My twins turned three this spring, so I had to come up with “preschool” for them to do while I teach Gman his second grade this fall. It was that or let them be vegetables in front of the television for 4 hours a day. (They take a 90 minute nap, and have a snack break and a lunch break, so 4 hours of projects is the maximum we need on any given day.)
I was asked a couple of times this week “WHAT are you doing for THREE YEAR OLDS?”
Because they are busy. And hyper. And noisy. And too young for real school. So their projects need to be more play and art focused then accedemic, but those things can establish a lot of groundwork over the next 24 months to get them ready for the “real” stuff.
How I Homeschool 3 Year Old Twins
I give them each a 9 tile square of these alphabet foam floor tiles, and off we go in 15-30 minute increments.
We print off a coloring page and a tracing page for each of them from www.education.com. It’s $13.00/month for unlimited access to preK-12th grade quizzes, worksheets, craft plans, workbooks, etc. Well worth it for me!
Alphabet Puzzle For Letter Recognition and Motor Skills
We use this chunky, fun, alphabet puzzle by Melissa and Doug to talk through the alphabet and its sounds, as well as discussing colors.
Play Magnets For STEM
We use play magnets, which don’t require any help from me, and usually they are upset when I tell them it’s time to put them away for the day. I’m looking forward to adding several styles. Right now we have a basic squares and triangles set, but after reviewing a list of toddler STEM toys for this Christmas I *really* need to add Grippies and the TEGO wooden blocks.
Creativity Within School Places For Physical Activity
When they get super antsy we attach their 9 blocks into one long strip and play “jump to the letter” or “run to the color” games where I call out a place to go and they have to find it. They are getting good at this surprisingly quickly.
Sorting, Stacking, and Stringing for Color Recognition
We do Melissa and Doug sorting and stacking toys like the shape picture set, the shape sorting stacking pegs, color stringing beads, and the train and car stacking toys.
Plants And Animals Name Training
We do animal and plant naming with peg puzzles, coloring pages, and picture books. We love the giant “I Spy” styled first search and find board books by kidsbooks!
“Group” Activity With Play Time
We like to do DUPLOs or building blocks with their mats combined as “play together time.”
Sticker Page Craft Time
We do sticker pages where they get a small sheet of stickers and a plain piece of paper. THis one can last up to a half hour, depending on the difficulty of pulling the stickers off the page. You want them to have to work at it, but you don’t want to have to help them. LOL. Foam stickers are a good place to start for these — then you can graduate to regular stickers later.
Glue Sticks And Construction Paper For Early Freestyle Crafting
A glue stick, a pile of construction paper scraps, and a page with large shapes or block letters drawn on it is a great one — they have to glue the scraps inside the shapes or the lines of the block letters. As they get older they will have 3-5 different color shapes/letters on the page and matching piles of paper scraps and have to sort them.
Play Dough Or Kenetic Sand At The Dining Room Table
Play dough time at the table changes the scene, but keeps them busy and in sensory mode. We have a couple different “sand” kits also, and I plan to make some sensory doughs and sands throughout the school year.
Incorporation Into Big Brother’s School
We incorporate them into singing a daily song together, helping with preparing snacks and lunch, and entertaining the baby as much as possible.
Quiet Snuggles On Mommy’s Lap
One at a time gets to sit on my lap to look at a book while Gman is doing worksheets that don’t need me.
Actually Educational TV Shows
Educational TV. And I don’t mean just turn on PBS — but shows like “Signing Time” that teach ASL, Little Einsteins that teach classic art and classical composers, Wild Kratts that teach animal facts and conservation. So on so forth. Limit TV shows to one episode to break up activities or it just turns into entertainment.
Freestyle Use Of Craft Supplies
Crafts — pipe cleaners. Cotton balls and paper plates. Tape and pre-cut shapes or string. Keep them super simple or you and the toddlers will all too stuck on a drawn out mess that you can’t do anything else. (Like actually teach the second grader.) Crafts need to be something that you can hand to them and they do it their way.
Crucial Things To Maintain Sanity –
- At about 2 hours in we stop for a snack. Something that takes a long time to eat is ideal, like a peanut butter tortilla, or a pile of animal crackers, or something that requires dipping such as carrot sticks with ranch or peanut butter.
- We make sure to do wiggle times, yoga (Cosmic Kids on YouTube is our favorite kid yoga and it’s FREE) , and laps around the house (or up and down the stairs if the weather is bad) every hour or so to keep them from getting restless muscles.
- Always push them five minutes past boredom. If they get tired of a project set a five minute timer and say “you have five minutes left with that, then we will do something else.” You can change the time you tell them and the time you set to keep them from getting a too accurate five minute internal timer. Example: set a 3 minute timer if they are really going crazy, but still say “five more minutes”. Or set a 10 minute timer and say “we aren’t quiet done — just a few more minutes.” Sometimes they settle into their game so happily that I turn off the timer and wait until they start to show signs of boredom again to say “time’s up! Let’s switch!”
- Always require them to clean up their own project before rewarding them with the next one. For the first while this will mean you cleaning it up while physically putting a piece in their hand and helping them put it into the container. By the end of the school year they should be pros at stacking puzzles, scooping duplos, and sorting play dough colors.
- If you have a highly desired project, make sure strict turn timers are enforced. For us it’s the magnets. Sometimes we divide them in half and they both play at the same time, but sometimes we give them all to one kid and require the other to wait for their turn, then require the first kid to physically carry the magnets to the other and surrender them cheerfully when the timer goes off. Not having a happy heart about giving them up means time out.
- Have the same schedule every day. Not necessarily on a clock — but snack is 2.5 hours after breakfast and nap is 6 hours after they wake up. This will help you and them all avoid melt downs and exhausted minds.
Good luck! Remember that academics don’t matter right now. If they finish their year having good discipline, ability to clean up their projects, can sing the ABC’s and know their colors, that’s enough! The goal is to keep them structured and happy during the schol day so that you can teach the heady stuff to the older siblings! Enjoy your school year!