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learning time

I've been trying to keep our summer schedule pretty loose, it is summer after all. We've had a few family reunions and a few weeks of swimming lessons, but other than that we're free to spend the day as we see fit (which usually includes the beach or the pool, or both).

I do think we need a little bit of structure, so we've been having a specific time set aside as solo "learning time" each day. C, who is five, plays with his alphabet puppets or practices his letters (I bought this large writing pad when it was on sale at Pottery Barn Kids, it's the perfect size for his big handwriting). Bee, my three year old, plays with matching games or animal flashcards. I get to catch up on email for a few minutes. It's really a win all the way around. I have found that the kids will sit still a bit more easily if learning time is accompanied by a snack of some sort, cookies and milk work nicely. I'm hoping this practice will get them ready for the days I see coming when we're all gathered around the dining room table working on three hours of homework! (When does that start nowadays? second grade?)

As I prepare to send C into the public school system in a few weeks, I've been reading up on what I can do to get him ready for kindergarten. It seems the most important thing is to incorporate learning moments whenever we can throughout our day: at the grocery store, sitting at the beach, driving in the car, etc. Every outing can be a chance to learn.

So how are you getting your kids ready for school? Any important tips I should know before I send my little boy off to kindergarten?

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Reader Comments (31)

Kindergarten, the new frontier. We don't start here for another 3 weeks, but I am already starting to ease my kids back into a routine. I bought poster board to make a list (these days with words, once I did it with pictures) to remind them of everything that will need to be done in the morning before school. It helps me immensely!

08.17.2009 | Unregistered Commenterblair

I love this idea. My daughter always wants to step on her juice boxes and pop them, but I think she'll get a kick out of making a boat with the empty boxes.

08.18.2009 | Unregistered CommenterKeisha

Always a fan of your posts, and this one is no exception! Thanks for a terrific post (again!).

08.19.2009 | Unregistered CommenterDown Pillow

Sing the alphabet song with the phonetic sound instead of saying the letter name....ah, bu, ku, du, ee, ff, gu....you get the idea. Both of my kids learned to read in her montessori school by age 4 this way. So fabulous.

08.19.2009 | Unregistered CommenterRobin

my boys are only 2 and making their way into a very informal play based pre-school in a few weeks. i tend to think of the world as our learning center and if we are engaged in park play, etc, i take the time to pick up thing, let them examine the item, say it and spell it and give it a bit of a definition. it feels good to approach learning as a part of the day.

good luck on c and his school days.

08.19.2009 | Unregistered Commentermamie

I have taught every grade K-5 and I think your plan and attitude towards learning are fantastic! My only advice would be to savor each stage. The elementary years fly by (faster even than the preschool years I think) so try not to think too much about next year or get caught up in "preparing for college" business.

08.20.2009 | Unregistered CommenterJane

thumbs up + congrats :)

we're in the nyc public school system (go, ps 199) and
we always take an apple for the teacher on the first day.

the kids pick one out the day before
(@ fairway or even a bodega,
it's just fun to choose a 'shiny' one)

good luck.

08.20.2009 | Unregistered Commenterkari jo

Thanks to all for so many wonderful ideas. My little ones are two and four years old so the timing couldn't be better because now I'll have plenty of time to prepare. We read a lot and make things together so I'm all for play-based learning. I love the idea of quiet time to engage in a learning activity. I'd never thought of it with kids this young but I see now that, done the right way, it can totally work!

08.21.2009 | Unregistered CommenterMinnie

First, can I just say I recently stumbled here and I love it! Your photos are gorgeous!

Did I also read that you are in Orange County? My oldest started kindergarten here last year (we're in the Newport-Mesa district, not sure where you are) but if it's anything like here brace yourself for LOTS of homework. He had at least an hour a night~ so that definitely took some getting used to. I am not a huge fan of so much homework in kindergarten, but I tried to be patient :)... and grateful that my son "got it" quickly.

I also agree with the previous comments about lunches! Not too much, plenty of nutrition packed in there, and stuff/packages/containers they can handle themselves.

Although there IS so much stress put on academics, even in kindergarten, it still seems like social skills are the most important at this point. I was stunned by how "worldly" a lot of my son's classmates were, and I had to answer a lot of questions and deal with a lot of (and even harder... equip my 5 year old to deal with) situations that I would never have dreamed would come up in K.

Good luck to you! And enjoy every moment!

08.21.2009 | Unregistered CommenterVarenia

Thanks so much for putting your thoughts out there so that we can all share and learn. I am a Mom of a 14 year old daughter and 11 year old son. I can still remember their first days of school and am happy that they still have a love of learning and discovery. Many people have already put forward excellent ideas. I've been volunteering in the elementary school system for ten years. It makes a huge difference to get to know the school, the teachers, and the children your child will be with . You can make such a positive difference with a little bit of time.
In a group it helps if the children know basic social skills such as turn taking and sharing, how to wait,how to get the teachers attention appropriately ( using words, making sure you are near enough to be heard), saying please and thank you . It sounds like you have a lot of fun and learning with yours already and you are investing the most precious resource of your time and attention.

08.28.2009 | Unregistered CommenterKaren

I love that Learning Time comes with a delicious cookie and milk :D

09.3.2009 | Unregistered CommenterSpecialk

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