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Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Tips For Schooling Little Ones (Part 1) PreK-Lower Elementary

Some of the top questions I have seen a lot lately in forums and have been asked:
  • How do I school my Preschool or Kindergartner?
  • How do I school multiple children?
  • How long should they be schooled for?
  • What curriculum do you use?
To view Part 2 of this post, please click the following link: http://homeizcool101.wordpress.com/2012/09/22/tips-for-schooling-little-ones-pre-k-elementary-part-2/
I want to break these questions down and answer them from my perspective as a veteran homeschooler. I will share some of the advice I was given and my personal experiences. This will probably end up being a 2 part-er. Please Note: As any veteran to homeschooling advises: These are just examples and views expressed from my personal experiences as we learned through out our homeschooling. Understand that what works best for our family may not always guarantee it will work with your own family. This is where experimenting to find out what works best for your own family comes in to play. Yes it is ok to experiment periodically through out your school year to find what works more effective for your family. In my background I have a long history behind me of experience with little children, both in and out of church ministry. I will express that what I have found to work best with any child young and old is hands on/interactive learning. A child engaging in what they are learning most always proves to be effective vs a child be slapped the book or teaching. How do I school my Preschool or Kindergartner? In the last 4 years of our homeschooling I have taught PreK, K, 1st, 2nd and Upper Ele, High School grades. Of the last 4 years, I have taught PreK and K more then 1 time with my 3 little ones. Being that we started schooling some before my oldest little one was ready to start PreK and K. I have found that schooling one the others often want to get involved with what your doing. That can be a good thing and a bad thing. Can also be tough. But I have found that embracing each child as they express their will to learn is definately a good place to start introduction of school and routine. Listen, I apologize to those parents who walk around with the belief that any child under the age of 2 is not teachable. The simple fact of the matter is they are. Children are teachable when they are wee little ones. I have watched and even taught myself little ones from the age of 5 mos out. I get tired of hearing parents express that little ones are not teachable. They are and if you are patient enough you will achieve your goal of teaching your child this or that. It is a trying process if you are High Strung and impatient, or honestly just flat out not willing to teach them. This being said, How can I effectively teach my little one to learn school material.
  1. To be effective in teaching your PreK & K the most important thing as with all children is to find out your childs learning style. Linked with this site you can assess your childs learning style in one of the side bars of this site.
  2. Learn from your child and with your child. Now is the time to come down from your level to your childs level and see what interests he/she may have. If your preschooler wants to walk around and explore in their learning that is a beginning and actually not a bad place to start. Walk around with them and explore with them while introducing some learning lessons. For example: In church when ever I had a group of little ones from ages 10 mos to 4 years of age, I took my bundle of kiddos and we went out on nature walks and explored Gods creation as well as introduced new things to learn about. Today, Not very many people are willing to do that especially with a variety of kiddos age differing. Believe it or not, exploring is a form of teaching and learning. Many scientists and inventors had to experiment and explore before finalizing their inventions. So how can it be wrong today to explore in teaching and learing?
  3. Not always is curriculum the best way to approach beginning schoolers. In fact most public schools today do not use curriculum for PreK and K. It is actually up to the teacher to put their lessons together. Just because they are beginning school does not mean we have to slap them with unescessary curriculum. In fact none of my littles one had or have a set curriculum for their younger learning grades. Recently with my 2nd grader I just introduced a start of curriculum. However, my other little ones are not curriculum ready and I find and have found it is just best to work with what is in front of you. I stumbled upon Steck Vaughn Phonics Book A and B for PreK and K and that is what we work with at our own pace. If we are up to 4 pages of phonics we are on it, if we are up to one page we are on it. What ever my kids are up to I follow the flow of their ability for that day. Does that mean my kids run the show. NOPE! It means I am closely monitoring their stress level. If I see they are frustrated we dont continue with the subject we are working on. We take a break and approach it later in the day or the next day when the stress has disapated. In the mean time I try to find a more interesting way to approach that lesson to eleviate the stress best I can. Usually works but not all the time. Monitor your childs progress as well as their stress level. IF they are interested go ahead and press on. If they are frustrated, it is ok to stop and take a break on that particular subject. This is where you would need to decide is curriculum best or should we try something new. Usually you will know something is working or not within the first 3 months of your approach on schooling.
  4. Always try to find some sort of Engaging, Interacting Hands on ways to teach your children. Not a lot of people agree! However, I am proud to be apart of the 40% that do agree this approach is effective. The remaining percentage is a percentage of individuals that just dont know or are afraid to try. Listen, China begins teaching their little toddlers way before we have considered teaching ours. And look at how advanced they are. Drilling is not something I agree with in most cases and I have found that to be proven so. The first thing little ones learn is how to explore and be theirself. To shake them up after a few years of being allowed to explore and then throw them in a chair to sit and be drilled. Yes for the record, I myself would have to become resistant if I were the child in that chair. One of the first things I always tell a parent is, Put yourself in your childs shoes. Could you school the way you are teaching your child if that was not your way of learning? I often look back over the years of my schooling. I went to a public school all my life. What classes did I accel in and why? What classes did I do awful in and why? Again the learning style is important to know up front. But also keep in mind that a younger child is not always able to sit at a desk and play or learn school like their older siblings. This is where the challenge begins as the parent and the school teacher. We have to find a balance and also experiment the approach we use to teach our children. It is ok to try different approaches until you find what works best for all you.
