17 September 2015

Stress-Free, Mess-Free Preschool

Some of the techniques I use to make our preschool day one that's stress-free and mess-free:

1. I tackle the harder tasks, that require more concentration and energy, first. For my girls, these are reading and handwriting. I leave the more "fun stuff" for later in each school day in order to motivate them. No one wants to do all the fun stuff first and then have the hardest tasks hanging over you for the rest of the school day.

2. Before the girls arrive, I lay everything I want to do out on the table, and then as we finish each book or activity, I put it away. This means that I don't struggle with forgetting the activities I had planned (everything is on the table--how can I forget it when I see it!) and there's no big mess at the end of preschool (everything has been put back in its place as soon as we are finished with it).

3. I do all painting projects with the girls on my bathroom floor. I have a "wet bathroom", meaning that the entire tiled room is designed to be a shower. I just use the showerhead to wash any accidental paint smears off the floor later.

4. Since there are two of them, I sometimes give them small tasks of doing review work with their classmate. I will have one hold up the number flashcards for the other, and then switch places. This gives them a fun feeling of ownership--they have to be paying attention to make sure that their classmate says the right number, and it also gives me a few free minutes to prepare the next activity or get some housework done.

5. I only work on each subject for a pretty short period of time, and on the whole, unless I'm interrupted, I offer no breaks. My "break" strategy is to cycle between a variety of activities--because if I just let them go free, it's not the easiest thing to get them back into learning mode.

6. We do our reading on the comfy couch, but there are no crayons or markers allowed in the room with the couch. We have separate spaces for our writing activities and our reading activities, to prevent artwork on the furniture. 

7. We go over the rules for school in the elevator on the way to class. The biggest one is that during school, "I listen with my eyes, I listen with my ears, and I listen with my heart."

8. Because I use Youtube videos and a game from a website, I have them all cued up and the computer on when the girls arrive. Simply the time that it takes to search and find a video or deal with a computer game loading can be enough to lost attention, so I find everything works smoothly because I have the technology prepped ahead of time.

Homeschool Preschool Weekly Schedule

Week 6:
Major Themes: The Letter A and Animals

-Write in the number of the day on the calendar each day.
-Point out which day of the week it is.

-Sang the Sing, Spell, Read, & Write letter sounds song.
-Practiced writing names.
-Practiced writing upper and lowercase letters with workbooks
-This week we focused on the letter A and had several associated activities:
  -Found things in the house that started with the 'A' sound.
  -Asked, "Does your name have the letter A in it?" Anna felt really special this week!
  -Listened to this Letter A song.
  -Made the letter A with playdough.
  -Practiced writing uppercase and lowercase As every day.
  -Cut apples in half and used them as paint stamps. As far as I can remember, I have never actually done any fruit or veggie stamping in my life, even though I know it's practically the most common craft ever, so I was pretty excited about this. The girls thought it was kind of crazy to paint with applies instead of a paintbrush...
  -We made a simple ant craft that required cutting and gluing on their part.

Apple stamping for Preschool

-Number flashcards up to 20. We do a lot of different activities with flashcards--I throw them all on the floor and they have to give me the flashcard I ask for. Or I line up the flashcards in random order and they have to stand on a flashcard when I call out a number. Or they have to put all the flashcards in appropriate numerical order themselves. I try not to ever let things get too monotonous.
-Practiced writing numbers on whiteboard
-1-10 Dot-to-dot sheets
-Counting blocks and making simple patterns

-Books 1 and 2 from Sonlight's Fun Tales.
-We used our letter flashcards to practice sounding out CVC words that we've gone over in the previous 5 weeks.
-Teach Your Monster to Read for 5-10 minutes a day.
-Sight words: is, to, and has.

Bible and Storytime: Week 6 from Sonlight Core P4/5 Instructor's Guide.

Months of the Year: We use this song.

7 Continents of the World: Something new that they've started memorizing this week! They had their days of the week down, so now we're memorizing the seven continents with this song.

Science: Animals
- Talked about different kinds of animals: wild animals vs. domesticated animals
- Did a very basic intro to different groupings of animals, i.e. mammals, insects, reptiles, amphibians

Storybooks: Crictor by Tomi Ungurer
-This story was perfect for a discussion of what kind of animals make good pets and which kind don't--Crictor is obviously a pretty unusual pet.
The Complete Adventures of Curious George by Margret and H.A. Rey
-We read several stories from this anthology and talked a lot about this crazy monkey.
-A lot of the illustrations have different animals pictures in them, so we pointed out the animals in the drawings and called them by their Bahasa names.

