I thought I’d write a little post about how I encourage learning with the twins. In my last post I talked a little about how I incorporate teaching basic pre-school subjects (ABCs, numbers, shapes and colors) while we’re out of the house. I do this for a few different reasons. First, none of us thrive while learning sitting down at a table and monotonously repeating letters and numbers. I get frustrated, they get frustrated, it’s just not fun and the only thing 3 year olds care about is having fun. Secondly, we’re usually out of the house between 7:30am – 11am. I’ve learned that that’s kind of the best time for them to absorb information. After that we’ve got a one track mind on lunch and I’m mentally prepping myself for waiting an hour in the carline to pick Eva up.
So this has been trial and error for us. I know that not every person, or child for that matter, is the same and it really does take some time to figure out and get in your groove. But you feel so much freedom once you’ve got it, it’s worth the growing pains. Also, I take a lot of help from outside sources. I use devices and the internet, it’s really okay. If you’re careful and you monitor the usage and what they’re actually learning it can be such a great tool. Our favorite free apps are: Starfall, Quick Math Jr., Letter School, Todo Math, ABC Mouse, A-Z Music Videos (a favorite!), Flash Cards (Spanish learning). We don’t use devices every day but I have to tell you that it’s amazing to watch Esme, who just turned two, correctly match shapes, letters and numbers in some of these apps. They take the stress out for me a little bit and it’s a fun alternative for them.
And here’s what we do on a daily, if not weekly basis!
- We sing this song every.single.day. Sometimes more than once a day, and yes it gets old but you know what? It works and they know their letter sounds like total pros. We don’t sing the into, just the letter sounds portion, and after each letter we all take turns saying a word that starts with that sound. Olivia would get frustrated in the beginning with choosing a word that began with the letter because she didn’t understand the correlation between letter sounds and words, she’s more of a hands-on learner and that just meant that I had to help ease her frustration by giving her hints for words (for “S” I would ask her what was the big yellow circle in the sky that made us warm?) and then reiterate the specific sounds “SSSS SUN. SSSS SUN.” We always sing this in the car and it helps keep them awake which in a win in my book.
- Another car game! We start by every child choosing a color and then counting how many cars in that color we find. So this one is a combination of colors and numbers, sometimes it works out great and other times not, like when Olivia chooses pink or purple as her color and doesn’t get a single find that car ride. Or like the time Eva chose black and she was up to 64 cars by the time we got home!
- We love looking for shapes when we’re out! We talk about the name, the color and how many sides it has.
- Whenever we go to a place of business or even just at the gym we talk about the letters we see on their sign and the sounds they make.
- I bought a white board at Walmart! After the back-to-school craziness died down I took the kids to Walmart and we got a great deal on a small white board and dry-erase markers. This is a great tool for writing practice! It’s easy for them to hold the markers because they’re slightly thicker than a pencil but not as thick as traditional markers and they have built-in easers so when they mess up they can quickly erase and try again. To be honest we don’t use the white board as often as I’d like to but every time we do it’s a huge hit. They feel like they’re playing and they really learn a lot by putting their letter knowledge to practice. Also a huge bonus to this one is not having to waste a million and a half sheets of paper, which I don’t know about you but that drives me bonkers.
Some of these seem too easy to even talk about but that’s what we do around here to help the basics stick. I mostly do these things with the twins but Esme is always around of course and she already knows many letter sounds, shapes and colors, without me even really trying to teach her specifically. The great thing about kids is that their brains are truly like little sponges and it doesn’t take much for them to retain information. I’ve mentioned before that I felt like I really dropped the ball with teaching them but they’ve thrived in the short months since we’ve intentionally begun at-home learning. I’m by no means equipped to homeschool, nor do I think I ever will be, but I do like knowing my kids have the basics down before starting pre-school. I’m confident that it was a smooth transition for Eva because she went in understanding the basics and it was a stress-free school beginning for her. I can’t believe the twins will start next school year! I’m really looking forward to how they do!
And before you start thinking I’m such a “good mom” for being on top of my kids education.. I’ll have you know that my kids can recite entire Daniel Tiger episodes. Bless you, Netflix.