Best Preschool Homeschool Experiences

  1.  Storytelling/ Read A Loud

Children love to hear stories. You can tell stories about your own childhood and how it  was like growing up.   It’s a good chance for the kids to get to know the younger you.  You can use simple story books.  Don’t be afraid to be animated and to act out the story.  Just imagine you are the child and you’ll know how to read the story well!  Oh, don’t do it perfectly  or else, you’ll have to do that again and again for many, many bedtime nights!I have to say that this experience has been one of our ( my hubby Gilbert and myself)  most favorite times with our children! And countless stories, relayed again and again, have bonded us indeed for life!

As they got older,  I began to use chapter books which was read one chapter at a time.

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2.  Pretend Play

No wonder places like Kidzania are a hit!  Smaller children love doing pretend play. They become “kings” as they pretend and they can out their imagination and enjoy.   So create scenarios!  Sometimes it could be as simple as pretend conversations but on other days, do the works and go all out with props and costumes !

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Even older kids will enjoy pretend play!
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The “chubbiest’ knight and “pinkest” princess!
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The baby barber working on Kuya!
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Pretending to be birds !

3.  Dramatization

Act out favorite stories!  You may also include popular Bible Stories with important character lessons.

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Re-enacting the Washing of the Disciples’ Feet to teach Humility
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Each one had a role in the “Widow’s Offering” story of Jesus

4. Messy Time !

For many years, “Mess” seemed like our 5th child. It went wherever we went.  Oh, but we had so much fun with all the mess.  We always had regular play dough time ( dough was either home made or store bought)   We would create stories out of our creations or make play food and pretend we were in a restaurant. Or toys can actually have a party, play dough with plastic animals was always a winner.

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Animals on top of a mound of play dough

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When I asked the kids what the animals were doing, they said , ” They’re having a meeting.”

I also made sure we had good quality, washable tempera or poster paint, brushes, sponges, mixing plates or palettes and all kinds of painting surfaces. Aprons were easy reach.

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Raya started her journey to Art in this way. We just exposed her to different art media and forms. Check her corner “Rayas Room” to see her recent creations!
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This easel was an all time hit. Used and abused ! With 4 children, it was truly worth it.

Involve your children in clean up. My kids loved cleaning paint brushes and  they were thrilled to see how all the colors mixed! They also enjoyed using sponges with lots of foamy cleaning soap !

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5. Water Play

This can be done using a water table or a giant basin on top of a toddler or preschool level table.  Or it may be done during bath time. Just provide all sorts of water containers and gadgets (plastic pails, measuring cups, squirt bottles, water gun, watering cans, 50 or 15 ml syringes ( without needles, ok?) Some stores sell ” water toys” like  a  water and sand mill .  Give the kids a treat by adding drops of water color to your water.

You may even disguise this time as a s  fun ” cleaning time”   where kids wash their toys or even shoes.

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6. Sand Box Time

If we lived in countries where play sand is easily accessible, we can really maximize “sand play”.  Returning home from a 2 year stay in London, I packed a bag or two of play sand for our two toddlers. This water and sand table from Early Learning Center London could be used for either water and water toys or sand and sand toys.  It was our gift to our son who turned 1 year old.  It was  so useful for us as 3 more kids used it as well.

In Manila, we purchased a giant crab sandbox with cover and had a whole lot of “sand play” in our earlier homeschool experiences. We would recreate scenes like farm life with plastic animals and plants. Even use a small basin as a  pond! Or we would create a “beach scene” with water animals.

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7. Wooden Blocks/ Wooden Train Time

Wooden blocks, trains and tracks offer limitless possibilities. From building a castle or a fort , to using the blocks/connecting tracks to create a whole town;  toys that can be used and reused, created and recreated are simply the best toys.

8. Kitchen Time: Cooking/ Baking

Toddlers or preschoolers can be able to help with simple baking or cooking duties like mixing, breaking the egg, measuring some simple ingredients, forming cookies using a mold or cookie cutter.   For cooking, preschoolers can cut simple vegetables or fruits.   They can help tossing the ingredients into the recipe.

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Zuchinsi are very easy to cut with a blunt knife!

9. Dance & Movement

Just go ahead and do it. Play some dance music and let loose.  Carry them, or twirl them and just have lots of fun. Do some relays!  

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Pillow Case Race!
Pillow Case Race!
Our Homeschool support group called Tuesday Gang met regularly and the kids always had a chance to do "battle outdoors" ( Narnia season!)
Our homeschool support group called Tuesday Gang met regularly and the kids always had a chance to do “battle outdoors” ( Narnia season!).

10. Go Outdoors.

Take a nature walk. Go out into the rain!  Visit the park. Fly a kite. Catch an insect.  Go to an open field, set up a picnic and run around on a cool and windy day.

We used this list one time as we ventured into the park and around the village!
We used this list one time as we ventured into the park and around the village!

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Oh, this post made me really look back with both a smile  in my face and an ache in my heart. The toddler and preschool years were really one of a kind and may you make the most of this season as you think of activities to bond. Hope this list helps!

 

Don’t Rush Your Children: Let Them Be Kids A Little Longer

It all began with kidding my youngest about the times  I would sing to him as a toddler before he slept and he would blurt out, “Sing, Mama, Sing!” when I would abruptly stop singing as I myself drifted to sleep. We then started remembering many more moments or should I say, predicaments, where I think I needed rescue. There were days, these moments became what I would often call, “Get me out of here” situations!

