Three Simple Organized Ideas for Early Learning at Home
From the moment Paul and I found out we were expecting our son, we knew we wanted to home school him, and any future children. What we didn’t know was how. You see, I’m not a teacher. I never wanted to be a teacher. My skill set simply does not lead me to the classroom.
In fact, the idea of spending the entire day with children, textbooks and Elmer’s glue makes my heart race – and not in a good way.
All this to say, Joseph is three, going on thirty; he’s already smarter than a whip. This year I felt like it was time to ease into to a home school routine. Not exactly preschool, because he’d always be ahead of the rest of the kids his age, but some version of early learning.
My purpose is to teach him some basics, and to teach myself how to teach. (Yikes!)
After some discouraging moments (like when I searched out, printed, cut, laminated, and cut again endless alphabet printables, packets, etc, only to see him dismiss them in boredom. Duh, mom! He’s known the alphabet and their phonetic sounds for over a year!) I scaled back my efforts, mixed things up from the “normal way of doing school” and came up with three simple systems that are working for us.
Here are my top three strategies for organizing our pre-k home school weeks, keeping it fun for Joseph, and getting used to this home school thing!
O-N-E – Vintage Alphabet Posters (Copy Paper Size)
I learned to read with these. Really I did. My mama was a kindergarten teacher and these posters doubled as my toys. These exact cards are my earliest memories. So it was only natural that I asked my mom if I could have them to use with Joseph. Here’s how I keep it simple. I keep the cards stacked flat in a shallow drawer. Every time I find a printable or special book or activity related to a letter I stash it just beneath the card it relates too.
In order to keep Joseph from getting bored we decided to do a random letter each week. Instead of teaching through the alphabet, A to Z, our first four weeks were letters “D” “K” “W” and “A.” He loves trying to get it out of me what letter we’re doing next week and it keeps him excited. Over the weekend I prepare for the coming week by grabbing that stack of materials beneath the letter I’ve chosen!
Which brings me to…..
T-W-O Tote of the Week
I take my stack that relates to my letter of choice and place it in my securely handled, flat tote. I also add in a pack of crayons. We’re doing the numbers 1 through 10 in order and one number a week, so I find and print several activities to relate to our number of the week. In they go. Since Joseph truly already knows all of this stuff well, I am including activities to teach him the sight words for the numbers as well (since most of them can’t be phonetically sounded out.) Next I grab my preschool worksheet book which I purchased at Sam’s club (I’ve seen these at dollar stores too!) I flip through and choose challenging worksheets for him. I select things like simple mazes, choosing the item that doesn’t belong, shadow matching, finding hidden letters/numbers, color by numbers, etc. Into the tote they go. Finally I add in any craft supplies we need. (We have an old book, from my mom that has an animal puppet template for each letter, “alligator,” “whale,” “duck,” and “kangaroo,” etc. So we always toss in a glue stick and a brown paper bag to make our puppet.)
Having this flat tote prepped and ready to go, knowing I can pick and choose activities, and it’s no big deal if we don’t get to it all is a huge help to me. If Joseph is having an especially hard time getting focused I will let him pick the worksheet that he would like to try next to try to re-establish his interest. This tote is always ready on Monday which means less stress for our pre-k home school!
T-H-R-E-E Educational Toy Inventory List
Oooh, that sounded big and complicated! Earlier this summer when I was preparing for our home school launch, I went through all of Joseph’s toy’s, especially the ones that are out of his reach and considered supervised-play only. I made a list of everything that had any educational value. From lacing cards to flash cards, from memory (matching) games to puzzles, anything that taught him something made the list. (Since Joseph’s “Grammy” is a retired teacher most of his gifts and toys are educational, so we had a lot to inventory!) This list is a big part of our home school.
My son is three and being a boy, sometimes sitting and learning is not his ideal way to spend half an hour, so having a list of all his toys means I can choose something that I know he hasn’t played with in a long time and bring it out. His interest is rekindled and I know he is learning something, even if it’s just getting a little gross or fine motor practice. A big PLUS with this strategy is that it is the easiest way for Paul to join in on Joseph’s education. Whenever the week is busy and our homeschool moments are cut short, I know Paul will pull out something of the ETIL (Educational Toy Inventory List << you can see mine here as an example.) and spend some time teaching his son through play.
Such an awesome bonus if you ask me!
What pre-k organizing tips do you love? Have you stumbled across a dynamite early learning technique? Use the comments to let us in on your secret!
Looking for more homeschool info? Try one of these!
Encouragment for the Weary Homeschool Mom
13 Back to School DIY’s
Where to Homeschool & Top Organization Tips
Bible Memory Beginnings for Preschoolers
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