Home and Family, Homeschooling, Parenting

Tips for working with preschoolers


My life finds me surrounded by my grandchildren.  5 boys, 1 girl.  The oldest is 7.  It gets a bit crazy.  Rather than pining for the day when they are older (I do look forward to all that will bring), I have decided to love each moment I have with them now!  Preschoolers are a handful, so here are my thoughts on making the most of each day!

Tips for Mom’s survival

  • Consistency (or lack thereof) will make all the difference.  Choose your priorities.  Stick with them.  Mean it when you say it.
  • Doing things with them will work ten times better than simply telling them what to do.  Teach them how and then teach them again.  Together.  Often.  With love and laughter.
  • Now is the time to develop good habits.  If left unsupervised, they will develop not-so-good ones.
  • Learn about learning styles, stages, and personality types.  It will help as you teach them, and as you live together as a family.
  • Open-ended play can give you more bang for your buck.  Buy toys and books that will grow with them.  Enjoy family activities that can expand with them.  Grow with them.
  • Feed them the good stuff.   Limiting sugar and junk food will result in better health, better behavior, and better eating habits.
  • Limit screen time.  If it involves a screen, limit it.  Big ones, small ones, any screen.
  • Let them be kids.  They will be goofy, foolish, fun, and emotional.  It is okay.  They really do grow up faster than you think!
  • Keep it basic.  (There are lots of basics.)   If they never learn that basics are important, growing up is much harder!  You can’t build on a shaky foundation!
  • Give them chores.  Age-appropriate, genuinely helpful chores.  They can do it.  They need to do it.  You need the help.  Teach them to work.  As much as possible, have order in your home.
  • Routines are essential.
  • Allow them to contribute.  As they grow, they should feel needed, and should be taught to do what they can.  It is a good feeling.  Share it with them while they are still wanting to help!
  • Listen to them.  Laugh with them.  Enjoy them.
  • Keep your voice down.  The angrier you are, the quieter your voice should be.  (I do not know anyone who has perfected this, but it works when I remember.)
  • Find a few good friends for them and enjoy limited, supervised play dates.   Preschoolers tend to have a “pack” mentality if left to their own devices!
  • Sing.  A lot.

Tips for academics

  • Use real information and vocabulary.  They can handle it.  And it makes later learning much simpler!
  • Fun is important.  For you.  For them.
  • Do not panic.  They are preschoolers.  College is over a decade away!
  • Get your hands dirty.  Even harder, let them get their hands dirty.
  • Now is the time to develop an interest in the arts.  Visual.  Music. Theater. Sports.
  • Use simple learning materials.  If it is too complex for you to learn in an afternoon, don’t use it with your children.  Keep is simple, and it will be.
  • Let them explore-with supervision, of course.
  • Use good literature.  Dumbed-down books and other media are everywhere.  Be as discerning about what you allow them to see and hear as you are about what they eat.
  • Challenge yourself to challenge them.  Look for the best, and try different things.  If it is too hard, they will let you know.  But you may be surprised at what they can and are willing to do!
  • Keep it basic.  (There are lots of basics.)  We have developed this idea that basics are to be skimmed over in order to get to the “good stuff”.  Sometimes, the basics are some of the “good stuff”.  And they always make the “good stuff” easier to understand, and more enjoyable!
  • Use units as much as possible i.e. the human body, the alphabet, mammals, the United States, Fairy Tales.  Studying things in ordered groups allow children to order them in their head, and begin to learn how inter-related the world is.
  • Make messes-and then clean them up when you are done.  Together.
  • Sing.  More.  Learning songs, fun songs, nonsense songs, gospel songs and hymns.  Sing.

Enjoy them while they are young!  Charles Dickens said, “I love these little people, and it is not a slight thing when they who are so fresh from God love us.”  I concur.


Auditory learners

This is part three of a three-part article.

Do you prefer need music playing as you work or drive?   Are your children distracting to others due to the noises they create when they are working on their schoolwork or playing?  Would your spouse rather make a phone call than write a letter?  If you answered yes to any of these, there is an auditory learner in your family.

When trying to spot an auditory learner, look for these “tells”. When an auditory learner is deep in thought, they will generally look down.  (As an auditory learner, I had to train myself to look at people when they speak.  The more intently I am listening, the more likely I am to look down-so that I can concentrate- as I listen.)  And whatever emotion they are feeling will be easily recognized by their tone of voice.  If given a choice of activities, they will often choose to listen to music, go somewhere to hear the birds, attend a concert.  Auditory learners will also enjoy taking time to sit and talk…and talk… and talk.  Often instructions need to be given verbally.  Even as adults, most auditory learners prefer to be talked through a new activity, rather than simply shown or handed a set of instructions.

Auditory learners enjoy speaking and listening, and will occasionally do both at pretty much the same time.  A room full of them can get pretty loud; if you breathe before the end of your thought, you may forfeit your chance to complete it!  They prefer to share news by making a phone call rather than through email or text.  They notice sounds all around them, and often are making some of their own. (I have a friend that says if she loses me in a store, she simply listens for the humming/whistling.)

When an auditory learner is angry, they will generally let you know with words.  Lots of them.  Sometimes everyone with whom they come in contact knows what is wrong.  When they are excited, they will squeal, yell, and share the news with everyone.  Over and over.  Teaching them tact and proper behavior is important so that grievances aren’t broadcast to everyone around them, and so that they let other people get a chance to speak too!  You can most effectively reward them by praising them vocally.  Better still, say something wonderful about them to a third party where they will overhear you.

Some of the most successful tools for teaching visual auditory learners include:

  • Books on CD
  • music
  • discussion
  • narration
  • memorization

visual learners

This is part two of a three-part article on learning styles.

Do you prefer watching a performance rather than just listening?   Are your children distracted by movement around them when they are working on their schoolwork?  Would your spouse rather write an email than make a phone call?  If you answered yes to any of these, there is a visual learner in your family.

When trying to spot a visual learner, try these “tells”. When a visual learner is deep in thought, they will generally look up or stare straight ahead.  And whatever emotion they are feeling will be easily recognized by their facial expressions.  If given a choice of activities, they will often choose a movie, television, or reading.  They may also want to go to a museum or zoo where there are things to watch.  They even use visual language-“do you see what I mean?”

Introducing a visual learner to a new experience can be best done by allowing them time to observe the surroundings/situation before expecting them to dive in and participate.   (They can often be considered shy, as they will want to stand back and observe before participating. Give them time.  They’ll let you know when they are ready.)   Facial expressions, body language, etc. are read automatically.  They can pick out the leader of the group, the trouble-maker, and anyone who is uncomfortable as they enter a new environment. They are masters at picking up visual cues from people in a group setting or one-on-one, and using that information to their advantage.

When a visual learner is angry, they will often say nothing; they do not need to-you can read it on their face.  When they are excited, they grin and their whole face lights up!  No words necessary.  Rewards come in the form of making their work and your approval easily seen-post things on the fridge, smile at them, use stickers and stamps, send their work to family and friends.

Some of the most successful tools for teaching visual learners include:

  • maps
  • posters
  • pictures/drawings
  • dvds
  • collages/mobiles
  • time lines
  • American Sign Language