Monday, April 24, 2017

Tips for Homeschooling with the Littles

Reposting this from 2011:  My Caedmon is now an eight year old, but we have a two-year-old grandson with us every Monday.  It's time to start "school" with him.

Two Year Old "School"

What do you do with the little guys while you are teaching the older ones?
 I need to do some kind of learning activities with my toddler, but I have no idea what to do?

When you get busy teaching the older children it is often easy to overlook the educational needs of the little ones.  Yes, we make sure they are clean and fed, but some days it is easy to stick in a video or two for a couple of hours of peace while we teach the older children.   One way to make sure you are incorporating fun, entertaining and educational activities for your little ones is to make a plan.

Go through  your preschool toys and games and make a list of everything  you have that will make up a fun learning experience for your little one.  This is my current list of things my 27 month old son, Caedmon, can do by himself or with help.

1.  Lauri lace up animals
2.  a magnetic board with magnetic shapes of various colors
3.  Discovery Toys Giant Pegboard  for color sorting, stacking, counting or stringing....the back of it can be used as a pegboard with rubber bands
4.  bean bags tossed into a basket or bucket
5.  jumbo Cuisenaire rods
6.  Wee Sing tapes  (ok, I have cassettes--I have had preschoolers for over 20 years!!)
7.  board puzzles--Lauri, Melissa and Doug and Discovery Toys
8.  stickers and paper--I may draw a shape or a letter and have him place stickers to outline the drawing
9.  Color Wonder fingerpaint
10.  Color Wonder markers
11.  What's That Sound?--Discovery Toys listening lotto game
12.  attribute blocks- sort shapes, colors and sizes
13.  exercise CD or video
14.  make pictures with rice, dried beans, pasta or cornmeal
15.  tear construction paper and glue on other paper to make a collage
16.  Duplos
17.  Builders and Benders from Discovery Toys
18.  Little People
19.  Measure Up Cups (Discovery Toys) with a large pan of rice and a funnel
20.  play dough and cookie cutters
21.  large lace up beads from Melissa and Doug
22.  plastic nuts and bolts
23.  Trace and Place puzzles from Discovery Toys
24.  pattern blocks---match colors and shapes, make simple patterns, make designs
25.  small dry erase board and marker
26.  Melissa and Doug box shape sorter
27.  Melissa and Doug stacking blocks
28.  Melissa and Doug pegged shape sorter
29.  Mini Motors from Discovery Toys for sorting and playing
30.  file folder games from
31.  activity bags from
32.  books, books and more books!!
33.  Sounds Like Fun tape from Discovery Toys
34.  toy instruments from Melissa and Doug
35.  play food

As we do many of these activities we will be talking together about various things.  Naming objects, colors and shapes.  Sorting objects also can help teach counting.  Talk about same and different as you sort.  Opposites are fun to teach.  Caedmon is really funny these days as he makes a happy face and then a sad face as requested.  We sing or count as we roll a ball back to each other on the floor.

Children at this age also love to help with various chores.  There is a good bit they can help with if you take the time  to enjoy and encourage their efforts.  Caedmon loves to help load clothes in the washer or dryer.  He can also pick up toys and help vacuum.  A cleaning rag is great fun for him as he wipes down the fronts of kitchen appliances.  With a spray bottle of plain water and a cleaning rag he can clean a spill or a sticky spot in the floor.  With a damp rag he can dust low pieces of furniture.

When we were "poor" seminary students I borrowed several early learning resources from the library.  As I came across an idea that I thought would interest my children I copied it onto an index card.  I have a file box full of fun activities for early learning in all subject areas:  science, physical activities, language, crafts, etc.  Other resources that I have used in the last few years include Slow and Steady Get Me Ready by June R. Oberlander and The Preschool Primer:  101 Ideas for Learning and Doing.

Now that I have resources and a list of activities I am ready for the planning session.  I have a small plastic set of six drawers.  Each drawer is labeled for each of the five school days.  The extra drawer will contain quiet activities for family worship time.  I keep 4-5 activities in each drawer.   Many items on my list will not fit in the drawers, so I will tape the list to the wall next to my desk.  As I make out my lesson plans for the older children I can easily write down 2-3 activities from the list on my plans for Caedmon. I am hoping that being a little more organized with his activities will keep us all a little less frazzled and Caedmon a little more content.

If you have any questions or suggestions, I would love to hear from you.  Do you have a terrific resource for the early preschool years?  How do  you incorporate your littles into  your school day?
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