Hi there, blog readers I’ve left hanging for approximately six months! We’re still riding this pandemic out at home, and we just took our Christmas tree and decorations down last weekend. A sprinkling of flurries fell as we took down the last of our decorations. Okay, the window clings are still up.
I’ve learned a couple of things over the last few months since my last post: 1. it’s immensely difficult to parent while stuck at home without the enticing outdoor delights of Summer, let alone homeschool and 2. a lot of you are interested in either dividing your rooms with floor screens or hiding your home exercise equipment. In case you missed it, here’s the latest update on our set up, which has remained unchanged save for occasional rotating piles of laundry on the chairs. I have a post on bookcase room dividers on its way next week.
I’ve got a quick read for you all today that’s more practical than inspirational. And also in the parenting/ “homeschool” niche, which I don’t plan to cover very much of since I’m certainly no education expert. Though all of us parents are a bit more experienced as teachers than we were last year, aren’t we?
I put quotes around “homeschool” because the primary focus of preschool is supposed to be socialization – we’re not into the hard-hitting academia stage yet. But I do want to build skills that the kids will need in Kindergarten.
The whole point of this blog is to share and offer help, be it with inspiration, product sourcing or décor tips and tricks, and since a major part of many of our lives right now is educating our children, I figure I’d share the quality tools we’re using regularly here in our little home pre-school for two. But first, a peek at the before state of our current homeschool room.
While we still do downstairs crafts at the dining room table set with our vinyl tablecloth (here is a roundup of vinyl tablecloth picks pretty enough to leave out), I have been rearranging my studio upstairs to be a flex space that we also have school in. The space is huge at 13×19′, and it was a shared office/studio with a craft table for the kids until this past Fall, when we moved my husband into his own dedicated home office since we got word he’ll be working from home permanently. Here’s what it looked like when we moved in, taken from the doorway:
The ceiling has an uneven, off-center slope. Our HVAC expert thinks it was likely an attic space converted into a finished room. The previous homeowners had it staged as a bedroom. We’re not concerned with changing the room structurally to correct this.
You can see my counter height butcher block cutting table – our kitchen island in our first house – for an idea of how low the ceiling slopes on the left side of the room.
It’s a relatively blank slate, with great natural light due to its southern exposure. I’ll be posting some inspiration images soon for the overall feel.
As far as school activities, we’ve been working on counting and letter recognition, beginning reading skills, time/dates, and simple math when it comes up naturally, and catering activities to suit our kids’ ages of 3 & 5.
Like I said, I’m no homeschool guru, but I’ve found a handful of purchases we’ve made are good quality and keep the kids’ interest. I hope it helps to save you some headache in deciding what to buy!
You can click either the images or their text links below for more details about purchasing.
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1. Basic Writing & Crafting Staples for Pre-School Learning
First, here are the basics we’ve collected over the past couple of years that have served us well as pre-school supplies, everything from good paper and washable glue that stand up to crafting demands, to the terrifying “am I really about to give my child blades after years of childproofing?” phase.
As I mentioned in my vinyl tablecloth post (pretty picks that you can leave on your table – because I was a nervous wreck allowing craft projects in our formal dining room) – I love using baking sheets to help corral crafts into one kid’s workspace. It helps with defining personal space and makes clean-up and storing in-progress projects a breeze. We do everything from play-doh and painting to scratch art on them.
The printer paper is what we use for drawing paper as well as inkjet printing.
real blade kid scissors / plastic safety scissors / training scissors / construction paper / lined paper with drawing space / blank (printer) paper / colored pencils / electric pencil sharpener / glue sticks / play doh / markers / smooth baking pans / magnetic baking sheets
2. Letter Recognition, Sight Words & Literacy
These have helped give us some hands-on interaction with learning letters and beginning to read that serves both kids’ abilities well (3&5) – and they both love working with these.
What are the fly swatters for? HITTING WORDS as you call them out. We’ve used hands to slap up to this point, but we’re graduating to fly swatters soon.
Also, you can use your play-doh to shape letters and words.
3. Counting & Math
Like I mentioned, I’m working in math naturally throughout the day, but having counting bears on hand to help illustrate basic math operations is always helpful, and frankly a dream come true. Some parents try to live out their dreams vicariously through their kids’ sports achievements; me, I buy counting bears so that my kids don’t have to experience the endless cycle of hope and disappointment I went through, waiting for my teacher to bring them out no more than twice a year.
Do your pre-schoolers need a calculator? No. But I had a couple of these on hand and they love to push the buttons, so I use it as a fun way to reinforce number recognition, and show basic math problems after counting on fingers or arranging bears. They also make great microwave buttons for a play kitchen.
4. Time & Date Recognition
Time is passing – even if it doesn’t always feel like it during this time warp of being isolated from the world. To
remind myself of this teach the kids, I sought out a magnetic calendar that would cater to my visual learners.
5. Classroom Decor
I found cheerful posters and printable watercolor themed classroom decor sets to help create the feel of a proper classroom. I had forgotten how much visual reinforcement of concepts and word recognition I got from the wall art in school when I was little until I hung up our posters.
There it is: our pre-school homeschool stash of goodies. If you have any essentials you’d like to share, go ahead and leave a comment! It takes a village.
I’ll share those inspiration photos for my studio and progress soon, stay tuned!
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