Last week, I discussed my “play list” for toddlers. I enumerated 5 types of activities that can build toddler-needed skills in a fun and play-based approach. There is no need to worry if your preschoolers were not able to go through the toddler activities I previously laid out. Your preschoolers are still in their formative years. They will be as open to preschool activities as how fun and loving we can make it for them.
For my own preschoolers then, my husband and I decided to send my children to a traditional school with larger class sizes. However, at home and in their extra-curricular activities I would augment with play-based and more explorative activities. I injected discipline with routines at home but allowed them to be free on their “hows” when they played. For example, during art time, I do not hover at what they draw or are they coloring within the lines.
At this stage also, try to check how your child is developing basic skills like listening, following instructions, and understanding logic because they are the foundations of how information is picked up by children and how will perform in the subjects in school. If you feel there is any topic your child is having difficulty on, try to tackle the “why”, as well as the “what”. For example, when your child is having difficulty learning to read basic words. It might help to discuss with experts like teachers if the issue is really the reading skill, or it might be because of our child's listening or logic skills.
I am sure like me, many parents' main concern for their preschooler was how to be "Big School Ready". According to renowned Developmental Pediatrician, Dr. Francis Xavier Dimalanta, in his Dr. D's Happy Learning World Learning Boxes with Ogalala, we need to "provide activities that allow them to enjoy learning literacy and numeracy through games, puzzles and art-infused learning. We also build their confidence through developing critical thinking and motor skills through games and active play."
Personally, being an early childhood educator and a parent, I recommend play tools and activities that build our children's skill-building, brain-building and socio-emotional learning (SEL). skills. My main emotional goals for my preschooler then were their sense of security, patience, understanding how they learn and enjoying adventures.
These goals became the basis of how I picked the activities, as well as the play tools/toys, that I would buy and prepare each month. Below are my top picks on how we built love and laughter as a family during my children’s preschool years:
1. PERFORMING. We have weekend performance nights in some Saturdays, where each one of us get to pick a song to sing and dance to. I remember my daughter's phase of singing Katy Perry's "Roar" so intensely. For boys, I would suggest bringing out your children's stash of musical instruments, then let them choose their instrument. I remember Marcus picking a guitar and freely just played laughingly in front of us. I think this might have contributed to him playing the violin for 8 years.
2. PUZZLE PLAY & GAMES. Since both my husband and I were not the most patient people by nature, I researched on activities that can build patience. Aside from learning an instrument, I discovered puzzle play is a good play tool for this. I also discovered how the texture and thickness of a puzzle makes a difference on building a child's interest on forming them. We started with wooden puzzles then progressed to tangrams and thick cardboard puzzles. If the puzzle pieces were a lot for my preschooler, I would divide the puzzle into 4, then would ask her to form 1/4 of a puzzle, then I would do the 3/4. As we did it again, they we would do half each and so forth until they were able to do the whole puzzle themselves. We also played games each Saturday Game Night. Each family member chose their preferred game and waited for turn until their game was played.
3. ART AND EXPLORATION ACTIVITIES. I introduced regular crayons and colored pencils to develop their soft motor and writing skills. On weekends, I also brought them to art museums and encouraged them to do their own "masterpieces" at home. We annually attend the art fair at The Link.
Like in their toddler years, we also explored many places during weekends. This time, I would bring them to science museums, zoos, and other provinces. There we would learn about facts or see the real-life subjects from what they were learning in school.
4. CHORES. This was a fun time for my children to get to try out the skills they learned during pretend play in real life. Because their pretend play cooking or cleaning toys then were closest to the real tools, as well as child-sized, they are very eager to use real-life mixing bowls, wisks and other household tools in their preschool years. At least once a month in our weekend play nights would be either cooking or baking. I loved using Ikea kitchen tools because they had similar ones to my children's Melissa and Doug toys.