My littlest is gearing up for Preschool.
I can hardly believe it! Time flies by when you’re the crazy mom to 4. It probably even flies by when you’re NOT crazy, but I wouldn’t know anything about that.
She is the youngest yet in our family to start her formal learning, though formal is used very loosely around here. I firmly believe in child led learning, and while she is showing many signs she is ready, if we give it a try and it ends up being a complete disaster, we will set it aside and try again later.
Not that anything with this little Diva could ever be a disaster…..
Even though this will be the fourth time I’ve taught preschool, I don’t claim to be any kind of expert when it comes to assessing a child's academic preparedness for it. I’ve been using this checklist for several years now, and It’s worked so far for us. The boys were both 4 years old when they started preschool, and Elaina was a little bit older than that. Our homeschool preschool is probably a far cry from the fancy language immersion preschools I’ve been hearing about, but those don’t really meet our family goals anyway. At this stage in the game, I really just hope I can teach them their ABC’s and get them to stop eating their boogers.
Maybe my goals are just a tad too low, but I digress….
Here’s the checklist I use while assessing if my child is ready for preschool:
(Click image for printable version)
While handwriting and penmanship will come later on, these basic pre-writing skills are an important foundation.
Our kids have ample access to pencils, crayons, markers, and paper. Most of our kids have learned how to hold a pencil just by observing others write.
Great activities to try are coloring books, tracing activities, and any fine motor activities that help develop your child's pincher grasp (beading, lacing, stringing, using tongs or an eyedropper, sewing.)
Math, Logic, & Problem Solving
This is not an exclusive list of math skills your child may have, but definitely a great starting point:
We use lots of puzzles, matching games/activities.
Reading Readiness & Language Development
If I could tell you one thing you can do to help your child the most it is: read, read, and read some more! It’s been part of our everyday routine since my oldest was born. Make frequent trips to the library and make reading a fun family activity.
Our youngest is a little behind on her speech and we are actively working to help her. She actually enjoys using flashcards and playing “word” games.
Our earliest years of homeschool modeled the Charlotte Mason Method, and nature walks and journals were a big part of our schooldays. Things will be the same for Olivia, as we expose her naturally to the "living ways of nature".
Making observations and asking your preschooler questions about their environment and surroundings is an easy and natural way to incorporate science into your every day life. “Watch how this works” or “What will happen when…” get your child thinking and processing differently.
Creative Arts & Music
Our kids are heavily exposed to music and art. Nothing too fancy here though. Just as often as they listen to Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, they're listening to 80's pop, classic Jazz (like Duke Ellington, Louis Armstrong), and traditional Mariachi music. Our motto is a variety of music for a diversity of moods.
Painting, drawing, cutting, pasting, sculpting, building, singing, dancing, listening to music, playing musical instruments. Anything to get the creative juices flowing!
Kids are even learning while they are playing! Encouraging them to play alone and with their peers helps them develop a rich imagination.
Dress-up, role play, dolls/figures, any kind of pretend play they can conjure up! (Plus they look so cute in those costumes.)
Gross Motor Skills
Kids in this age group are naturally pretty active. Providing them with focused physical activity can help build muscular strength, flexibility, balance, and confidence too. Trips to the park, family walks/bike rides, organized (or not) outdoor games and sports, are all great ways to build your child's gross motor skills.
Run, jump, skip, climb, kick, throw, catch, ride, peddle, roll, swim, bat, carry, pull, push, drag, slide, and balance. Keep them moving and do it with them.
Independence, Life Skills, & Self Care
This is another part of the Charlotte Mason Method that we still focus heavily on.
Preschoolers have a natural curiosity and a built in “I can do it” mentality. It doesn’t last long, so take advantage and allow them as many opportunities to learn and do for themselves and around the house as possible. Teach them to make their bed, feed a pet, sweep with a little broom, and tidy their toys. Allow them a turn with the mixer or spoon, pushing the grocery cart, watering the flowers, and buttering the toast.
As exhausting and draining as this phase can be, it is one of my favorite times of teaching! I find it absolutely amazing how ready and eager they are to learn, and at the speed in which they do it.
We will start Olivia's preschool with a simple version of Letter of the Week, just like I did with all the others. I plan on starting in late August/September. Stay tuned for all the fun!