One of the interesting balancing acts of being a mommy who is also a teacher is sometimes trying to figure out how much to "teach" your child at home. Of course I want to provide my kiddo with all the right foundational pieces to prepare him for kindergarten, but I also don't want to set a tone for learning that isn't developmentally appropriate for a three year old.
One way I've decided to find this balance for the time being is by following Big Brother's lead. If he seems interested in a more academic topic than I create activities around his interest. As a teacher I am compelled to note that a certain point all children do need exposure to and exploration of letters and counting, as well as other pre-literacy and math skills before kindergarten. So I wouldn't have not introduced these topics at some point if he never showed an interest. As it turns out I've been delighted that the interest has developed; he wants to learn more about numbers, letters, reading, writing, rhyming, etc.
The other way I balance the idea of "teaching" at home is to make it either an exploration, project, or activity and just straight fun. No flash cards, no workbooks, no drills. I want the learning to feel like a regular part of his day, something that fits into our other routines, not a "lesson," and not something he's made to do.
Tonight proved a perfect opportunity. We were waiting for dinner to finish in the oven, it was rainy, and we were all a little edgy. I'd had an idea for some fun alphabet practice a few days ago and decided to try it out. Big Brother loves anything with wheels and especially has been into the idea of race cars this spring. We have more "race cars" than I can count these days. He can recognize most of the capital letters but I figured this would be a fun way to review.
I used some brown packaging paper from the dollar store, a permanent marker, and painting tape to create an ABC raceway on the kitchen floor.
We collected all the "wind up" or "pull back" cars we could quickly find. (You can see they weren't all race cars at this point, just cars that would move on their own.)
We pulled back the cars, said one of our favorite sayings,
"Ready, Set, Go!" and let the race begin.
Wherever they stopped Big Brother had to shout out the letter they were on or closest to.
Most of the cars landed at the top. But then we started modifying how much we pulled the cars back to see if we could get them to stop on closer letters. In fact, it proved to be a natural extension of the activity. I would challenge him to see if he could get the car to land near a specific letter.
With two kids this activity could become a true race and kids could see who could call out their letter first. For us, it was a perfect moment to have a little fun and practice our letters.