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Thursday, August 26, 2010

Learning Time

As I mentioned in my post about Kye's new schedule, I have been feeling a lot of guilt lately over my parenting. I know that many of you think I'm hardcore but I wasn't feeling hardcore enough. I felt like the things in my schedule gave Kye TONS of playtime but that it is time for some learning time too. I'm about 80% sure that Kye will go to pre-school and I want him to be well prepared for those days. I want him to be a good student and understand how to sit still and listen. It's not like kids just walk into a classroom and magically acquire those skills. They need to be taught...and right now I'm the one who should be teaching him!

I stumbled across this site (which is labeled "Activity Board" under my "Sites I love" section on the ride sidebar in case you want to reference it in the future!) because the Babywise Blog Mom actually uses it for her learning time with her kids. In my book she's practically Super Mom so if she does something I trust that it's worthwhile to also do myself. She does a variation of the schedule and this is her post about what she does for learning time each day.

My goal is to have at least 20-30 min a day of learning time. This program is based off the concept of having a theme each week and learning board where we put pictures of the things we are covering each day. I am a PERFECTIONIST so the "Old Emily" would have stressed over the activity board and made it perfect. With our house for sale and pretty much everything in storage (including all my craft supplies) I've had to create "New Emily" and she realized it didn't make sense to stress over it. It made the most sense to buy a poster board from the Dollar Store and just write with a Sharpie. So that's what I did :)

Before beginning the lessons you need an activity board. You can click on my picture to make it larger. It takes like 5 seconds to make! 
The lady that designed this program must have been thinking of me when she made it because it's VERY lined out and structured. I know I could probably come up with a TON of fun, educational activities for us to do each day. But honestly, I am such a perfectionist that I would spend HOURS researching everything and end up stressing myself out. So I am just doing exactly what the site recommends doing. The program will last 26 weeks total. After I went ahead and started the program I realized that it's actually meant for a two year old and that they also have one for an 18 month old. No problem, I just decided I'll do this program twice (again, me trying not to stress). I mean 26 weeks from now will Kye really remember that we already studied the cow? It'll be good to learn it all again and maybe I'll have it down to be a good teacher too!

Like I mentioned earlier, each week has a theme and has activities revolved around that theme. I'm not going to go in a bunch of details here (why bother when you can visit the site yourself?) but it's all SO easy to do. That site literally lays out EVERY detail you need and has links to print off all the sheets. I'm also glad that it's VERY affordable for us to do. All I needed to buy was the poster board and books off the reading list (but Mom's been hooking me up with those...thanks Gramma!). To me, books are always a good investment anyway and you can find them so cheap online or at garage sales and the site has a LONG list of books that would fit each theme so they aren't too hard to find.

Since the site is the best resource, I'm just going to briefly go over what we do each day for those of you that may be interested! If anyone decides to do the program and you have ANY questions please let me know!

Monday: on Mondays I introduce the theme of the week and have Kye color a picture of that theme or of the vocab word for the week. I read over the lesson for that week and read off any poems or sing any songs that are included in it. If the song is something legit then I will google it and play it on youtube for Kye while I sing along and dance (please no one ever walk in on me during this part of the lesson ok?) I put a picture of both the theme and vocab word on our poster and show them to Kye. If the gross motor skills activity is doable with an 18 month old then we do that as well. And we read one or both (Mom's been doing awesome getting us two books per theme!) books for that week.
Tuesday: I introduce the shape or color for that week (they alternate weeks). Many of the activities revolving the shape and color aren't suitable for Kye's age yet but I will go around the house with him and show him that shape or color and put a drawing of it on our poster. If it's a color then I will have him color a page using only that color. Everyday I have Kye color something as it helps keep his interest!

I will also review the vocab word and theme by showing him the poster, reading the poems, singing songs, and reading one or both books.
Wednesday: I introduce the letter for that week. I love the printouts off the website! I let Kye color it and will also guide his hand to draw it (I didn't do that the first week obviously but I do now). I bought pudding to use to trace the letter in too which will be fun. I put the letter on our poster and be sure to point out the letter anytime we see it (as well as letters we have learned in previous weeks). One tip I learned from the Babywise Mom was to buy a set of bath letters and use them when teaching the letter of the week. Luckily I already had a set (unopened b/c you know me I save everything new haha) and I've started each Wednesday putting away the letter from the previous week and getting out the letter for that week. Then during each diaper change I will have Kye hold the letter (and chew on it) while we go over allll the words that start with that letter as well as the sounds it makes. It makes diaper changing easier and helps him learn!

I will also review everything on our poster from earlier in the week and read any poems, sing any songs, and read one or both books based on the theme for the week.
Thursday: I introduce the number for the week. I will give him pretzels in the number for the week as well as crayons to use when coloring. I write it out and put it on the learning board for him to see and I also make matching cards with that number (for 1 I put spell out "one" and draw a "1" on an index card then I put one sticker on another index card). I will also draw the appropriate number of shapes for that week matching up to the number of the week and count them. When I read any books during that day I will be sure to count out the number of things we see in that number.

I will also review everything on our poster from earlier in the week and read any poems, sing any songs, and read one or both books based on the theme for the week.
Friday: I introduce the nursery rhyme for the week and recite it often throughout the next week. I put the words to it on our poster. If the fine motor skills activity is something we can do then I will try to do that on Fridays as well and it's a review day to go over EVERYTHING we've learned all week. In review we use all the number cards from previous weeks and play a matching game (not that he can match any yet). Friday is also booklet day where we review our booklet from previous weeks (I haven't made mine yet but I will...it's a book where you have a page for each week and you put the shape/color, letter and number on that page). We will read any poems, sing any songs, and read the books based on the theme that day as well.
I love that we do learning time first thing in the morning as then I can feel like I am a "good mommy" for the rest of the day! haha. I seriously don't stress about any of this and if we skip a day (like we're out of town or something) then we just spend some extra time going over it the next time we do it. If we miss the morning time then I do it all in the afternoon. I feel like since we're going to do the whole program twice anyway that it's okay if we don't do it on the reg the first time. This is just a practice round :) I try to remember to have Kye show Daddy what he learned each day as well as I think it's important to include Zach in everything I can (but not me singing and dancing to the weekly song ok?) Once Kye turns 18 months old I plan to start more crafts with him (mostly from this site and the book The Toddlers Busy Book) but again I'm not going to stress over it (seeing as that book is in a box somewhere or potentially in storage). Can you tell I've been trying to chill out a little bit? Do you think it's working?

Take it or leave it but this is what we do each day for learning time...and I really love it!

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