Monday, September 12, 2011

preschool "plan" for my two-year old... (haha)

With the new school year starting and me feeling better after being horribly sick in early pregnancy, I am attempting once again to do "Torah school" and preschool with my daughter at home, who will be turning three in November. Having been a substitute preschool teacher for almost two years before college, I love this age (although keeping their attention takes enormous amounts of energy and can be very difficult!) Nevertheless, I feel that it's never too early to start preschool lessons with your little one (and teaching them is a parent's responsibility first, even if they are enrolled in a preschool), but it's important that they enjoy it, and you do too! In this post, I will attempt to explain my "plan" for preschool, while sharing ideas and inexpensive ways to engage your preschooler at home. 

I:It's good to have a plan, but don't stress out if you can't always stick to it.

Consistency is important to small children because it gives them security and stability. They love to know what's coming and to have something to look forward to. However, it's not always possible to stick to a strict schedule or a lesson plan. Teaching is something that a mother does at all hours of the day, not just during "school time." She is constantly guiding, correcting, encouraging, and molding her child's behavior and character, whether she realizes it or not! I have somewhat detailed lesson plans, but if I change them in the moment or don't get to everything, that's fine. Sometimes life lessons are best learned when "life happens" and it should be a mother's goal to take advantage of those teaching opportunities as they arise. We should not strive to make our children geniuses, but rather godly, moral, and compassionate human beings. If trying to stick to your lesson plans stresses you out, your children will be stressed out too! So have fun when you are teaching them, and they will want to learn. 

II: Involving your whole child in the learning process

our sensory tub
Children learn through experience, so try to involve all of their senses when teaching them. They want to smell, hear, touch, taste, and see what they are learning. Don't expect a two year old to sit patiently and simply listen to what you are saying for more than a few minutes! Use facial expressions, hand motions, props, humor, and whatever else it takes to get their attention. My daughter's favorite aspect of preschool so far is our "sensory tub," which is just a plastic container with a lid (a little larger than shoebox size). I began using this when she was maybe 16 months old or even younger, filling it with dry oats so she could dig in them and run her fingers through them. Mind you, it gets messy, but it's worth it! For preschool, I try to tie the sensory tub into what she is learning about. For example, last week our Torah portion (Ki Teitzei) involves a lesson on what to do when you find items that don't belong to you. While explaining this to her, I let her "dig for treasure" in the tub, filled with uncooked rice. I purposely put items in there that belonged to me, my husband, or even her baby brother, so that I could tell her what the Torah says to do with them (return them to their owner). And she has gone back to dig for treasure on her own time because she loves digging in the rice. Try using a sensory tub, and see how their little faces light up. You can fill it with sand, water, uncooked rice or barley, beans, oats, or whatever else you find in your kitchen. I also just purchased these "water gems" that I read about here . (I got the ones you add water to in the floral department at Michael's for $2.99) They look like fun, and a lot less messy than using water! 

III: "Mom-schooling" doesn't have to be expensive. 

Although there are SO many arts and crafts supplies available, you don't have to go out and buy them all! Little ones are always impressed with your own creativity and resourcefulness. I love children's workbooks (especially when they are in the dollar section at Target every August!) and I still buy some of them, but I have discovered where you can find and print out all kinds of worksheets for all ages, and they are awesome! With kids, though, limit the amount of worksheets that you use because they get bored with them pretty quickly. I buy the store bought ones for the color because I can only print in black and white at home. 

Don't think that you have to spend a lot of money to be a successful homeschooler. There are so many creative (and frugal) moms out there who are homeschooling, and they love to share their ideas! So look for them! I have discovered and
for craft and curriculum ideas. There is also ,, and for great resources and printables. These can be very helpful for coming up with ideas to go with your curriculum, and they can also help get your creative juices flowing to come up with your own! :)

I keep the preschool curriculum in a binder, but also have individual file folders containing the worksheets or other items I need to prepare ahead of time. After a few attempts, I settled on breaking it down into these categories of learning: a different theme each week (i.e. school, alphabet, shapes, etc.), books and music to go with the theme, general (learning letters, numbers, shapes, Hebrew, etc.), arts & crafts (to go with the theme or with the parashah), sensory & motor skills (cutting, tracing, etc.), and character (learning about the weekly parashah and how to live godly lives). This will change and expand as she gets older.

As the year goes on, and as our journey goes on, I will probably have many more posts like this one. Feel free to share other helpful sites and ideas for teaching your "wineskins"!

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