For a morning in a typical preschool classroom the children would sing songs, have free play, read stories, have snack, take walks, do crafts, learn letters and numbers etc. All those things we already do; they just are not scheduled all in the same two mornings a week.
As far as ‘starting’ preschool with my son, we will just keep doing what we are doing. We also picked one thing to focus on- letters first as that is what he seems to be drawn to right now. I pulled out all our letter activities and set up a little play area in the kitchen, because I can't resist!
“The Alphabet.––As for his letters, the child usually teaches himself. He has his box of ivory letters and picks out p for pudding, b for blackbird, h for horse, big and little, and knows them both. But the learning of the alphabet should be made a means of cultivating the child's observation: he should be made to see what he looks at. Make big B in the air, and let him name it; then let him make round O, and crooked S, and T for Tommy, and you name the letters as the little finger forms them with unsteady strokes in the air. To make the small letters thus from memory is a work of more art, and requires more careful observation on the child's part. A tray of sand is useful at this stage. The child draws his finger boldly through the sand, and then puts a back to his D; and behold, his first essay in making a straight line and a curve. But the devices for making the learning of the 'A B C' interesting are endless. There is no occasion to hurry the child: let him learn one form at a time, and know it so well that he can pick out the d's, say, big and little, in a page of large print.”
“Let the child alone, and he will learn the alphabet for himself: but few mothers can resist the pleasure of teaching it; and there is no reason why they should, for this kind of learning is no more than play to the child, and if the alphabet be taught to the little student, his appreciation of both form and sound will be cultivated. When should he begin? Whenever his box of letters begins to interest him. The baby of two will often be able to name half a dozen letters; and there is nothing against it so long as the finding and naming of letters is a game to him. But he must not be urged, required to show off, teased to find letters when his heart is set on other play.”
- Mason, Vol 1 pg 201-2
It has been a delightful beginning so far, always keeping it fun and when he has had enough, we stop. Simple as that. There is no curriculum telling us which letters he must learn on what day in order to be completed by the end of the year, or what worksheet he must fill out on a given day. It is more natural, a part of our everyday lives, as he is interested. And because of that, his learning stays with him.
I also made myself a list of other activity ideas I could switch out to help keep his interest fresh. I might even let him choose from the list when we decide it’s time for a change. My hopes were that in a few weeks when this baby is born, a list like this will save me some energy and thought while still allowing me to feel like I have not completely put preschool on hold, therefore hindering my son’s learning in some way. New mother thoughts, I guess. I like to feel prepared.
ABC books & homemade one with photos of child or magazine cut-outs
Flashcards with clothes pins on a string
Magnet letters in a cookie sheet
Sand ABC cards
Small White board or chalk board
Handwriting Without Tears wood pieces and letter building cards
Smooth rocks with letters on
Small craft wood letters
Child’s name spelling manipulatives
ABC Bingo or Name Bingo (or other game)
Playdough ‘snakes’ formed into letters (on a card- like HWT cards) OR playdough with ABC cookie cutters
ABC cereal in plastic easter egg- treasure hunt
Post it notes with letters on them to stick places
Shaving cream writing
sugar cookie cut outs
store-bought ABC crackers
bread or pretzel dough shaped into his name
jello jigglers cut out in his name
veggie stick slices laid out to form letters
ketchup writing on a plate or sandwich