I am constantly researching and reading to ensure we are doing all we should be doing, since the boys are not going to a formal preschool. I have the bug that I think many beginning home school mom's have in that I am at times wondering if we should "get started" doing something a bit more scheduled and official. Inevitably, after researching and reading and praying about it, I come back to the same conclusion: let them be three and enjoy themselves.
After praying about it, my most recent direction is to focus more intently on character development. It's funny how working on their character development is also working on my character development....isn't it funny how that works. Today I have been reminding them, when needed, to use a kind voice when talking to each other. It is a good reminder for me too, as it is easy for moms to lose our patience at times.
So we will continue to work on character development, with more intent. One of the things I must work on is encouraging them to help me more, when I am working about the house. It is so easy to wait to do house work type jobs when they are busy or sleeping but they are at an age where they can and should be helping more now. They are at such a great age for this, since they want to help and to learn how to do the things we (the dad and I) do. It takes a bit more thought on my part, of how to let them help me, what they can do, even if it is not just the way I do it.
They already put their dirty clothes in the dirty clothes basket, at the end of the day, and they help to clear the table and set the table at times but we are not very consistent with the table duty. Also, they will start to set the table and then get distracted and not finish. So, we will be working on being more consistent and making sure the job is completed well. I need to have them do things alongside me until they learn it well and feel a sense of accomplishment and of helping out the family, as I want them to feel their assistance is appreciated and needed in our family.
We have already been working on persistence, or rather, praising it when it is displayed. We have also been working on obedience (obey, right away, every day, in a cheerful way:) and will continue to do so:). We work on sharing every day and Nick especially has been showing some growth in this area, as well as being compassionate towards Ben, although sometimes I'm not sure if this is always a good thing. We may be quickly approaching a point where Ben thinks he should always get his way and he always (or quite frequently) wants whatever Nick just picked up to play with.
In addition to character development, we will continue to learn through play, as we have to date.
We do preschool math by playing games and playing with toys that have us sorting, matching, counting, creating/finishing patterns and playing memory games.
We work on the basics of reading by playing with alphabet puzzles and the Leapfrog toy on the little white board. It is the one that teaches letters, phonics and spelling of three letter words. We work on letter sounds with the leapfrog toys also but we also discuss letter sounds when opportunities come up at other times during the day, such as when we are reading books. We also have fun with these sometimes when we are waiting for our meal, when we eat out on Sunday after church. We keep several types of fun, educational things to do in the diaper bag and the boys love to do this when they are getting bored at a restaurant. We play a game, once in a while, when we are in the car or waiting for something, where I tell the boys a word and they try to determine what letter it starts with. We are still a bit new to this game but Ben is actually pretty good at it, which was quite a surprise to me.
Probably most importantly, we spend lots of time reading a wide variety of books to the boys. I normally read to them in the morning. I have recently started letting them each pick a book that I read to them, while they are lying in bed, (hopefully) becoming relaxed and restful just before nap time. And I normally read again to them in the afternoon. The dad frequently reads to them when he gets home from work or after dinner and then they each get to pick another book to read before bedtime, after which we also read out of their Bible and the Everything a Child Needs to Know About God book. We also have a bunch of books in the bathroom, next to their potty chair. I encourage them to look at the pictures and have overheard them each "reading" aloud to themselves (stories they have memorized). I try not to read to them in the bathroom because they will sit there, wanting me to read more, even though they are finish and I don't like that:). I would much rather read while we are sitting on the couch, snuggling together.
We don't get in all of these reading sessions every single day, especially when we have to get out and run errands, but we do get in most of them on most days. Sometimes we only read one or two books before something distracts us and other times we read 8 or 9 books. We normally just follow the boys' lead.
To find good books for the boys, I look at book lists on the Sonlight website, other blogs of those who have already home schooled preschoolers and I also have three books that recommend good books for children. Also, Amazon has a listing of children's classics so that is a good resource, although I buy many of our books at my favorite used bookstore. I think the level of books we are reading to them are pretty good for their age also and they have a fairly good vocabulary.
We have the beginners set of Building Thinking Skills books from CriticalThinking.com. These are suppose to be work books but we don't really use them that way. I put them in with the boys' books and, every now and then, they get interested in them again and ask us to "read" them. They can easily be used that way, where you go through various pages and ask questions and have fun trying to figure out the answers, while sitting on the couch together. That is how we have used them so far, just sitting on the couch, with a child on each side and letting them pick out which pages they want to do. These are fun books and we all enjoy them.
We also have the Kumon cut, paste/sticker, fold, color, trace and maze books, along with the Brain Quest books that have sections such as My World (i.e. put an X on the things that do not belong in the house), Science (i.e. draw a circle around the animals/plants that are living), Numbers, Phonics, Letters, Sorting & Matching, Colors and Shapes, etc. These two sets of books are what we use when the boys ask to "do school". We usually do this two or three times a week, depending on what else we have going on and what the weather is like.
And, of course, they get lots of play time. Their favorite things to play these days are tractors/farm toys, firetrucks and the ambulance, cars and trucks with the garage or just running over the couch and couch pillows. They also enjoy puzzles a lot. We seldom go two days in a row without them spending a good amount of time working on puzzles - today, they worked together to do two large floor puzzles without any adult help. Then they did the United States floor puzzle but I helped them with that one. Additional favorites are playing trains, jumping on the mini-trampoline, and pretending to cook and prepare meals for me and also to shop for groceries.
When I write it all out like this, it makes me realize exactly how much we are doing to cover preschool, over time (meaning we don't do it all every week). I am glad I sat down and wrote this. It is good for helping me to think it through.....and now it's time for bed. Good night.