It’s quite ironical that what used to bring us exasperation when our older kids were much. much younger are the very moments we now sorely miss.

Let me try if we share the same list:

  1. The Dreaded Shampoo in the Eyes situation

Bathing is usually fun especially when you use a bath tub or a giant basin. We always had water toys and lots of bubbles which the kids would pretend was  hot coffee  or cocoa with frothed milk. But it was tricky when it was shampoo time.   “Not in my eyes, not in my eyes!” would often be their battle cry. I think we even contemplated on buying that plastic visor contraption to prevent soap suds from getting into the face. But day after day, that was stressful until the day they overcame the fear !

2.  “Read stories?”

Oh, I remember our eldest always had 5 or more  storybooks in tow during bedtime and would beg  with his chubbiest smile, “Read stories? “.  How could you resist? How could you resist the nth book he requests no matter how tired you were?

3. The Handprints on the Windows and Mirrors

Chubby hands, small feet, peanut M&M or Dippin’ Dot toes… I don’t see stains anymore and it does make one sad.

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4.  The Fear of Medicine (white one, pink one, orange one)

Remember the stress of coercing, bribing them  and practically ramming dreadful medicine down their throats by hook or by crook? I remember having to pray with them before swallowing the feared paracetamol or some yucky antibiotic.  Or having to get the other siblings to rally as cheerleaders when it was time for medicine intake.

5. Nap Time Battles

Whether it be struggling to stay awake waiting for the little one to doze or  the little one waking up the moment you put them down from being carried, the sleep sergeant in me would often find myself napping with them out of fatigue from  the whole process of putting them to sleep.  So some may say, nap when the baby naps but others find the nap times as “me time” to do other things. Oh, naps!!!!

6. The Loooooonnnnng Prayers

At bedtime, one son got used to praying against all his fears.  So the list was long and he did it every night for years.  Oh yes, you name it, he prayed against it!  Volcanic eruption, earthquake, storms, bad guys, scorpions, snakes, and even tarantulas!

7.   The Clingy State

There was an afternoon that I had to leave my son and so before he napped, he said, “ Mama, I want my nap to be so long so when I wake up, you’re here na.”  How could your heart not melt with that? But of course there were days when we gathered with other homeschooling families and one child would not leave my  side to play with all the other children.  I envied the other moms who had more independent and less clingy children. But now that they are all not clingy anymore, you wonder why you rushed them to learn to be on their own????

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8. Car Seat/ Stroller Struggle

Having live abroad without a full time nanny when we had one toddler and an infant, the Filipino babies needed  to learn to sit and drift to sleep in their stroller or car seat. Usually, Filipino babies upon any sign of distress in their strollers and car seats, would be taken of their “dilemmas” and comforted.   We had to see our eldest then cry it out and drift to sleep in his car seat and stroller. Oh it took a whole of crying ( and vomiting ) at one point.

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9. Non Stop Questions

“How old is God?”, “Is Lola older than Noah?” ” What happened, Mama?” “Why, Papa, why? “.  Oh, there are days that we may not be able to take another question from our curious children.   Before you lose your patience, just write the question down and say, “I’ll try to answer that tomorrow.” But better record it so you’ll be amazed when you try to recall the many  cute thoughts and wonderings they had.

10.  The Fears

I had a nephew who feared big jars or big paintings.  My daughter when she was 3 years old had a fear for old people with white hair and bald men.  Many fear the dark. Recently, I just found out my 2 preschool children had some trauma in having to watch , “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory ” for a Sunday school activity.  Most children will naturally out grow their fears.  So do not fuss and fret.

Oh, dear younger mom with younger children, don’t rush these seeming monotonous, trivial, “get me out of here please” moments. Record them via journal and video, and above all, enjoy them (for sure, you can find something good in them)for they will soon (and time flies!) grow  up!!!!

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2017
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Time flies, right?

 

A Favorite Resource: World Book Building Blocks of Science

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We really enjoyed this series created by Joseph Midthun and Samuel Hiti for World Book!   It presents the following topics through a set of 8 books:

  • Cells to Organ System
  • The Circulatory System
  • The Digestive and Urinary System
  • Endocrine and Reproductive System
  • Fighting Sickness
  • The Nervous System
  • The Respiratory System
  • The Skeletal and Muscular System

The material is presented in a clear and whimsical manner. The illustrations are catchy and fun! As a medical doctor,  I see how the material focused on relevant yet practical aspects of the lessons.


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The reader is not overwhelmed with too many details but will, after reading the material, have a good grasp and understanding of how each system functions.

When one of my older sons sustained a basketball accident involving his hand, we opted to use his case as a basis for our lessons.   His younger brother, Gino, read “The Skeletal and Muscular Systems” volume.

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We even extended the lesson and read, Luis ” Tito Doc” Gatmaitan’s  Kraaak, Nabali ang Buto ni Freddie.

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We also read these other titles by Dr. Luis Gatmaitan so we could discuss the material both in Tagalog and English.

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Though the set may be pricey,  Phoenix Educational Systems, the distributor of Building Blocks of Science, offers very affordable payment schemes. If you have several children, this set would truly be a wonderful add-on to your library. If interested, please  contact  Ms. Veronica Glemao , Marketing Department, Phoenix Educational Systems, Inc. ( exclusive distributor of World Book Products) +632376-39-68 or Ms. Bambi Abrantes at mobile number +63915-2532677 and landline +6326560688.


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