Category Archives: Toddlers

Easy for Mom Preschool

preschool

I couldn’t decide what words to use for this title. I wanted to say “Lazy Mom Preschool” or “Preschool for Dummies”… but I don’t want to call Moms lazy or dummies! I just mean this is an easy way to do preschool with very little cost and prep work. Easy and simple is my way of doing things now-a-days. With cleaning the home, teaching the kids, making dinner, church responsibilities and my hobbies… I need to maximize my time by doing things very simple and efficient.

Here are the general learning principles I follow:

  • Do every subject everyday
  • Be consistent & efficient
  • Get rid of distractions
  • Use a paper and pencil
  • Test knowledge

These are the subjects I try to do everyday:

  • Gospel Study
  • Handwriting
  • Scissors
  • Reading
  • Math

The only exception is that my husband is in charge of a science lesson once a week during family night. I try to add music or piano to the daily list… but I seem to never be able to get to that everyday… yet! My kids also to do crafts and art on their own so I don’t mandate that either.

I’ve seen people make weekly calendars… Monday is Math. Tuesday is Reading. Wednesday is Science… ect. The reason why I think this isn’t the most efficient way to do preschool is because preschool aged kids learn by repetition.

God tells us to read our scriptures and pray everyday. Why? It’s so we can learn his words, remember them and master them! Doing something everyday will help anyone master any skills they want to learn! I know from experience that reading my scriptures everyday has made me a better reader as well as a better person. Doing photography everyday has helped me get better at photography. So if I want my kids to get good at something… I’m going to have to help them practice it everyday.

So doing every subject everyday has helped my kids learn these various subjects really well. The repetition really works and they are mastering skills like using scissors and handwriting. We do however take a break on Sunday to go to church and do Sunday activities.

Now… you may think… “Well you must spend an awful amount of time doing this everyday!” My oldest child is 5 years old. We spend 30-45 minutes max on all the subjects. My second child is 3 years old and we spend 15 to 25 minutes. My youngest is 1 years old and we spend about 5 to 10 minutes on it! So for me I spend about 1 to 1.5 hours total in focused learning sessions with my kids.

The key is to be consistent and making the time worth it! I try to get rid of distractions and put my phone away and turn off the computer. These precious minutes are spent in one-on-one focused learning sessions. I make the time efficient by gauging their interest on the subjects. If they are bored then I changed it up. If they are wanting more I usually give them more but I eventually make them stop and say… “Sorry you have to wait to have more fun tomorrow!” “But mom! I LOVE Math… please let me do more math!” In order to be consistent, I have to make teaching a priority in my life. I try to teach even if the house is messy or my projects are not done.

Lastly, I test their knowledge. I am always asking them questions to make sure they have master the concepts I’m teaching them. I test them in all the subjects including gospel learning, reading comprehension and math.

So here is an example of what I do every time. I try to consistently do the same routine every time. I also teach every subject every time. I make things simple by just using a notebook and pencil. Everyday I just make a new page or two in the notebook. It’s really nice to use one notebook so I can see how they progress over days, weeks and months.

A preschool daily learning routine:

  • Pray
  • Book of Mormon Study
  • Writing (or tracing) their name
  • Tracing lines and shapes
  • Cutting out a shape
  • Counting & Recognizing Numbers
  • Letter & Letter Sounds

in3a7582

in3a7587

in3a7588

in3a7592

Once my child is ready to write on their own then I add these into the curriculum.

Adjusting the way I teach for each child has been a fun challenge. My first son likes to do book work while my second son likes to play games especially computer games. No matter what the content is… the principles I follow are the same:

  • Do every subject everyday
  • Be consistent & efficient
  • Get rid of distractions
  • Use a paper and pencil
  • Test their knowledge

This all didn’t come naturally. I had to learn from my other mom friends! I also had to learn from trial and error. I get criticism sometimes… “Your kids are young… they should just play!” Yes it’s true… there’s lots of learning when they are playing. After I do the focused learning session with my kids… they get so sick of me sometimes that they run away and play the rest of the day. All I have to do after is referee and resolve conflicts with sharing toys… lol! Oh… and I guess I feed them too! So my kids do play hard and work hard.

