Sunday, April 22, 2012

Teaching Preschool - age 3

Not all 3 year olds are ready for formal schooling.  Probably far fewer than a quarter of 3 year olds will thrive in a more formal "school" setting.  I happen to have kids that fit that bill, but I've also taught ones that did not.

Most children will continue to thrive with the list and suggestions in the post about teaching toddlers.

What are some signs that your 3 year old is really ready for a more official school day?

1.  Asking constantly for "school".
2.  Sitting down with paper and pencil and mimicking doing school work for more than 10 minutes at a time.
3.  Correctly holding pencils while writing without prompting.
4.  Showing interest in saying and identifying letters, numbers, colors, shapes, and other information.
5.  Teaching the dolls, cars, or pets.
6.  Able to follow 2 or more instructions correctly.
7.  Consistently picks up crayons and pencils with the same hand.
8.  When asked to draw a person, has at least 8 details.  Such as:  head, hair, 2 eyes, mouth, 2 arms, 2 legs
9.  Can copy a simple shape and trace slightly more complicated items  ...  draw a circle or a line, trace letters or a star
10.  Routinely sits still and quiet for 15 minutes of time doing a task - coloring, puzzles, games, etc.


Doing "official" or "real" school with a 3 year old should take no more than 10 hours a week.

Depending upon the child, you can teach every day for 30 minutes - 2 hours, or only once or twice a week for 2 - 4 hours.

This time should include no more than 15 minutes at any one activity.

When I do preschool, I attempt to break it up as follows:

5 minutes of prayers and pledges
10 minutes - Bible Story
10 - 15 min - Bible Craft or Color Page
5 - 10 mins - Flash cards (words, letters, anything being learned)
5 - 10 mins - writing / Phonics
30 mins - outside playing
10 mins - snack and potty break (although I allow them as needed)
30 min - video (educational - usually Science or History)
10 min - Math worksheet
5 min - Math manipulative
While I'm reading a story - or they are listening to a Book on Tape
15 min - puzzle or game
15 min - Art project

Time's are estimates, I try to stay under the max time, and be really flexible.

For my 3 year olds, I do this twice a week.
For my 4 year olds, I do this 3 times a week.


Story was a child who wanted to do preschool early.
But there was very little "official stuff" to purchase back then - she's 17 now!

We purchased anything written for preschoolers,
Coloring books,
Cut and Glue books,
Sticker books.

Mostly we found things at Wal-mart and the Dollar Store.
Some featured characters, like Pooh or Jumpstart.
Ironically, most of these books are still available, and can be still be purchased
for about the same amount we paid 15 years ago - $7 for a big book, 
and small books for 50c to $1.

Plus she loved being on the computer,
and had several Preschool Games,
such as Reader Rabbit and Jumpstart.

She played for an hour or more every day, whenever I was cooking and cleaning.

Story was voracious and had competed every book we had found, 
including most of the Kindergarten books,
before her 4th birthday.


Song went though most of the same books.
But we also found more - what a difference 2 years made.

She was a much slower worker, and loved to repeat pages.

I was also more laid back ... and we moved - TWICE that year.

While we did eventually finish all of her books,
it took more than one year.

She also enjoyed the computer games,
helped a bit too much by big sister Story.


8 years passed before I had to think about preschool again.

This time, Scholar had several cousins the exact same age.

Alpha Omega was offering a BRAND NEW
preschool curriculum.

I started the year with 3, and by the end of the year, I had 7 kids.
We met Tuesday's and Thursday's.
All of these were cousins - or very good friends.
We had so much fun as a group.

This is by far the best curriculum I have seen for a small group or 
starting out parents.

It was so easy to adapt to our needs.
There were stories to tell, crafts to do, exercises and PE activities, 
sometimes there were snacks, songs to sing, and worksheets 
that went along with each lesson each day.

The curriculum can be used as ONE year for a 4 year old or a slower older child.
or break it up into 2 years easily and do 2 days a week for a 3 year old
and 3 days a week to finish up as a 4 year old.

On the days that we didn't have our cousins around,
we used Rod and Staff books - 

and the same workbooks that Song and Story had used.

These were more to keep him busy while I needed him to be quieter while the 
big sisters worked.

He also spent time on the computer,
but not the same amount as his sisters.


Now it is Sunshine's turn.

She'll be 3 this Fall.

So I've ordered the books, and found a few random workbooks.

We'll see how she does,
but so far she seems very ready for more structure.

Plus, I STILL have 3 older kids.
So this will keep her a little busy.


The best advice I can give to parents
wanting to begin at this age ....

Don't push it.
Have FUN!
Do lots of hands on stuff.
Take messes outside if you can.
Read a lot.
Play a lot.
Talk a lot.
Pray a lot.

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