Today, I am going to share 5 tips for teaching preschoolers. Preschoolers are lovable, cranky, whiny, adorable, and funny. They are sponges that soak up information more quickly than we can dish it out and usually listen only when we don’t want them to hear. But teaching a preschooler does not have to leave Mommy running to the headache medicine with a few extra grey hairs. Maybe you are doing this today? Will you do something with me?
Simply breathe and repeat after me: My child is an individual, not a description from a book or a replica of another person’s child. They are just as unique and special as the Mommy that loves them.
Whew! Doesn’t that feel better? Okay, so this didn’t make your preschooler a prodigy but you have just laid the foundation of the educational building blocks for your little learner. Now, we can begin to build on this foundation with tips on finding teachable moments and creating excitement in your preschooler for learning.
5 Tips for Teaching Preschoolers
1. Create a space of their own.
This could be a large ottoman in the living room or a corner filled with pillows. I would recommend creating a space that is not in their playroom or bedroom as this increases the potential for wandering eyes and “I want to play with that toy” meltdowns. I am not sure if you are familiar with these but I have seen a few around here. In creating them a little spot with fewer distractions, you are helping them to understand that something happens when it is time to go to this corner of their world.
Another note, this should also not be a chair or area where you might have a “time out” seat or be located in a place that might be confused for punishment. You can make it cute names like “The Smarty Pants Corner” or “Our Thinking Chair.” You could also take the easy route as I have done and call it my daughter’s “School Chair,” which is actually a large ottoman in my living room. As soon as I mention it, she will run to it and dive on top. She quickly spins around and begins to kick her legs in delight. It is time for Mommy/daughter time.
2. Have a few things waiting for them at their special spot.
It could be a few new books or a puzzle that you will put together. This adds excitement to their school time and an attitude of expectancy. These little surprises do not need to be expensive or timely. Bring a few of your child’s toys in a box, cover them with a blanket one by one and have your child try to guess what it is! This easy game is fun but it also builds cognitive skills. A box with a coloring book and crayons might excite some little learners while others would prefer colorful blocks to practice colors.
Consider your child and do not feel that they must conform to the the learning style of another. Does your little guy like bugs? Have a box of plastic bugs and let them practice counting the legs or separating them by color. The excitement of finding something new at this special spot will have your preschooler looking forward to their school time.
3. Create time for mudpies.
A preschool accomplishes many wonderful things; however, the preschool day is not only filled with the alphabet, numbers, and scissor skills. On the contrary, studies have proved what moms have said for years: Our children learn by doing, playing, talking, and pretending. Even when they are mixing dirt with water and making mud pies? Absolutely! The texture of the mud, the consequence of mixing water with dirt, the change of matter, the sounds it makes while squishing and the new shapes created when dropped from the air… all of these shape your preschooler’s thoughts of the world around them. When mapping out your child’s study for the day, consider that time to play as important as their alphabet.
4. Find teachable moments in the daily routines.
We have discussed how children learn by doing. Consider the opportunities throughout your day that will allow your child to use critical thinking skills or language skills. Time at the dinner table is a prime opportunity to learn. Ask questions and really listen to how they answer. Expound on something they have said and repeat some of what they have said back to them with correct language if necessary. Have them count out the pieces of meat on their plate and recount each time they eat one. Have them notice what happens to their glass when they take a drink. Ask questions about it!
It is always amazing to hear how their brain is working. Have them practice putting on their own shoes or buttoning their own shirt. Allow them to feel what it is like outside before choosing what to wear based on the weather. It does force us to slow down a bit as it would be quicker to just do this ourselves. However, we are allowing them to build knowledge and skills for the future that is worth the extra two minutes it might take.
5. Listen to the moods of your child.
A preschooler is unique in that they are still learning emotions and feelings. Frustration can rise from anything: their shoe feels funny or their tummy hurts. Sissy looked at them funny or the dog slobbered on their leg. Forced learning is not always enriching. Forcing your preschooler to count bears while they fight tooth and toenail only leads to tears and anguish; that is not even mentioning what your child may do! There are some days when my little beauty decides that the world is against her. Acting excited or distracting her does not always work.
What do I do then?
Well, I mean after pick myself up from the fetal position in the corner. I listen to her. I put the book and puzzles to the side. I keep the art project in its box. This is a time to snuggle or watch a movie together. Perhaps we will read a few books if she is up for it. Or maybe I will send her to her room to play or take a nap. There will be another teachable moment in our future. There will be other opportunities to learn the letter A. For now, it is time to calm our nerves and recharge.
This is a guest post by former contributing writer: Leah M
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