What should I be *doing* with my 4-year-old??? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 26 Old 04-23-2010, 10:09 AM - Thread Starter
 
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My son turns 4 this May, and I guess I'm wondering I *should* be doing with him? Like what were/are some things you do in your day to days that are worth including??

Samantha:: love.gif {Waldorf Doll Maker} broc1.gif{Organic Farmer}knit.gif{crafter} computergeek2.gif {blogger}  and crunchy mama to 4 boys under 5! run.gif

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#2 of 26 Old 04-23-2010, 10:41 AM
 
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lots and lots and lots of reading. Lots of time outside for play and for exploring nature and all the cool insects and bugs and trees. Including him in everyday life- cooking, cleaning -everything that you do.

Happily Married to my : 11 yrs- Mama to wild-eyed monkey boy 7-04, fiery little girl 4-07, and the happy smiley baby that sleeps 11-09!
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#3 of 26 Old 04-23-2010, 11:30 AM
 
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Reading, playing, pointing out letters and numbers in real life (on signs), asking him questions (is this heavy or light? what color is this? what could you do with this thing? if you could go anywhere, where would you go? why?), anwering his questions, collecting nature objects...and yes, just daily life.

4 yo is fun!
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#4 of 26 Old 04-23-2010, 11:44 AM
 
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Lots of pointing out objects in real life, talking about shapes, size relationships, colors. Some workbook pages {Spectrum Phonics, Get Ready for PreK Shapes, Get Ready for Kindergarten Simple Spelling, that sort of thing} Lots of reading and pointing out pictures and asking questions, mostly inference type stuff like "what's happening here" and "why do you think" questions, and some 'attention and focus' stuff like 'find the __' And lots of free play that teaches, trips to the park, riding bikes in our neighborhood or to the library {she rides in her trailer for trips outside the neighborhood obviously}
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#5 of 26 Old 04-23-2010, 12:45 PM
 
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Hmm....4-year-old boy. I have one of those

Make sure he isn't trying to reinact superhero fantasies off the roof? Keeping crayons off the walls??


My son is 4 (a Jan birthday) and currently, he is able to read a list of 30-40 sight words and do simple phonics.

We also do handwriting (handwriting without tears is great)....and just a lot of art and fun.

He's reallllllllllllllllllly into math and numbers, so we work on that a lot with him. But...it helps that he has an older sister 18 months older....he does a lot that she does.

But...otherwise....don't stress too much.

I'd say work on letter sounds with him. (Names are not important...knowing that m Is "em" is not going to help him learn to read.) Try the book the Three R's.

Welcome to the Real World she said to me, condescendingly, take a seat. Take your life; plot it out in black and white.
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#6 of 26 Old 04-23-2010, 02:06 PM
 
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I got a lot of pressure (as a stay-at-home mom) that dd1 "ought" to be in Preschool (or therefore obviously I should be doing rigid preschool at home with her but really, a preschool that was separate from me). I started to feel a little inadequate, like I was doing something wrong (even though I *knew* I wasn't) in just letting her be herself ....

Then one day she asked what 1 and 3 were (she had been recently interested in reading numbers). When I told her "thirteen," she said, "No, Mom, they make 4." And I relaxed.

What we did - lots of outside time, lots of interesting books and discussions (and some Science Channel, because dh and I both like it). dd1 is really interested in space, dinosaurs, animals - so we have sought out experiences involving those interests for her, whether it's a cool book at the library, or museum stop, or etc.

I would take a walk with her and just talk about what we were seeing. "Look, that tree doesn't have any leaves right now. That means it's a "deciduous" tree. But that tree there, is still green - it's an Evergreen, they don't lose their leaves/needles in the fall." And then we'd revisit and talk about it, or she would ask about it.

Count to twenty while washing hands; count how many cups of flour in the bread you're making (or cookies or whatever).

I started a nighttime game with dd1 where we would alternate between "I love you as BIG as a [mountain, the tree in our backyard, etc.]. I'd say one thing, she'd say the next. Or as COLD as [ice cream, icicle, etc.], or as WET as [mud puddle, the creek, the ocean]. So we were basically developing comparison skills while also having fun.

I also like Handwriting Without Tears, and they do have a preschool workbook. I didn't know about them with dd1, and taught her to write her name, and the alphabet, when she was four. We did learn the "song," and then what they looked like to identify. She also likes starfall.com, which she spent a lot of time on (and the reason that dd2, who is three, knows the alphabet and the sounds the letters make too).

