I love preschoolers! They are curious, energetic, and funny. They also love to climb, run, jump off furniture, be loud, and be messy, and so they need some attention. Somehow that always occurs when I’m in the bathroom, on the phone, or deep in thought trying to explain grammar or animal classification. I’ve had a preschooler, baby, or both pretty much every year since we started homeschooling. I’ve tried many options over the years, as have people I know. Here’s a few ideas that have worked, and some that haven’t.
I used to take advantage of nap time. It was the perfect time to teach anything that needed great concentration and few interruptions. Sadly the only person who needs a nap is me, so that’s not working anymore. I do utilize rest time after lunch (sometimes!). Thirty minutes or so of time on your bed to look at books or play quietly. If I really do need a breather, everyone goes to their bed and I take a 15 minute power nap. Otherwise it can just be Doodlebug. There are days when “alone time” works–30 minutes of time just to play alone in his room.
Starting the day meeting their needs can help as well. Reading books or playing with Mommy a few minutes can get their “loving” cups filled up, so they are ready to play by themselves. I’ve moved my “alone time” with Doodlebug to mid morning, since he’s fine playing on his own early, then needs some extra TLC with mom a little later. If preschoolers gets hungry, thirsty or tired, they have a harder time. I do–don’t you? I also have each of my older children have a 30 minute block of playtime with Doodlebug during the day. It’s a break from their school work, and he gets to play trains with his siblings.
Having special “school activities” for preschoolers is helpful as well. I’m partial to Montessori activities myself, so I browse Montessori sites, books, and catalogs for ideas I can adapt (and make inexpensively) for home use. Any activity that is considered, as my friend puts it “high interest” works well. Last week it involved colored water, droppers, upside down tub treads and paper towels. Everyone, including my big kids loved filling the tiny suction cups with different colored water, mixing the colors, then laying a paper towel on the tub tread to make a design. Garage sale or consignment sale finds line my preschool shelf for “school time” play . Playdough is popular as well. Occasionally our Mommy time will involve making playdough. If you have the ingredients it doesn’t take long, and they can choose the color and even a fragrance (vanilla, mint, lemon, cinnamon). Later I’ll have a “show and tell” post of my preschool shelves.
One of the keys is to have activities out for a limited time, then take them away and bring them back in a couple of weeks so they stay fresh and exciting. I’m still challenged with my preschooler at times. More than once this year I’ve gotten involved with another child or activity and before he knows it, he’s wandered into Happy Girl’s room and interrupted her studies. It’s a work in progress.
What preschool activities have your children enjoyed and saved your sanity? Share with the rest of us, please. I can always use some new ideas!