We worked on expanding our animal vocab:

Fish = Ikan
Lion = Singa
Snake = Ular
Gajah = Elephant
Frog = Katak
Horse = Kuda
Ant= Semut

-We reviewed old animal vocabulary words from Week 3 as well.
-We looked through the animal pages of our Bahasa/English picture dictionary.
-We also listened to the Didi and Friends song Semut Berkawad. Since it's all about marching ants, this was a perfect crossover for our letter of the week!
-We watched this short, 4-minute, Didi episode about ants and how strong they are and how they use teamwork to lift heavy things.

Life skills: 
-They helped me put laundry in the washing machine and fold and put it away.

Crafts + Play:
-I taught them one of the "clapping games" I played as a kid. This should really go under life skills, shouldn't it? I clapped this rhyme with them, I know there's lots of variations, but this is how I learned it (it seems to be a rather violent version):
"Miss Suzy had a baby,
She named him Tiny Tim.
She put him in a bathtub,
To see if he could swim.
He drank up all the water,
He ate up all the soap.
He tried to eat the bathtub
but it wouldn't go down his throat.
Miss Suzy called the doctor,
Miss Suzy called the nurse,
Miss Suzy called the lady with the alligator purse.
"Measles" said the doctor.
"Mumps" said the nurse.
"Nothing," said the lady with the alligator purse.
Miss Suzy kicked the doctor.
Miss Suzy punched the nurse.
Miss Suzy thanked the lady with the alligator purse."

Previous Weeks: 
Week 1
Week 2
Week 3
Week 4
Week 5
Sara said...

This looks so fun! Lots of hard work, too. I have no kids yet (that's a while off!) but I'm glad that this system is working so well for you!

J.K.B. Young said...

Good luck with preschooling! What a great idea to document all that you do so you can remember it down the road and help other people!

Unknown said...

I too have a preschool. It's sometimes a lot of work but it's worth spending time with the little ones. Great post.

Unknown said...

I think for everyone, kiddos and adults included, getting the tough stuff out of the way first is the way to go! I know I'm most productive first thing in the morning and if I save a big project for later in the afternoon, it's probably not getting done!

Anonymous said...

Aw! The "I listen with my eyes, I listen with my ears, and I listen with my heart" is TOO CUTE!

Jen Lud said...

This is another awesome plan! I love how you prep so they don't lose focus - I tried to help my 2-year-old out over the summer and seriously, by the time I found a video I liked (there are so many videos to sift through!) she was over it. I also wish like heck I had a wet bathroom haha! I could always use my yard if it's nice out. I am also a morning production person. I get the cleaning and chores done first thing. The workout. The meal prep. It's all morning behavior - and then the park, the store, the more fun stuff, that is afternoon. Your girls had such a fun week! Ants rule!!

Unknown said...

You put in so much effort and planning into all of this. I love this.

N- Naomi in Wonderland

Elegance and Mommyhood said...

WOW this post is so thorough and informative. You sound like a great pre-schooler. Also, like you are loving this job, which is great! This post is definitely helpful to me with a toddler at home. Thanks so much. I must say I love that drawings of red+green, of the kids. They are little artists!

Jane and Sonja said...

There are so many great tools in your post. Such a great resource. Thank you for sharing on #HomeMattersParty!

Unknown said...

Wow! You're really organized with all kinds of goodness! It sounds like you really enjoy what you're doing. I homeschool my older kids but preschoolish stuff I more do on the fly. We do a lot of reading and counting and coloring. Best of luck for a great school year!

Godly Homemaker (Andrea) said...

if we don't write down and plan in advance what we're going to do with the kids....

Val @ Love My DIY Home said...

I love your energy - which is a must for teachers! I taught many year and tried to be creative and energetic in everything I did. #1 - doing the hardest thing first...I call that "Eating the frog first." Everything is easy after that!

Aly said...

I love that you do the painting in the wet bathroom! What a great idea. And I so need a wet bathroom!

Sandy Sandmeyer said...

