• Play to Learn and Learn to Play

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    While book learning is fun and shows that you are doing something with your preschooler, in a physical sense. Children, ages 2-5 are geared for play, not workbooks and sitting still. Don't fret if you have one this age and planned on doing homeschool. You can still teach them and they will still learn, through play. Save the workbooks for later!

    Yes, there is always THAT kid. Some kids, even at this age, LOVE worksheets, workbooks and writing. And that is great. If you have one, go for it. Work with what you have. They are the exception.

    Most kids do not want to sit still. They want to move and groove. Get the wiggles out. Heck, I know and live with adults that can't sit still, myself included. I have to be moving and doing things.

    I am a childcare provider for almost 30 years and am a firm believer in child-led, play based learning. It is my motto when I interview parents, play to learn and learn to play. I promise every parent that by the time their child graduates my childcare, they will be 100% and beyond ready for Kindergarten. How do I do this, if I don't do physical schoolwork you ask. We play and in that play, we learn. And the best part, they don't even know they are learning. To them, it is just their normal.

    Everything you do with your child, utilize their sponge brain:

    • Talk about what it is.
    • What color it is.
    • What does it do.
    • What would you like to see it do?
    • Why do you think it does that?
    • How many are there?
    • What shape is it?

    Kids learn more between the ages of 2-4 than an adult will learn attending college. Their brains are often referred to as sponges and I find this to be 100% true. They are thirsty for knowledge, just presented in a way that they relate to. PLAY!

    What is a trip to the park? Not only is it socialization but physical education, exercise, playing with others, science and nature. Just in one trip to the park to PLAY! Want even more fun? Create a scavenger hunt.

    Need to head to the grocery store? Take your child. What color are those tomatoes? What shape are they? We need 3, can you help me count them? Want even more fun? Give them their own list with words AND images.

    Working in the yard? Talk about what you see, smell, hear and if you have a garden, taste. Let them dig and run and play. Want to involve them more? Create a mini raised garden for them to choose what to plant and tend to themselves.

    Stuck inside with a sick child. No worries. Things like Netflix and Hulu have a ton of educational shows. Just because it's TV doesn't mean it has to be a "bad thing". Make it an educational tool and use sparingly. Want to utilize it further? Pre-watch the show and create a worksheet(they are ok to use occasionally) to go along with it,even if it is just a couple of images they need to try to look for and point out when they see them.

    Building with blocks and knocking them down may seem like boring, mundane play. It isn't. Your child is learning to build something. Satisfaction of doing so. Physical force of knocking it down. The sounds the blocks make when they hit the ground. The fact that they are cubes, the letter or numbers or images on them. Some kids can do this for 10 minutes, some for an hour. Play with them.

    You don't have to be a helicopter, hands on, 24/7 parent to teach your preschooler through play. In fact, I highly recommend NOT doing that. Play with them, yes. But also let them learn to play alone or with their siblings. They are still learning. And as they age, you can adjust and do more unschooling and following their interests for learning. Trust me, you will not harm them.

    Now, go and have fun ~ playing to learn and learning to play!
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