Friday, March 2, 2012

Frugal Friday: Preschool at Home

With lots of working Moms out there, I know that preschool at home is not an option for everyone. But whether or not you decide to put your child in a formal preschool or just teach him at home, I hope this post will help you! Today I'm going to share some ideas (that cost nothing) that you can do at home to help your child get ready for school. You might already be doing them and not even realize it counts as preschool!

1. Read to your child - this is number one on my list because I think it's one of the most important things you can do to help children get ready for school. Reading to children helps them develop language, vocabulary, and instills in them a desire to read books themselves. Reading to your children is basically free! All you need is a library card (and they usually cost nothing) and off you go! If you want some ideas for good books you can see my favorite books board on pinterest where I've included lots of great children books. In addition, every Saturday I've been posting on my blog a book review from a favorite children's book that you can read with your child.

2. Talk with you child (and listen to them talk) - this is something that is so easy to do, costs nothing, but does take time. I've found that this can be done effectively while you are driving, playing together, or eating a meal. You should talk about what they want to talk about. Sometimes it's exhausting to listen to them go on and on. In fact, that happened to me just a few minutes into starting to write this post. My four-year-old comes up to me and wants to tell me about a dream he had. It was a VERY LONG DREAM! Let me tell you! Lasted about 30 minutes! But I tried to just listen and not let my mind wander, which can be really hard. Not only are you encouraging them to express themselves, but you're also helping them to develop confidence in themselves.

3. Silly Songs & Rhymes - I love nursery rhymes and we like to recite them when we are doing things. Sometimes we change them to make them silly and give us some laughs. For example, the other day we were coming home from the store and I started saying, "To market, to market to buy a fat pig...home again, home again, jiggity jig." Then we took turns changing it (still trying to keep the rhymes the same). "To market, to market to buy us some eggs, home again, home again, quick on our legs." Or whatever pops in your head. My four-year-old did it with me, always making up some silly words that didn't exist and it was a lot of fun. Rhyming words help them to recognize sounds of letters which is important for reading.

4. Point out words, letters and numbers where ever you go - On license plates, microwaves, clocks, books, street signs, store signs, etc. You can do this at home, in the car, on vacation, at Grandma's house - wherever you are. Once you start pointing out these things, they will start to pick up on it. Your child will begin to point out every letter or number she sees. You won't even have to help her anymore. All of this will help her to recognize how important letters and numbers and words are to us.

5. Here are some more sites that might help you as you help your child prepare for school - Let me just mention that while these are great resources that are super helpful, there's no resource, no program, no preschool, no learning game or toy that is better than the one-on-one attention you can give to a child! I've found that that really is the most important things. So don't spend all day searching for or preparing a preschool resource for them. Use resources that are quick to prepare (or they can help you prepare) and focus on spending the time with them.

Ideas for preschoolers - Great site with lots of learning links!
Starfall - Fun site to help kids learn ABC's & reading. I wouldn't use it exclusively, but it's a good resource.
Enchanted Learning - this site has tons of resources on it to help you get started. Printables, game ideas, Finger Puppets, Stories, etc. It's great!
Printable Games - In my experience, a game that you can do with them is so much better than a worksheet that you give them to do. They want to interact, they want your attention and it helps them learn so much quicker when they're enjoying what they are doing. My kids and I love to do letter or word Bingo, matching games, card games, making up words with scrabble tiles. All of those are interactive and a lot of fun.

I hope some of these were helpful and I'd love to hear your ideas! What do you do at home to help your child prepare for school?

Linked to: Frugal Friday, Frugal Tuesday

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