Since I was a K5 teacher in a former life (that seems years and years ago, but really was less than 5!), and before that had worked in a school environment for several years, education is something about which I am quite passionate. I love seeing little light bulbs flicker on, and eyes light up with the excitement of learning something new.
In particular (probably once again due to my stint as a K5 teacher), I get really excited about teaching little ones to read. I don’t know; there’s just something about opening up a whole new world to a young learner who is curious and adventuresome and always ready to find out more. That moment when my students discovered that they could read books beyond their little phonics readers was absolutely my favorite moment every year.
So it’s no surprise that the prospect of teaching my own little curious boy is an exciting one. A little scary, I suppose, but exciting! Maybe I got a little carried away, but when he had learned (mostly by himself with the aid of the LeapFrog Fridge Phonics Alphabet) the entire alphabet – including each letter’s sound – by the time he was 2.5, I determined that he would benefit with a little informal schooling at home.
Honestly, I don’t think that preschool is truly a necessity. In my K5 classes, most of the children had gone to preschool of one kind or another, but there was always a student or two with no prior education experience. Those students may have been at a disadvantage at the very beginning of the year, but by the end of the school year, I would have been hard pressed to notice any significant academic or social difference between the preschooled and the non-preschooled children.
However, if a child wants to learn, I believe they should be given every opportunity. And learning can take place at home as well as it can in a pre-school environment. Possibly even better.
Like everything else in life, I keep our pre-school sessions pretty simple. Last year, when he was 3, they lasted no longer than 20 minutes. Now that he’s almost 4 and able to maintain concentration for longer periods of time, we spend about half an hour on our lessons. I have a very focused routine with clear goals in mind, which I will share with you over the course of the next few weeks. This enables us to move very quickly through the essential learning elements for his age and get a lot accomplished in a short amount of time.
When I first decided to start pre-school with him, I was stymied momentarily by the issue of space. We live in an apartment that is spacious, but not huge! Finding a spot to school him was a little tricky, but in the end, I settled on an empty corner in the dining room.
I can’t find the original source anywhere, but I came across the idea for this corner from a pin on Pinterest (naturally). I really need to find it so I can give credit because I almost copied it exactly.
The round black circle (from IKEA – unfortunately, I don’t think they carry it anymore) is a magnet board that I used last year mostly like you would a bulletin board – I posted his papers as he finished them, especially the really good ones. I also would use it occasionally with magnetic letters and numbers to play different games. This year, though, I’m using it specifically as a place to hold charts: right now, it has a weather graph and a days-of-the-week calendar. Later in the year, it might have a monthly calendar or a number chart.
By the way, I absolutely love the little round magnets that we bought to go with the magnet board! They just flesh out the circle theme perfectly!
Underneath the magnet board isa rod that holds 4 or 5 tin buckets (I found the buckets in the dollar section at Target.) containing supplies like letter magnets, crayons, and alphabet flash cards. (A trick I learned when teaching: punch a hole in the top of flash cards and thread them onto a ring. Flip the cards around the ring as you go through them, then hang the ring on a hook to store.) We will be adding to the collection of flash cards as we go through the year!
On the left is a magazine rack (also from IKEA) that we use to hold the workbooks and reading books. I used to let him keep his coloring books on the bottom rack, but that just got way too messy for my liking, so now we have a new space for those.
His little desk was a thrift store find (but very much like this one at IKEA!) – one of those plain wooden frames with a white top. My DH and FIL very kindly sanded them down and spray-painted them a nice happy green color.
Underneath the little table is one of those cheap pressed-wood shelving units from Target. The top shelf is where his coloring books now reside, and the bottom shelf is reserved for Mommy’s school books. Little children are not allowed to touch the items in the bottom shelf, and so far they’ve been very good about that!
Above the magnet board is a shelf (also from IKEA!) where I store all the things that need to be kept out of reach of the littles: scissors, tape, manipulatives, curriculum, stickers, etc. I used some upcycled jars to contain the counting bears, letter tiles, and stamps.
So this is where we spend about half an hour every morning, working through our letters, numbers, handwriting, reading, and Bible lesssons! Next week, I’ll tell you more about how we “do school” in a little more detail. Just because I love it and I get all excited just thinking about it!
Do you do any pre-school work with your children at home?
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