During the early years, teaching ideas and lessons are easy to plan for but do take more preparation to stay on top of and organized. It's important to remember that during the early years of preschool, children have a naturally short attention span. It's also important to resist the urge to schedule doing too much. While learning might take planning for you, it should be fun and interesting for your child so that the natural desire to learn isn't squelched.
Early Years Teaching Ideas and Lessons
During the early years, teaching ideas and lessons will take advanced preparation but that needn't be all consuming if you are organized. Try to focus on a few areas each day, rather than focusing on every single subject every day. In fact, during those first crucial early years you will find that most of your lessons can overlap into a theme for the week or even the month.
In order to know how to read, your child will have to learn the sounds of the letters and be comfortable using that knowledge. Try making phonics time fun, by using a variety of games and play things in order to better acquaint your child with the letters of the alphabet. One fun activity is to draw a capital block style letter on cardstock and then give your child some glue and some rice, glitter, or other textured item to fill in the block letter. Afterwards, your child can cut pictures from magazines that start with that letter.
Math during the early years should be all about exposing your child to numbers, patterns and logic. You do not have to do anything formal but simply talking about how money is used in your everyday life will help prepare your child for future math study. Some examples include:
- With a set number of food items (like tater tots or cookies), have your child help you serve all the family members by dividing the item evenly. By placing one item at a time on each plate your child is learning that division means to take a total number of items and split them evenly between groups.
- When you're cooking talk about measurements.
- Help your child measure how tall she is, how long her arm is, or how big her foot is.
- Take any opportunity to count.
- Use a calendar daily to point out the date.
- Let your child help you count change starting with dimes, pennies, and nickels.
Science is one of the easiest topics at this age because children are naturally curious. One science activity that many children enjoy is gardening. You can talk about what plants need to grow, how worms help gardens and other garden critters. Also consider doing some simple science experiments like discovering what floats and what sinks, or exploring how bubbles work. What you really want to teach your child in science is how to observe.
Social studies in the early years generally consists of learning about the jobs that various people do in our communities. It's a great time to make a visit to the local fire or police station, or even your local veterinarian if they will allow you to come.
You can also spend time learning about different countries and their cultures and customs. Try celebrating a different holiday or even enjoying food from another country. Talk about the country in question by looking up their flag, and finding the country on the map. It's fun to create a "passport" of all the countries you "visit" during the year.
Fine Motor Skills
When you're working on fine motor skills it's important to remember that the skills are developmental and that for some kids learning to do things like tie shoes or cut with scissors takes a lot longer. Give your child practice using fine motor skills by encouraging play dough, drawing, coloring and using scissors. Don't feel like you have to have a specific craft every single time you do something although you certainly can. Most kids however, will enjoy simply creating their own masterpieces without necessarily having an end in sight.
Gross Motor Skills
Gross motor skills can be neglected but it's important to develop those too! Some parents find it helpful to work on one sport per month. Kicking a ball into a goal, throwing, catching and even running, skipping, and jumping are all important parts of developing gross motor skills. To make sure that you schedule that time in each day, try giving your child some 'recess' time after lunch like he or she would have during school.
Teaching Ideas for Early Childhood
Teaching in the early years is fun because kids are so naturally full of curiosity. Almost anything that you are doing can become a lesson, whether you are vacuuming the floor or weeding the garden.