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Do you stay at home with your younger children who are not yet old enough to go to preschool or decided you wanted them to forgo preschool? Our mornings have “preschool time” so my daughter can practice her academic skills, have fun, and be excited for preschool next year when she is old enough. My kids are 3 1/2 and 1 1/2 years old. My son tries to participate, and I include him in everything. If it’s something too difficult for him, I try to give him the same activity or something similar so he can try too.
What Skills Should I Practice At Home And Why Are Those Skills Important For Preschool?
Gross Motor: Gross motor activities use your child’s big muscles of their body. It is the big movement activities that help with overall strength, coordination, and coordinated movements.
Fine Motor: Fine motor activities use your child’s little muscles in the body specifically hands. Activities with your hands help build endurance, strength, and coordination.
Overall Body Coordination: This works with your child’s entire body and helps with general body movements. Activities that involve moving in certain positions such as riding a bike or playing a game of Twister work to help with movement control, strength, and eye hand coordination.
Attention: This helps any child begin to focus on a specific task. Expect a young child 2 and under to be able to attend to a book or activity for 2 or less minutes however with increased practice your child should become excited for “story time” or “preschool time” and start attending for longer periods of time. My daughter is able to attend for the 25 minute circle time without difficulty and my son comes back and forth per activity (he will try for a few minutes then gets up and walks around). This skill is important for preschool and kindergarten because your child will have to sit for extended periods of time without getting up.
Social: I’m involved in MOMS Club which is a national organization. We host play groups, mom nights, and help in the community. Check your local area to see if you have a group or see if you can start a chapter if you don’t! I also have good friends that I regularly see that also have children and my kids get to play with. Its important for children (and yourself lets admit it you always feel much better when you have friends!) to make friends and learn how to share, act appropriately in front of others, parallel play or play back and forth, and learn fair game play and empathy.
Reading Comprehension: I’ve read since all my children were in the womb. People have laughed at me however it’s an important skill to have and one I feel very strong towards due to how important reading is in our lives. I grew up loving books. When we had a goal of so many book reports in school I would usually triple it for fun. I want to show my children that reading is fun and not a chore so it comes easy to them in school. My son in first grade and is in love with Diary of a Wimpy Kid Series and can read some of it solo however he still enjoys me reading it to him. My younger two get super excited for story time but can sit still for only a 10 minute story and then need to get up.
Sensory Development: Sensory is developed by all your senses and interacting with different experiences in a child’s life helps with development. Touch is a great sensory activity for kids because its fun and sometimes unexpected for them. Try Play Doh, shaving cream, Water Beads, and Moon Sand for a fun experience in your preschoolers’ day.
Play Development: Play needs to be developed for children. Some kids all aspects come naturally, and others needs some guidance. It’s important to play one on one with your child to model activities with toys as well as let your child play on their own and be able to entertain themselves.
What Can You Add To Your Routine For A Mini Preschool Time?
This is what I usually do in our morning time for our preschool. It looks like a lot but if I choose to do a fine motor activity or game it takes about 45 minutes depending on if the kids are paying attention and into it or if they ask for another activity and we just keep having fun. You don’t need to add in all areas (the kids asked for a U.S. map I just wanted to put what we did for fun). Sometimes we take a break in between and come back to do a game or a song because that’s life with kids!
Mystery Box: This is my favorite activity during circle time and the kids get super excited to guess what the item is. I easily made this box out of an old shoe box and used an old gift bag and taped it around the shoe box. The sparkle effect adds extra charm to the box for sure! The purpose of the the mystery box is to work on stereognosis (being able to feel items by feeling instead of only by sight). Evelyn is 3 1/2 and she is able to recognize simple items but not yet concrete items. My oldest son (6) can usually recognize most objects. It takes practice and I still let my 1 year old feel the object and he loves playing the game, but we have to encourage him to keep the item in the box without pulling it out! I have the baby then my daughter feel and guess the item. I let her pull it out and tell me if she was correct. Then she likes to hide something and have me guess. Using a mystery box can help your child with stereognosis, patience (to wait for their turn), critical thinking and problem solving.
Songs: Sometimes I’m creative with the songs other days I just don’t have it in me to do an involved fingerplay, so I do an easy song we already know (like Old McDonald). I try to get both kids to sing and dance and involved in the movements for the song. There is also a Pandora Preschool Mix it’s called The Learning Station (Children’s) Radio (looks like this exactly) that I found and it has some great sing along songs that I don’t always remember the words for! Working on songs can help your child with speech development, copying body movements, social interaction, and
ABC’s and Numbers: I found a great little ABC strip at Dollar Tree and we find something to point to the letters every day while we sing the song (we like using our finger pointer or a light saber!). I pick out a letter every week and Evelyn practices writing the letter on a mini chalkboard, picking it out on the letter strip, and trying to practice that letter in any activity we do during the week. I also do a number with the letter as well. My daughter loves the mini chalkboard and workbook I found to work on her handwriting and reading skills.
U.S. Map: This activity was totally all my kids’ idea! We found a large U.S. map at Dollar Tree and the kids asked to put it up. I said why not! We practice where we live (New York) and our home state (Maine). We also practice one fun interesting state every week.
Story Time: I have the kids pick a book from our library stash and we read a book. I like to find different spots in the house that are fun to improve attention as well. We read on the beanbag, in our tent, or any other silly place the kids can think of.
Fine Motor Activity of Board Game: I try to make simple activities for fine motor development and do it all week or we chose a game to play. The below picture is of a animal cracker bin I saved and we used tongs/tweezers to pick up fake leaves and put it into the bear.
What We Do In An Afternoon At Home:
If we have nothing planned out of the house for the afternoon I usually plan a craft or sensory activity for the kids. At our house after lunch (11:30-12:00 most days) I put the baby down for a nap and he is usually napping for 2 hours. My daughter has quiet time since she won’t nap for me anymore and she watches TV or plays on her Ipad while I do my blogging work and clean the house. When he gets up and my son comes home at 3:30 we usually do something fun altogether.
Craft: I like to use my Pinterest for the crafts I find and collect on my board or I do a low key craft I make up. You do not have to be creative to make up your own craft! For example have the kids cut up small pieces of construction paper and glue it onto a larger sheet of construction paper to make a cool mosaic picture!
Sensory Activity: I like doing some kind of tactile play at least once a week to get the kids feeling different textures and having fun through sensory play. We like to use shaving cream, sand bin, rice/bean bins, water beads, and water. I change up bins and have sensory activities I make for the day or I have permanent bins with the items inside. Check out my Bubble Man post for an easy sensory activity (see picture below).
Books: I let the kids pick a book from the library bin or their own bookcases. My older son likes to read small books to us as well.
Play Outside Or Do An Indoor Gross Motor Activity: I try to bring the kids out at least 15 minutes outside even if it’s a horrible day out. We have a covered play area that shields us from some elements. A little bit of fresh air and Vitamin D go a long way for our energy levels, so I always try to go outside even if its only 15 minutes. If it’s a brief time outside I set up some kind of activity they can jump and crash on pillows or bean bags to get their energy out.
I hope you have fun teaching your kiddos some great skills for life! Below are a few products I like to use in our preschool day.