Homepreschool and Beyond

*Relationship *Routine *Readiness *Reading Aloud

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    Homepreschool and Beyond will give parents the knowledge they need to find “balance” for their family. Find out what young children need to know—and how to teach it. Gain the confidence you need to relax and enjoy those precious preschool years—and beyond.

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Archive for the ‘Routines’ Category

The Basics Of Homepreschool: Starting Early? Curriculum, Methods and More

Posted by homeschoolmentormom on September 3, 2014


How to Start Children Early—Curriculum, Methods, etc:

First of all, I have to make it clear that starting homepreschool–a deliberate, set-aside time to help our preschoolers learn–does not mean it is time to start formal academics. Study after study have shown that the current push-down in curriculum just doesn’t work. No study has shown any benefit at all to learning to read at age five or younger, versus learning to read at age 6, 7, or older—and in fact, studies have shown that children who learn to read later not only learn to read more quickly and easily than other children do, but they do better academically throughout their entire lives. This is because they spent their early years learning and doing real things instead of concentrating solely on formal academics.

Preschoolers should spend lots of time being read to, playing with science, taking nature walks, doing art, listening to music, singing, and playing, playing, playing! All these activities boost thinking skills, creativity, and vocabulary, and THAT benefits them throughout their whole lives. (This is true, meaningful learning for preschoolers. See the tab, “Goals of Homepreschool” and “Goals for the Balanced Mom” for more.)

Preschoolers don’t need “curriculum” as we’ve come to think of it, either. For preschoolers, life itself is the curriculum. Preschoolers can learn about science—plants, animals, weather; social studies—communities and community helpers; art; music; pre-reading skills; social skills; sport/physical skills; speech/language skills and pre-math skills—all through having parents who talk to them, read aloud to them, play with them, and provide real life experiences for them. (Don’t make the mistake of concentrating only on formal academics and “readiness” skills, when there is so much more that preschoolers can and should learn! See my tab on “Readiness” and “The Truth: Early Academics” for more, including links to research on the subject.)

How to Get Started

The best way to start homepreschooling is not by running out and buying workbooks for your preschooler, as I stated above. Workbooks are not developmentally appropriate for most preschoolers. Instead, start by establishing a simple daily routine for that includes a story time, art, music, and so on. If you want to, you can decide ahead of time what you’d like to read to your children about—choose themes or units, and then run to the library and find all the picture books you can about the subject. Then, simply read, read, read. If and when you can, throw in activities that go along with what you are learning about. For instance, when you do a farm unit, visit the grocery store and talk about how and where things grow; buy some whipping cream and shake it up to make butter. When you learn about zoo animals, visit a zoo. When you learn about community helpers, visit the police station and the airport, and so on. There are many “homepreschool” co-ops and homeschool support groups that offer these types of activities or “field trips”. (See my archives on unit studies for more.)

Methods: The Importance of Reading Aloud, Conversation, and Playing with Our Children

Reading aloud is the single most important thing parents can do to help their children learn, no matter their age. When you read to your child, you are teaching more than just the content of the book. You are teaching them about language, letters and print—that letters make sounds, and sounds make letters; you are also teaching them that we read from top to bottom and left to right. You are teaching them about grammar, vocabulary, and rhyme. You are growing their attention span, speech skills and more. {For more, see my tab, “Reading Aloud” and the archives on reading aloud and book lists.}

Conversation is vitally important to learning. Conversations always include the skills of listening, and then responding, which is different from just “talking at” our children. We can use conversations to build relationships with our children, to teach our children, and to facilitate their learning

Playing With Our Children:

It is important to watch our children’s play AND play with them. By watching their play, we can detect new behavior problems and nip them in the bud; we can discern their emotional state, and help them where needed; we can take advantage of teachable moments, and we can learn about their health (observing children’s play/behavior allows us to catch illnesses early.) Best of all, playing with our children builds close relationships and is tons of fun! {See my article, “Why Preschoolers Need to Play” for more, including links to research about the importance of play.}

Next time: Important Skills to Develop, Fun and Games!

© 2010, 2011, 2014 Susan Lemons all rights reserved. Portions of this post are taken from or similar to passages in Homepreschool and Beyond, used by permission of the author. Copyrighted materials may not be re-distributed or re-posted without express permission from the author.

