Small Lessons Make A Big Difference
Before becoming a stay-at-home-mom, I was a special education preschool teacher. Each year was a different learning experience for me as a teacher, with each new student and the ever-changing needs of the classroom. Along the way, there were some lessons I taught them that were highly successful and also very unsuccessful.
I made note of what worked (or didn't work) on the lesson plans. Some plans I could revamp the next year, while others I wouldn't even try again knowing that my current class didn't need it. No matter the school year, one thing remained the same and I wish I would have known this my first year: teaching them the smallest lessons would go the longest way in the school year.
We went through countless play dough bins, markers, and paint. WASTED. I didn't teach my class how to take care of everything before I threw it at them. There was no expectation level.
So, out went any crazy lesson plans in the first few weeks of preschool. Our small groups consisted of introducing the areas and the items in them little by little. Some toys don't even make it on a shelf until we have learned how to take care of them and use them.
You'd be surprised how excited the kids were to show me that they could open and close a marker ("until it clicked"). It was an easy way to introduce the idea of small groups, too.
Will all the markers last all year? Heavens, no. But, it's easier to remind them of this lesson when there are issues again and not have to teach this concept when it's already too late.
This is true for parents too. Don't expect your kids to clean up if you didn't show them how or where to put everything. Don't think they will take care of valuables and breakable objects if you don't set expectations. Don't rush academics, the upper grades will fill them with enough of it. Teach the tiniest of things and I promise, it will make a big difference in the long run.
Teach them to turn the water faucet on.
Teach them to open a juice box.
Teach them to sort laundry.
Teach them how to use their toys.
Teach them to open and close a marker.
Teach them how to take care of books.
Teach them where their toys and clothes belong.
Teach them how to find materials in the classroom.
Teach them to problem solve on their own.