Friday, February 9, 2018

The Joy of Preschool

We are blessed to be involved in a wonderful homeschool co-op with a fantastic group of people, and our new co-op semester started today. I have taught a variety of classes in homeschool co-ops in the past (i.e., drama, music appreciation, literature unit studies, geography), but this semester I am teaching two of my favorites: A preschool class, and creative writing for middle schoolers. I might write a post about the creative writing class on another day, but today I would like to talk about preschool. At the ripe old ages of seventeen, fourteen, and twelve, my own children have been beyond their preschool years for quite awhile now (sniff, sniff). If I am honest, I will tell you that I miss that age greatly and that it also happened to be my most favorite stage of homeschooling. When my kids were in their preschool years, I made Montessori-style materials to use with them at home, sang songs with them throughout each day, read picture books galore, explored sensory materials again and again, and completed hands-on art projects with them multiple times per week. It was so much fun and I loved, loved, loved it! I truly did! And I really do miss it. Preschool is just my favorite age to teach. That's why I am SO excited to teach pre-K this semester. Please indulge me for a moment by allowing me to share a little bit about my time with the tots today.

I had decided that our theme for this week and next week would be snow, so I began by reading the picture book, Snow, by P.D. Eastman, for story time.

Following story time, we listened to (and sang) the song, Seven Feet of Snow, and we did some fun hand motions along with the music. Here is a link to the song:

After that, we thought of words to describe snow (i.e., wet, cold, white) and talked about fun activities that we like to do in the snow (sledding, building snowman, etc.) We then looked at pictures of some artic animals in The Great Animal Search book and talked about those animals.

After this, we moved to table time activities. I passed out some "snow dough" that I had made at home, and the kids made snow balls and snow men with it. They also simply enjoyed the sensory aspect of squishing and squeezing it. Snow dough is similar to play dough, but the texture is somewhat different. I made it from mixing plain lotion and cornstarch together (the recipe said to use equal parts of each, but I ended up adding more cornstarch), and I added a small amount of glitter to the mixture as well.

Following the snow dough clean up, we still had some class time left, so I moved away from the snow theme, and pulled out a card game to help them learn the concept of opposites. The game is simply a large set of picture cards. I spread the cards out, and after choosing a card at random, each child scanned the other pictures to try to find the corresponding opposite. We also spent a lot of time talking about the pictures and opposite pairs. The opposites card game looks like this:

At the end of our game, parents were arriving to pick up their preschoolers for lunch, so the class ended. However, the other activity that I had planned for today, if time had permitted, was to sing this fun song about opposites with the kids:

Hence, I fully enjoyed my first day as a preschool teacher! The lesson was simple, but fun. I found myself reverting to my former speech pathologist self (even though that was a very long time ago) in that I did a whole lot of talking, as well as a lot of open-ended questions and listening, to encourage the kids to think and to develop their use of language. The little ones were so sweet, and it wasn't hard to remember why I miss that stage in my own children's lives so very much. Nevertheless, each age and stage has it's own blessings and beauty, and I have enjoyed homeschooling my children at every one of those ages and stages. I am so thankful for the opportunity to be home with my children, and it isn't something that I take for granted. Life is often stressful, and homeschooling has its difficulties, but there is so much joy to be found in it every single day. May we continue to experience the joy and blessings of this life that God has given us. Thank you for letting me share my day with you!