Omi's Preschool

   I was excited as I prepared for doing preschool with my three grandchildren - Bentley (4), Kenzie (3) and Brooklyn (2).  I expected the highlight of the morning to be the magnetic "car" that we were going to build, but I should have known that wouldn't turn out as planned. It was just like all of the other "science stuff", which is why I hated those dreaded experiments.
   In reality, I am pretty much against preschool, but not my preschool, because the kids aren't pressured in any way, and there is very little in the way of what some would consider to be preschool.  We rarely deal with letters or numbers, for instance.  So, you might wonder what it is, exactly.So, let me enlighten you.  It always involves reading, of some sort.  Sometimes, it is books I bring.  Sometimes, it is their books. Today, it was an old Highlight magazine I picked up at a yard sale.
   When I got there, one was dressed, and two weren't.  The girls were running and screaming.  Not a good introduction for me. Mommy was there, initially, so I talked to her, and then she and their younger brother, Jason, left for Bible Study.
   My intentions were to start out with the car, but it just didn't seem like the right timing, so I asked if they wanted to color. The pages were three different winter scenes.  In the lower right hand corner, it showed them how to color the picture. A first.  The two year old was oblivious, naturally.  (The only reason she is in "school" at all is because big sister and brother are in it and she wants to do what they're doing, of course.) I picked out crayons for her and pointed to where they should be used.  It was of little import to her.  The four year old did somewhat better as far as both matching colors and staying partially in the lines. The four year old did very well at both matching colors and staying within the lines.
   Right here, I want to interject that this is why I pretty much feel like preschool is a waste of time, energy, and  money. Notice the difference as we went from two year old to four year old.  Now think if we went from four year old to six year old. You've got it; faster learning time, better understanding, and better use of time.  But, I digress.
   None of the three finished their pictures, but almost simultaneously jumped up and started playing.  I did not try to coax them into finishing.  Their attention spans had expired.  I allowed them to play for a few minutes before moving onto the next project.
   Seems to me, we read the Highlights, next.  A story. Hidden pictures that nobody could find (except me). An action poem. Everyone liked that. They always do. Part way through the magazine, they lost interest again, so I just allowed them to play for a few minutes.
   Next,I asked who wanted to make something in the kitchen (a favorite). We all washed hands. They pulled the chairs over to the kitchen.It takes forever to make something, but I allow each of them turns doing different things. Today, we made bacon popcorn, something I happened to see on facebook. First, I fried some bacon strips and allowed them to drain. After removing the strips from the pan, I added popcorn and cooked until it popped. Next, I transferred that to a bowl, and now the fun began.I got out a small cutting board and a silverware knife. Each took turns cutting the bacon into smaller pieces. Amazingly, they hardly ever argue and are happy, for the most part, to wait on their turn.
   It was around 11:00, so I destroyed their appetites for lunch, but they did have fiber and protein (smile).  Kenzie, true to form, wanted to just pick out the bacon pieces.  I put a stop to that, for a little while, at least.
   I took junk mail envelopes and "checks" from someplace that wanted contributions,that I didn't give, and Christmas stamps (not postal).  They had a blast with this project.  What did they learn?  Well, for one, that you put the stamp in the upper right hand corner.  It was also good practice for fine motor skills. I had to help both of the girls get their papers into their envelopes and neither one really understood licking the envelope. Everyone did well with the stamps. I allowed them to believe that they were really being sent by putting them in an empty napkin holder on the table for mommy to mail. They had so much fun that I promised we would do it again, sometime.
   I introduced the magnetic car next.  First, I showed them two cow magnets.  They were stuck together and virtually impossible to pull apart, but,of course,I let them try. Bentley immediately got smart and realized they had to be twisted in order for them to be pulled apart.  He's way beyond his years in this sort of thing because his hands-on daddy is good about letting him "help" and takes him on adventures.  I explained that magnets have poles and that they can either repel or attract.  (Only, I told them the wrong way.  It happens in homeschool since we can't be experts about everything and magnets are definitely not my specialty. I wouldn't have known, had my husband not told me.)
  Well, no one showed much interest in the magnetic car that didn't really work, except the youngest.  That's always the way it goes.  One never knows.  But, Bentley was definitely interested in the magnets.  He attached them to his spoon to eat lunch.  Way to make the spoon nice and heavy! So, I left them behind for further discoveries.
   I almost forgot to mention the ipad.  Man, I wish we would have had internet when my kids were younger.  It almost makes me want to start over!  At one point, the kids were playing.  For whatever reason, they were hanging upside down on the couch and pretending to be asleep.  I asked if they were sloths.  Of course, they didn't know what they were, so I pulled up a short video.  I always have to consider that Bentley loves a good fighting video, as do most, if not all boys, so I showed them a contest between a puma and a sloth.  It was quite interesting to say the least. The puma chased the sloth up the tree, but got stuck more than once, and in anger, sharpened his claws nearby.  Even on a preschool level, there are things that interest me and I can learn.
   The preschool child, for the most part, needs plenty of time to run, jump, play, and discover.  He often enjoys games; a wonderful tool for learning. A great deal can be imparted just by talking - asking questions to ascertain his level of understanding, and building on that.  Preschool kids generally love to talk, anyway, and those two-way discussions are far more productive and important, in my book, than flashcards and worksheets.  They love to hear stories about your life.  They love to talk about things they have seen.  And oh, how they love to show you what they can do. There is far more to education than jamming a kid's head full of knowledge. Making lifelong learners is more important than performing at grade level. But, most important, is winning their hearts, because that is the most important item for passing on the faith, and without that, you have nothing.


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