Monday, March 23, 2015

Sensory Bin: Red

Sensory Bin: Red
Look P,
- a red helicopter,
- a red A
- a red wrench and a red bolt
- a red cog
- red "Legos"
So P, what color is this?

P enthusiastically replies (with the brightest eyes and the widest smiles):

Well, she is in a season of Pink after all!

What's wrong with me?

This is why I never really made sensory bins. M didn't like them. 
I'm guessing P is not interested in them either.

- because all red is probably not much fun 
- because she was in the mood for "developing her gross motor skills" 
(Baby R and I had to go to the bedroom. Tot P tagged along and had a 
grand time making a pillow mountain and jumping around)
- because she'd rather play with something else period. Yes, kids are 
like that.

Maybe this is what she sees?

 I'll give it a few more tries before I decide if sensory bins are a go or no go.
There are other fun ways for P to learn. We can always use other methods
to achieve the same desired learning outcome. None of them will involve a
written exam.

p.s. My apologies for the off shots. We're still in between cameras. Just
making do with what's here.

Friday, March 13, 2015

How to Start Your Pre-K / Kindergarten Home Program

This post is here because I wanted to re-plan for P who's now 2 y.o.
I also have a few friends who're considering homeschooling their kids
who're in the Pre-K / Kindergarten years.

M has gone of to Year 1 at a regular school. He's adjusted quite well.
Of course there are still areas for improvement. But nothing out of
the ordinary for a 5y.o.

Let me start by saying you don't really need to do much. Maintain
a child-friendly home and your child will have plenty of opportunity
to learn and explore at his/her own pace.

Pam has a great post on this.

10 Things we focused on:
1) Love, being and doing good, and living our Catholic faith.
2) Learning good health habits.
3) Learning self care.
4) Reading books.
5) Doing practical math.
6) Learning other age-appropriate skills.
7) Watching educational videos.
8) Using assorted materials for learning: colouring books, paper,
print outs, blocks, puzzles, crayons, etc
9) Exploring personal interests.
10) Play play play.

It really was quite random and ordinary. In a way, I envy those who
have pinterest-worthy pictures. M didn't stay interested in something
long enough so we never had one particular curriculum / activity /
etc. Not enough for me to say that we had a theme. We really just
went along doing our thing - learning and growing as best as we could.

Game changers:
1) Keeping things consistent.
- We blocked off time in the morning just for homeschooling. We made
sure to do 30 minutes of reading plus a learning activity or two.
2) Planning.
- We referred to book lists, maintained a decent monthly "book basket",
always had interesting activities available, ensured that supplies were
adequate, reviewed what worked or not, etc.
- We did basic math in the beginning. We used Early Bird Kindergarten
Math books (Singapore Math) when M turned 4y.o.
3) Choosing a less tech lifestyle.
- We invested in toys so the kids had something to play with. Rotating
the toys was necessary because kids easily tire of a toy. Sharing toys
was always a requirement.
- We kept the t.v. off until it was late afternoon. No hours and hours
of mindless t.v. The kids had no choice but to do something.
4) Playgroup / Outdoor play.
- The children and I would go to playgroup twice a week, weather
permitting. It was a chance for us to go out. The playgroup had toys
and an outdoor playground so they were able to play in a different
- There are other children in the compound and all the kids just play
in the garden. Free weekends would include a trip to the playground.
5) Valuing happy memories.

Additional Resources for you:
- Mother Hubbards Cupboard
- ABC Jesus Loves Me
- DTLK Letter Crafts
- Twisty Noodle Printouts
- Catholic Letter Crafts
- Tot School

Is that all there is to it? Well yes and no. There's more that we'd like
to do. I'm sure we'll never get to doing it all. But as a whole, it's all
been good.

Click here for Book Lists. (future update)
Click here for Supplies List. (future update)
Click here for Organizing Tools. (future)

Are you a working mom? Check out How to Get Your Child Ready
for Kindergarten / Year 1 for a simplified home school program.

Photo Credit: Dennis S.

Monday, March 2, 2015

How to Get Your Child Ready for Year 1

How to Get Ready for Year 1?