Of course… I’m not perfect at this routine… we have good days and bad days! But I try really hard to be consistent. Over time I see that the routine is working. The repetition has really given my kids a foundation of skills and knowledge they need for future learning.

I have found great joy in teaching my children the basics and while I understand that this method may not work for all moms/kids. I would love to hear what works for you!

 

 

 

3 Easy Steps to Teach a Young Child How to Read

How to Read

My oldest son, Micah, is now 3 years and 5 months old. He is starting to sound out words and reading short words! I’m seriously so proud of him. My goal is to teach him how to read before he goes into Kindergarten. I’ve been teaching my son how to read ever since he was interested in letters which was well before he was 18 months old. I definitely think this is from Dallin’s genes cause I have never been interested in reading very much at all.

I broke it down to three easy steps. I’m writing this down so I can teach my next kid how to read but may be it’ll help someone else too.

  1. Teach your child to recognize all the UPPERcase letters
  2. Then teach your child to recognize all the lowercase letters
  3. MAKE IT FUN!!! Teach your kids letter sounds as you would teach them animal sounds. (ex. What does a M say? mmmmmm) With this step I needed a little bit of help and guidance, I’ll list the resources I have used below.

After talking to my mom friends, I really think phonics is the way to begin teaching kids how to read.

First book, my neighbor suggested Teach Your Child How to Read in 100 Easy Lessons.  This book has a really boring introduction of instructions for the parents, but once we started the lessons my son seriously took the book and blossomed. Everyday you only do one lesson and it last about 20 minutes. Everything is outlined for you so I didn’t even have to plan anything. It gives you the order to teach the letter sounds, starting with the more obvious sounds like M and S and A then moving towards more complicated sounds like silent E’s… ect. Three reasons why I love the book is 1) it’s super easy for me 2) it teaches kids how to read and not just memorize the words 3) It makes reading into a game.

Another friend suggested the Three Owl’s Reading Method which unfortunately is out of press and I can’t find a copy anywhere. Micah loves these little books!!! This is more of a Montessori approach to teaching kids how to read. The first sounds that it teaches kids are the vowels sounds: a, e, ee, i, o, oo, u. Since it’s out of print, may be I’ll recreate the books and put them online. Dr. Hulda Clark who created the reading system died back in 2009. I’ll email the publisher to find out what I can do. Micah loves Owl’s Eyes more than Teach Your Child How to Read in 100 Easy Lessons because they come in little colorful books his size.

The third resource I’ve used to help my child learn how to read is Hooked on Phonics Ipad App. While I’m not a huge fan of their curriculum (mostly their story books are weird), I love love the letter sounds songs and the games they made for their app. Micah loves this app!

Of course, I don’t believe in forcing children to learn how to read but it’s been so fun for Micah that he’s forcing me to teach him how to read!

Now I’m not an expert at this but my younger son, Quentin is 18 months… I started asking him “What sound does M make?” and he replies with “mmmmmmm”. So I truly believe that when a child starts imitating animal sounds they can totally start learning letter sounds too! 🙂

I’ll end with my favorite scripture in Doctrine and Covenants:

D&C 88:118 …seek ye diligently and teach one another words of wisdom; yea, seek ye out of the best books words of wisdom; seek learning, even by study and also by faith.

What tips and tricks do you have to teach kids how to read?

Paper Snowman and Other Preschool Ideas

Micah has been needing a lot of attention and stimulation lately. My sister-in-law sent me this PDF Calendar of one year Preschool Ideas. I’ve been trying to do one or two things with Micah everyday. We made a paper snowmen and snow flakes this week. Before we made the snowman, we read this book called Snow by P.D. Eastman that we got from the library. I really like to read P.D. Eastman books to Micah. Another one of our favorite by Eastman is The Best Nest. Even though Micah is just 26 months old, I feel like he has a really good reading comprehension. I’ve been needing to read him stories with more complicated story lines. He is also starting to read memorize words in books. I’ve really been trying to read more to him everyday and we try to go to the library once a week for story time.