  5. Few examples of hands on, interactive learning: Game like lessons. What are game lessons. First of all get excited about what your teaching. Get crazy and have some fun because after all that is what your child enjoys doing. Get creative or search for creative learning lessons. Object lessons for all ages are awesome, especially for the visual learner. Game like lessons will be interactive and fun for most all children. Keep in mind It also depends on the game and how you play it. If you are not excited about the game your child will not be excited. Two games all of my littles ones enjoy playing, happen to be the two I made up out of sillieness. Imagine that! One of the games I use 2 foam dice for. I tell everyone about this one, it is fun, it works and I am proud of the silly game they enjoy. Lol! You can get the two foam dice most anywhere. I have three little ones so I have to always make sure everyone gets an equal turn other wise we have a war. Lol! The other game we do is simply made up using what ever is in the room that day and how far on the level scale we should go. For instance if I am working with a preK for this game, I would stick with shapes, colors and letter recognition. If I am working K or 1st grade I would move up to something a little more age appropriate and sometimes more challenging. Like Blends, Sounds, Math or Spelling related. I will fully explain these games towards the bottom.
  6. Encouraging Word: It is ok to learn and teach with some leniency in the beginning school years. Do not feel obligated to add the stress in to your school day. Do not panic that you are not accomplishing what you think should be accomplished. Remember as homeschoolers. Time is on your side. If you need to work longer on one thing vs the other, It is ok to work on that particular subject or lesson a tad long. If you are ok with skipping that and coming back to it at a later time. Why that is ok to. Don't add stress on top of what you are already working on. It's senseless and honestly, it weighs to much on you and the passion to homeschool your child can quickly turn to giving up and failiure. YOU CAN DO THIS! It takes time, which you have a lot of and patience, that some of us seldom have. That is where we learn and grow as well as gain experience and how to be patient. Some times it takes time to achieve that goal we are trying to reach. Things won't happen over night and we certainly can not be obstacle free! To sum all of this up, momma/poppa you are going to need that patient heart. Your frustrations are always obvious as is our children's when they become frustrated. Instead of becoming angry or bent with our children we all should learn to express a little patience, love and understanding. After all, we always hope that someone will be merciful on us why shouldn't we give this in turn to our children. We don't want to drive them away, we want to encourage them to accel and achieve. This honestly is where I wish many parents would examine themself and their faimily. I have seen and been around parents and friends that are dream stompers and pure discouragers. If there were more in the world that could be encouraging and supportive, I truly believe a difference would be made in todays educational system and our kids would be thriving not diving out of the system.
So this one was probably the longest answer to the above questions. I certainly did not anticaiate this long of an answer. There is probably more I could of covered, but this is long enough. I can add more later or anyone is welcome to post comments of their success. So how about the two games above we use, Would you like to try a round of your own. Here ya go: First game:
Look Around The Room!
(All you need is any room and everything in that room.) This game is based on the age of the schooler(s). You will need to adjust where needed for your schooler. This is a good game for PreK to Lower Elementary. (Please note you can use this for Math Learning, Spelling, Shape Learning, Sounds, Blends, Letter Recognition, Reading, Colors. Get creative and as always, get excited when your child finds what ever it is you requested them to find, spell or recognition. This should be a big deal to you as it is for them!) How do we play? Simple all you have to say is... Look around the room and find me a.... (You Fill In The Blank Each Time) This is also a great problem solving game. Game 2 Dice Game (This game is great for Team Building, Problem Solving, Exploratory learning, Listening Skills, PE and Math) You will need 2 foam dice (The medium/large sized dice are great visual aids) This can be done with all children standing in a circle or side by side. Each child gets a turn to roll both dice at the same time. The object of the game is to not only have fun, of course, but to learn amidst the fun. This can be done two different ways. The child rolling the dice can solve the math problem individually and or search for the exploratory item(s) or if you are wanting to encourage the team building it can be done with all of the children interacting and solving together. (The team work is what I highly recommend for families of multiple children. However, It is also good to have some individual learning as well to encourage some independence as well as assessing children.) How do we play? 1. Every child gets a turn rolling both dice. 2. Once the dice are rolled the two numbers facing up are... (You Fill In The Blank) (Depending on the age of the child and what they are learning you can count, add or subtract and even multiply the two dice together) 3. After you have the total of the two dice.... ( You or Your Child Can Fill In The Blank) (Again depending on the age of the child and what they are learning, You can incorporate PE by using exercise. For example dice 1 is 6, dice 2 is 4. (6+4= 10) Lets do 10 Jumping jacks. Obviously the first couple of times introducing this game you will need to help your child until they get the hang of it. Then once they get the hang of it, they usually will take off. I find my kids playing this randomly all the time on their own. You can substitute the total of dice for anything. If you are not wanting to work on just math skills or PE, you can send them on a scavenger hunt for any item(s) as long as it totals the number on the dice. For example once you have solved the (6+4=10) send your kids on a hunt looking for 10 specific items. These games can be adjusted to fit your family in any way. This is just to give you an idea of some interactive learning games we use.
The remaining questions will be posted momentarily in post 2. Happy Schooling!

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