Since the pandemic began, I've been working hard to ensure that my kids have the tools and resources they need to thrive during remote learning.
Our teenager was pretty much set, all we did was purchase him a desk, some additional school supplies and added a chalkboard to his wall. His school was really consistent with classes and online instruction.
The preschooler, on the other hand, had a very different experience. After all, it's preschool! They learn through play and interaction with their peers. Her teachers tried really had to support families in the best way that they could, but it was hard.
As an educator myself, I didn't want to rely solely on her teachers, I wanted to make sure she did supplemental things at home that were fun and encouraged learning.
To be clear, although I have a degree in education and have been in the field for years, I'm not an expert on teaching and learning. However, I am an expert on my children and the resources I use are things that I knew our daughter would love. I would encourage you to take a look at what your child likes, before you do anything. If they love to sing and dance, make instruments with them out of paper towel rolls and cereal boxes. If they love to draw, invest in quality art supplies. Do what works for your family.
Tip 1: Don't spend a lot of money.
Many of the arts and crafts activities we do at home come straight from Dollar Tree. If you're sleeping on Dollar Tree, I need you to wake up because they have so many resources that are literally $1. I like to stock up on construction paper, washable paint, paint brushes, flash cards, coloring books, crayons and all sorts of art items from them. I've even purchased Sudoku puzzle books, pens and brain teaser games for the teenager from there as well. We have a 3-tier storage container that we keep in our playroom. All the craft supplies are stored there and we restock when needed.
Tip 2: Make learning fun.
Rote learning and workbooks are cool, but they don't always hold the attention of a preschooler. Games and puzzles work best in our household. One of our favorite games to play is Alphabet BINGO. The whole family plays and it's a great way to practice letter recognition, beginning letter sounds and even matching. It also is a great way to teach kids how to follow directions and play fair. We purchased ours from Amazon for $11, but you can easily DIY this game with some construction paper and Legos.
Tip 3: Don't be afraid of screen time.
I know screen time is controversial and some parents hate it and others love it, but when used correctly, I think it can be an asset to learning. Our daughter loves to have books read to her on Epic Books. We have a free account through her school, but you can also find a lot of preschool read alouds on YouTube. When it comes to apps, we love ABCya! There are so many learning activities that my daughter loves on there. The activities range from preschool to 6th grade so it'll grow with your little one. If you use it on your web browser, most of the games are free, but you can also download it to your tablet for a small monthly fee.
Tip 4: Go outside.
This is something that didn't come natural to me at first. Typically when we go outside it's to a set destination and we usually drive. But, I find neighborhood walks are super educational and fun as well. Plan to walk past your neighborhood fire station, grocery store or garden. Take some story paper, a clipboard and a pencil. Have your little one draw what they see and try to write a story about it. The story doesn't have to be written correctly - it can be all scribbles and random letters. The most important thing is that you get your kids moving and talking. You'd be surprised at what they come up with. This activity will take some time to build skill around - but the more you practice, the more fun you'll have. Mom Pro Tip: Buy a Kids Magnifier and let them look at everything during your walk! They'll have a blast!
Tip 5: Make everything a learning experience.
If I had to pick my favorite tip, this would be the one. Learning is not always about having an extravagant activity planned. Preschoolers learn a lot through having conversations, asking questions and doing simple things around the house. Have your little one cook with you. Let them count the cups of water you add to the cake batter. Let them see what happens when you crack a raw egg. Have them fill up the ice tray and predict how long it will take the water to freeze. Play "sink or float" when you do the dishes. Challenge yourself, once a week, to make a simple house task into something fun and educational; your kids will love it!
What are some things you do at home to teach your little ones? Lets chat in the comments.