Reposted with permission from Lisa at Golden Grasses.
I’ve had several young mommas (so young I could be their momma!) ask me about pre-k and kindergarten recently. This is my all-in-one response with tons of resources – blog posts and series, Pinterest boards and FB pages linked. Let’s get started!
The biggest challenge with preschoolers is keeping them engaged. Most still have a fairly short attention span, are easily tired and need fed and watered at regular intervals. Habit is key – routine is your safest bet.
I would recommend taking a look at Kendra’s Circle Time. This is a great way to think about what you want your littles to learn and how to organize it.
After years of doing this I recommend over-planning before you get started and then going with the flow once you start. With littles, like with anything else, you don’t get what you want, you get what you plan for. With littles, you often get lots of surprises, too, right?!
What can pre-Kers be expected to do?
Age appropriate chores. Kids do what you inspect, not what you expect, BUT, they do need to know what you expect, too! One of the greatest lessons I’ve learned from Andrew Pudewa is that if your child keeps asking for help, they need help. This seems simple – well, it is, really, but it might not come naturally!
Outside play and exploration/nature walks – do you see the baby snapper we found on a walk near our home? Nature journaling and nature tables (or in our case, our entire enclosed front porch) is a great way for kids to display the cool things they’ve found as they explore the great outdoors!
Read-alouds – at least 15 minutes a day; more is better.
I think some table time is good at this age, because it helps kids get acclimated to regular study.
Crafts and art – there are so many fun art books, but in any case an easel, paper, and paint are always appropriate. Colored shaving cream is great for bath/shower painting. And hey, how about a shower tile wall- works great as a white board and for painting – easily wipes off – all for $15 bucks.
Gardening – this can be in the yard, with containers, or how about a Fairy Garden?
Bible Study – Arch books, Bible Memory, reading a good quality Children’s Bible, Veggie Tales, Veritas Press or Bible Study for All Ages Bible cards.
Memory Work – When our youngest was four, we started a Classical Conversations community. She learned 160 VP history cards that year (even though she was a pre-reader), along with 24 history sentences, several others hundred facts related to grammar, geography, Latin, poems and more because we regularly and diligently used CD’s and table time to review. She also learned the letter sounds and started on a notebook-sized timeline. I say all of this so that you realize your littles are capable of learning a LOT. This is NOT to say that you should sit them at the table and force information down their throats. Kids this age, however, can learn a ton through CD’s, good DVD’s, books and great visual aids such as flashcards. Also, if you have older kids, why not include your younger kids? They really are sponges. If you start early “training their brains to retain”, you’ll be amazed at how much they really can and do retain as they grow older.
Limit screen time – There are so many apps, computer games, DVD’s, etc, and they are all fascinating. We use some but in limited quantity. You really want your pre-Kers neurology to be hard wired to people and words, not electronics. Studies have shown that kids learn language skills by interacting with people – NOT screens.
Open Ended toys – Brio Trains, Playmobile, Duplos/Legos, Stuffed Animals. Pinterest has some adorable pins of old entertainment centers refabbed as play kitchens. Add some felt food and old pots, pans and measuring cups.
Art Supplies – Easels, paint, glitter, glue, pipe-cleaners, colored paper, stickers, colored rice bins, colored shaving cream to “paint” in the bathtub, white boards around the house (make a whiteboard wall with shower tile or several smaller lapboards), chalkboards and magnet boards (easily made with some chalkboard or magnet paint).
Unstructured Outside Play – Trampoline, playhouses, daily walks, parks, swimming, gardening, sandboxes, swings.
“Sound exploration” -Musical makers. Kids loving making sound.
Gross motor skill development – For years we had a “Step 2″ playscape, complete with ladder and slide, IN our house.
Sand box or table – a friend actually built a sandbox in their basement for their kids and we had a sand table on our front porch for years.
Fine motor skill development – have plenty of pens, pencils, markers around for the kids to play with, sewing cards, small toys (once they are past the “everything in their mouths” stage- Lego, of course.
Cooking – my kids have all loved to help cook in the kitchen. Usborne’s First Cookbook is full of fun and simple recipes.
Singing – the Wee Sing series, with books and CD’s are full of old favorites.
Christian Studies – Arch books are a fabulous way for your littles to get a great introduction to basic Bible stories with pictures that they’ll remember for a life time. We also have loved and read out loud to our kids a couple of different Children’s Bibles, including the Golden Children’s Bible. We had tons of felts and teaching Bible stories through felts is always an attention grabber. Daily prayer. Family evening prayers, with everyone snuggled in a bed together is really a gentle way to teach your littles about what’s important to you. We have each child pray, youngest to oldest, ending with Daddy blessing each child. If your kiddo doesn’t know what to pray for just help them along following ACTS (Adoration, Confessions, Thanksgiving, Supplication). We would just have them repeat a simple sentence or two, such as, “Thank-you, God, for this day.” This year, we made an Easter garden.
Pre-Reading – Read aloud 15 minutes a day. There are so many adorable books on everything under the sun; don’t limit your read-alouds to baby books.
IEW Language Acquisition through poetry memorization– This is a fantastic program and easily accessible for littles, especially with the CD. There are four sections of 20 poems each, starting with simple, short poems and ending with epic dramatic retellings. Andrew Pudewa (who put the program together and recites the poems) has incredible diction, so your kids will really hear fantastic vocabulary and superb story-telling.
Letter and Number recognition – We used Kumon and Usborne workbooks; colorful, easily accessible and fun. There are tons of complete programs available.
Phonics – We always used Alpha Phonics in conjunction with Explode the Code. There are other great products out there. We took the low cost, no bells and whistles, effective approach.
Books – If you live with books and magazines, your kids will think having them around is normal. My kids love books on tape. We use Sonlight, Bethlehem Books, Memoria Press and Veritas Press catalogs as reading lists. Ranger Rick, National Geographic for Kids, Ladybug, Boys Life have all been favorite magazines around here.
Classical Conversations Cd’s
Veritas Press and Classical Conversations history, Bible and Science cards
Silly songs CD’s
Usborne Cat and Mouse books, Puzzle Books, Mazes and Dot-to-Dots, along with Board books. We love UBAH!
Bible Study for all ages.
Editor’s Note: For an assortment of links full of ideas, crafts, curriculum, games and much more, see the full article at Golden Grasses.