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Posted in Academics for Four Year Olds, Academics for Preschoolers, Challenge to Parents, Curriculum, Early Academics, Getting Started, Homepreschool, Homeschool Preschool, Homeschool/homepreschool, Kindergarten Readiness, Readiness, Reading Aloud, Routines | Leave a Comment »

Routines, Part Two: Developing Your Own Daily Routines (for homepreschool/homeschool)

Posted by homeschoolmentormom on November 25, 2010


        If you have decided that you need to establish routines for your family—or even tweak the routines you already have in place—the first thing that you should remember is that this will take a little planning and a LOT of time and commitment (remember, the only way a routine becomes a routine is if it is consistently practiced on a day-to-day basis–so that it becomes a habit.)   

Planning Your Routines

        The first thing that you need to do is decide what the “skeleton” of your routine should be.  These are the non-negotiable things that must happen everyday…the things that you can’t skip or re-arrange.  These are the things that should get done even if you run into unusual circumstances such as illnesses, interruptions, doctor’s appointments, and so on.   My “skeleton” includes Bible/devotions (Monday through Friday), meals and snacks, nap time and bedtime.  In between the “bones” of my routine, I’m free to plan our day however I want to.  If you’d like to see some sample routines for preschool and kindergarten-aged children, be sure to check out my tab, “4R’s: Routine.”

        In addition to the basic examples of routines on my tab, there are some other items that we should remember to include in our routines…errands.  Many families choose a specific time one day per week to run errands, cook and freeze meals, clean house, etc.  We  opt to “do school” formally only 4 days a week, saving Fridays for messy art projects, field trips, park days (this is the fun stuff—what I call “Friday school”), and/OR cleaning house, running errands, and so on.  On Fridays, only the skeleton of our routine remains.  Similarly, on weekends, only the “skeleton” of the routine remains, leaving us free to be spontaneous, relax, or continue our housework.

What to Do if You Have Older and Younger Children

         So far, the things I’ve talked about are pretty basic.  But how do you plan your day if you have preschoolers AND older children?  How do you ensure that all your children get what they need?  That’s a lot harder.  I know from experience…I’ve done both Kindergarten and high school with babies/preschoolers in tow.  I know it’s tough!  None of us want our preschoolers to get “mommy leftovers”; nor do we want our older children to be left unsupervised, or trusted to do too much of their school work independently.

        So, what’s a mother to do? Here are the three best planning options that I have come across (the meat on the bones!):

1. Alternate your entire day between older and younger children, starting with the youngest. Spend time with your preschoolers, then alternate and spend time with your older children…continue this pattern throughout the day.  Be sure to give your preschoolers their own “preschool” time (circle time, art, developmentally appropriate activities/play), so that they will see that they are just as important to you as your older children are.  After all, we plan activities for our older children, don’t we?  I believe our preschoolers deserve the same.  An hour or two of special attention is all it takes. 

 2. Concentrate on your preschoolers in the morning, and then your older children in the afternoon.  Assign your older children independent work in the morning for an hour or two while you enjoy your “homepreschool” time with your young ones.  Depending on the ages of your older children, independent work could include things such as personal daily devotions/Bible reading, handwriting or copy work, spelling, independent reading, music practice, etc. Once your homepreschool time is done, get your preschoolers involved in play and then work with your older children.  Be sure to read my article, “Keeping Little Ones Busy”  for ideas to help your preschoolers stay busy and happy while your school your older children.    In the morning, your older children will enjoy taking breaks to “help you” do music with your preschoolers; if you provide open-ended art for your preschoolers, older children will enjoy joining you for those activities, too.  Don’t forget to give your older children frequent play breaks, as well.

        After lunch, read aloud to your preschoolers and then put them down for nap or quiet time in their rooms. 

        Once the preschoolers are settled, concentrate on your older children.  Start by checking the work they have done in the morning.  Then, while your preschoolers are still napping, work on your hardest school subjects/the subjects that need the most uninterrupted attention (phonics, math, editing writing, etc.)  I usually sit between my boys while they do these subjects. Try to look at, discuss, and correct the rest of your children’s work right as they finish it. 

        Once your preschoolers wake up from nap, take a break and cuddle them awhile, give everyone a snack, and then get your preschoolers involved in some play before continuing your school time with your older children (if necessary.)  This might be a good time to do the subjects that need lots of discussion—science OR history (alternate them–don’t try to do both in one day!)  Once your school time is done, follow the rest of your daily routine like normal.

