into a place where he knows nobody, and everybody is wearing masks and he can’t even hug anyone if he is scared? I couldn’t do it. So he stayed home.
Besides speech on Zoom for a half-hour twice a week, all of his learning is with me. We have “class” three days a week and we try to take a “field trip” once a week. I shake my head as I write this, knowing that I STILL don’t know what I am doing. I am really trying to make the most of it so I am telling you a few of the things that we do in hopes that maybe something will give you an idea for your own home! So here they are – a couple of examples of my “winging it” teaching plan!
Homeschool Ideas for a Preschooler
Tracing His Name
Every day we start off with him tracing his name a few times, along with tracing each letter a few times. We have a couple of preschool workbooks that we do a few pages out of, and then we move on to another “assignment.” Sometimes it could be coloring, other days it is doing some work on his Leap Start. I never make these assignments very long or very hard- I want him to stay engaged and have fun while also learning.
For counting, I made what my son calls the “Goldfish Game.” I took a large piece of tinfoil and folded it so there are four rows, and then I numbered those rows 1-4. I use the colors goldfish (red, green, orange) and put various amounts in each row. I then ask questions such as “how many red fish are in row 3?” or ” please eat all the green fish from row 1.” We do this for about 10 questions (a couple more if he isn’t losing interest quickly). This also doubles as a snack because I have him eat certain numbers of fish until the end, and then I name off a row and tell him to eat the remainder while asking what is left.
Basket of Apples
One week for our field trip we went to the apple orchard. We got an overabundance of apples, so we used some to do arts and crafts. We cut the apples in half, painted a couple of them different colors (while discussing colors), and then put them facedown onto a poster board. We made a basket out of construction paper, and voila, we had a basket of apples!
Picture Scavenger Hunt
One morning, I had some errands to run very early, and rather than having him completely miss out on some lessons, I drew “Mom’s Bad Art Scavenger Hunt.” I knew the routes we were going to take, so I drew things we would see along the way. I told him to take a crayon with him, and every time he saw one of the things on his “map,” he had to color it in. He actually asked to do it again the next day, so I think this is something we will definitely be repeating (though this time I might print pictures from the internet rather than draw them badly myself)!
Whenever we go grocery shopping, I ask him to count things out for me, point to where a certain fruit or vegetable is, tell me the color of certain things, and I will even hold up an item and ask him what it is. Whenever we go somewhere we talk about traffic lights and signs, the stores and restaurants we are passing, and we will count cars that go by in the opposite direction. I try to make every trip a learning experience for him without him knowing. We also hike often, so we use that time to talk about directions (left, right, straight) as well as practical hiking knowledge. We talk about the colors of the leaves, the holes we find and what animals may live in them, and how to follow the trails by the markings on the trees.
I don’t know how this will all go next year. I don’t know if he will be able to go to school, or if we will be doing this again. I hope that whatever he is learning with me will be a valuable part of his education and life skills. And I hope I can learn to have an idea of what I am doing!