My mom taught at Montessori Preschools for a little while, and I remember her talking about how they teach the students to love learning by teaching them through subjects they are already interested in. This idea has really stuck with me. Here are three easy ways to do this with your own kids.
1. What do they love?
First, if you don’t know what your child is interested in, a perfect way to figure it out or get them interested in something new is the library. Pick out a lot of books that have different subjects. As you read them to your toddler, watch what he or she seems really excited about. (Tip: if your child is not naturally interested in books, don’t read the words necessarily…instead just point out pictures and ask them questions: What do you like best on this page? What color is this? Can you find a _____? Why do you think that pig is dirty? This type of conversation will keep them interested longer. If that doesn’t work, try acting out what is happening in the pages. If the pig is rolling in the mud, ask your child to show you how he or she would roll in the mud.)
2. Collect learning ideas!!
Second, get books, youtube videos, and pin ideas all about what he or she likes. Include your child in this. It will help them get really excited. When I get on pinterest to find ideas, I let Boston look with me and choose activities he likes. Sometimes we don’t even do any of them, but he always loves doing it with me.
3. Get to playing!
Third, choose a couple activities that seem fun and get YOU excited as well. I like to do an easy craft that he can use to role play or just a craft, a project that involves something we are working on (numbers or letters or math or whatever) and a role play or sensory play.
Boston LOVES police officers, so for Joy School today we learned about them. It is so fun to teach your kid about something they already love because they get so excited.
We made little police cars out of old silverware (or tissue boxes) so they had a whole in the top. They loved putting little jewels on the top for the lights. Then, I hid some “bad guys” around the room and they had to find them and put them in the police car and take them to jail. We talked all about how police officers find bad guys to help keep our communities safe.
We have been working on doing activities that use hand coordination and spending more than five minutes on them. Boston usually only likes to do these kinds of things for about one second. So, we put a bunch of his little superheroes in rice and said a snow storm had come and all of them were lost. They had to find the superheroes, load them up in the train, and take them to shelters that they built. I wouldn’t let them play with the rice until they had spent ten minutes building with the blocks. I have noticed that Boston plays with blocks better if I get lots of different kinds of blocks out (legos, wedgets, blocks, jenga pieces). He also gets more excited about building and creating for a purpose. We talked all about how police officers always help people in trouble.
Next, we did a little role play because this always gets the kids so excited and engaged. I pretended to be a “bad guy” and they had to call on their phone (TV remotes) for back up, make siren noises (whatever noise makers you have), and write me a ticket and put me in jail. They could have done this all day. I made them little officer badges and gave them all sunglasses to put on. Dress up during role play is always one of the funnest parts. We talked a lot about how police officers can make people pay a fine or give them a warning or take them to jail or make them do work.
Tips: It is easy to include ways to teach your kids basic preschool ideas in any activity. I wrote all their names on Officer Badges (construction paper stars) and had them look for the letters in their name. With the block activity, you could say, “Let’s build a tower with THREE blocks. Now let’s do one with FIVE.”
**Disclaimer: This is something that I find a lot of joy in as a mom. I have noticed that if I do a couple activities like this each week, I am less hard on myself when I have a bad mom moment. Every child and mom is so different. If I did not get a lot of joy from doing this, I would not worry about doing it. Remember, do what feels right for YOU.