Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Preschool Update

Some of you may be wondering how much of the at-home preschool Olivia and I are doing now that she goes to "real" preschool four days a week. I wondered this myself when she first started "real" preschool. Would she still want to do more preschool stuff at home after being in school for several hours? Would she be too tired? Would she finally get her fill of preschool activities and be done by the time I went to pick her up?

Haha. I wish.

This little chicken is just as into doing preschool activities as ever. In fact, I think she's even more into doing at-home preschool than ever before. Bah. Don't get me wrong--this is great!--it just takes a lot of extra effort sometimes to find the time to fit it in when she's not too tired or cranky. She wants to do it regardless, but it's a happier time for both of us if we do it when she really has the energy and focus for it.

On a good day, we usually do preschool things together right after she gets home from "real" preschool. I try and start with our reading lessons and then we move on to our 20 minute preschool routine. Although, actually, our routine is growing into more of a 30 minute routine these days because I've been doing my best to sneak in some harder stuff for her to work on.

About a week or so ago we had to go drop off a piece of paperwork for Medicaid and, while we were there, there was a United Way booth set up in the lobby offering free kindergarten readiness testing for kids ages 2 1/2 to 5 years old. If you know me at all, you know I'm always curious where Olivia is at scholastically, so I was all about doing the testing. Basically, it was just some questions to fill out about what her capabilities are, not unlike the short questionnaires parents have to fill out for well-child visits to the doctor.

Well, Olivia got a perfect score on the 3 year-old test, so they gave me the tests for 3 1/2 and 4 year-olds to give me an idea of what to work toward. On the way home I filled out both of those. She got a perfect score on the 3 1/2 year-old test and she was pretty close on the 4 year-old test. Hmm. While I was there I asked the people running the booth what suggestions they might have for helping Olivia learn at her level and they suggested getting a kindergarten workbook and working through that together.

Later that night I looked around a little on Amazon at the kindergarten workbooks I could find and, all in all, I was unimpressed. They basically looked like more expensive versions of what I had seen at the dollar store. So instead, the next day I went to the dollar store and picked out several little workbooks in a handful of different subjects:

  • Subtraction (1st grade)
  • Addition (1st grade)
  • Spelling (1st grade)
  • Phonics (1st grade)
  • First Words (1st grade)
  • Colors and Shapes (kindergarten)

If you're interested in seeing these books specifically, you can find them HERE. I think that link is for bulk orders, but you can buy them individually at a local Dollar Tree store.

So far we've only broken into the addition, subtraction, and colors and shapes books. We do a page or two each day after doing a related activity (i.e. a page of the subtraction book after doing some hands-on subtraction equations). Olivia seems to really enjoy them and these books are right at/slightly above her level--just what I was looking for. I'm sure they're not the very best workbook out there, but for $1 a piece they're perfect for us.

Also, I know a lot of parents are anti-workbook and pro-hands-on these days, so I wanted to quickly address why I chose to start using some workbooks because I, like you, prefer the hands-on stuff. My two main reasons for choosing workbooks (aside from the fact that the nice lady at the kindergarten readiness booth suggested it) are:

  1. Buying a workbook for $1 with several different activities and formats on full-color pages is way cheaper and easier for me than creating/finding and printing off the equivalent on our printer at home.
  2. I feel strongly about putting Olivia in public school when it's time and I know that at that point she'll be given worksheets and papers to fill out at school. Using these workbooks now is a fun and productive part of our learning time, but it also gives her some good practice at using worksheets--knowing how to read them, fill them out, etc. I think learning really basic skills like how to function in the format of public education can be, in some ways, just as valuable as learning the content.

Anyway, sorry to get off on the tangent about the workbooks. We we're using them and we like them and they're just right for Olivia right now. The end. Moving on.

We've also still been doing a lot of the good hands-on stuff too. A couple of weeks ago I realized that Olivia and I were both getting bored with the preschool activities that were on the shelf, so I put all the old stuff away, rearranged things, and put together a whole new set of fun Halloween-themed preschool trays and activities. If all goes as planned, I'm hoping to share one or two of those each day here with all of you over the next week or so.

Adding a theme to preschool trays and activities doesn't have to be hard or involved. A lot of times it can just mean switching out the colors or manipulatives to fit the theme. For instance, we've been using a lot of little pumpkins and orange and green and purple things these past couple of weeks. It's not any more difficult for me to prepare, but Olivia just eats it up. When she came down the first morning after I rearranged things her face lit up and she got so excited. Making learning fun for little kids doesn't take much, ya know?

Anyway, so you can (hopefully) look forward to several fun new Halloween-themed preschool activities here over the next few days. And, in the mean time, be sure to check out the Halloween preschool activities from last year!


Find more fun and easy preschool ideas on the Preschool page.  You can also find them by clicking on the Preschool button in the header.  Enjoy!   


Kristie said...

One more thing you could do is contact a kindergarten teacher in the school she will go to. They sometimes have extra, or for a small amount of $$, workbooks.
I was told, and it may be wrong, that most states are trying to get on the same curriculum, so that when kids move, they are able to keep up. Not sure how true it is. But at my daughters school they have a folder that has a bunch of activities in it. We usually are assigned two to work on each day. Some of them are annoying to me, like sorting laundry, or sorting silverware. But some are challenging and we have to work on them. I think the replacement cost at my daughters school for this folder is like $1 or $2.
I think it would be worth it, and give you some other things to add to the preschool routine.
Good luck!

Kathy Haynie said...

to Kristie - you're right - 45 states have signed on to new standards that will be the same for all students no matter what state they live in. The standards cover math and literacy (reading, writing, speaking, listening), and they increase through the grades K-12. However, the new standards do not dictate curriculum. They say what a child should know/be able to do, not HOW they learn it. That will be up to individual states and districts. That being said, most curriculum companies are aligning their materials with the new standards, so many items, even from different companies, will have a similar feel. (I teach high school English & I'm our school literacy coach here in Oregon. But I recently used some materials from Ohio because they are aligned to the same standards.)

ElizabethT said...

Hi there! I've been following your blog for a couple of weeks, found it when I was looking up reviews for Teach Your Child to Read, to see if anyone had tried it with a 2yo. I agree with you on the K workbooks, I bought a K Comprehensive Curriculum and most of it seemed like a waste for my daughter (2.5). Much of it really does seem like it's on such a basic level, since so many kids these days know shapes and colors, and often letters and letter sounds by 2. (My daughter, along with several of my friends' kids, knew them all by around 20 months!) Standards in these books seem so much lower than what I think is actually expected from Kindergarteners these days.

So we're going through a K workbook now, and the biggest issue I've found is with fine motor skills. My daughter still grips a pen with her fist, and there's no way she'd be able to actually form letters or numbers. I know you've started working with Olivia on this...How is she progressing? It feels like we're about a year away from getting anything recognizable. (This doesn't bother me at all, since obviously we have plenty of time!) but it's a shame when half of a workbook is too simple and the other half requires a skill there's no good way to practice on at this point.

I also have a question on counting skills, to see if you've found any fun activities that have helped...My daughter recognizes up to 5 objects without counting and can count objects up to 20 if they're placed in a row, but I'm pretty sure she doesn't understand 1 to 1 correspondence, because if the objects are placed haphazardly she'll often count the same object twice. Have you worked with Olivia at all on this? Or is it best for the understanding to come naturally?

Unknown said...