Preschool

Building Character and Love For Reading – Guest Post

Guest Post by Catherine Gillespie

I have three children aged 4, nearly 3, and 16 months. Because of their littleness and close age range, things are pretty busy at our house and we needed a preschool core that would allow us to be together rather than requiring me to be apart with my oldest daughter while the other two kids ran amok.  After much reading and careful consideration, I decided that the essence of what we want to instill in our young children at the preschool level is good habits of character and a love of reading. As I began to structure more of our time around these goals, I found that we were able to cover a wide range of subjects and activities in a short amount of time and I was surprised to see how much of what we already did together was educational without being formal “school” time.

We start with building character. My husband and I discussed areas of character that our children needed to work on, and found Bible verses for memory work that fit with those traits.  If you need inspiration, feel free to check out our outline.  Some habits have come easily, while we’ve spent weeks working on others.   We don’t expect our kids to be perfectly patient or kind by the end of the sequence, since character development is a lifelong process, but it has proved helpful to have the verses and ideas to use as reminders when incidents arise. 

We read widely from living books. My book policy for children is that they be well-written, beautifully illustrated, and tell a worthwhile story rather than just beating kids over the head with a moral (this loosely follows the Charlotte Mason principle of “living books”).  I sorted our book collection into categories and was surprised to see how well most subjects can be covered using good books.  My basic categories are Bible/Devotional, Language Arts/Poetry, Art/Music, Manners, Math, Science/Nature Study, History/World Cultures, Folk Tales/Fairy Tales, and Good Stories. I try to read a little from each category most days.

Other good resources for children’s books include the Sonlight reading lists, Ambleside Online, and books such as Honey for a Child’s Heart, Babies Need Books, and Books Children Love. Even babies and grabby toddlers can be taught to enjoy reading time, and we have learned a lot at our house just by reading great books together.

We remember that all of life is educational. Aside from working on character and reading, I try to remember that our whole day is an opportunity to learn and grow.  We memorize poetry, listen to good music, learn about nature when we take walks, learn about math and science when we cook, talk about colors and shapes when we describe the world around us, and most of all we just have fun playing!  Preschoolers need lots of time to relax and enjoy exploring their world and how things work.   Since our preschool approach doesn’t involve a lot of desk work, I feel free to relax and incorporate learning into everyday activities knowing that we’re covering a lot more than most strictly academic preschool programs.

Ultimately in our homeschool preschool I want to lay the foundation for good character and love of learning and reading that will serve my kids well in later years. Whatever you choose to do for preschool, have fun and remember that all of life is learning!

Photo Credit: Michael Goodin

Note: Thank you so much for such a wonderful guest post. I was very blessed to have you posting with us today.

Little Bitty Learners – Tot Basket

I stumbled on this idea last week and wanted to save it for my post about my Little Bitty Learners. I have been trying to figure out a simple way to do more (planned) activities with the twins (almost 2). I am visual. If something is hidden away, I will forget about it. So, when I saw this idea, I thought it was amazing and just the solution that I needed. It would allow me to plan ahead, be organized, and have a visual reminder of activities that I wanted to do with the twins.

I want to introduce you to the idea of the Tot Basket. It is not my idea. It came from here – What’s In The Basket? I am thinking that the basket could be changed out weekly or daily depending on how quickly the twins caught on to the activities (or bored of them).

Yesterday, I was doing some organizing (and it sure felt good)…

I found a nice wicker basket for the homeschool catalogs (it is the season for those), magazines (Writer’s Digest and Acts and Facts, if you must know!), and books (those are a secret) that I will be writing reviews for soon. That certainly looks better than a messy pile. Trust me, it made grandma happy.

I also re-purposed another wicker basket and put it in the center of our new (to us) dining room table. I put it on a thick place mat so it does not scrap the surface of the table (just in case you were worried it would). In that basket, I put the newly created binders and all of our workbooks etc for the rest of the term. Everything fit perfectly. The basket looks great.

Okay, so all of that to tell you this… I have a cute (adorable is more like it) wicker basket with a handle that I found (another re-purpose job) and I am going to use it for the twins Tot Basket.  I am going to fill it with activities just for them. It is sitting on a shelf (in plain site) right beside our telephone (I can’t miss it). I will pull it down when I have a few minutes and we can do an activity together.

Have a look at my post that was filled with ideas of activities for toddlers.

What do you do for your younger children? How do you include them in your homeschooling?

Little Bitty Learners – Loads of Resources

little bitty learners

Life is busy and I am trying to build in special times with my almost 2 year old twins… (aka Little Bitty Learners).

We have five children (ages 10, 8, 6, 23 months, and 23 months). Life is busy, crazy, a little wild, and a volume control option would be nice now and then.

It is my desire to purposely set aside time for the twins (for more than hugs, kisses, stories, and creative play – which we do already!). I want to weave fun and educational activities into their day.

Today’s post is loaded with links of excellent places that I have found and love to visit when gathering ideas for inspiring things to do with the babes. I can’t believe they are almost two already.

In my weekly Little Bitty Learners’ posts, I hope to share with you loads of resources, great blogs, and fun activities for the Toddler/Preschool age group. I hope you’ll stop by and visit again.

What are your favorite Toddler/Preschool resources?

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