Wednesday, September 8

How to End Class

When I was prepping the school year I thought back to when my older two boys were preschool age and remembered one thing: how fun it was to teach them.  Even with all the little cut and paste projects, sorting shapes and objects, scavenger hunts for things that start with 'a', constructing big wall murals, their excitement is the key that makes it so much fun.  Those little guys just beam when you say, "O.K. it's your turn," or "Let's read this book," or "Shall we play a game?"  And so I joyfully planned this year with my most recent four-year old feeling almost as lightheartedly silly as he was.

I had forgotten something.  As much fun as teaching preschool is, it is equally exhausting.  Preschool doesn't take much time (maybe 45 minutes a few days a week).  Preschool doesn't take much study.  But preschool does take some preparation.  I'm not talking only about cutting out shapes and collecting tactile items, but also about that mental preparation of being ready for anything; switching gears, moving to the next thing, suggesting more activities he can do while I work with his brother.  You really have to be on your toes to teach this age.

The mental creativity is made greater by the fact that he's not my only student, but I don't want him to feel pushed aside while the "real" students get their work done.  And when all that work is done, I am tired of the mental gymnastics and need a little break.  However, he still wants to do more.  This is the hardest transition for me because as much as I'd love to lay on the floor and play one more game or read one more book with my Final Four there are bills to pay and papers to file and appointments to make and dishes to do and personal enrichment for the teacher.  So, I devised a simple plan to let him know when his "turn" is and when our learning activities would finish for the day. This helps him know when we've done enough and Mom needs to move on and meet some other needs. 

My simple method: I write out a list of all of our activities for the day in order on our whiteboard. I write his older brother's items in black ink and I write my preschooler's items in blue ink.  I start with one activity for my younger else he'd feel instantly neglected and sabotage his brother's learning time.  Then I do three items with my older making sure the last one is an independent activity. We erase each one as we go down the list so my younger knows that when the two blue items are next, his turn is next.  Then I happily fill his little attention tank and move to the black items for his brother again and the cycle continues 2-3 times until all the work for the day is finished.  When the board is wiped clean, the boys go play and I move on.

So far, it's working.  Though I'm still exhausted.  What are your methods for teaching with a preschooler at home?

1 comment:

  1. This year since I have a K in the mix I start with her first. The others have to do independent things while I work with her. As long as she wakes up first, this works!


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