Thursday, January 23, 2014

Preschool at Home

I am not opposed to preschool or public school, but I am opposed to making school boring and forcing kids to "learn".  Plus, Elanor only recently turned three. I am a big believer in play and developing imagination. I think kids should spend more time playing, exploring and reading/being read to than sitting down and completing work sheets. We read a lot of books in our house and have read to Elanor since birth and that right there has taught her more than many public schools ever could---to love books. 

I wanted to start doing some sort of school with Elanor (back in the fall), but also I did not want to put her in preschool (too expensive) and I also wanted it to be pretty laid back. I do not want to force her into "school", because I want her to love it and not think of it as a chore. I looked at several different blogs on this subject and I liked a lot of the ideas on the blog Mud Hut Mama. So, this fall we started doing "school". Sometimes is was two or three times a week and sometimes only once or not at all. If she did not want to do it, we didn't (she was only two after all). We started by learning some letters. I would cut out the letter and she would glue it on the paper and then we would decorate the letter. I chose to learn lower case letters first since that is what we mostly use and see. I copied several of the Mud Hut Mama's ideas but also have done several of my own.

We went on a "nature walk" (rather the alley behind our house which is rather wild and overgrown) and made this bracelet (which was on the Mud Hut Mama blog). Elanor had a lot of fun finding and sticking things to it.

 We have also practiced counting things, in this case beans:

Here Elanor is with everything we could find around our house that started with the letter "b":
Boot, bear, book, blue pen, battery, bank, butter, blanket.
 Elanor with all the letters we have done thus far.

We have not done them in alphabetical order (she already knows the "abc song"). I started with the first three letters from the blog and then just did whatever one we felt like. Many of the letters we learned because they are in her name. Elanor can now spell her name out loud and can write it (mostly).
Each letter is something that starts with that letter. For example, "p" for princess and "l" for lollipop. I also made up a song using the tune to "C is for Cookie" that helps her to know her letter and what it stands for. For example it starts out, ""O" is for octopus that swims in the sea, "g" is for glitter that looks pretty on me (she wanted that one), "d" is for door and doggie (there is a dog inside the door in the picture), "S" is for snake, ss-ss-ssss". It goes on, but you get the idea! We have also practiced writing the letters and learning their sounds. Elanor remembers more than I expected her to and is loving it. We also have some letter and number puzzles we do for school as well.

Again, this is super laid back, we spend an hour to less on it at a time and we only do it when she wants (she does often ask to do school because she likes it so much).

It has been fun and Elanor keeps telling me she wants to learn how to read (but she still does not know all of her letters yet!). I love that she loves to learn (one of my favorite things to do) but I still think that learning through play, reading, exploring and helping around the house (doing dishes, folding clothes, helping me bake) are still the best ways for toddlers/preschool age kids to learn.

I love the Swedish preschool system (they don't even start formal education until seven--a much better age in my opinion), watch this video about it here:
It is 30 minutes, but worth it!

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