Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Home Education for Preschoolers

Little ones are like sponges!  I am constantly amazed at what my two year old daughter retains, often after only hearing or seeing something once!  She is eager to learn and I want to take full advantage of this time and not miss a precious opportunity to teach her about God, about creation and about life. 

I was inspired by reading about what other moms are doing with their preschoolers but didn't want to pay for a curriculum just yet.  I also wanted to have the flexibility to come up with my own plan and not feel like I needed to adhere to someone else's lesson plan.  I wanted the teaching to center around God and give Him credit for all He has made.  I came up with five categories that I wanted to teach Audrey more about:
  • God Made Animals
  • God Made Plants
  • God Made Our Bodies
  • God Made Our Earth
  • God Made Our Day

Some categories will take longer to cover while others will be only a week or two.  Under each category I came up with subcategories and we will cover one each week.  For each subcategory I make a list of crafts to do together, books we own to read, themes to discuss, field trip ideas and also music or videos to listen to or watch.  We also go to the library each week and pick up quite a few books that correspond with the topics we are learning about.  I try to find a few titles that are educational and a few that are just fun or fiction.  I want this to create a love of reading and learning and not feel like work at all.  I am also giving myself lots of grace- if one week is too hectic to take on a new category we will just put it off a week and maybe continue to review last week's theme.

The Internet has been such a help in coming up with ideas!  I search Google Images for line drawings that can be traced for coloring pages.  There are so many websites offering preschool craft ideas.  When I am feeling not so creative these have been really helpful!  I look for videos on Youtube that would be educational (always preview first!).  There are all kinds of sites like the National Wildlife Federation that offer tools for teaching children.  Whenever I come across something useful I save it to a special folder in my favorites so I know right where it is when I need to refer back to it.

I find that the hands on learning experiences are the most fun and memorable.  Making a craft together, going to a farm or even a trip to the pet store will make such an impression on a little one!  It really doesn't take much to engage your child and make learning so fun.

So far our home education has been such a treat for both of us!  Now every day Audrey asks when we are going to do our craft.  I know I will look back and be so glad I was intentional about teaching her things and spending quality time with her!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Teaching Our Children to Look to God

What is your child's first response when something isn't right?  When an illness causes discomfort, when a fear comes up, when something is out of our control?  And more importantly, what is your first response in these situations?  I wish I could say that mine is always to turn to God in prayer.  It often is, but not every time.  I have tried to teach Audrey to think this way, to look to God when she is in need, and it seems to have worked. 

A few weeks ago we were on our way home from church and I casually mentioned having a headache.  Immediately the response from the back seat was, "Mommy!  I want to pray for you!"  After chewing up her snack, Audrey held my hand and prayed a sweet and simple prayer for my head to "not feel bad."  I was so blessed by her quick and correct response to my need.  We have taught her that Jesus heals and I love seeing her child like faith in action.  I am so thankful that the good things we have sown into her are taking root and bearing good fruit.  I feel like I fall so short so often and it is times like these that I feel such encouragement to press on. 

I have seen God's faithfulness all throughout my life.  I know that God still heals based on His Word, but also because of personal experience.  My little sister was born blind.  Her optic nerves had not developed and she was completely unable to see.  My mom took her to three different doctors and they all gave the same diagnosis.  They all said there was nothing that could be done, no hope of her receiving her sight.  My mom refused to accept that her child would never see so my parents took her to be anointed and prayed for at our church (based on James 5: 14 and 15).  The following evening they observed for the first time, Lauren following a moving object with her eyes.  She was completely healed and now doesn't even wear glasses.  This testimony has been such a powerful force in my life.  Even in times when I strayed from God, I always knew that He is real and that He cares about me.  I want my children to grow up with that same sense of God's love and power.

Children are never too young to learn about God and to hear about His love and faithfulness.  They are little sponges, thirsty to suck up anything we put before them.  We must be so diligent to seek out good things that nurture faith and godly character in our little ones!  Spending time reading Christian children's books together, listening to worship music or scripture put to song, and patiently explaining who God is to our children really pays dividends.  Our favorite books to read together right now are two that I had as a child and remember enjoying the rich detail in the illustrations.  They are Big Thoughts for Little People and Giant Steps for Little People.  Both are available through Amazon and teach biblical truths and godly character.  We are also enjoying listening to God's Word from A to Z by Abe and Liza Philip and also the Seeds Family Worship music.  Both are available through the Itunes Store and make scripture memory so easy.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Make at Home: Simple Display Solution for Children's Art

Arts and crafts are such a fun part of childhood but can be a challenge to display.  My daughter LOVES for her art work to be appreciated and cherished!  I will never forget the time I was decluttering our (cluttery) art display during nap time and forgot to cover the evidence before Audrey woke up.  She saw her prized creation in the trash and I wanted to sink into the floor.  I felt like the worst mom ever!  I just had to weed out some of the art to make room to display new pieces.  I had no idea it was such a special piece and we immediately made a new one.  Thank God I had the supplies we needed!  I learned how special her art is to her and will never make that mistake again!  I have been trying to find a way to show off more of her art in a way that is playful and fun just like the art itself.  I didn't want to spend a lot or be stuck with something unattractive so I decided to just stick push pins in the wall and string ribbon between them.  Art can be clipped to the ribbon with clothes pins and they can be easily changed out as new pieces are created.  I am also planning on buying a large acid free box to store the pieces that I take down (most of them anyway).  The art adds a fun, child friendly feel to her play room and makes her feel so special!