FREE LEARNING ACTIVITIES!

From Universal Preschool's Founder
Diane Flynn Keith...

  • Fun, anytime learning activities
  • Resources that will save you time!
  • Support and Inspiration!
 
Diane Flynn Keith on FacebookDiane Flynn Keith on TwitterDiane Flynn Keith on Google+Diane Flynn Keith on LinkedInNew articles on Homefires.com

Archives

Learning to Tell Time is Fun

Learning to Tell Time is a charming app (available through Amazon and compatible with Android devices) that is designed for children ages 2 to 7.

This app features four modes:
– Game#1: Move the clock hands in order to match the time indicated at the bottom.
– Game#2: Move the figures in the boxes at the bottom to set the time indicated by the clock.
– Free Mode: Move the clock hands as much as you want.
– Clock Mode: Displays the current time.

It’s a great way to introduce your little one to the concept of time.

For more information, or to download, click here: http://homefires.com/amazon?B005I5SA9U

Unschooling: The Gold Standard for Young Children

Karen TaylorYoung children thrive with lots of unstructured play and exploration because it’s how nature intended them to learn! When allowed to discover and think without adult-sponsored lessons, their capacity to learn new things is amazing.

Our homeschooling pioneers didn’t school their preschoolers. While I don’t think babies and toddlers need to be homeschooled, it’s becoming clear that parents who aren’t putting their children in preschools today feel great pressure to start formal homeschooling.

If that is your situation, then unschooling is for you! You can ask about it at almost any homeschool park day and you can also search online to find unschooling articles and books.

Unschooling parents work to create a natural learning environment that sometimes looks like they have done nothing, but they may actually plan and research just like school-at-home homeschoolers. They know if they put a magnet or magnifying lens on their science shelf, that their child will become curious and then find a use one day.

CookingIf books are around the house, the child will pick up the ones that are interesting to him and look at the pictures or ask to have it read to him. If there are measuring cups in the sandbox or the bathtub, the child will measure! If they go for a daily walk, they know their child will see new things and be curious about them. If paper, tape, crayons and other art supplies are available, the child will make things. Unschooling parents don’t do formal lessons because they know this relaxed environment allows children to learn even more, and have fun at the same time!

By the time children are 6, parents may consider if unschooling is still working, or if they want to investigate another approach – either sending a child to school or homeschooling more formally. But for the first years, if you are looking for the best possible start for a young child, just remember that the gold standard from birth to age 6 is unschooling!

If you are looking for great ideas for unschooling fun for your young children, check out these fun ideas from UniversalPreschool.com…

*Karen Taylor provides regular homeschooling information and mentoring on Facebook, and she is the Directory of Cedar Life Academy, a Private School Satellite Program (PSP) for homeschoolers in California. 

Electronic Educational Toys, Computers, and TV

We live in an electronic world, and parents of young children have decisions to make about that.

Do we jump in when they are babies and provide the newest electronic toys for our children? The toy manufacturers say we should, all in the name of education. What about computer programs and TV designed for the very young? We are told they are educational. The reasoning is to expose them when they are very young so that they grow up computer literate and able to know their way around the gadgets that fill our world.

The high tech baby approach needs no introduction because electronics are heavily promoted. And even if you’ve decided to step away from the buzz, your child’s friends and the gift givers in his life may be on board. If Fischer-Price sells baby iPad cases and apps, it must be ok, right?

If you choose high tech, your young child may appear to learn a few things because of his educational toys. But, if you wait until he’s older, the same thing will happen.

So, what is he missing out on while he’s zoned in on the screen, whether it’s computer or TV? He’s not interacting with others, and basically, he’s not watching the world go by. There has been some concern that young children who spend most of their day watching a screen may be learning much less than the child who lives a more unplugged life and is experiencing so many things as an active participant.

That is why a study that two German pediatricians did was of interest to me. They studied 2,000 preschool children (ages 5-6) before they started school. The children were asked to draw a person. Based on the drawings, the researchers identified high and low performing children.

The drawings [http://www.waldorflibrary.org/images/stories/articles/RB13_2rittelmeyer.pdf] showed startling differences between kids who watched little or no TV with those who watched more than 3 hours a day. Their findings? We hardly need them after looking at the pictures, but here are a few comments:

“Frequent television viewing appears to lead to a significant retardation of the development of comprehension. . .”

“. . .certain visual perceptive abilities – and related cognitive development – appear to atrophy or be hindered by frequent television viewing and/or excessive video-game playing.”

Is one study or even a few, enough? Perhaps not. But it should give us something to think about and perhaps think twice before we encourage excess screen/electronic time for our little ones. It’s one thing to need a bit of help and to find what appears to be the best choice for a short time when we need our child safely occupied. We’ve all been in that position.

It’s a whole different situation to be actively looking for electronics in the name of education. If that’s your reason, you might consider fewer electronics even if they are promoted as being educational, and opt for the time honored approach that we know works: open ended toys along with plenty of outside play, and of course books! One rule of thumb is that if the manufacturer needs to tell you it’s educational, it probably isn’t.

If you are looking for great ideas for unplugged educational fun for your young children, check out these fun ideas from UniversalPreschool.com…

*Karen Taylor provides regular homeschooling information and mentoring on Facebook, and she is the Directory of Cedar Life Academy, a Private School Satellite Program (PSP) for homeschoolers in California.