I sounds like you have really made an effort to be the best teacher ever, but by having fun too. I really admire you taking the time to teach your girls rather than send them off to a school. This will help build a lovely bond in the future.

Beth McIntire said...

Wow, you are impressively organized. The kids must have a blast at preschool. My younger daughter just started kindergarten and really misses her preschool friends.

Unknown said...

Sounds like you have lots of fun doing school! I homeschool my children (I now have one homeschool graduate, a senior, and an 8th grader), and I love it! I have to admit that I was a little jealous when I read about your bathroom... ;)

Unknown said...

All my kids are grown but when the grandbaby's come this would be an excellent thing to do.

Unknown said...

Oh how I miss the preschool years! I'm so impressed how organized you are! I'd love to hear how you keep so organized!

Jeremy said...

Love these ideas. I have to young boys who will be that age in about 2 years os these are perfect. Love the organization and tips on teaching!

Unknown said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
G said...

Great tips in your post!!! You are so very organized!!
I originally posted under an old user name (gigiscraps), but deleted that comment. I figured out that I could use the Name/URL choice to post under my blog address as I am part of the Commentathon. Thanks!!

Unknown said...

Organization is your jam. Great post! - Michanda

Maegan Dockery said...

This is awesome. I don't have kids yet, but when I do, I want them in a preschool like yours, haha! You are so organized, and even though this was for preschoolers, I was fascinated! Now I want to paint with apple slices!

Erlene said...

Wow, you're so organized. These are great tips for those that homeschool.

Anne-Marie can be found at said...

Your organization is awesome. Thank you for sharing! I have no children but if I did, I would hope they had preschool with someone who cares as much about them as you obviously do.

Unknown said...

You're organization skills are through the roof! Bless you for caring so much!

Autumn @ Autumn All Along said...

I've helped people with joy pre-schools they have done at home and it was really so much fun! I'm impressed with the resources you've put on here for others to use- I'm sure this will really help someone out who wants to do the same :)

Cindy Magee said...

It is so much fun to watch little ones learn new things and how they can be so excited about things! :)

Shani said...

I love how you are sharing your preschool curriculum. When I homeschooled my kids, I was always looking for guides like this online. And, I like how you are teaching life skills.

Unknown said...

I love how organized you are. You obviously have put a lot of thought into creating this experience. Thank you!

Unknown said...

my my! I must say you are awesome at what you do. You are great at organizing stuff, plus that's epic. all the best!

PrettieBirdie said...

You are amazing! You definitely have a gift for this. I watch my 2 year old nephew during the day and this definitely gives me some ideas.

Riva Sue said...

I love your school plans - I specifically like that you have the video's pre-qued, that seems so logical and clever.

Nicole Tugrul said...

You are well organized! I agree with getting the hardest tasks over with first, makes the rest of the day better!

Lori said...

Such detail and organization! As a former classroom teacher and even now in our homeschooling, I have always worked on the hardest subjects early in the day. These are wonderful ideas!

Unknown said...

Great information and although we are out of preschool age this can still help! Thanks for sharing.

Marie Beausoleil said...

You're so organized! I struggle with getting preschool done with my 1 1/2 & 3 year old while still doing school with the 6 & 8 year old.

Trudie said...

You have a lot of good ideas. Thanks!

Unknown said...

That is a very thoroughly thought out program you have going! Great ideas!

Anonymous said...

How fun! It looks like you have a great curriculum and really keeps the girls engaged. Way to be so organized!

Unknown said...

Wow! All I can think is: I wish my son had such a cool school.

Unknown said...

Wow! All I can think is: I wish my son had such a cool school.

Maureen said...

What a great post. Although my girls are grown and way beyond school, I couldn't help but notice some similarities to how I actually plan and execute my work day! Always tackle the hard stuff first is a golden rule for me to-do list! What I am really intrigued by is the "wet bathroom".....with a very active and sometimes muddy golden retriever, this sounds amazing!

204 Park said...

Oh wow what a lot of work but looks fun too! :)

Unknown said...

Having a plan and being organized is always helpful. I love the idea of worry free painting that you can just rinse away.

Unknown said...

Being organized and knowing what's up next is how we get through our homeschool day, as well. I too, keep the books out on the table, and we put them away as we use them.

Corinne Rodrigues said...

This is wonderful. I love how you've documented it - so it could be a great resource for others too.