Monday, August 8, 2011
Preschool- Day 1
Well, I announced at the beginning of the summer that my little sis and I had decided that I would take on the role of teacher for my sweet niece Raylee. She is 4 and needed some preschool education. My sister couldn't get her into preschool last year because of potty training problems. (She was good at recognizing the need for #1 but not #2- probably TMI but hey, its life everyone poops...) But then, this year came and as she researched it she realized that there was no way it could fit into her budget time or money wise.
The Head Start program is great, but is still pricey and if you do manage to get a free or reduced rate you are required volunteer hours to make up the amount of money that you aren't paying. Kiersten only has 1 vehicle, her husband uses it to go to work. She also has a 1 year old at home. So, even if she could get the free or reduced rate it brought on the new headache of getting Raylee there and finding a sitter if she was required to be there too.
This actually works out amazingly for me, as Jeff and I have made the decision that we will homeschool our kids until high school and then give them the option of going to a public high school or continuing a homeschool education. I am a firm believer that practice can only improve your skills- and teaching preschool for Raylee will give me a head start for 3 years from now when I have to teach my own little girl (who will be here in 14 weeks!!!!)
So- today was our first day of preschool. Kiersten and I went shopping on Saturday and poured over all the resource books at Barnes and Noble so that I could make sure we were getting the right ones for Raylee. (A major bonus of homeschool- you KNOW its catered to your child and their needs)
Kiersten was so excited to buy a little backpack for Raylee and a pencil box with supplies- I think mostly because Raylee was so excited. Raylee wasn't just excited about the average preschool curriculum- I had promised her that on top of teaching her numbers, letters, sight words, and phonics that we would have some beginning piano lessons. Raylee loves my piano- sometimes too much as she has broken off my damper AND sustenuto pedals, but nonetheless she loves to sit and "tickle" the piano keys to make up songs .
Raylee arrived a little late today, but we jumped right in. I think she assumed that we were going somewhere else to have preschool because at first she kept asking when we were leaving grandma's house to go- after explaining to her that grandma's kitchen was our classroom and that this was a special preschool just for her she finally understood what was going on, and was even more excited.
I hate that I couldn't find my camera until AFTER she left. There were plenty of photo ops that were sorely missed out on.
We started the day with lacing cards. They help to build hand eye coordination and dexterity in the fingers. Raylee jumped right in, she was super excited to see all the fairies on the front. She did exactly what I thought she would do and laced one up in three holes and was so proud of herself. I told her she did a wonderful job for a first try, but we needed to include all the holes. We then spent the next 20 minutes learning how to tell which hole came next and whether the lace needed to go through the front or back of the card.
I then had her help me clean up the lacing cards and take the laces out of the ones that she had laced up. She begged me to do them next time, so I think its safe to say that even though I was worried about her being able to concentrate long enough to do them they were a hit and I think besides learning hand eye coordination and dexterity for her fingers she will learn to slow down and be patient so that she can get things right.
Next we moved onto our letter for the day- A- I had her help me hang up our letter A on our letter wall and then we talked about the sounds that the letter A makes and our word for the week- APPLE. We then moved over to our "blackboard" area and I showed her slowly, step-by-step, how to draw a capital A. We then took turns making them smaller and smaller. She had a lot of fun drawing on the paper that was taped to the wall and smiled and giggled the whole time. She noticed how much easier it was getting to draw the A's as we kept at it, which signaled to me that it was time for our worksheets.
I found some really great worksheet resources on the web. I was able to download worksheets that worked specifically with my lesson plan. They were fun and managed to keep her focused. The first one was practice drawing the letter A, it came from one of the workbooks we bought on Saturday, and then we did a coloring worksheet where she had to color spaces with the capital A one color and the lower case A another color, revealing a picture. She loved it!
Next we worked on the numbers 0 an 1. I put the numbers up on our number wall and we got started. Raylee was super stoked when she realized that we were drawing on our makeshift blackboard again. We had a lot of fun learning how to draw the symbols for the numbers. I got to the point that I would sing what number I was drawing as I drew it and she would mimic and try to sing the number the exact same way that I had. We moved on to some worksheets to reinforce the numbers and then it was snack time.
After snack time we practiced cutting. Raylee got to cut out her own puzzle and put it together. They were mismatched shapes. I had her match the shapes and tell me what they were. We had a struggle with the scissors at first (she hasn't had much experience with them before now) but she started to get the hang of it by the end. The puzzle pieces were a slightly chopped up mess, but they were still recognizable enough that she could use them and identify the shapes- so all in all it wasn't a bad first outing with her "big girl scissors" as she called them.
Then it was time for the coup de grat- her piano lesson. We focused on the finger numbers. Raylee started to get really frustrated because she couldn't get her fingers to do what she wanted them to do. I quickly changed up the plan and we focused on hitting one key with one of the fingers and made up a little song using C D E F and G on the keyboard for her to play.
(Thumb-C) This is Number 1, playing the piano is fun
(Pointer-D) This is Number 2, I know just what to do
(Index-E) This is Number 3 How happy it makes me
(Ring-F) This is Number 4 It hurts if I slam it in the door (raylee got a kick out of that one, but I was coming up with rhymes on the fly and that was all I could think of. Needless to say, finger 4 was her favorite)
(Pinkie-G) This is Number 5, Its great to be Alive!
We repeated tapping on the note with that finger over and over again until she had the words and then we got to the point where we reversed order and sang the song backwards. Raylee was super excited that she finally got it. After that, I would call out a finger number and she would play whatever note she wanted with that finger. I think we are going to have to spend a little more time differentiating between 1 and 2 because she keeps wanting to use her pointer finger instead of her thumb when I say to use finger 1, but she'll get past it like a champ, I know it for sure. We then went back to the table and traced her hands and numbered the fingers on the hands and sang the song again as she wiggled each of the fingers...next Monday (Monday will be our piano day) we will work on the fingers again and if there is time left we will learn the difference between high and low and what direction you move on the piano to play high or low.
It was story time after that. We read The Berenstain Bears Clean The House. I had Raylee point to things on the page for me. She loved just snuggling up, being quiet and listening to the story.
Before we knew it, Kiersten was here to pick her up. 2 hours went SO FAST! With Kiersten there I explained her homework (yes, I sent a preschooler home with homework, but one thing I've learned in all my education classes is how important parental involvement is.) Raylee was excited to have the homework. She realized she could do it tomorrow since we're not meeting again until Wednesday for another day of preschool. I had a letter worksheet, a number worksheet, and a worksheet for her piano lessons all ready for her to take home.
This has been so much fun today. Because Raylee didn't notice how long she was here, I'm almost tempted to ask my sister if we can go until noon, but I think we will work our way up to it.
It was a special day with a special girl. Its amazing how much kids soak in if you're willing and able to give them the one on one attention they need to succeed.
Hugs and Loves until next time Darlings!