How to Teach Preschool for 3-Year-Olds

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While some children don't step into a classroom until they are four or five, others begin their education experience at a much younger age. While three-year-olds have an impressive capacity for learning, teaching students of this age requires consideration of their specific abilities and needs. If you are teaching three-year-olds, craft lessons that are both effective and developmentally appropriate for them as young learners.

1 Set reasonable behavioral expectations

Set reasonable behavioral expectations. While it would be great if your three-year-old students could sit and listen while you imparted information, this is simply not realistic. When creating rules for your students, keep their abilities in mind. For example, select rules like “Do not touch others or their things,” as this is something that your students should be working on at this age, instead of, “Listen quietly while the teacher is talking,” since this may be beyond their ability levels.

2 Turn every activity into a learning activity

Turn every activity into a learning activity. Because your students can not yet sit and learn in the traditional sense, you need to slip learning into other activities. When planning activities, such as snack time, think of ways to make them learning enriched. For example, you could create cookies shaped like ther letter the students are studying that week, or help the students count the number of crackers that make up their snack-time treats.

3 Encourage imaginative play

Encourage imaginative play. Three-year-olds are often eager to engage in activities like playing house or playing store. While these activities may seem nothing more than playtime fun, students learn from this type of fun. Create stations where students can engage in this imaginative play.

4 Use art to build hand-eye coordination

Use art to build hand-eye coordination. Ask students to cut, glue and color, since these activities capture the attention of your three-year-old learners.

5 Build a love of literature

Build a love of literature with story time. Model enthusiasm for reading. Set aside a block of time each day to read to your students. When this time arrives, show them how excited you are about the book you are about to read.

6 Allow language activities such as show-and-tell

Allow language activities such as show-and-tell. Although your three-year-olds are far too young to create formal presentations, they can practice using language if you give them the opportunity. Ask students to bring in things from home regularly and share them in a show-and-tell-type activity.

7 Integrate music

Integrate music into your lessons whenever possible. Not only is music naturally engaging to three-year-olds, it also encourages movement and artistic expression. Play music for your students often, and encourage them to draw pictures as they listen or get up and dance, and build their motor skills in the process.

Erin Schreiner is a freelance writer and teacher who holds a bachelor's degree from Bowling Green State University. She has been actively freelancing since 2008. Schreiner previously worked for a London-based freelance firm. Her work appears on eHow, and RedEnvelope. She currently teaches writing to middle school students in Ohio and works on her writing craft regularly.