Make Preschool Years Count

Prepping for preschool is vitally important regardless of your school selection. Don't waste the preschool years by limiting your young one to entertainment. Maximize the season of learning that the younger years bring.  While preparing intentionally for your preschooler seems like an option for the summer or school year, it should rank high in priority.  Why?  Because if the little ones don’t have a plan to keep them busy, they will keep you from accomplishing your goals with the older children.  Also, it is pertinent that purposeful activities and entertainment be selected for the young ones to develop them properly. Don't allow these formative years slip away without making them count.

Think of the excessive television or entertainment options that occupy the days of many young ones because moms neglect to select better, or because they are tired. Perhaps other children are demanding mom's time.  Young children, preschoolers in this instance, are in the prime of their memorizing stage. This is the time to train them to memorize, introduce them to a multitude of words through reading, create a love for books, play quality music (loudly and frequently), engage them in tactical skills, and just guide them to delight in the world around them. Let's explore a number of ideas to nurture and optimize some of your little person's best years.

Memorization

Gather quality materials for them to memorize.  We start early with scripture in our home. Search for sources that include a picture with the memory work. The scripture memory book we used in preschool years with all five of our children shows the verse on the left and the art piece on the right.  Memorize scripture by listening to songs.  Steve Green’s “Hide Them In Your Heart Vol 1” and “Hide Them In Your Heart Vol 2” continue to be some of our favorites.  Karen Henley’s “My First Hymnal” CD and book shine in excellence.  I love all of her resources.  Write verses and frame them on your walls. Place them strategically in the bathroom. Verses in these locations are always memorized quickly!!

Bible Memory Goals

AWANA is hands down the best program for Bible memory for children age 3 - 6th grade. Search for a healthy program where children finish their books ever year and leaders are eager to help.  Attend regularly. Work with your child to help them memorize at least two sections weekly. Study in the car. Study before bed. Study daily.  Prioritize memory work. You will never regret this commitment. The young years fly by.  Scripture tucked in the memory early is easily done.  Early memory is more permanent too. 

Think of this:  Would you rather have your child watch some meaningless movie or show over and over because you need an activity to occupy them?  Or would you rather select music and quality memory work for them that enriches them at the point of intake as well as in the future?

Quality Literature

High caliber literature often comes in audio versions.  Listen to an audio book while driving, cleaning or playing.  Many libraries offer books on audio. Selecting books from a suggested book list promises more satisfaction in time spent on listening than random selection. 

Poetry enriches the life of mom as well as the children.  Currently, we are reading through an American poetry collection.  Delightful!!  Kids thrive when their senses soar with purposeful literature.  On a side note, some of our favorite children’s books have been used for forensic speeches.  Believe it or not, these speeches have made it to nationals more than once.

Since the older children were memorizing in eight academic subjects for school while the pre-schoolers were around, the younger ones absorbed all the memory work too. Committing poetry and selections from classical literature to memory never fails to enrich.  

My preschoolers could rattle off preposition lists, Latin verbs, multiplication, science, and Bible passages. While they were too young to understand, they were storing it for later when knowing the grammar of a subject would accelerate their propensity for the subject. Just hearing quality literature read will increase their vocabulary.

DAILY BOXES

Whether your preschooler is the oldest child in your family, or one of the younger ones, having a plan always makes a more successful day. One of my favorite ideas included dividing favorite toys into five separate boxes. Each box was then labeled for a day of the week.  Monday’s box might have included Duplos,  a playful patterns game, several stuffed animals, crayons, two  coloring books, and other favorite playthings. At the end of Monday’s school time or play time the box for Monday would be put away.

On Tuesday, the Tuesday box would produce new fun. So only Mondays toys and activities could be played with on Monday.  They would not be seen until the following Monday therefore making them more enticing.  If all of these playthings were available on every day, they would lose their magic.  The boxes housing these playthings were large and stacked in a corner of the room.  Mark the boxes with the days of the week for additional excitement and extra learning exposure to the days of the week.

EDUCATIONAL ACTIVITIES

A wide range of educational activities exist for the preschool age. A trip to your local school store will offer more than your imagination.  Some of my favorite preschool tactical activities include stringing beads, board puzzles, metric patterns forming shapes, colorful frogs used for counting, and coloring books.  Companies that offer high quality items shelve Discovery ToysPlaymobil and Usborne.   Products from any one of these companies will be likely very difficult for you to part with when you have no preschoolers in your home. (Save them for your babysitting box or your grandmother box.)

TACTICAL ACTIVITIES

Items that are common in your home also work well for tactical activities.  A shallow pail or cookie sheet filled with sand makes a great base for practicing letters or numbers. Sifting through beans or rice invites young ones to practice drawing shapes or letters.

Play-Doh is a classic form of entertaining. Just the smell of Play-Doh makes me happy. Give your child a sturdy plastic plate. Invite them to select their favorite color of Play-Doh.  Give them a rolling pen, and a few cookie cutters. Instruct your child to sit at the table and keep all Play-Doh on the plate instead of the floor.  Even children as young as 18 months can follow this directive. My experience is that parents and teachers often avoid using this delightful activity because it is very messy.  Confining the activity to a plastic plate or tray works beautifully.  Any escaping Play-Doh risks the loss of creative privilege. This works with young preschool children. I can offer assurance of this because I have taught a class of 20 three year olds that kept their Play-Doh on their own plate.

FIELD TRIPS

In closing this section on purposeful preschool play, use your imagination in guiding your little ones to delight in the world around them. This begins when you delight in the world around you.  I love field trips.  Some of my favorite destinations include the zoo, the botanical gardens, parks, farms,  and our own backyard. If you decide to do field trips with friends, take a vote about where the others would like to go. Plan purposeful fun.

MAGNIFYING GLASSES

We own a small collection of magnifying glasses of a variety of sizes. One of my favorite memories involved giving our preschoolers their favorite magnifying glass and asking them to look at the ground around them.  I set the timer for about 10 minutes.  No talking was allowed. Then we all gathered on a picnic blanket with snacks to discuss the interesting things we had seen with our magnifying glasses.  Delightful!  Insightful!!  This activity is perfect for numerous locations and should be repeated over and over so that the children as well as the adults involved appreciate the minuet wonders of the world God created for us to enjoy.

PRESCHOOLERS ARE NATURALLY CURIOUS. THEY LOVE TO PLAY.

MOST ANY ACTIVITY WILL SEEM LIKE FUN IF AN ADULT IS INTERESTING IN PLAYING TOO.

So, don't neglect purposeful activities for your preschoolers.  As you are restocking your van, spring cleaning through your main living area, or selecting school items for your older children; think intentionally about your preschool.  Whether you are a young mom, a new mom or a grandmother, think of ways to stimulate cognitive growth in your little person. Whether you are planning the summer or activities for the school year, search for books, DVDs, hands-on activities, workbooks and effective activities for your sweet preschooler. Always remember to prepare purposefully for preschool.

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