During the preschool years children learn primarily through relationships, having others read to them, and creative play. They absorb so much, this time period in their lives is considered to be quite delicate and formative years. Your children are developing their motor skills (both fine and gross), learning basic social skills, and exploring the world around them. These are the building blocks for all future learning. Helping your kids dream, grow, relate, and play during the early years is more important than learning their letters and numbers, reading, adding, and subtracting. Academics will be important in a few years, but for now you have the freedom to learn together through relationship-building, reading to them, and playing.
Bonding and Social Skills
During the preschool years, bonds within the family grow stronger. Children learn how to follow rules and interact with others. Parents, siblings, and extended family members are the primary teachers of socialization for young children, which makes quality time together far more valuable than trying to drill knowledge into them. Relationships and how they interact with others are critical. Taking turns with siblings teaches your kids to share and to respect others. Establishing boundaries through basic schedules like play time, lunch time, and nap time helps them follow rules. Even preschoolers can do basic chores like putting their toys back into a bin when it’s time for the next activity. This teaches them personal responsibility and ownership. Early relationships with family members are crucial for learning how to live with others in the world. Preschoolers should be given every opportunity to learn how to patiently interact with others, build routines, and follow directions.
Read, Read, Read Aloud… and then Read Some More
Reading aloud to your kids is one of the most important activities you can do together. The benefits begin with giving them a love of learning, fostering imagination, building vocabulary, increasing their attention span, helping them learn lessons of right and wrong, helping them decide what kind of person they want to be, instilling good character traits, helping them understand the world, helping them be less self-centered…and the list goes on. Reading aloud helps increase brain activity. It should not end when your kids graduate the preschool years and enter into the elementary years. Your family will go on adventures through stories that bind you together in a very special way. Reading aloud as a family all the way through high school is highly beneficial. It is even profitable in college!
Creative and individual play is another one of the most important parts of a preschooler’s world. They need outdoor time to run around, climb, and play, as well as more focused indoor time for art projects and supervised activities. Every day should provide a balance of both types of play, weather permitting, to develop both fine and gross motor skills. Provide a safe, supervised area for play outdoors. While commercially built playground equipment is nice, you don’t have to spend a lot of money or go very far to provide a fun place for preschoolers. Just rolling or tumbling on the grass helps burn energy and develop gross motor skills.
If your child is old enough to walk well, lay out boards or pieces of cardboard on the ground–or draw lines on your patio for them to follow–to teach them balance without the danger of falling off a real balance beam. You can even create a simple “obstacle course” with boxes to crawl through, strings to pass under, and items to move from one end to another. There are countless “how-to” videos available online to provide examples of this.
Indoor play helps develop fine motor skills. Building blocks and Legos are fabulous tools for exploring how things fit together while little fingers practice working with small objects. Simple puzzles teach spatial awareness and help kids learn how to solve problems. Sorting games are a fun way to learn the names of colors and shapes. It’s important to remember that everything your children do while playing keeps them healthy in mind and body and helps them develop basic, valuable skills necessary for more complex learning later.
Make Memories Together
The most important thing to remember is that even while doing activities that seem fun and easy, your children are learning and developing critical skills for health and happiness. Enjoy this time with your little ones! They will grow very quickly and soon be ready for the next steps in your homeschooling journey. For now, focus on fun activities that let them laugh, play, and learn naturally.
Use your instincts and be creative
You are learning from them just as they are learning from you. Your children are developing their own personalities and interests, and being in tune with them will help you develop appropriate homeschool curriculum for them as they grow. Don’t miss an opportunity to get down on the carpet with them and play together! Life may seem hectic now, with barely enough time to get dinner on the table and the laundry folded, but as they grow, you will cherish the memories of your time spent together, just laughing and playing.