Teaching a Neighborhood Co-op Preschool

This morning it was my turn to host “Mommy Preschool.”
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Our formal name is “Fab Four” but my daughter likes to make up her own name for things. It’s really nothing more than my friends and I taking turns to teach the “letter of the day” to our three year olds, but it is the center of my daughter’s life. It is fun for me too, but can take a lot of time to prep–and I don’t have a lot of time. Here are a few short-cuts that have made it easier to manage:

1.Everything Preschool. There are LOTS of sites for “letter of the day” activities, but this site is my favorite because of its clarity. After about a five minute scan of the ideas on the site, I have a great list of activities I can use–with everything from songs to crafts to science projects.

2.Starfall. Everyone knows about this site, right? For introducing the letter of the day, I show the girls the letter activity from this site on my lap-top. Then I let them each choose their favorite letter–and we watch a few more. Even I don’t get tired of Starfall. The more time my daughter and I spend exploring the site, the more delighted I am that a free site like this exists to help me teach my child.

3.Routine. Just to keep it simple, there are certain things we always do when preschool is at my house.

Letter Hunt: I write the upper and lower case letter of the day on sticky notes and hide them in obvious places around the entry way. The girls go on a letter hunt and stick the letter next to the matching big letter of the day on the door. It’s not hard. It’s not a surprise. But they run and giggle and act as if this the most wonderful activity in the world.

Assigned Seating: I bought four plastic placemats at ShopKo and wrote the girls’ names on each of them.  For learning time, this is where they park on the carpet.  Works like a charm.

Salt Writing: I have a pie pan filled with salt for each preschooler. First, they write the letter of the day in the air with their “magic pencil” and then they write it in their salt pan. This works. Today, I could even tell which letter they were writing.

Water Coloring: The girls in our preschool would water color for an hour. If you haven’t considered this as an activity for your little one yet, try it. Today for “R” day we read Peter Rabbit and they water colored page after page of Peter Rabbit pictures.

4.Organized playtime. Free-playtime works sooo much better when I take time to structure it a little bit. Instead of a free-for all in the toyroom, I set up at least one activity like grocery store or dress-ups. They are still free to wander into the toyroom, but it helps when they have a place to start their play. (This is an effective strategy for playdates too.)

Next year, my daughter will go to the “big girl preschool” with lots of kids and teachers and even a pretend rocketship on the playground. It will certainly be easier, but I’m teary even as I write about it.  Teaching “Mommy Preschool” has meant a front row seat to watching my daughter’s first school experience. I am lucky to have been there.


Preschool Choices

Dear Debbie, How many days/week should my daughter go to preschool? I don’t work full-time. So she could stay home with me. But she loves school, too. What is best for my child? I’m driving myself insane with this decision!

Book Recommendations for Preschoolers & Young Readers

The Preschool/Early Grade School age is one of the hardest to buy for.  This is the age when children have grown out of board books but aren’t yet into the endless number of chapter books you can get for older kids. So this list is dedicated to that age range!