The two most frequent questions moms ask me are – "How do you plan activities for your child?", and "How do you know which activities to do?". In this post, I am answering these two questions.
“First comes thought; then organization of that thought, into ideas and plans; then transformation of those plans into reality. The beginning, as you will observe, is in your imagination.” ― Napoleon Hill
👉Step 1 Schedule a time
The first step is to note down what your day looks like everyday for a week. Break it down into time slots where you and your child get time to be together. So you can schedule play and activities in those time slots. Allot the time slots when the child is more attentive and not tired or sleepy, to academic activities. Allot the other times to hands-on activities. Do remember not all days are same. Some days you will get loads of time to do planned activities and some days, you won’t. So, don’t fret when you don’t get the time. Just put to use whatever time you have with your child, in a good way.
👉Step 2 Observe
Observe and know your child! Observe what are your child’s current interests and make a mental note. If you are overworked and sleep-deprived like most moms, it would better to note them down. Observe what your child is struggling to learn in his/her present curriculum. List the things your child knows and the age appropriate things your child should learn and wants to learn. Throw in a pinch of things you want your child to learn, for example according to their school curriculum, or according to any family or community cultural norms that are important to you. The rule of the thumb is to keep it child-led and age-appropriate. I can’t stress this enough.
Do not be influenced by what some other kid is doing or what some "experts" are saying. Every child is unique and develops at a different pace, and has a distinct personality and interests. I strongly believe in teaching child-led, age-appropriate topics, but remember, the age is not just the number of years your child has been in this world. Age is the unique natural developmental level of the child (not the TRAINED developmental age obtained by lots of memory-based, but not concept-based activities). You may do a lot of activities and practice and eventually your child WILL learn but when you teach something when the child is developmentally ready, the amount of hard work is very less and it becomes so easy!! Trust me! Why do the extra work? When you have to work extra for teaching a topic then it means the child isn’t ready yet!! Do you still want to carry on?
A 4 year old may learn topics which are grade 1 level but make sure he is actually ready to understand the concept (not just because he has excellent memory power) and a 5 year old may just start to learn letter sounds because he wasn’t ready till now. You need to ask yourself does your child actually understand what is a country or do you want to teach 200 countries and their flags and then justify it? Your child will guide you! Listen to your child’s cues!
*Tips for Planning Activities*
Note down daily schedule and break it down into time slots
Use child's interests to plan activities
Gather information on age-appropriate activities
Select a theme and plan for a week
Plan activities with child for weekends and after-work hours
Observe child's interests and what they are struggling to learn in school
Involve child in the planning process
Plan activities around the curriculum
👉Step 3. Organize
Maintain a diary and divide it into sections with clear markings. I prefer a tabbed diary, but you can use a notebook as well. If you prefer digital diaries, OneNote could be excellent for such a diary. Name each section on these common domains of development – Language, Numeracy, Social-Emotional skills, Gross Motor Skills, Fine Motor Skills, Logical Awareness, Spatial Awareness, General Knowledge, Visual Skills, Creative and Artistic Skills, Spiritual – Moral Skills and STEM.
*Tips for Diary and Organization*
Keep a diary of activities in different domains
Organize activities by sections with clear markings
Use the diary to keep track of activities done during the week
Organize activities around different domains
Keep track of child's progress
“Plan your work and work your plan” - Napolean Hill
👉Step 4. Gather information
Browse the internet and find out 5 age appropriate activities under each domain. Write all details so that you don’t forget when required. When you come across any activity or post on Facebook, Instagram or Pinterest, note it down in the domain it belongs to. Or course there are lots of activities which overlap several domains. You may even select a theme. Find out what all activities can be done under that theme and which books you can refer to or read to your child for that theme.
👉Step 5. Plan your week
Make a weekly planner. You may aim to make for a longer duration but I feel doing a week at a time is best. You can see the example of planner in the image. Map the activities noted down in the diary into the planner. Also try to include all those educational toys you have bought so they are all used. And your planner is ready! Pin it up in your child’s dedicated learning space. Involve your child by asking him to cross out as each activity gets done.
We have beautiful planner templates like this for you, for FREE! Subscribe to Playful Home Education here and get the printable planner set!
#1. As you can see, there are no time slots allotted in my planner. It is flexible depending on child’s attention level and interest. Keeping it and believing it to be flexible, helps in the planner being followed and adjusted as per the flow of the day or week.
#2. Also not all domains are covered daily. But all domains are covered over the week.
#3. Gross motor skills are not covered because that doesn’t need to be planned in my daughter’s case. Always active! Also free play, book reading, life skills and self engagement times are not mentioned as they are done as and when required.
#4. Keep things ready one day ahead so that it doesn’t overwhelm you.
#5. All the activities are of short duration..15-20 mins maximum. So the list of the activities may seem a lot in one day but they are not actually.
#6. Carryovers are allowed.
#7. If you get overwhelmed by the thought of planning, then don’t do it. Just do impromptu activities with your child. If planning works for you, then I hope my post helped you.
#8. Learn yourself first about the topic or the subject that you’re trying to teach. Browse and read and research. Trial and error will tell you which method works for your child. A child finds it difficult to unlearn and relearn even though they are able to do it. So try to get it right in the first time. Choose the methodology which will work for you, in the time you have plus the resources that are/will be available to you. You can always go the DIY Route for all the things.
#9. If a child is not interested in a particular topic, then change the approach. Tweak it to spark their interest. If it still doesn’t work then leave it for few days or weeks and try again.
#10. Above all, remember, the aim is to play, bond and have an enjoyable time with your child in the precious years of childhood. The learning will happen automatically when you spend structured time with them, give them undivided attention and do playful learning activities. Every household has its own challenges, and use whatever time you get, even if it is 30 minutes in a day. Do not feel guilty or disappointed for what you cannot do. Use the time you have wisely, a little everyday, and you will soon see the results.
📝Summary and Downloads: How to plan home learning activities for your preschool child
Here is a downloadable sheets to recap all the tips for planning home learning activities for preschool children.
DOWNLOAD THIS SHEET AS PDF:
DIY Weekly Planner Sample: These sheets allow you to enter your own themes that you want to cover over the week with your child. You can include special topics or domains that are relevant to your family, culture or your child's needs.
DOWNLOAD THE WEEKLY PLANNER SHEETS HERE:
Hope this article will help you to organize and implement home learning for your preschool child in a better way.
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