3.  Teach all your children together as much as you can, using the unit study/“bus stop” method (there is still some alternating involved.)  If your children are fairly close in age (preschool-first grade, for example) it’s easy to do almost everything together—especially if you use a unit study method.  The rule is: Do what your can with all your children, and then let your youngest “off the bus” for free play whilst you continue to work with your older children.  Take frequent play breaks, and be careful to keep things developmentally appropriate for your youngest children. 

        The thought behind this: a) Preschoolers pick up a lot by listening in on older children’s lessons (passive learning), and b) it saves time, making a shorter day compared to the first two options. 

         If you choose to use this method, you’ll want to treat everything you do like a unit study: Everyone “studies” the same things, but each “studies” at their own level.  Here is what a typical day might look like: 

        Do your family worship and Bible time with all your children first thing in the morning; yes, including your preschoolers.  Preschoolers love to participate in worship and Bible memory work.  If your older children’s Bible story/devotional doesn’t hold your preschooler’s attention as well as you’d like, read your preschoolers a short, age-appropriate version of your Bible story first, and then let them “off the bus” to color printable Bible story pages that correlate with the Bible story while you continue Bible with your older children (OR let your preschoolers play quietly with Bible felt sets/your “box of the day.”)  After a short break, do your “circle time” with all your children:  Calendar, perhaps the flag salute, music/singing, and then your story time. This is your unit study—the time you spend reading about the topic/theme of your choice.  Spend a little time talking about what you read and reviewing any new vocabulary.  If you have any activity to accompany your unit (remember, activities are not required), do it next.

        After another play break, let your preschoolers “off the bus” for the day.  Get them involved in some play (or perhaps your box of the day—be sure to read “Keeping Little Ones Busy”) while your older children do their math lessons (keep your preschoolers close by, and/or let them play with math manipulatives.)  After math is completed (be sure to check it on the spot!), have everyone take an outside play break for 20-30 minutes.  When you come inside, have your morning snack before getting your preschoolers involved in another activity—play dough, a sensory tub, or a simple art project that isn’t too messy (stickers and felt tipped pens, stencils and colored pencils, water colors, etc).  While they are happily engaged, start your phonics/language arts lessons.  After your phonics/language arts lessons are complete, take another play break together…perhaps a longer one, if time permits.  Try to get some outside play time if weather permits. 

        If you start your day at a reasonable hour and keep your lessons developmentally appropriate (in other words, on the short side), you should be able to wrap up your school time before noon.  During the afternoons while your preschoolers nap, your older children can finish their lessons (if they haven’t already.) 

        Once everyone is awake again, use the rest of your day for more creative/outside play, art, learning games for your older preschoolers, and so on.

    Let me know how it goes–I love comments!

            ~Susan

© 2010 Susan Lemons all rights reserved.  Copyrighted materials may not be re-distributed or re-posted without express permission from the author.

Posted in Elementary School, Family Life, Homepreschool, Methods, preschool at home, Routines, Unit Studies | Tagged: , , , , , | 3 Comments »

More About Routines: Why They are Important

Posted by homeschoolmentormom on November 19, 2010


        When Jolanthe from Homeschool Creations wrote a review of my book, Homepreschool and Beyond, she asked her readers to check out my blog and then post on her blog as an entry to win the book.  They could choose between naming some of the articles that originally inspired me to write the book (see the tab, “my articles”), OR share which of the 4R’s (relationship, routine, readiness, and reading aloud) they needed the most help with.  Here is the breakdown of the replies about the 4R’s: 

 50–Routines

17–Reading Aloud

14—Readiness

9—Relationships

         As you can see, routines won hands-down.  Many of the mothers stated that they needed help with their routines; some even wondered if routines are really necessary.  In response, I’ve decided to write a couple of  posts that will answer these concerns (I will also write a post about the second most chosen of the 4R’s: Reading Aloud.)  Anyway, here is the first post—“More About Routines.”

         I know from experience that routines can be hard. Routines involve self-discipline…they just aren’t going to happen by themselves!  We’re starting our 18th year of homeschooling now, and we have tweaked our routines more times than I can count.  Our routines have changed due to my husband’s work days and hours, the ages of our children, our health, the time of year (in summer we play in the morning and do school in the afternoon, for instance), and more.   You’d think that after 17 years I’d have it all together by now, but I don’t…especially in regards to my homemaking routines right now.  In fact, writing this post has been convicting to me–I know what I need to do, but making myself do it on a consistent basis is another thing.  So don’t be discouraged—you’re certainly not alone.  Read on, and know that I’m working on this with you.  Be sure to check back again soon to read the next post on this topic, “establishing routines that will work for you”. 

