5 tips that helped me immensely with 3 preschoolers
Let me start with a confession—I didn’t do a super great job raising my first toddler. I wanted to… but I didn’t know what to do with her! I remember taking her to the park one day and the library the next… then back to the park… simply because I couldn’t figure out what else to do with her boundless energy!
I can’t say that I have everything figured out with my second and third toddlers, but I do wish someone had sat me down and gone over some basics. You know—Toddler 101. My hope is that someone who’s asking the same questions will find a few answers… So how do we survive the toddler years? Is there a way to make it enjoyable for mamas and their babies?
Last year was a golden year for me and for my 2-now-3 year old son. I went from dreading days at home to looking forward to them. And he did too! Maybe you’ll benefit from the 5 things we did to turn our toddler time into a smashing success.
1) Take the pressure off
In recent years, preschool pressure has EXPLODED onto the educational scene. In a time period where childhood has come into the spotlight like never before, preschool is perceived as a crucial gateway to the future that could make or break your child’s destiny. While children between the ages of 2-5 are at a highly remarkable and important stage of development, IT IS OK to teach them non-accredited curriculum without a PhD in preschool education.
Your child is NOT in danger of falling behind, missing out or drowning in academic confusion simply because he or she did not do preschool “the right way.” Your child’s trajectory in life will be set by a large number of choices made throughout his or her lifetime. And the most important decisions are the ones our children make for themselves—not the preschool we chose for them (or chose to do without!)
2) Let someone else plan ahead
Should you decide to teach your preschooler yourself, it’s easier to let someone else do the planning so you can focus on the teaching. You are committing a LOT of time to your little child. That little child will need all the patience you can give and then some.
If yours is like mine are, chances are you will…
- Clean up a lot of messes
- Fill a lot of plates with food (and throw a good deal of it out)
- Sort and re-sort clothing for different seasons and different sizes
- Answer a bunch of questions
- Read more than your fair share of children’s books
- Become VERY familiar with your local playground
- Take more pictures than you could put in 1,000 scrapbooks
- Cry a lot
- Laugh even more
For reasons why to teach your child, stay tuned for my upcoming blog post! For those already decided on that path, realistically admit to yourself how much of your mental and physical energy is drained by the end of the day. To me, it made sense to assemble ideas from other preschooling moms rather than to create an entire curriculum from scratch. And now—Out of the Box Preschool can save you just one step more.
3) Gather supplies in batches
Figuring out ways to do all your shopping at once can save you loads of time—something all of us preschooling parents and guardians are running short on!
No matter what you’re working on, there’s always three steps to the process.
-Do whatever it is you wanna do
Even for online shoppers, it takes time to pull out your computer or other device, get your mind in “shopping mode” and find what you’re looking for. The good news is, gathering preschool supplies in bulk will ensure you spend only one chunk of time for setting up and closing out—not a chunk of time each time you run out for pipe cleaners or goldfish crackers.
If this time-saving tip interests you, Out of the Box Preschool supply lists are your new best friend. Check them out here!
4) Get out of the house
No rule book says stay-at-home-parents have to stay at home all day every day. I checked! It may be easier on some days to stay at home, especially during times of sickness or potty training! But as an old Swedish adage puts it, “There’s no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing!”
The benefits of getting yourself and your kids outside are numerous: physical exercise, mental relaxation, fodder for conversation and positive curiosity, increased focus and attention span, opportunities for social interaction, improved short term memory, stronger immune system, etc. Stay tuned to my blog for more about that.
5) Tailor to their interests
Drawing from experience as a teacher, I’ve noticed information sticks a lot better when the student is engaged with the material. Memorization and review come almost unbidden when a student desires to know more about a given topic.
Perhaps you’ve had the same experience. You’ve had something easy to study that you didn’t care about at all. No matter how many times you read and reread the same page, the information refused to download to your brain.
Yet perhaps other times, far more difficult material has stuck readily because you were truly interested. Your child is most likely the same way. So when introducing him or her to a new concept, follow their interest within that category.
For example, my son Ash is 3 1/2 years old. With Out of the Box Preschool, we have a different theme we study each week. During “Around the World” week, Ash zeroed in on a small picture of a volcano in one of our story books. He learned that particular volcano could be found in Iceland. By the end of the day, Ash was bursting with new information at the dinner table! He told us all about the volcanoes on Iceland, including the only one in the world you can go inside. He explained to his older sister how hot, fiery liquid shoots out of a pressurized volcano and turns to lava.
Was I planning to introduce geology to my toddler? No, not exactly. But exploring a general topic allowed us to find something truly interesting to him. As a teacher, I know there will be plenty of times in Ash’s life when he just needs to buckle down and learn something hard—interested or not. But I’m taking advantage of this time. Electives aren’t “allowed” again until high school!