Friday, 18 October 2013

Montessori Support for Preschoolers

I've written a couple of posts already about my journey into Montessori and my goals for implementing some of these strategies with my children.  

Both of these previous posts contain some of the activities I've set up for my toddler, though some of those are suitable for and have been enjoyed by my preschooler.

Today I want to focus on exactly what I'm doing to support my 4 year old who also attends a Montessori preschool five mornings a week.

Each week at preschool they focus on a particular sound in order to explore letters through phonics.  To support this at home, each week I set up a tray/basket of objects whose names start with that sound.  This basket is left on display and the children can explore the items when and if interested. 

On the recent school holidays we did a review of all the sounds encountered last term.  This was a giant treasure basket full of objects and letter cards for each sound.  The idea was to identify each object, then the sound and place it in the appropriate column.

The first time I introduced this to my preschooler he lost interest after about five items.  (His 7 year old brother finished the activity that day).  The next time we tried he nailed it.

Granted, some of the items needed explaining (infant, for example) and items starting with the 'a' sound proved to be really hard to find, except for apple.  I used aeroplane and ape anyway.  The jar full of 'air' is a stretch too.

I've introduced the concept of Homework this semester in order to establish a bit of a routine for us all and to make him more aware of the need to provide a bit of space and quiet to his older brother whilst he is completing his homework.

On Monday, we use this phonics book that came home from preschool to practice letter formation.  He likes tracing but is reluctant to do more than one letter with that support.  Colouring-in is not a favourite thing either, but he gives it a go and I'm not pushing him.

On Tuesday, we practice name writing for with a simple blank notebook, a name card and pencil.  The idea is the child starts by tracing the name card to get a feel for the shape of the letters and how to form them, then they use the card to copy the letters, then they build up to writing without it.  This week we copied for the first time.

Wednesday he usually volunteers to write his name some more, though we have a new numbers book that we've introduced this week.  We've also been looking at numbers on a Thursday by exploring the concept of "how many is" using, of all things, poker chips.

We are currently arranging up to ten with confidence and I'm planning to put together some beads in groups of ten to demonstrate numbers from 10 to 100.

I'm also making more of an effort to allow him to do tasks himself and build independence.  This is quite difficult for a control-freak like me.  

As well as things like jigsaw puzzles, I'm letting him do more household tasks himself too, such as allowing him to pour his own cereal and milk, encouraging him to dress himself- especially shoes and socks, letting him spread his own bread or crackers at lunch and to help with cutting.  I purchased a cheap egg slicer that he has been using to help me prepare strawberries and kiwifruit for afternoon tea.

I've found that these simple tasks are really boosting his confidence in himself and he just loves to be helpful.

His regular jobs of setting the table, packing away his toys and school supplies and making his bed seem to be happening easier and with more enthusiasm too.

Do you have special tasks you let your preschooler do?  I'd love to hear them.

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