Thursday, August 19, 2010

Back to (home)School: Preschool at Home

What should your child learn in preschool (besides how to dress up like a pirate in the picture above)?  According to FamilyEducation, your child is ready for Kindergarten when he can:
  • Listen to stories without interrupting
  • Recognize rhyming sounds
  • Pay attention for short periods of time to adult-directed tasks
  • Understand actions have both causes and effects
  • Show understanding of general times of day
  • Cut with scissors
  • Trace basic shapes
  • Begin to share with others
  • Start to follow rules
  • Be able to recognize authority
  • Manage bathroom needs
  • Button shirts, pants, coats, and zip up zippers
  • Begin to control oneself
  • Separate from parents without being upset
  • Speak understandably
  • Talk in complete sentences of five to six words
  • Look at pictures and then tell stories
  • Identify rhyming words
  • Identify the beginning sound of some words
  • Identify some alphabet letters
  • Recognize some common sight words like "stop"
  • Sort similar objects by color, size, and shape
  • Recognize groups of one, two, three, four, and five objects
  • Count to ten
  • Bounce a ball
This list is made up of mostly developmental milestones.  Developmental milestones are definitely important for beginning Kindergarten.  How can Johnny sit in a desk long enough to learn to read and write if he can't control himself or recognize authority?  Those things are important whether your child attends Kindergarten at a public, private or homeschool.  It is nice, though, for me to see what common age/grade standards are so I can make sure my children are up to par (if not above) state educational standards.  I used to teach preschool so I feel that I have a pretty good grasp of what he should be learning this year.

I've shared with you all what our plans are this year for my first grader.  But today I'd like to talk about preschool.  My son is 3-1/2 and some family and friends have asked if I'm starting to teach him at home yet.  The answer is most definitely yes...but in a very hands-on, impromptu way.

Most moms believe their children to be smart - and they should!  I'm no exception :o)

At three years old, my child:
  • Recognizes all 26 letters of the alphabet (capital and lowercase letters)
  • Recognizes numbers 1 to 10
  • Can successfully count objects to 3
  • Knows several letter sounds
  • Can name all 8 planets in our solar system (and knows that Pluto is considered a 'dwarf planet')
  • Can accurately describe a black hole (no kidding!)
  • Can identify his name out of a list of names
  • Has great fine and gross motor skills
  • Is learning to cut with scissors
  • Can hold a pencil correctly
  • Can sort objects by shape, color, and size
  • Can speak understandably
  • Knows all his colors
  • Knows basic shapes
He's almost ready for Kindergarten, right?!  Wrong!  What my son possesses in knowledge, he lacks in maturity.  After all, he's only 3!  So here's what we are doing:

The little foam blocks are from the dollar spot at Target.  My daughter uses them for learning addition and subtraction, while I use them for sorting and counting for my son.  And sometimes, they just get thrown all over our homeschool room :o)

This little gem was purchased from Wal-Mart a couple years ago.  It's a dry erase marker flip board.  I used it to help Ella get ready for writing and I'm now using it for my son.  We're starting with the shape tracing page and will progress to the letter and number tracing pages.

Although some days he just wants to doodle on the blank page.

More dry erase marker fun!  This pack has sturdy cards with numbers 1 to 25.  I was lucky to find this for about $8 at Marshall's...I wish I could tell you where to find your own.

My little guy is learning practical skills like zipping, lacing, etc. with this little puzzle from Melissa & Doug.

He loves this alphabet puzzle (also by Melissa & Doug).  We play Find the Letter - I simply ask him to find a certain letter.  I then loudly cheer when he finds it.  He thinks it's great fun!

Lacing beads!  Great for learning patterns and developing fine motor skills.  I like the lacing beads from Genius Babies.

Learn colors, shapes, counting and sorting this great toy (again, from Melissa & Doug - don't they make the best toys?!).

He always does Art time with his sister.  Here, the kids are playing with Playdough.  A staple of any home with children!

He likes to sit in on our Science lessons.  He loves all things science-related.  Even chemistry.  He also listens during our daily read-aloud time.  This week, we're reading two chapters a day of The Wizard of Oz. 

We read aloud.  A lot.  Can't stress the importance of that enough.

But sometimes, I simply need to keep him occupied while Ella gets through her lessons:

Playing is an important part of being 3 so I don't feel pressured to give him structured lessons all day.  He's happy, he's learning and having fun.  That's what's most important.

Next year we'll have a more structured preschool curriculum to follow.  For now, it's all hands-on fun.

What about social time?  Got that covered.  We're members of a local homeschool association and frequently get together with friends for play dates and field trips.  Plus, my kids spend several hours a week at our YMCA and church playing with other children.

What do you like to do with your preschooler?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

You are so wise to realize that your three year old is not ready for formal academic lessons, even though he is very clever. There are many other things he can learn for now, things that are more developmentally appropriate/helpful to him at his age. I also love that you do lots of reading aloud!
I base homepreschool on the 4R's: Relationship, routine, readiness, and reading aloud. We also include lots of play, art, music, and real life experiences.
I hope you'll visit me at for lots more ideas and links about homepreschool/homeschool. My article tab also has articles on "what your preschooler really needs" and "preschool or kindergarten?"
Susan Lemons
Homeschooling mom of 4
Bachelor's-Child Development
Former preschool teacher
Author, Homepreschool & Beyond