Like I said in our new years goals, this year I’m going to focus on teaching Micah how to read and do simple math. Micah already knows the whole alphabet and count to 20. He has an incredible attention span for another numerical or problem solving. He sat down for an hour with me to do three different – 24 piece wooden Thomas the Tank Engine puzzles. Micah repeats everything I say so I really have to be careful. It’s funny hearing use all my euphemisms like “Oh my goodness!!!” “So funny!” “You’re silly!” “Go to your room!” Micah put me in time out yesterday in my room. I don’t even know what I did wrong. Two year olds are so funny.

In the January 2014 New Era there’s an article titled Preparing Gifts for Your Future FamilyThe article counsels the kids to start this year to learn talents that they could use in their future such as writing, math, music and art. Lastly, it talks about the gift of repentance and getting our lives in harmony with the God.  It’s a good article! I guess these talents can be developed at a very early age.

What kinds of talents do you want your kids to develop?

FHE #1 – Creating Paper Mache Worlds

FHE stands for “Family Home Evening“. To tell you the truth, our family has not been very good at preparing for family home evening. When Monday night comes around we usually ask each other, at the last minute, “What’s the lesson for FHE?” We decided that our lack of planning wasn’t working for us. We decided to set aside a time on Saturday to plan out our family home evening. We did it for the first time last week and our FHE rocked! We had time to think and plan the lesson. Then we had time to go buy supplies for our activity and also had time to plan out a treat to eat at the end.

Our church believes in modern-day prophets whole receive inspiration from God and give counsel to the church. The prophet Joseph F. Smith announced in a letter on April 27, 1915 that the church members should hold a weekly family home evening (FHE) in their homes. FHE is family time that is set aside for  “prayer … hymns … family topics … and specific instruction on the principles of the gospel.” In 1970, the prophet announce that FHE night is preferred to be on Monday nights throughout the church and asked that church/leadership meetings should not be held on Monday nights.

I believe that the LDS church sets aside time for families on Monday because we all get so busy with work, school, sports, and other activities that it’s hard to fit in family time at home. In the end, our families is the most important entity we have here on earth and I enjoy spending time with my family on Monday nights.

FHE #1

Song: My Heavenly Father Loves Me” (Children’s Songbook, 228–29)

Lesson: Genesis 1:1 & Lesson 7 in Nursery Manual – Jesus Christ Created the World for Me

Activity: Make paper mache worlds. I found this blog about making paper mache planets.

Micah is growing up!

IMG_7667

This little kid always has a dirty face! I’m proud to be his mom. He loves to sing songs and dance. He is 27 months old (2 years and 3 months). He is starting to speak in sentences. He says things like “I want fire truck”. “Mommy, where did you go?” “Bye bye mommy, nap time”. “I want pancake!” “Pee pee in potty? Ok.”

As difficult as 2 years old are… I love it all at the same time!

Family Pictures Wearing Handmade Clothes

My neighbor and friend, Heather has a sewing blog and I took her family pictures while they wore clothes that she made herself. How cool is that? Isn’t it such a unique idea? Here‘s the link to her post about making her clothes for the photo shoot. Also, don’t you think the cool big leaves they brought really added to the picture?

On a side note, I’ve taken pictures of a lot of little kids. Little kids are definitely my favorite to take pictures of. Here are some tips for taking family pictures with little kids.

First, use the first 10 minutes wisely because that is probably all the time you’ll have to get your little kids to pose for the picture. My best pictures always come from the beginning of the photo shoot such as the picture posted on the top.  Also, before the shoot, make sure your camera is set to continuous shooting mode so you can snap pictures fast.

Second, go the direction the kid is looking at instead of making them turn to you.

Third, poses while holding the child is best if they won’t stand still for you.

Fourth, after the child/children get restless, just capture the moment as you and the parents play with the children. Bring something that will capture their attention like a whistle or toy. Tell the parents it’s ok if their kid doesn’t want to pose. Little kids gets really upset when they are forced to do something they don’t want to and that doesn’t make a happy family picture.

Fifth, don’t drag out the photo shoot. Once the kid is done the photo shoot is over! 🙂

What are your tips while photographing little children?