Sunday, April 5, 2020

Learning at home

My kid is in preschool. I feel incredibly lucky to not be beholden to a homeschooling curriculum like so many of my friends who are trying desperately to continue their children's education while trapped at home (and also trying to work from home full time! it's madness!). With only about 1.5 weeks left to go of this pregnancy (and let's be real, even starting 3 weeks ago), I don't have the energy to make a color-coded daily schedule with school-like activities full of enriching preschool curriculum. I can barely keep track of the different types of Zoom calls and classes that are available for us to call into (and there are so many good ones!), much less like, keep to a schedule.

But I still want her to learn! 3.5 year olds are little sponges and they learn whether you have a curriculum or not - and Margie is a curious, talkative kid. I'm finding it really fun and satisfying to just make little mini-lessons out of whatever we're doing, following her lead and exploring things she asks about or wants to do anyway.

For example:

Watch Rogers and Hammerstein's 1965 TV broadcast of Cinderella 3 times back to back.
(available for free via Amazon Prime)
  • Music/Dance: What is a waltz? How does it sound? How are they dancing? Let's count 1, 2, 3, 1, 2, 3!
  • Psychology/Relationships: Why are the stepsisters mean? Do we think it's because their mommy is mean to them? What is jealousy? Why do people get married? How do the king and queen treat each other?
  • Science (Magic): How does the fairy godmother change Cinderella's pumpkin into a carriage? (magic!) Why does Cinderella leave at midnight? (magic!) Does anyone else have magic in this story? (ok there's not much science here)
  • Story structure: Notice how the Prince and Cinderella say "Thank you most kindly / You are most kindly welcome" many different times. This helps them realize they know each other!
  • Empathy/Social Cues: How are Cinderella and the Prince looking at each other? What do their faces look like? Why? How do the stepsisters look? Why do they make that face?
  • Why are the noodles soft now, but they were hard before? (we cooked them in water and they soaked up all the water and got soft!)
  • Why do we eat chicken/yogurt/tofu? (protein! makes your muscles strong!)
  • Why do we eat vegetables? (vitamins! carrots are good for your eyes!)
  • Why do we eat cheese? (calcium! it's good for your bones!)
  • Why do we eat cookies? (they taste good! they give us fun sugar energy to get things done! they're a special treat!)
  • See also: cooking, learning about different ingredients, etc. Not sure what the "lesson" is, but maybe it's just a lesson in how we make food?
Paying attention to our neighborhood (a great one if your kid is also into Daniel Tiger)
  • Who are the helpers in our neighborhood?
  • When you hear a fire truck, where do you think the firefighter is going?
  • What is a city councilperson ("someone who helps take care of the people in our neighborhood", according to me)?

I don't know. Other stuff. Lots of letters and sounds and drawing and dancing. It simultaneously feels like cheating (because we're not planning educational activities) and being awesome (because we're turning playtime into learning experiences). We're doing our best. She's having fun. This shit is hard.

Any fun tips or accidental lessons you've had? Share away!

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