CF: Preschool/Kindergarten

# How the Arts Can Fill "Holes" When You Don't Do Formal Preschool, by Cheryl

Our family owns a performing arts academy. Our kids have all done a lot of dance and music for preschool, both at the studio and at home.

Trust me when I say the arts can add so much to your home preschool!

Nursery rhymes are a great way to teach rhythm and rhyme. Read, memorize, and recite these with your preschooler. Sing them while you build with blocks or color. Don’t make it work or “school,” just a part of your day.

A library music day or a preschool dance class is likely to use fun songs and games that will help your child learn to rhyme and develop rhythm.

Introduction to Mathematics: Counting and Geometry

In my preschool dance classes we make circles; we travel in straight lines, diagonal lines, forward, backward, and sideways. We count as we hold stretches and repeat steps in a dance.

Rhythm from dance can help a child’s math skills. We work with counting the music, cutting time, basic addition, and more. The students don’t realize what they are doing, but there is a lot of math in a dance class!

At home we listen to music that includes numbers and counting. We cut out shapes for our art projects. We use math daily as we go through our day. How many plates do we need on the table? Where will the big hand point on the clock at lunchtime?

Develop Creativity

Singing, dancing, drawing, painting, playing the piano – all of these develop creativity. You do have to be careful; too much instruction will stifle a child’s natural creativity. Too many rules can end it. But a little instruction and guidance can go a long way.

At home, I provide arts and crafts supplies and let my kids do what they want. As my daughter gets older, we are studying famous art pieces and imitating them to learn new skills, but most of her art time is spent creating freely.

In dance, I teach my preschoolers skills and steps, and we put them in dances. There is structure, but I also give them time to be creative together and on their own. We play games, and we have free dance time with and without props. It is their favorite part of class – and mine too!

Pre-Writing Skills

The best way to develop writing skills is actually to not write. Before kids can write, they need hand strength and fine motor skills. Without these, they will have trouble holding and controlling a pencil to form letters and numbers.

Color with your kids. Start with fat crayons and markers, move on to regular-size crayons, and then colored pencils. At some point they will start to color in the lines and imitate letters on their own. At this point they are ready to begin writing. Still keep it light: copy a few letters 3-4 times each and then stop. Continue building hand strength and learning the letters with other medium – shape the letters out of play dough, use your finger to write in shaving cream or sand, paint the letters, draw a letter and turn it into an animal.

Each of my kids developed writing skills at different times and in different ways. My oldest son received a dry erase board with letters before two and immediately started tracing the letters. My second child colored all the time and showed no interest in writing letters until she was closer to five. She has beautiful handwriting now (at seven). My third is still in the scribbling stage and that’s okay; he’s only two.

Life Skills

Some parents are concerned that their preschoolers need to learn to take turns, wait in a line, interact with kids their age, and be away from mom and dad for a little while. Kids will learn these skills as they participate in your daily family life, but for the parents that want their kids to be taught these skills in an intentional way – dance class is great!

Preschool dance, music, and art classes are generally pretty short. Just enough time for the kids to be away from mom without missing them too much. They have to take turns, share, wait in line, and they will have a lot of fun with kids their age.

I have done very little structured preschool with my oldest two. They have progressed at different rates and excelled in different areas. All three of my kids have had early exposure to art, music, dance, and musical theatre. It has given them a rich and amazing preschool experience.

Cheryl–Cheryl is a singing, dancing, baking, homeschooling mom of three. She has danced her whole life and taught ballet and theatre for most of her adult life. Her favorite pastime has always been cooking and baking, and as a Pampered Chef Independent Consultant she gets to share that love with others. Home educating her three children has been and continues to be one of her greatest learning experiences! It is an adventure she is ready to continue.