What are Routines?

        I want you to know that when I talk about routines, I’m NOT talking about a down-to-the-minute “schedule” that becomes a burden or a slave driver to your family.  You don’t have to rush through your day, trying to meet artificial deadlines every fifteen minutes or half-hour. What I’m talking about simply a sense of “what comes next.”  Perhaps a good term to remember is a “relaxed routine.”

        A relaxed routine doesn’t mean that you don’t have any goals, though; as with everything, there is a need to find a balance.  For us, this has meant that meal times, snack time, naptimes and bedtimes are kept as consistent as possible—you might think of them as the “skeleton” of your routine.  The rest of the routine, however, is much more flexible.  I like to allow enough time to follow my children’s lead within the routine—so if the children get caught up in their play, or want to paint 4 pictures during art time, or feel like doing 3 math lessons (yes, this has happened at our house), it’s OK.  We might have to shorten the next activity, but that doesn’t throw the rest of the day into chaos. 

        It’s a good idea to have some basic goals for different times of the day—for instance, “we should have our breakfast, chores, family worship time, circle time, a preschool activity (art OR cooking experience OR science activity OR game-time OR manipulatives OR planned/creative play), snack time, and outside play time finished before 11:30 so that we can eat lunch at 12:00”.  Another one might be, “we should finish lunch, get washed up/brush teeth, and be ready for our read aloud time by 1:00 so that the preschoolers can be napping by 1:30.” 

        There are several different types of routines that you might want to put into place:  Morning routines, mealtime routines, bedtime routines, and school routines….some parents prefer to think of them separately this way, while others think in terms of the whole day’s routine.  We do a bit of both.  Additionally, I plan cleaning routines and personal routines as well.  I call our cleaning routines “standard operating procedures” or SOP for the kids.  (“Did you finish the kitchen SOP?”)

Why Are Routines Important?

        Now let’s address the question, “Why are routines important?” And, “Are routines even necessary?” 

        I believe that routines are not only necessary, but vitally important.

        Routines help children in many different ways.  One of the most important things that routines provide for children is emotional security.  Children—especially young children—derive security from that sense of “what comes next.”  This security helps children learn to trust that their parents will take care of them, and this trust enhances the parent-child bond.   This security/trust/bond is especially important to grow and maintain during the baby/toddler years…but of course, it should be a continuing part of life, all life-long, for every child. 

        Routines help children stay on an even keel emotionally, and will prevent emotional meltdowns.  This will save your sanity.  It helps your children behave better and makes your home a more peaceful and happy place to be.  Conversely:  Children who aren’t on a regular routine are often over-tired, hungry, irritable and stressed.

        Without a daily routine there could be important activities that you overlook on a day-to-day basis—even things like personal hygiene (brushing teeth, baths, etc), as well as important activities such as reading aloud, time spent with each child, etc. 

        Routines help children grow helpful habits that will benefit them the rest of their lives.  Good habits help us do the things we should do with little thought or effort.  Habits involve not only the “big picture” of our daily routine in general, but all those little things that make up our daily routine as well (personal hygiene, picking up toys, etc.)

        I believe that our very character, attitudes and manners are affected by the habits we learn (or don’t learn) as children.  Charlotte Mason wrote, “the habits of the child produce the character of the man . . .every day, every hour, the parents are either passively or actively forming those habits in their children upon which, more than upon anything else, future character and conduct depend.”

        Once a good habit is learned, little mental effort is involved in the task at hand…it’s just something we do.  It requires little thought and practically no effort.  You might say that we work on “autopilot.”  This is more help than you can imagine.  As Charlotte Mason says, “A mother who takes pains to endow her children with habits secures for herself smooth and easy days; while she who lets their habits take care of themselves has a weary life of endless friction with the children.” 

        Finally, routines help young children grow their self-confidence and independence.  Once children are secure in their routines, they’ll know when its time to brush their teeth, get dressed, and so on—and they’ll be confident and ready to try those activities independently.    

        Next post:  Developing Your Own Daily Routines

 © 2010 Susan Lemons all rights reserved.  Copyrighted materials may not be re-distributed or re-posted without express permission from the author.

Posted in Babies, Challenge to Parents, Family Life, Homepreschool, Homeschool, Mothering, Parenting, Routines, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 5 Comments »