Tuesday, May 23, 2017

4-Year-Old Preschool

(This post was originally written in January of this year.)

I'm really bad at sticking to a consistent preschool routine at home.  I always have these grand plans for my preschooler, but then I spend all my time working with the big kids, taking care of the baby, or doing chores. And the non-essentials like preschool are not a high priority and so don't get done regularly.  I'll go through phases of being really consistent, and then not.

Preschool in our house basically looks like this:
*Listen in on history and science lessons with the big kids as long as it holds his attention.
*Do literature studies with his Kindergarten or 1st grade sibling. (This means listening to a story and then doing various crafts.  I love Evan Moor Literature Pockets!)
*Do some worksheets occasionally whenever Mom starts to feel guilty or he wants to feel important like the big kids.
*Listen to bedtime stories every night.
*Starting about age 4, do Distar lessons as often as Mom remembers.  (It's easier to stay focused on this during the summer when the big kids are less demanding.)
*Lots and lots of independent play.  Mom tries to steer him towards "educational" activities like pattern blocks every once in a while.  But playing with action figures totally counts as preschool, too.

Quartus is now four years old.  I don't have another baby in the house to draw my attention away.  The big kids are getting more and more independent. There's no reason that I shouldn't prioritize his education at this point.  (Ok, I can think of plenty of reasons, but are they really that important?)

Plus, he's a really smart boy.  He has learned so much on his own without any real heavy coaching from me (identifying letter names, colors, shapes, numbers, some letter sounds.)  Because he's proven that he absorbs knowledge quickly and easily, it seems like a shame to not seize the opportunity to teach him all kinds of things!  If he has learned this much without a concentrated effort on my part, how amazing could he be if I dedicated even a little bit of time to him on regular basis?  

I still feel strongly that preschoolers should spend most of their time learning through playing, but it's also good to start doing a little typical school work as their abilities and interests make it possible.

And so, I have decided that preschool (in addition to everything listed above) is going to happen!  Everyday.  I came up with the following daily plan that was simple and basic enough for Quartus that it wouldn't take too long each day to do.  I printed this off, put it in a sheet protector, and then made a really big deal about it the Monday after his fourth birthday.  He is totally on board with his new "4-year-old-preschool."

1. Trace your name
That big orange splotch is hiding his name written with dotted lines.  He uses a dry-erase marker to trace the letters.

2. Workbook page
This can be anything from one of the various preschool books we have, something printed from the web, or just a dot-to-dot page.

3. Journal
He draws anything he wants on one page of a notebook.  Then he tells me about it and I write down what says, along with the date.  I did this with the other kids at this age and through kindergarten, too.  It's fascinating to go back and look at the evolution of their journal pages over that time.

4. Read
He picks a picture book for me or his brother to read to him.  I intend to start Distar with him very soon and those lessons will occupy this space of his preschool plan.

What does preschool look like in your homeschool?

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