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Teacher Tips to Make the Most of At-Home Learning with Your Preschooler

home learning preschool teacher tips
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A teacher shares tips for setting up easy indoor activities when you’re doing home learning with your preschooler or toddler

In light of the announcement that some primary students will need to do home-based learning, parents of preschoolers may be in a collective panic about how to keep their kids entertained – let alone learning – at home. A former Singapore international school teacher shares her expert tips for parents — and top 10 activities that she does with her own kids!

Being stuck at home is difficult for anyone, but when you add small children into the mix it can feel downright impossible. The best way to take back your days, maintain your sanity and actually enjoy the extra time you have with your little ones is to structure at-home learning opportunities through exploration and play.

A few years ago, my husband and I moved from Singapore to the remote jungles of Papua, Indonesia. While beautiful and slow-paced, our new jungle home offered little in comparison to the kid-friendly attractions of Singapore. No museums, shopping centers or community parks to fill up our weekends. With two kids (ages 3 and 1) and not much to do, I needed to get creative.

As a teacher, I know the benefits of structured time when it comes to kids; and I have come to understand this in a whole new light as a mother. The bottom line is that free time at home only lasts so long.

So, I brought a flexible and creative version of my teacher mentality home and began to try out different activities I found on the Internet. Eventually I had a solid arsenal of ideas to pull from and I quickly realized the impact it had on our lives at home. There was less crying, more laughing, and quality family time focused around the growth and development of our kids. What a win, right?

home learning preschool toddler parent teacher tips

Getting Started

Toddler activities come in many shapes and sizes. I make sure that any activity I choose is easy to set up and reinforces fine motor skills and early literacy, science and math concepts. Sound too complicated? Have no fear. It’s actually quite simple!

Here are some basic tips to remember as you start creating structured playtime at home:

  • Keep it simple! While it may be tempting to go on a shopping spree and set up a Pinterest-worthy themed sink display for your little one to play in, remember that attention spans are limited. I carefully choose activities that require 5-10 minutes of prep at most. A good tip to remember is that if it takes too long to set up, it may be too complicated for a toddler.
  • Build a small box full of items to have on hand. Don’t go crazy. My stash includes simple arts & crafts supplies like stickers, popsicle sticks, pom poms, construction paper, and scissors. Most of the other stuff you use for activities you will already have, like blocks or cars. You can also recycle items like tissue boxes and toilet paper rolls after you finish using them. Bottom line is that you do not need to go overboard. Keep it to one small box and designate an area to keep it in.
  • Give instructions, but let your child be creative. I think of activities as invitations for a child to play. The objective is NOT to dictate what they should do. You can suggest what you’d like them to do, but the goal is to have them engage in the activity. Let them have fun and be creative. If that means veering off from the directions…kudos to them! As parents, we want to celebrate out-of the-box thinking.
  • Don’t give up! If you are just starting to expose your kids to activities at home, remember there is a learning curve. We all know that toddlers are creatures of habit, so just like anything else, they will need repeated exposure to this type of structured play at home before they buy into it. Give it a few days.
  • Fun for all ages! Don’t be afraid to try activities with your child even if you think they are too hard. In addition, if you are setting up an activity for your older child, encourage your younger one to join. My one-year-old always participates in activities I set out for my three-year-old, but it’s in his own way. Remember, these are invitations to explore, play and learn. Let kids build meaning any way they can, and be there to guide them as needed.
  • Get inspired! Having a go-to resource will help you begin to learn what works best so you can capitalize on that. My absolute favorite resource {and really the only one you need} is the Days With Grey blog. I am constantly pulling ideas from her site. You can also follow her on Instagram for quick and easy activity posts.

Ready, Set, Go!

The best thing to do is jump right in, and you can start with ten of my favourite activities. Grab your kids and go for it!

Click here to see Maureen’s Top 10 Indoor Activities for Toddlers!

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