Moonday! (This year in homeschool preschool…)

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Last school year I was a little obsessed with educating my child. I felt like I needed to spend every moment of his life educating him, but not always on the important things. I was working so hard to “make” him learn his letters, colors, etc… Yeah, I was terrible. Totally not age appropriate first of all, and planning things for him to learn truly bored him. He’d be interested in something else, so the things I wanted to teach him… well he couldn’t stay focused, and got very frustrated with me, which makes total sense. This year, I wiped that crazy board clean and decided to 100% follow his lead.

The first thing I decided to do was set up a “classroom” so that he would have a place to go to focus, and we could still do normal preschool activities like go over the calendar, read books, sit for puzzles, and go over our letters and numbers. These aren’t going to be forced things, but they are available, and if he chooses to do them himself, great! He often does. He loves puzzles, he loves matching games, and he is actually really interested in putting letters together and finding different letters out of a set. Part of the problem last year was that our schedule was always set, I would force him through the activities, and we would be in the living room or kitchen which was set up for other things as well. This year he will have a learning sanctuary that is his choice. It’s also a good way to keep all of his craft supplies, sensory buckets, and blocks in one place.

Now the next thing I did was realize that he had to already be interested in what I wanted to teach, so I decided that every Saturday we’d talk about the things he likes. Trees, weather, space, the ocean, firemen… whatever it may be, is what we will focus. Which leads me to…

Moonday! Last week Caleb let me know that he thought the moon was really awesome. I turned that into a whole week of learning about the solar system, but all he really wanted to learn about/play about was the moon and stars, which is completely understandable since he can actually see and somewhat understand them. At the daycare I work at, I did Moonday (Monday) with all of them, and want to share how it went with you all.

We started when I got there learning about gravity and the difference between gravity on Earth and the moon. We did this in a very simple way. I brought a bunch of Styrofoam balls and asked the kids to each grab a regular rock. We talked about how those rocks, Earth rocks, were heavy. Then I explained that on the Moon they would feel more like the Styrofoam balls and be very light. We played “moon rock toss” and tried to get the balls into a bucket.

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Next was snack time! Let me just add, this was delicious, and it’s my new favorite snack… We started with a rice cake base, smeared with cream cheese, layered with banana pennies and some little pieces of kix. One of our kiddos couldn’t have the cheese, so we used sun butter on her’s instead of the cream cheese, but it still looked really great.

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Then, I had each of the kiddos make their own telescope. I had prepped this activity so that the kids would each have a different color telescope, and wouldn’t have to spend the time painting. Instead they just each got a sticker sheet of stars to decorate the way they would like to.

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From there we went over to the rug and had a blast with this sensory bucket I set up for them. First of all, the bucket itself has a spot for each of the kids to set their wrist so they aren’t fighting for a spot or pushing one another, which I thought was great and a super bonus. Then I stuck on some star stickers, poured two bags of black beans in, added some of the white beans, about 15 glow in the dark stars, clear stones (because space is cold and full of ice!), and these awesome astronaut, ufo, spaceships, and jet erasers that I got at the Dollar Tree. Each child was assigned a different thing to find, and then they were able to just explore freely. They were so wonderfully focused on this bucket, it was a great time to call them over one by one for the big craft of the day…

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These were so much fun, and showed the personality of all of the kiddos. Just looking at them the other teacher and I knew exactly who made what. First each kiddo painted the back ground with their chosen combo of blue and purple. One little girl’s favorite color is blue, and only used blue. Caleb loved mixing colors, so used more purple than the others, because he likes swirling the two paints together. Then they each picked a glitter to sprinkle over the paint before it dried. After it all was dry, they got to glue on five of the glow in the dark stars and a cardboard moon however they wanted. I had painted the moons in an attempt to save time. We have such a limited amount of time the kids can stay sitting, that sometimes we just can’t let them do every part of a craft alone, sadly. Lastly I trimmed up to edges, and these lovely crafts were finished!

Along with these activities we used the sunlight to show how the moon rotates to make different phases, goes around the sun, and the size with little models of the Earth and moon I painted. We sang songs, pretended to be astronauts, and learned the sign for moon and stars. It was an excellent day of learning, play, and creativity, and it was all influenced by Caleb’s love for the moon and stars.

