The preschool years are so fun! I loved watching the excitement of new discoveries and seeing the world through the eyes of my preschooler. Yes, there were difficult days when I thought the day would never end. I counted down the time until bedtime. When those days came, I reminded myself that the days are long but the years are short.
In the blink of an eye they were no longer saying words incorrectly or looking at me with those preschool smiles. What can you do to make the most of these years? I tried to remember these five things during the preschool years.
You have an incredible opportunity to spend time with your preschooler. Make the most of this time by reading lots of books together, playing outside, and playing pretend. It is okay if you don’t always enjoy playing with your child. I often didn’t enjoy sitting down and playing pretend, but I did LOVE spending time with my child and watching her play. I enjoyed hearing what she was thinking, and seeing the connections she was making. Usually, it was enough for me to sit with her and add something to the conversation once in awhile. Looking back, I wish I sat with her a little more. There can never be enough time just being with your child.
With that said, it is also important that your child learns to entertain himself. It is not your job nor a digital device’s job to entertain your child. They might need a little help getting started, but they need to learn this important skill. There are things you can do to help him learn to entertain himself such as:
- Do not have every toy he owns out at once. It can be difficult for him to make a choice when he is presented with too many options.
- Limit the number of toys that have only one purpose. Try to have toys that encourage open-ended play such as dolls, trains, cars, and play kitchen items.
- After you help him get a start playing, tell him you need to start some laundry or wash the dishes but you will check on him in a little bit. (Be sure to keep your word and do check back!)
The preschool years are a great time to work on habit training. Laying a foundation of good habits early on will bring many benefits to your family and your child’s academic learning. A few examples include:
- Basic household tasks such as emptying the trash, washing the dishes, doing laundry, cleaning the house, and weeding the garden. All of these chores will take a little longer than if you did them yourself, but remember the skills you are helping him learn. This is also another good way to spend quality time with your child. He wants to be with you and wants to help. There will come a day when he no longer wants to help, so take advantage of this time!
- Habits of attention and observation by playing the picture painting and sight seeing games
- Habit of obedience
Read out loud
Read out loud to your child every day. Reading to your child helps him develop a love for reading, learn new vocabulary, and lays the foundation for future reading lessons. Some days we spent several hours reading, spread throughout the day. These are our favorite books and authors to read during the preschool years. This is also a great time to get your child his own library card. He will feel grown up checking out “his” books on “his” library card.
Spend time outdoors
The preschool years should be spent in discovery of God’s amazing creation. Try to spend as much time outdoors as possible. If being outside is not a habit you have developed, here are some suggestions to get you started:
- Have meals outside “al fresco”
- Take a walk
- Visit a park
- Take a blanket out into the yard to read a book
- Play with sidewalk chalk
- Play in buckets of water with dippers and other containers (with adult supervision)
- Play in a mud kitchen
- Play in a sandbox
- Practice skills such as hopping, skipping, and riding a bike.
Work on foundational skills
Instead of purchasing a costly preschool curriculum, spend this time building strong foundational skills your child will need for future academic work. You can read about our favorite preschool curriculum. Practice skills such as:
- Gross motor skills
- Crossing the mid-line
- Bilateral coordination
- Fine motor skills
- Visual discrimination skills
- Play with math manipulatives
You can find more activity suggestions in The Anchor by Susan Chrisman.