For the last year, we have co-hosted a weekly series for preschoolers as we head into the new school year we will be continuing with a Foundation or Early Childhood Education focus every Wednesday sharing hands-on activities for these formative years of a child's life. Today all of the groups posts are focused on preparing for school and as we move into a new school year we move on with our children. It's a time for me to share with you how we support the amazing preschool and school's that our children attend and the teachers with activities at home, the resources that I consider are essential for this age range and some tips that I've found helps over the last few years.
Both of my children have attended a preschool/nursery and the September after they turned 4 moved to full time schooling in foundation stage at a local school - however, it has never been my thoughts that education only happens in the school environment and we have actively supported the learning taking place in the school with our hands-on activities. From an education perspective the more that you can teach the same concepts and ideas but in different methods the higher the chance of children "getting it" and it embedding and understanding it better. Although our home is a family home and we don't homeschool we have equipment that I have brought to help the children learn; supporting their traditional preschool and school at home.
Equipment for supporting school at home
I don't want to make our home a school environment and if you look back at the majority of our activities they are usually hand-made or use resources that we have found in the home. I have only brought a small amount of actual education resources as creating the equipment and devising ways to use existing materials is part of getting the kids involved in their own learning.
So here goes our equipment list
- Markers - we have a selection, different shapes triangular to help grip, as well as fine, medium and broad tips in a range of colours
- Pencils - a mixture of colours, different grip shapes, as well as HB pencils for writing
- Different papers and card, printer paper, notebooks, handwriting sheets, exercise books, construction paper, cardstock, scrapbooking paper
- Wax Crayons
- Scissors - child safety scissors
- Paints - tempera, acrylic, powder paint, water colours
- Items for painting - paint brushes, sponges and items we would have thrown away, corks, plastic eggs, natural materials
- Junk - we have a big box of recyclable material ranging from cardboard tubes to bubble wrap to the polystyrene pizza bases
- Magnetic Letters and Numbers
- Letter and number stamps and stamp pads (most of these come from my own crafting supplies)
- Counters - we have a set of wild animal counters and a set of fruit counters
- Basic Science equipment
- Globe or large map
- BOOKS - lots of books, we have fiction, non-fiction covering a range of topics that the children can look at and we can read together
As you can see most of our equipment relates to the creative side, but we cover all areas of the curriculum and using my own equipment like scales, measuring jugs I am able to cover different areas of maths. A tray and some hand-made labels I can create a nature study area on a windowsill or corner of the home.
Managing learning at home
Supporting the schools at home is different than homeschooling, I plan activities based not on what I need to teach but on what my children are struggling with, have an interest in or at the stage they are and moving them forward. The schools my children attend are excellent and give targets every semester for the core subjects and will catch parents at the school gates to highlight something they are struggling with or that they are excelling with and can be moved forward.
Finding time isn't difficult, with the majority of our activities quick and if preparation is needed I tend to do that when they are in bed or at school they can be fitted in after school or on a weekend and my one aim has always been that it provides some 1 on 1 time with each child to focus like adult-led learning does in the school and preschool.
We also have a "learning time" box - it contains our basic equipment and the children know that when it comes out we're going to sit down together and work on an activity.
Creating a learning box
Our equipment is easily accessible for the kids they can get most things without needing me however, I've kept a learning box separate that comes out for homework and activities. I brought the equipment but the children created the box themselves.
- Foam Stickers
- Coloured paper
- Glue stick
Creating the Learning Box
Using an old shoebox (children's shoe boxes work great) I left the kids to get creative, guiding them not to stick on the bottom of the box and inside.
Even though my eldest is heading into year 2 (2nd-grade equivalent) he created a learning box for himself as well to use for homework and activities that we do outside of school as well.
Once they boxes were finished I stocked them with; a packet of pencil crayons, a packet of wax crayons, a packet of markers, ruler, pencil, pencil sharpener and eraser. The boxes are then kept out of normal reach and when we sit down to learn they come out. It keeps a complete set of colours, nice pencils that aren't repeatedly dropped so break and helps to create an ethos of learning time in the home.
Preparing for school from the Early Childhood Team
Check out these other posts from the Early Childhood Team and follow along with us on Social Media this year as we share ideas for hands-on learning for your preschoolers and kindergarten-aged children.
Back to School Tips for Parents plus Printable morning chart - The Preschool Toolbox
Starting Kindergarten books and activities - Capri +3
Back to school: starting routines - Tiny Tots Adventures
Make Back to School Books to Ease Transition - Fun a Day
4 Back to School Tips: Preparing for School - Learning to Walk
Preparing for school: Creative centre in a box - Powerful Mothering
How to Plan Preschool at home - Mom Inspired Life
Supporting Preschool Learning at Home - Rainy Day Mum
How to Use Preschool Busy Boxes - Munchkins and Moms
Prepare a hands on Preschool at Home - Life over C's
Setting Literacy Goals - Growing Book by Book
Traditional Preschool, homeschool preschool or both - Still playing school
Teaching preschool at home - Raising Lifelong learners
Preparing for School Brings Emotions for both Parents and Children - The Educators' Spin On It