We all want to put together those “easy” Pinterest activities that are going to accelerate our childs’ learning right? Lets be honest, its not as easy as it looks and sometimes activities don’t always go as planned. Some of the most attractive things I have seen on Pinterest have turned into “Pinterest Fails” for me. So since my son has now turned two and his little mind is full of possibility and wonder, I thought it was about time I start adding some structure to our days and track the activities he can do successfully and some that we maybe should work on.
Our days were already filled with fun activities, reading books, being outside as much as possible. I just felt like I needed a way to measure progress and make sure I was working on the right things. So I took to the internet to see what other moms are doing at home with their preschoolers. I found everything from “unschooling” articles saying to do absolutely nothing… to moms that have their toddlers memorizing facts at two years old! I needed a middle ground. I felt overwhelmed.
I was not ready to have my toddler memorizing facts that he was not able to understand, but I did want to add something to our activities to help track how he was progressing. Here are a few things I did and would recommend to other parents looking to start a light regiment of activities that will enhance your child’s early learning experience.
1.) Use what you have:
So the simplest thing for a parent trying to start some learning activities with their preschooler, is to use what you already have at home. Colored blocks, musical instruments, legos, puzzles, other toys can be really useful with different learning activities.
One of our favorite activities we can do with our colored mega blocks is a color sorting activity. I spread blocks of many different colors on the floor and on our coffee table I place several different colored pieces of construction paper. I instruct my two year old to grab the blocks and place them on the matching color papers. He loves this activity and as we place the blocks we also say the colors aloud. There are countless activities you can do with different colored toys and things your child may already have. By getting creative and using toys and common objects you are easily showing your child that they can learn from their every day environment.
2.) Let your child lead the way on their own learning journey:
The one thing I have learned (especially being the mother of an active spirited toddler) is that he will show me what he really wants to learn and where his limits are. When trying to have a child sit down and focus on one activity, there are some things you should keep in mind. First, disinterest in sitting still and working for a toddler is not at all abnormal or a sign that your child is behind in any way. In fact this is often a sign that your child is very active and creative, maybe an “out of the box” thinker. Sometimes accommodating your activities to where your toddler wants to be works really well! You want to learn on the floor? Or on the couch? You can make many scenarios work for your child so they can learn without feeling like they are being forced to sit down and be quiet. Sometimes we will go outside and observe nature, run around and then come in and see if sitting down and doing some preschool work book is something that he wants to do! The more I let him lead and show me where he is at, the more we are able to accomplish these activities. Now, when we have had some active outdoor time, when we have had a snack and all his needs are taken care of, he will sit for a really great amount of time and work on an activity un-interrupted. It has taken time to get there but we are really making great progress.
3.) Try new things but don’t feel like you have to spend lots of money:
So, naturally there are ENDLESS options when it comes to schooling materials. How do you know which ones are good and which are excessive? No one wants to spend hundreds of dollars on supplies especially if its unclear whether they will work for your child. The way I like to deal with this issue is by research and some trial and error. I read articles on preschool homeschooling and see what other parents are using. If there is one product that many parents recommend then I might give it a try if its reasonably priced. A good example of this is the Preschool wipe away books. I kept hearing about these and seeing posts about how amazing they were. I finally spotted them at Target for a great price so I bought two (there were so many different books with different topics.) We tried them and my son LOVES THEM so we will be buying more as he progresses through his learning. Also when I was at Target, I found these AWESOME sticker books that were $1 each! They have a variety of different subjects from, first words, farm animals, vehicles and more! There are places with missing images and you go find the stickers and place them where they belong. They are so great and my son absolutely loves them! After you are done with the sticker activity the books are still a useful learning tool for many different activities. I bought a bunch of these because I know we will be using them consistently! Some other small things I purchased are flash card sets, and some safety toddler scissors. With these items I probably spent around $25 and this group of materials can help us do a large amount of activities that will facilitate learning and play!
4.) Look in unexpected places for homeschooling inspiration and materials!
I have learned that sometimes when thinking of activities to do with your little one, using the internet but also looking in unexpected places can reveal amazing ideas you might not have previously seen. First of all, Pinterest is an amazing resource for learning tools activities and ideas. That might be a more obvious place but I had no idea Etsy was full of resources for homeschooling! With all my searching I wasn’t completely happy with what was out there for my child. I decided to develop my own line of homeschooling worksheets. I have them all available on Artistically Organic’s Etsy page and I am constantly updating them with new lesson sheets and downloads. These files are all instant download and can be printed again and again to work with your child on different activities.
I wanted to make my worksheets more realistic with real photography so your child will be able to identify the objects they are learning about in the real world. I also wanted my worksheets to be friendly for vegan families and with an eco friendly twist. Many of my worksheets will feature earth friendly lessons and lots of healthy foods! Visit Artistically Organic on Etsy to see our homeschooling section and find downloads priced as low as ninety nine cents!
5.) Use or make a visual learning board for your toddler!
When starting a routine for home-preschooling, its important to be in some sort of a routine and start establishing activities and timing your little one can rely on. I found that the best way to do this was to have a visual board that I could show my toddler the date, the weather, what we were going to do that day. I made my own board but you can certainly buy these and save the time. I used a posted frame with a plastic panel instead of glass and a simple piece of plain wrapping paper inside. I also used adhesive velcro and packing tape or a laminator. I found some images online of different things that could symbolize different activities. I printed and laminated a picture of our vehicle so that I could let my toddler know when we would be going out. I printed objects for meals, simple hygiene routines and other activities. Once these images were laminated and I placed velcro on them I could easily show my little one how to use the board and now every morning we start the day by changing the date and weather, adding what we will be doing that day. Its a great way to communicate and plan the day.
Well I really hope this article helps some parents beginning their home-preschool journey. I really want to pass on any information and tricks I have learned as we begin our journey. I will be posting again once we are further in our lessons and explain the progress we have made, what has worked and what hasn’t. If you are a pre-schooling parent what do you do to help your little one grow and learn? I would love to hear from other parents! Until next time! 🙂