How We Learn

Since V is starting Kingergarten next fall, we decided to start a co-op preschool with a few friends in the neighborhood. We do co-op preschool on Tuesday and Thursday, and other than that, we just have free play, but to spice things up, we regularly do the following:

- morning devotional: we sing a song, usually the song that the kids are learning in Primary for that month, and then read the scripture of the month (from Primary, as well) and have a family prayer together (followed by a family hug, and the kids make sure that happens!)

- singing time: I have a lot of children's music, mostly from Janeen Brady's Brite Music which are a lot of songs that I grew up singing, and my children absolutely love them. I made four 10 minute long mixes on iTunes full of preschool music and I use one playlist for an entire month, and then use a different play list the second month. Each playlist has some of the songs of the other playlists, so there are always some of the same songs carried over from the last month. So far this has been working out great, and the kids actually ask for singing time!

- letter/number activities: this is when we do the Letter Box, or count things, or play with letter magnets or look at letters, or sort our letter cut-outs.

- craft/sensory activity: this is just what it says - we either do a craft (like make a new display for our Front Window, or another craft) or we do a sensory activity, like the water buckets.

- outing/field trip: if the weather is good for the field trip and we don't have other errands to run, I try to plan a few possible field trips/outings that we can do (most of the time on the fly). Review of our outings are part of the Wednesday Wanderings meme.

- special play: I learned about this in my foster care pre-service training. You can read a little about it here. Basically, these are the rules: at least 30 minutes where your focus is entirely on the child; follow your child's lead, ideas, and imagination; pace yourself with your child's tempo; offer toys/activities that are developmentally appropriate; avoid "overplaying" (you don't have to play by the rules); praise and encourage child's good ideas/creativity; encourage make believe, fantasy, role playing; comment descriptively (give play-by-play commentary); encourage independent problem solving; don't boss, don't criticize, don't teach - DO HAVE FUN! I try to have a session of "special play" with my kids each day. On top of all the therapeutic benefits of special play, my kids also get me on their playing field, doing the things like they do. Honestly, this only happens two or three times a week, but I'm sure my kids will take what they can get!

- quantity time: this is just the time when I am doing the things that need to be done around the house, and the kids are observing, or participating. Things like the laundry, vacuuming, doing the dishes, preparing meals, feeding the pets, cleaning bathrooms, reading the scriptures, writing letters, balancing the checkbook, arranging play dates, etc. I enjoyed an article about motherhood and I want to include an excerpt here:
As I am going about routine activities, my preschoolers, little as they are, are learning that a neat house does not appear by waving a wand. They are learning that playthings have a place where they belong and that among mommy’s priorities are things like cushions on the couch and not on the floor, and dirty clothes put in the laundry basket and not dumped where they were taken off. Apparently these are not easy lessons to learn, judging by the daily necessity to teach them all over again. But I am convinced that the baby trotting after me as I vacuum is gradually developing a preference for cleanliness. 
I don’t feel I need to apologize about spending time on the telephone with a friend while my toddler hangs on my leg begging for attention. She’ll get her attention when I hang up; since I’m home all day there’s time to sit down and find out what on earth she wants and give her a tickle and a cuddle, interrupted only by her baby brother who wants some too. But it hasn’t hurt her to wait. She is just beginning to have friends, and somewhere in her developing world view I want her to have the notion that grown-ups have friends as well.
Here is my "lesson plan" sheet that I was using each month (before we started co-op preschool) and keep in a visible place (next to my computer!) so I can reference it frequently, and so it can remind me to do the activities I have planned.
Feel free to save it to your computer (right-click + "Save image as") and use it for your own preschool activities. Please don't repost it or use it to make money (but please do link to this page if you want!).

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