Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Signs that Your Preschooler Wants to Read

My daughter has shown signs of wanting to read independently for a couple of months now. It's my fault she's not reading better, since everything is so busy I just haven't sat with her and practiced putting sounds together. But the signs are there, and I'm excited to start working with her after our vacation is over. If you're wondering whether your preschooler is ready to learn to read, here are some signs to look for:

- Constantly asks what sounds letter make
- Asks what words say and tries to sound them out
- Shows an interest in writing, especially their name or other familiar words
- Recognizes words on signs and tries to read them
- Sit independently with a book and tells a story
- Remembers parts of a story read together and repeats the story at the correct parts

Once you start seeing some of these signs, your preschooler is ready for some beginning reading instruction. We like using Starfall and Bob Books for beginning reading. Another idea for beginning readers is to turn the closed captioning on during their favorite T.V. shows. Happy homeschooling!

Saturday, June 6, 2009

How to Set up an In-Home Grocery Store

If you're using this summer to prepare for a preschool homeschooling adventure next year, consider dedicating one part of your house to an in-home grocery store. Grocery stores are a wealth of learning activities, with all the opportunities to learn about colors, counting, foods, textures, and money right at your fingertips. An in-home grocery store provides the same fun learning activities, without having to drive across town to the store.

Start by saving boxes, plastic containers, egg cartons and plastic shopping bags. You can also buy some fake foods and a shopping basket to enhance the experience. Once you have a handful of food item containers and boxes saved, use tape to close them up and make them sturdy. Stock the groceries on a bookshelf or other area in the home. If you have enough room, you can use two small bookshelves designating one for fresh foods like produce and the other shelf for boxed goods and snacks. For really young children, prices aren't necessary. Just the experience of shopping is fun. But for older preschoolers you can begin to teach about money by labeling the foods with whole dollar amounts. For example, 1.00 for ice cream and $2.00 for laundry detergent.

You can also teach older preschoolers how to shop by looking at prices located on shelving, rather than on the product itself. I have many times where I tell my daughter to grab the ketchup that is .97, pointing out that it's 9-7, and the label is on the shelf below the item. You can create a checkout area on the coffee table or anywhere the kids can reach and slide the items. For a more realistic check out, use a large piece of butcher block paper and tape it to the ends of the table. Use fake money or fake credit cards when checking out. Keep those GEICO or other plastic cards that come in junk mail to use as credit cards.

If you use a corner bookshelf, you can keep your grocery store up 24/7 without it cluttering up the house or getting in the way. If you don't have a lot of room to spare, make up the food items and store them in a cabinet or other area and bring them out during grocery store time. A really fun group activity is to get three to four preschoolers together and give them a shopping list using pictures. The first kid to find all the groceries gets to be the checkout person.

Below is a picture of the kids shopping at a fake grocery store at the museum. Gavin is pretending to get attacked by the 'fresh' lobster. Have fun!


Monday, June 1, 2009

The Lying Phase

My daughter is going through her lying phase. This is the phase where you as the parent know they're lying to you, but they think they're getting away with it. We have been dealing with little lies here and there over the past few months. We started our handling of this by explaining to her what a lie is and why it's wrong. Once she grasped the meaning of a lie, it was like she went out of her way to make sure her lies were believable. Strike one, mom and dad.

Next we tried the time out method, which of course brought a lot of tears and shrieks over the unfairness of life when you're four. However, she has a knack for lying between the hours of 3:00 and 5:00, which means a crying time-out only exhausts her and she falls asleep. This means a later night for me because she slept for an hour. Strike two, mom and dad.

Today we were getting in the car and I noticed she had something in her mouth. "Avlyn, what do you have in your mouth?" I only asked because I thought she might have picked up some old candy off the ground or something. "Nuffin" she said. Of course, she's saying this with her cheeks puffed out and her tongue rolling around something in there. So I ask again. Same answer. I ask, "You have something in your mouth, don't you?" "Mm-uh-mm-uh" was pretty much what the answer was. So I told her to spit it out. Now I know I said this in perfect english that she comprehends very well. She looked at me and did nothing. "Spit - It - Out - Now!" Nothing.

Okay, time for me to play mean mommy. "You are not going to your baseball game tonight." That declaration was followed by a lot of screaming and crying and sounds of "I'll spit it out when we get home!!!!!" While I hate for her to miss baseball, just because I enjoy watching her so much, I knew it was the most effective discipline. I'll have to see it if worked over the next couple of weeks, based on whether or not the small lies increase or decrease. Sometimes education doesn't involve books and pencils, but heartache and tears.