Every now and then I run across a workbook or printout that is designed to teach preschool skills in cutting, tracing, colors, etc. It usually evokes a level of guilt in me for not doing more with my preschoolers. Lately, I'd been feeling a renewed sense of "I should do more 'preschool stuff' with my 3 year old" guilt. Until I turned around last week and realized it totally wasn't necessary.
I caught my 3 year old daughter with a pair of scissors ... again. This time she was just cutting up a brochure that didn't belong to her. This time. Last time it was her hair.
And it dawned on me. You don't have to teach cutting skills to a 3 year old ... just leave the scissors out. They'll figure it out. They'll cut their clothes, the table cloth, their hair, and their big sister's artwork. My five year old likes to cut my clear vinyl table cloth that is protecting our antique table. Before that, it was his clothes he continually cut. The three year old seems to prefer her hair and other people's papers. My 8 year old liked to cut paper into tiny tiny triangles and slivers all over the table and floor when he was younger. I don't remember what the three older girls used to cut, but now it's paper dolls and coupons. Baby G is still too young, thankfully.
You don't need to teach them how to use a pencil or crayon, either. They'll find one somewhere and use it on the walls, their sister's math book, and Daddy's tax paperwork. They even usually find a semi-normal way of holding the pencil, pen, crayon or marker. Markers are best used on walls, clothes, and skin, however. My three year old thinks they're for make-up and tattoos.
You don't need to teach them how to balance on one foot or hop, either. They'll learn those things trying to reach something you don't want them to have ... like the scissors or the markers.
So just leave out your paper, scissors, glue, crayons and markers. Throw in some Duplos, books, and 15 or 20 peg puzzles ... and let the learning begin!
Turn your back for just a minute and they'll dump out all the puzzles for you. Then you can show them how to put a puzzle together while you pick up the mess they made. You can also talk about animals, vehicles, seasons, colors, etc. with each new puzzle theme.
Blink and they'll empty a bookshelf. Then you can read each and every book to them as you put it back on the shelf. That was probably their intent all along.
Go to the bathroom and they'll dump out all the duplos. Then you can talk about colors while you show them how to find the duplos that bounced into every corner of the room.
Teach them how to clean up their own messes ... that's the really hard skill to teach!
But seriously, I really do think that if you provide young children with plenty of educational toys, access to craft supplies, and books ... they thrive! You don't need to plan out educational preschool activities. Just give them time to explore their home, which should be filled with great learning tools for preschoolers. And read to them!
Preschool years aren't the years to plan and schedule and school. They're the years for spontaneous discovery and learning. They're the years to snuggle and giggle and enjoy a good book together. They're the years to teach them how to obey and help and pick up after themselves.
So don't stress, don't plan, don't do "school" ... just be with your preschooler. Explore together. But keep your eye on them ... they're fast and sneaky!
Trusting in Him,