Recently, I've been asked this question by two different friends with
very different lives. I thought of posting my answers here in case
anyone else is wondering the same.

It serves as a good review for me too. We are starting over. P just
turned two. Tot School is back!


Si is a friend who works full time. Her hubby works with an early
morning shift while she works at night. This schedule allows for
at least one parent to look after the children. They have no helpers
nor family with them.

It is a busy life.

So what can a mom, with such a schedule, do to get a child ready for
Year 1?

Firstly, find out what your school expects of a child entering Year 1.
Some schools will have no expectations of the child. Other schools
have requirements for accepting students: the child already knows their
ABCs, can count 1-20, can write their name, etc.

It would be good to find out a year before your child starts school. The
earlier that you know, the more time that you have to prepare. Focus
on igniting a passion for learning. The skills will follow.

But what if the start of school is just around the corner? Or you're just
too busy managing everything that all you have is a few minutes a day
for "school work"?

My one thing would be: Read with your child.
Enjoy each other's company. Get lost in a good book together. Talk
about what's happening on the page. If time permits, create something.
These are precious years. Love love love. Focus on igniting a passion
for learning. The skills will follow.


My email to Si:

Sorry for the late email. I now reserve library books online so that
we can pick them up by next weekend. It takes around 1.5 weeks
for all books to arrive.

They say it's good to be reading 20 minutes daily with one's child.
That might be too much, you may want to start with 1-2 books
per day. To make it easy for you/your husband --- you can make
it a rule: 20-30 minute learning activity before "fun" tv :)

After a few weeks/months, your child will notice the "high
frequency words" and she can start reading those aloud. Example:
the, is, etc. She might also see phonics patterns on her own.
Example: cat, hat, mat, etc.

We started our daily reading at 2y.o. -- M started reading on his
own by 3y.o. (Other homeschoolers will tell you that it is normal
for kids to start reading at that age.) It could go faster/slower/same
with your child. Whatever the case, if you read to her daily, I'm
sure she will learn how to read. Even if she has started learning
how to read, you will still have to read to her to increase her
vocabulary. The older sibling can help by reading to her too.

Here are some books you might want to start with (all available
at the local library but most have to be ordered in advance as
they are owned by the other branches)
I. Author: Dr. Seuss / Theo LeSieg
(many good books by this author!)
- Hop on Pop
- Dr. Seuss ABC
- The Cat in the Hat
- Ten Apples Up on Top
- The Eye Book
II. Author: Eric Carle
(many good books by this author!)
- Brown Bear Brown Bear
- The Very Hungry Caterpillar
- From Head to Toe
- Pancakes Pancakes
III. Author: Stan Berenstain
(many good books by this author!)
- Inside Upside Outside Down
- Bears On Wheels
IV. Author: PD Eastman
- Go Dog Go
- The Best Nest
- Are You My Mother

Book Series:
(whatever's available in the library)
- I Can Read
- Step Into Reading
- etc

Youtube Videos:
(each channel has a playlist, just choose: ABCs, numbers,
time, etc)
- alphablocks (search in youtube)
- sesame street (search in youtube)

I. ABC Puzzle
(you can buy it from the dollar store) for her to play with
II. "Magnetic writing board"
III. "ABC Workbooks" / Notebook / Pencil / Crayon
IV. Books with characters / themes
Example: Dora, Disney Characters, etc
Example: Baking, Nature, etc
V. Letter crafts
- you don't need to do/complete all:
VI. On the Montessori order of teaching the alphabet
- this style makes it easier to combine letters that can form words:
How to Teach Your Child the Alphabet
VII. Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons book
- I've never tried this book. Some people have said it is good.
Something to consider. But personally, I find it too formal.

I rotate activities because children easily get bored. Let's say today
the ABC puzzle is out. The kids will be excited to use it for 1-2 weeks.
When they tire of it, that is kept and out comes the magnetic board, etc.
This also keeps things nice and neat.

Have fun!


Need a practical list of day to day activities that moms can easily do with
their child?

How about you, what suggestions do you have for a busy working mom
who wants to get their child ready for Year 1?

Photo Credit: Shardayy