As a continuation of my first post, today I will talk about our other activities. It gets quite challenging as a baby grows, to get their focus and to keep their attention. A lot of creativity and patience is needed to make sure your baby will love the idea of learning.
One must understand that Homeschooling is not limited to the confines of the home, just like learning. Books and materials are all good supplements for learning, but the more the child is exposed to the reality of the world, the better they become at understanding concepts. With Matilda, we make it a point to communicate with her, in every opportunity. We never get tired of explaining the reasons why a certain thing needs to be done, the consequence for each and every action, and the hard, but reality of the truth. No matter how complicated something might be for her to grasp, we never lie to her, we just patiently explain and ask for her respect and obedience. When a child is brought up knowing you have only pure interests at heart and their welfare is all you think about, it wouldn’t be very hard to instruct and teach your child. They will instantly develop love for learning, and this will become your lifestyle.
Whenever we are at home, we always try to make certain activities to be able to spend our time wisely. One of the things we started with, apart from those that I mentioned in Part 1 of this post, is coloring books.
Crayons and Coloring Books/Sketch Pads – this is an activity I personally loved while growing up. Because I have seen Matilda’s interest in writing through copying me by holding my pens, it was then I realized, she is ready. We started to introduce crayons and pencils just a few months after she turned a year old. After I showed her how these were used, I just allowed her to doodle, color however way she wanted, and just observed. There were times I’d sit beside her and color with her. She would watch and copy what I was doing and sometimes would ask for my help, I’d remind her how it is done and she’ll go back to doing it on her own.
I also used crayons to teach her colors by writing the alphabet and numbers on a sketch pad. I would also draw certain objects and would name them one by one. This helped in building her imagination as well as her vocabulary. Indeed, a lot of things can be taught through this activity. You just have to learn to be creative. 🙂
Another thing we love to do is build things with play-doh.
Play-Doh – this is a good exercise for fine motor skills. The molding process is a good means for them to gain control and make their own shapes. Also a good way for them to develop in the area of art and crafts. To make it more fun, we sometimes use her toys and include some pretend-play, like a tea-party for her dolls. She enjoys this activity a lot and it pays really, as she gets to be imaginative in her play. Just be careful not to leave your child unattended with this as this is a choking hazard.
Educational Posters – I think this is a must in every home. These posters are what your child will get to see everyday and that is one of the best ways for them to memorize different things such as the alphabet, numbers, shapes, parts of the body, animals, opposites (big and small, short and tall, open and close, long and short etc.) It is really cheap and readily available at any local bookstores.
Another approach for learning is through Montessori-Inspired Materials. Because I came from a Monterssori school, I am familiar with the type of materials used when we were still in CASA (Nursery level). I incorporated these materials in our play-based learning in order to cover certain areas that are quite difficult for a small child to understand.
Ring Stacker – this would teach them colors and the concept of size recognition and differentiation. This is also a good activity for hand and eye coordination as they stack the rings to the rod.
Nesting and Stacking Blocks – this teaches them the importance of balance and it’s relation to various sizes. Also a great activity for building whatever they like.
Spindle Box – this is quite hard to find, if there is any. I made my own by using an illustration board with printed numbers and number words and bought a set of wooden sticks. This is a great material in teaching a child how to count and associate the numbers with actual counting objects, such as the wooden sticks. I would just show her how it is used and she watched me until she was able to get it. She now knows how to properly count because of this.
Basic Skills Toy -this toy is for practical life skills. This will help your child in teaching them independence when it comes to tying their shoe lace, buttoning their shirt, snapping and unsnapping probably their clothes as well, opening and closing zippers, and fastening or buckling belts. You can also make your own and all you will need is an old shirt, a frame (optional-as this is Montessori-inspired ), and add whatever activity you’d like for them to master.
Pizza Party – this toy or any other toy that has a similar concept will be a great tool in teaching them how to count as well as the concept of same and different. The different toppings on the pizza is useful in identifying which go together (alike) and which do not (different). This toy is also a great way to introduce fractions later on. It is a really good investment and even I enjoy playing with it!
Puzzles – this helps in introducing the alphabet sounds or phonics. Getting them acquainted with the pictures and their corresponding names will enable them to identify which letter they begin with. A good activity you can practice to prepare them for reading.
Practical Life Skills – I cannot thank my parents enough for exposing me to household chores at such an early age. They allowed me to play at the laundry area and wash hankies and socks, at the kitchen to wash the dishes (with help of course!), sweep the floor, polish shoes, wipe the tables to remove dust, and a lot more. These helped me in being responsible for my own room as I grew older, and eventually in our own house as a wife. These are activities which your child will surely enjoy as I did when I was younger.
There are really so many ways to make these materials and lot others are available as well. You don’t have to spend much to achieve the same kind of concepts. All you need is a bit of creativity using ordinary art supplies with your own recyclable things at home, and the internet to get ideas, with that, you are good to go. Try searching for toddler or preschool activities at home and you will be surprised at how much information there is on the web. Some examples are lacing beads for fine motor skills, using buttons or same colored objects to teach colors, painting for art, sorting same and different items, and a whole lot more depending on which area your child needs to improve on or develop.
There is something you have to keep in mind though, in whatever instance, do not pressure your child to sit down and do these activities if he/she is not ready. You don’t want a child getting traumatized with the idea of learning just because you are too eager to teach them or just because you think your child is far behind with what he/she knows. Remember that they develop at their own pace. Some kids develop early and some at a later time, and this doesn’t make them any better nor less smarter than others. As kids, they still love to play and are still very curious about other things. They easily get bored too, and you really have to find ways to motivate them to learn something new each day.
One of the things I noticed with Matilda is, words of affirmation gets her going. Whenever she hears me compliment her for something right she has done, or whenever she accomplished an activity, this gives her a boost to continue on. It really pays to know your child and in this case, it would be great to use that certain characteristic to your advantage when it comes to teaching.
Have you got other suggestions? Leave it in the comment box, so we can try them too! Also, would you happen to be interested in what activities we are up to now? These are more advanced and already include textbooks and workbooks. Just let me know so I can share them to you and make a Part 3 of this series. 🙂