Quite often people will ask me, when are you going to send Nicolas to school?
Honestly, I am in no rush to send Nicolas to preschool for a myriad of reasons (with that being said I will send him to preschool eventually when the timing is right), but the number one reason I am postponing preschool outside of the home is I am confident that with my background in education I can help prepare Nicolas for school at home. Feel free to call me preschool teacher mom.
Early childhood education in the western world is built on the belief that healthy and holistic development for young children encompasses three areas of a child’s development: the social and emotional domain, the physical domain, and the cognitive domain. Early childhood education pedagogies often break these domains down into further categories such as language, literacy, numeracy, fine and gross motor skills, etc. Some early childhood philosophies get very specific with thoughts about play based learning, child led vs structured learning, but for the sake of simplicity and convenience I won’t be diving into those areas of early childhood education. Instead I’d like to share with you how I make this information relevant as a stay at home mom with a two year old.
Right now these are the areas specific to Nicolas’ development I am consciously facilitating and encouraging growth in:
- Early Literacy- Letter identification & small amounts of phonics as he seems interested, but basically a lot of book reading and getting familiar with how to use a book and take in information, how to turn pages, pointing at the words, asking questions for comprehension, etc.
- Emotional Development- helping Nicolas understand his emotions and feelings and the emotions and feelings of others.
So how exactly do I facilitate Nicolas’ early literacy skills and his emotional development? I created Nico’s Letter & Emotion Book.
Nico’s Letter & Emotion Book is a homemade felt book with pockets, and it archives the letters and emotions he is learning. Each week I introduce one letter and one emotion to Nicolas and we keep track of each week’s lessons in his felt book’s pockets. Below I explain how I structure weekly activities and pair them with his Letter and Emotion Book.
Letter Learning Activities
At the beginning of the week I introduce a letter’s name and the sound it makes to Nicolas. Then we pick 2-3 of the activities listed below to reinforce the learning. Some of the activities include:
- Making a construction paper letter road for Nicolas’ toy cars.
- Modeling the letter using homemade play dough.
- Making a letter themed snack e.g., for the letter A we might make a snack that looks like an airplane.
- Making a letter themed object out of felt using simple shapes (adding shapes into the activities is a way for me to mix a little extra learning to the process). If we do this activity it is fun to add the felt object to the book’s pockets.
- Taking a field trip to look for the letter in print e.g., on signs, on labels at the grocery store, etc.
Emotion Learning Activities
Sometime during the same week I introduce Nicolas to a new emotion. I like to use Key Education’s Photographic Learning Cards- More Emotions.
I purchased them at a local learning and teacher store. I facilitate his understanding of the emotions by asking him questions such as, “How do you think the boy or girl in this picture feels? What do you think happened? Does feeling this emotion make you feel good or bad?” During the week I also express my emotions to Nicolas as we play and interact with each other. This helps to make the the learning personally relevant.
Keeping Track of the Learning
Summarizing and reviewing newly learned information is key to retaining it and applying it in new situations. So, at the end of the week we cut out the newly learned letter using felt, and I make a felt emoticon. Then we add the letter, emoticon, and the matching Key Education’s emotion card to his felt book pocket to keep track of what he’s learned.
When the week is over Nicolas feels confident about the new letter and emotion he has learned, and he enjoys looking at and playing with the items we keep in his felt Book of Letters & Emotions. I’m always looking for ways to make material and life experiences relevant to Nicolas and this book helps along the way. As he matures in his learning, I’ll be looking to add more about numbers to our weekly lessons. So, if you don’t mind, I’d like to pick your brain. What are some activities you do with your little one to help him/her learn numbers?