A big part of this blog are the lesson plans I provide. My degree is in Early Childhood Education, and I have many years of experience working with preschoolers. When I decided to homeschool my own children, I was suddenly writing lesson plans and teaching four different ages. If only I had saved copies of all the preschool lesson plans I had written over the years! But I hadn’t. So now that I’m teaching only one preschooler – my granddaughter – I will take the time to do just that. I prepare my lesson plans to share with other parents, whether you homeschool a bunch, or just one. Whether you are a full-time, stay-home parent, or a working parent who can only utilize a portion of the activities. And perhaps if you have a relative caregiver who could benefit from these suggested activities, you might show them this website.
The first step in using my lesson plan is to adapt the schedule to fit your needs. I cannot anticipate other family situations, only what works for me. My daughter leaves for work before my granddaughter is awake, so I go to her house. We do many of the morning activities at her house, but somewhere during the day we usually walk over to mine, then. I have about a half an hour in the morning to work on my blog and make coffee before my granddaughter awakes.
I have learned that if she sleeps past seven, her whole day is thrown off schedule. So I wake her up at the same time every morning. Toddlers are often more dependent on a regular schedule than preschoolers. They don’t read a clock yet, but they understand routines. They know that breakfast comes before lunch, that bath comes before bedtime. If you try to alter their routine, you might be in for a major temper tantrum. Toddlers perceive changes in their routines as frightening, and they don’t know how else to respond. So whether you begin your day at seven, at eight, or at nine doesn’t matter as much as that you begin your day with your young child at the same time every day.
Right after waking, dressing, and hair fixing, I have “calendar activities”. I do this because my granddaughter is never hungry when she wakes up. So we spend about half an hour on this activity. I have a large calendar on the wall in the hallway outside her bedroom. We go over the name of the month, the day of the week, and then tape a new number on the calendar. We count all the days from the first to the current date. We talk about the weather, which means running to look out the window. If she’s having fun, we sing a song or two, or go over some vocabulary words. Sometimes I have large posters purchased from a school supply taped to this wall, other times I make my own vocabulary charts. Helping a toddler develop a good vocabulary is the first most important activity! More so than potty training. A toddler who can express her needs and wants is less likely to go into “melt down mode” than one who is wearing “big girl panties” but still babbles incoherently.
If your child wakes up very hungry, switch calendar and breakfast around on the schedule. Or move Calendar Time to right after coming in from outside play. Just pick a time that works for you, and stick with it.
I like to do Free Play right away in the morning, after table time. My granddaughter is full of energy then. She’s usually in a pretty good mood. And so am I! I use this time to work on my blog, or catch up on housework. Families who are homeschooling can find dozens of things to do with this hour! Then, if you need to extend the hour into two, you could assign an older sibling to amuse your toddler or preschool child in the playroom a little while longer.
Morning snack is a requirement in licensed day care homes and centers. I don’t get it – we were told not to feed our infants more frequently than at four hour intervals, but then we’re told to feed our toddlers and preschoolers every two to two and a half hours! Maybe because toddlers are more active, but most pediatricians tell young moms not to worry about what their fussy youngsters eat, because they will eat when they are hungry. Maybe the pediatricians and legislators should get together and come up with guidelines that don’t conflict.
I happen to feel that it is best to have mealtimes at about the same time every day, and never allow snacking in between. I don’t mean to eliminate the morning and afternoon snack. Only that these snacks be part of the structured routine, offered at the table, at the same time every day, and not spur-of-the-moment empty calorie fillers purchased at the checkout counter or fast-food drive-through. Keep snacks small and nutritious, so your child will be hungry at meal times.
We have naptime immediately following lunch. This is a fairly common time for naps among day cares and kindergartens. All young children need nap time, even if they don’t sleep. They are so active, and their bodies are growing. They need some “down time” to rest, and so do you! Allow them a book or two, but they must remain on their bed until you give them permission to get up. If your child isn’t used to this yet, you may rub his back, rock him in a rocking chair to help calm him down, or sing a lullaby. But do not stay with him for the entire nap time. Go get a cup of coffee, put your feet up, and take fifteen minutes minimum just for yourself.
Then, after nap, snack, and the second playtime, I have another project. I think it gives kids something to look forward to. The hours between 4:00 and 6:00 are often called “the witching hour” in homes with young children. They are cranky, hungry and demanding when moms are equally cranky, tired, and busy. Not a happy picture. And into this time frame, husbands and school-aged children are coming home, the phone starts ringing off the hook, the dog needs to be walked and fed – anything you can find to break this cycle would be its weight in salt! So I plan a project. I get it ready during naptime, so I don’t have anything more to do except oversee it, and work on getting dinner ready at the same time. My granddaughter is in the kitchen where I can keep an eye on her, and she is happily involved. It works for me. If it doesn’t work for your family, move this second project to another time slot, or skip it entirely.
My granddaughter has clean-up, then free play until dinner. About this time my daughter gets home from work and I’m no longer needed. She helped me develop her daughter’s schedule though, so she knows that next follows dinner and clean-up, then quiet playtime together, followed by a bath, stories, and bedtime. She’s a single parent with no other children. In your situation, you may need to make changes. Maybe you can’t fit in a nightly bath time. Or maybe you need to cart older children to soccer practices or ballet lessons. If you’re a single parent, then you can’t put your toddler to bed until all the older kids are home. Maybe you’ll need to allow your toddler two naps in the day, with a later bedtime. That’s okay, too! Just find out what works for you, re-arrange the schedule to fit your needs, and then, stick with it!
I hope you’ll find these lesson plans helpful. If so, please leave a comment at the end of this post, or send me an email. Let me know what sorts of things you’d like to see covered in an article or lesson in the future. And thanks for reading!