Many 3-year-olds attend preschool to start learning basic concepts like colors, numbers, shapes and letters. Most preschool programs are centered on play-based learning since 3-year-olds tend to learn through doing things and through the senses. Starting a home-school program for your 3-year-old shouldn't be based on formal drills since there are no curriculum standards to meet, but rather on play and everyday activities to instill a love of learning.
Use Daily Activities
Three-year-olds are naturally curious, and they learn from their environment. Take advantage of daily activities to teach lessons. For example, when you make breakfast, talk about the shapes you see, such as the round egg, the triangular toast or the rectangular bacon. When you go for a walk, talk about the colors and the animals you see. Make statements like, "There are six flowers by the mailbox" or "The cardinal is a red bird." Ask your children questions, such as, "Where is the white bowl?" Incorporate learning concepts into everything you do, even if it's not a formal learning activity.
Incorporate Games and Songs
Making learning fun can make it easier for your preschooler to learn basic concepts. Sing songs about the days of the week or about numbers, such as "10 Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed." Play with dolls to learn about community helpers like police and fire fighters. Paint, draw or do craft activities to learn about colors and shapes. Create a sensory bin with peas, small balls, blocks or pebbles to learn about shapes and counting. Read stories to your child, and then ask him to make up one of his own. Each game or song could be a formal activity, but to your 3-year-old, it will just seem like fun.
Teach Motor Skills
Three-year-olds should be learning gross and fine motor skills, which can also be a precursor to academic learning. For example, your 3-year-old can't learn to write without practicing fine motor skills. Gross motor skills involve the large muscle groups and include activities like running and jumping.
Your 3-year-old should be able to catch and throw, hop and climb stairs unassisted. For fine motor skills, your 3-year-old should be able to draw circles and squares, use safety scissors, assemble puzzles and copy some capital letters. Give your 3-year-old opportunities to practice all these skills through outdoor games, drawing, making crafts, doing puzzles and writing letters.
Join a Support Group
A large part of early schooling is learning how to interact with others, including taking turns, being polite, listening and communicating. Joining a local home school group will give you the opportunity to connect with other parents and let your children interact with other children their age. You can also get ideas for your home-schooling activities from other parents in the group, as well as learn about local or online resources for your lesson planning.
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