Trust your kids. They will learn if we follow their lead. I’m so incredibly sure of that. You can learn the alphabet during fun activities, you can help them learn their name using sensory boards, themed puzzles, and songs… Children learn through play. When you take the play away is when the learning stops. Trust your kids.

You Are Loved!

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The Truth About Day Cares: You NEVER Know!

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     Day Cares are not to be trusted. I’ve spent a good amount of my life working at different ones that gave me a good idea of the truth. Parents say things all the time like, “I’ve done the research. It’s highly rated. All my friends’ kids go there. My kids love it.” All I can do is stare at them and nod. No one likes being told they sound stupid, or that they don’t know what they are talking about, but these parents just really don’t.

This so called research you’ve done probably includes walking through the facility, browsing the website filled with consumer comments, and asking around. Do you realize how easy it is to stage the place? One of the places I worked at the woman who owned the place would only stay until all the kids were dropped off. Once they were, she’d go off to do whatever she wanted until pick up, often leaving far too many children with just one or two of her other employees. Those website browser comments are rigged and easily created. You have to approve the comments before the site shows them to the rest of the world. They tell you nothing.

Asking around is like asking another ignorant parent what they think and they’ll give you the same answer you’ll end up giving to someone else. They still don’t know what happens behind closed doors. The worst one I hear though, is that the child loves the day care. What’s so wrong about that? Why do they love it so much? When you put your child in day care, you pay a huge amount of money for them to get not only care when you can’t give it to them but also you put them there to help them grow mentally and physically. Does your child, or even baby who can’t tell you what he’s done all day, sit there and watch television? Is he or she getting junk food for every meal? How often are they supervised or unsupervised? The truth is, you never know. These things can make your child happy but it’s not what you are paying for and it is not what will allow your child to profit and grow.

The worst day care I worked in was the last. When I first started, I didn’t think much of the overly affectionate woman running the place. As time went on I saw the horror show she was creating for those parents. As soon as the parent was not around, she demanded that all of the children called her Momma T. She’d play favorites and take the one she “loved” the most off campus on “errands.” Not only did the parent’s of the boy not know that, but it is strictly against the rules laid out by the owner. These kids were constantly being fed and then sent into nap times. The issue is that they were just babies. The oldest one was two years old. These toddlers and babies couldn’t tell their parents what they were being trained to do and the parents could never understand why the children would cry when they left the day care instead of when they arrived.

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     So please, if you have the option, avoid day cares. They are usually expensive and you never know what is in store for your children. My recommendation is that if you must have someone else care for your child, hire someone that will come to your home and care for only your children at any given time. If you are in your own home, cameras can be hidden. This way, you CAN know what’s happening to your children and that is the only way that you can know. A reasonably priced camera that can be hidden can be found here: https://www.google.com/shopping/product/4854341770952965246?safe=off&sclient=psy-ab&q=hidden+camera&oq=hidden+camera&pbx=1&bav=on.2,or.r_cp.r_qf.&bvm=bv.50500085,d.aWc,pv.xjs.s.en_US.ciY8R2R6XC8.O&biw=1024&bih=643&tch=1&ech=1&psi=eQcHUvevIum6yAGmkIGwAg.1376192387084.5&sa=X&ei=iwcHUovGO6K8yAGr7ICIAQ&ved=0CJcBEOUNMAA

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     Another plus to this private sitting is that your child can form a relationship with their care taker. By offering a job to someone, you’re improving the economy and giving someone a chance. Don’t worry about ages when you hire someone. Younger people are as qualified as anyone else. It’s all a matter of the person, not the age or gender. If you feel funny about someone and they still appear squeaky clean, don’t hire them. Your gut is the best judge of character.

     Anyhow, good luck my friends. Keep your children safe and in the hands of someone trustworthy. The best care taker for a child is their parent (unless of course… it isn’t; the parent is unqualified). If you’d like to share other hints with fellow readers, please respond. If this has been helpful, I’d love to hear about it.

     CLARIFICATION: I shouldn’t say things so generally. I know this. I’m sure not all day cares are evil, but my main statement still stands. You never know the truth and because of that you are risking your child’s well being by allowing him or her to be there.