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The beginning of this school year is definitely different from the rest. Many of us are now planning on homeschooling our children, at all ages. Us included!
Our oldest starts VPK this year. It’s her first real experience with a more structured school day and my heart just breaks knowing that she wouldn’t experience the normal loving school environment if she went to a brick and mortar school this year. I know how impactful these early years are on how they influence their view of school for the rest of their educational career. So after some long thoughts and late-night discussions, we’ve decided to homeschool for this year.
I was a little nervous to admit that this was our decision because I don’t have any traditional teacher training or experience, but how hard could a preschooler’s curriculum be, right? This is what I found...
Now that I know WHAT to teach, the next step is to figure out HOW. How in the world do I balance my day between working from home, keeping my toddler occupied, AND now teach my oldest VPK! Here is a list of some things I have come up with that I think are going to help me keep me sane through all of this.
This kind of still goes with the ‘what’ of teaching my child VPK, but I think it’s important to remember that she is not learning rocket science… yet… so it’s ok to mix in some of the fun stuff that we already are doing and love. Consider what your child is into - maybe sharks, dinosaurs, construction vehicles, cooking, etc. - and make a list to map out where you can add these thematic concepts into their curriculum.
Don’t forget the holidays too! I loved it when she would come home with a cute Halloween decoration or hand-made Christmas ornament for our tree. I don’t want to miss out on those experiences just because we are now learning from home.
One thing I don’t want to do is have to go out to the store each time we have a new concept, craft, or manipulative needed for a lesson. Gather some supplies, like you would have done for back to school shopping, and create a supply section (or tub, plastic drawer, or whatever you have) to keep yourself organized. Some things we plan on having on hand are crayons, markers, colored pencils, watercolor paint sets, finger paint, play dough, pom poms, pipe cleaners, plain paper plates (there are tons of cute crafts ideas using paper plates!), construction paper, glue sticks, scissors, and of course glitter!
The regular school day at a brick and mortar classroom is very structured, even when they have their free-choice time. I want to mimic that structure at home as much as possible. Since I’m also working from home, I will be structuring our mornings alternating one-on-one direct instruction with free play or interaction with the skill we just learned. Then the afternoon will be designated for outside play, imaginative play, and other less structured activities. We are going to try our best to stick to the same daily routine each and every day! Wish us luck!
Now that many of us have been social distancing at home for the last 5 months, this one is probably a no brainer. You’ve probably already realized that having a specific spot for your at-home workspace helps keep that separation for yourself between working at home and living at home. We figured it’s no different for our littles too. If you are able to designate a specific room for school, that’s the ideal situation. However, many of us don’t have an extra room lying around.
We were able to move the dining room to the breakfast nook and that room is now the kid room. We have a dedicated learning space there; will be using a kiddie table just for school, and we will do our work there each day, and hopefully, that works for us!
We will be planning activities that are age and skill-appropriate for my toddler to do along with the developmental and academic skills my VPKer will do. This sounds like more work than it actually is though. Many of the skills for VPK can be practiced with my toddler too, but we definitely need to figure out how to balance both and plan to keep him occupied while she learns.
I hope these tips will help you in your new-found journey to teaching your children this year. Remember, you’re not alone!
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