Thursday, May 20, 2010

Practical Academic Teaching for Moms: Part 4

Our children are capable of far more than we give them credit for sometimes. Their understanding can surprise you and leave you dumbfounded at times. This happened to us twice so far this week. I say "so far" because I'm sure Addie will surprise us several more times before the week is out. On Sunday evening, as we were doing our final clean up for the night, Brian told Addie, "If you do a good job, we will watch a movie afterward." We cleaned up (she kept looking for stuff to put away), and when Brian told her she did a good job, she went running to the living room, climbed up on the couch, and started squealing, "Moo-die! Moo-die!" We had no idea that she knew what a movie was, and we were amazed that she remembered something that she had been told at least ten minutes before!

When looking for workbooks and puzzles to do with your child, do not go into it thinking that they won't understand what you are doing with them. They will surprise you! Below are some of the puzzles, games, and workbook pages that we have used in teaching Addie. Even though the puzzles say 3-5 years old and the workbooks are for preschoolers, I have found that the age "number" on certain items does not mean anything.

Puzzles: My friend Cathy brought over tons of puzzles, games, and educational toys that her kids had outgrown. I have been able to use them in so many ways in teaching Addie her colors, shapes, letters, and numbers. The picture below shows my favorite three to work with. The most important thing to remember is to change things up.
  • Shapes puzzle- These are the phrases I use when using this puzzle: Can you find the (shape)? Can you find the (color) one? Can you find the (color) (shape)?
  • Alphabet- Sometimes, we let Addie pick the alphabet she wants to put in place. Other times we ask her to find all of the green, blue, yellow, or green letters. And of course, we sometimes just ask for specific letters.
  • Numbers- This one we usually just ask her to find specific numbers, but occasionally we allow her to pick her own number and put it in place. However, she has to say the number's name (she usually leaves 6 and 9 for the end and tries to sneak them in without saying the number).
Workbooks: At the Dollar Tree and in Target at the beginning of the school year, there is a wealth of workbooks that are sold for $1 a piece to get children back into school mode after the summer. I have picked quite a few up and held onto them for when I feel that Addie is ready to work with them. Recently, my father brought Addie a Winnie the Pooh Early Skills Colors workbook. She and I have been working through it together.

The other day, when we were working on the page with the flowers in the pot, I wasn't sure if she would understand the concept of coloring the image the same color as the dot in the image. I pointed to the yellow dot and asked her what color it was. She said "Yeh-woh" and picked out the yellow crayon from the four colors I was holding in my hand. Can you tell that she really enjoyed coloring the red flower? When we got to the brown dot, I wasn't sure if she knew the color brown because it isn't one of the primary colors we focus on. I pointed to the dot and asked her, "Do you know what color this is? If you don't it's okay because-"

"Bwown!" and she proceeded to grab the brown crayon.

Yesterday, we did the matching the colors page. It was our first stick on activity and it was a huge success! After we finished the page, she wanted to do more! Once her attention starts dissipating, we stop. At this age, school is fun, not mandatory. We do as much as we can, but we stop when they are ready to move on.

Not only are we teaching them academics, but we are also teaching them to stretch their attention spans and to sit still for a few minutes. The more we do this, the longer the amount of time they are able to sit and focus.
Tuesday night, I was able to go to a used home school book sale with my cousin Lisa. Wow! I was so excited with everything in front of me. I was able to pick up a few workbooks (from $0.25-$1) that had barely been used, a set of phonics charts from ABeka Books (my favorite curriculum publisher) for $5, a set of string on beads for teaching fine motor skills for $3, another numbers puzzle for some variety for $0.50, a few idea books for family activities from $0.50-$2, several CD-ROM programs for $0.50 a piece, and a video for $0.50. Altogether I spent $16.75 for an amazing amount of resources to use with Addie.

The most important thing when working with our children is to remember to ask God for wisdom in teaching them. They belong to Him, and He loves them even more than a mother can. He will give us wisdom in teaching them they way they need to be taught in order to succeed.


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