When people find out that I am a homeschooling mother of four children, they usually say, “Wow! You are a busy mom!”
My grinning response… every time? “Yes, I am!”
There is always a lot going on at my house. A lot of running, a lot of noise. A lot of mess, a lot of toys. (It rhymes AND it’s true.) My two younger children, a two-year-old tornado and a four-year-old hurricane, create a great deal of chaos, making doing any school whatsoever quite a challenge.
Last year, I figured out some great srategies for Teaching Among Tornadoes and explored 10 different “Tricks,” including Watercoloring, Stamping, New Toy, School Supplies, Leap Frog Videos, Pipe Cleaner Sculptures, Seashells, Sticky Sticks, Magnets, and Dry Erase Cards.
And wouldn’t you know it, what worked so well last year just hasn’t been working so well this year. They don’t want to be shuffled off to the other table for an activity. They want to be with Mommy and the big, cool kids. Even when I was faithfully spending “Preschool Time” with them first thing in the morning, it just wasn’t enough.
One morning, my nerves ended up completely fraying because Shortstop spent at least an hour crying nonstop while I was trying to accomplish school with the older kids. He asked for a green marker, I gave it to him and he cried for a blue marker. When I gave him that, he cried for crayons. No matter what I gave him to play with, it wasn’t what he wanted.
I realized after (because I can’t think straight during a lengthy crying episode) that what he really wanted was my attention. My attention and time. And I thought, What am I doing? They will only be this young for a short season. We obviously need to do this differently.
So I scrapped last year’s schedule and came up with a new plan. Which was ok, because I actually love, love, love coming up with new plans! (I explained how my new plan works in my post, A Day in the Life.)
The Preschool Hour, a midmorning slot in my routine, was my answer to the (literal) cry of my baby. During this hour, we do fun things all together.
During the first half, we either do an art project of some sort or a board game or a puzzle. Sometimes it fits in with our phonogram from our phonics lesson earlier, like the day we played The Sneaky Snacky Squirrel game when we focused on the IR phonogram. Sometimes it happens to correspond to our literature selection, like the day we painted and Princess K decided to paint a scene from Charlotte’s Web.
Other ideas for this time include: fine motor skill activities such as playdough, sorting buttons or pompoms, beading, stickers; arts and crafts activities such as stamping, painting, weaving, coloring, drawing; playing with building toys such as blocks, legos, or the train set; mathematical or logical activities like puzzles or patterning with legos or pompoms or stickers or paint or stamps;and dramatic play activities such as acting out a story we read or creating puppets and a puppet show or playing store or restaurant.
During the second half of our Preschool Hour, we do some sort of movement or gross motor activity. We might dance to the Kids in Motion CD, play Just Dance Kids on the Wii, follow along with Billy Blanks in Tae Bo Kicks (for kids) on YouTube, or jump on our trampoline. I have (vague) plans to set up an obstacle course one day or run some relay races. We might ride our bikes or scooters around the block or lead each other in exercises.
A couple of times a week, we take the whole hour and go on a nature walk or on an outing to the park or to the Children’s Discovery Museum that is nearby our home.
This preschool hour has become an important part of our day. It is good for us all to play together. And the creativity, fun, and physical activity is healthy and educational for my preschoolers and elementary kids alike.