Thursday, November 19, 2009

School for a Three Year Old

My 3 year old is about as active and rambunctious as they come. She loves to run and play, to make hideouts, play pretend games, and she does somersaults at whim. Some people may wonder how I "get her" to "do school" 4 days a week, for 1 to 2 hours at a time. It's a valid thing to wonder.

Here are a few things that have helped me get her interested in "school time":

1) Follow her interests. This wasn't always an easy thing to do. Those first few weeks of trying out the workboxes were a bit difficult. I wasn't skilled at choosing activities that would be fun and engaging for her yet. But, with practice, I've come to know her likes and dislikes, and I can gear the workbox activities to suit her.

2) Don't force, but do encourage. Let's face it, Miss O is only 3 years old, and she doesn't really need to be "doing school" at all. BUT, I have a Kindergartener who does need that time and intellectual stimulation, so I have to make it work for them both, and for myself. There are times when Miss O just doesn't want to do something, and she will whine and complain. I don't force her to do an activity, but usually, with a little encouragement, and some guidance, I can finish an activity with her. Then, I make a mental note NOT to put that activity back in the workbox for a while, since she clearly wasn't interested. Sometimes, she just doesn't want to do something, and for me, that's okay. I don't make it a big deal, I just let it go.

3) Make it fun. I only have one "academic" box for Miss O each day. Usually that is her favorite box too, just because she likes working with pencils and workbooks, and it's a time when I focus soley on her. Her other boxes are always FUN items, things I know she really likes--stringing, sorting colorful beads, practicing cutting with bright pink paper, felt or magnetic stories, stamps, simple crafts. The preschool age group is so great because there are so many skills that they are still learning that can be taught in a fun and hands-on fashion.

4) Last, make her feel proud of her work. Not a day goes by that Miss O doesn't ask to keep some activity out because she has to show Daddy later on. She even brings her crafts and workbooks to Gymboree to show her teachers! Sometimes it means not cleaning up the workbox mess until after bedtime, but I allow that because I can see how indulging her in this area has really motivated her to want to do school with us each day.

So those are some of the ways I've tried to incorporate my 3 year old into our school times.

What do you do to help your little one enjoy "school time"?


Lea said...

I'm catching up on some reading and just came across this post. It's funny because I was just wondering how you first got started with "school" with both kids. I have two four year olds who are six weeks apart and am wondering the best way to get started, being able to work with one at a time while the other one stays busy at something.

I have done it once or twice so I know it is do-able, although it seems overwhelming to me right now....probably mostly because I am sick and have been for almost a month now and I am so sick of being sick! but I digress.

Anyway, I was just wondering what it was like in the very beginning and how long it took before you got the routine down and they were used to it and all. I have one son who is totally ready to read and write, if I made the time to work with him one on one. The other son is a little younger and he is goes through phases where he shows interest but most of the time he does not want me to show him how to do anything (I can do it mommy!). He is going to be a challenge.

Leah said...

thanks so much...i really needed to read this, especially today, because i'm really struggling with 'school' for our three year old.

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