Explain things - at the level you think they're at, but explain them as well as you can. When dd1 was three, I explained the tilt of the Earth as it rotates around the sun and how that creates our seasons and the amount of light in our days (answering a question about seasons). A year later she asked me again, "Why is it so cold in the winter?" When I started to explain it to her again, she said, "No, Mom, I know about our part of the earth tilting away from the sun during the winter - I want to know how to KEEP it from tilting!" I hadn't thought she'd really absorb or remember the explanation I'd given her the year before.

Having done a child development screening when she was three, I can say that "they" expect that your child will be doing some scissor and other fine-motor-skills work by the time they're 3/4. They screened to see whether she could hop on each foot separately (something I'd not thought to teach her, my sister says that the day cares do games to teach this to kids?!). So some things like that are I suppose good to do ... although honestly, I think kids will learn those things without a lot of adult interference (the jumping etc. stuff, not the scissor stuff).

Art is often a lot of fun for kids that age - finger paints, painting with brushes, 'sculpting' with soft-dough or etc. Sidewalk chalk, coloring, drawing .... all are also going to develop color discernment, fine motor skills.

I have a friend who works as a kindergarten special ed aide, and she says she thinks that most kindergarten kiddos are actually far more interested in math than in phonics/reading -- that's been my experience with dd1, even though she LOVED stories and so on, math definitely came to her much more easily, and was the thing she was asking me questions about the most.

Honestly though I think the biggest thing to do is to make what learning happens, fun, and to have lots of free-play and outdoor play. More than anything else!!!

The only "outside" activity that dd1 was doing at 4, was swim lessons - we didn't do itty-bitty soccer or anything else (and actually still don't, we will eventually I just don't see the rush right now).

ETA: I did start reading chapter books occasionally to dd1 right after she turned four. One chapter with her other bedtime stories, usually of chapter books that were only 8-10 pages long/chapter initially. I think we started with Despereaux, and then read a book about a dragon who didn't want to fight (with a bunny as the lead character, I don't recall the name). Then I think our next one, was Charlotte's Web. Then Heidi.

Not all who wander are lost.
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#7 of 26 Old 04-23-2010, 02:25 PM
 
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Originally Posted by Savoir Faire View Post
Hmm....4-year-old boy. I have one of those

Make sure he isn't trying to reinact superhero fantasies off the roof? Keeping crayons off the walls??
I have one too

Keep him from taking apart the bathtub facut.

keep him from trying to remove screens from 3rd floor windows ...

...

read

read

read

read

both picture books with good art adn great words, easy "baby" board books he can read too and "older" read-a-lous (stuart little).

art and crafts -- realted to book you read sometimes to "show" how themes can carry over.

outseide time allowing for "digging for dino bones" and plishing rocks and all the stuff boys do

but really -- he is a kid -- if you engage with him he will learn (or so i tell myself ) come on over to the Pre-School Home School thread and join us.

ETA: My son has an IEP with the school, assessed at 20 months for Speech .. and now if not "meeting the mark" as PP stated with being able to use sizzors -- as well as they say he should -- and stuff like that, but i know he is fine. he is FOIUR and he is also a BOY. i am fine with where he is. we would not do pre-school even if we were going to public kindy (in 11 or 12). I believe in letts kids be kids. No I do not want him to "fall behind" but i have to really look at each 'where he should be' mark and ask myself -- is this really a dev goal for his age and gender or is this based on the "too much too soon" push that is so everywhere now??

I feel as long as i see excitment in him, and i see progress and i am engaged with him -- he is fine, and if he is not i will know it (not that i don't freak sometimes, LOL< see some of my threads (wink) but ... i am getting there.


Aimee + Scott = Theodore Roosevelt (11/05) and 23 months later Charles Abraham (10/07)....praying for a little sister; the search starts May 2014
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#8 of 26 Old 04-23-2010, 03:05 PM
 
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Play, read, play, read............on & on & on.

I have a DS(4) who is a bundle of energy. It's no-stop until he crashing to sleep at night.

-he draws/colors a lot. I got dry erase markers & realized by dish washer is essentially a huge dry erase board. He LOVES being able to write all over & then he simply uses the eraser & it comes off. It's been invaluable.

-I also made up days of the week, months, the year & numbers..laminated them & he changes it daily to tell me,"mommy today is Friday, April 23, 2010." It's quick but he enjoys it.

-Lots of time outside. he plays on his own & then I join him with running races or seeing who can swing the highest. WE have picnics, paint, use chalk, bubbles.

-I don't know about others, but I really don't have to point things out to DS. He's pointing out so many things to me, I feel like I get whiplash with everything he's pointing out.

- I don't ascribe to early academics, so I follow whatever he's interested in.

-Reading happens every single day. I read & he plays on the floor with cars, trains, whatever. Sometimes he joins me & snuggles, other times not.

-Enjoy this time with him. It's magical!

Lola , loving my DH, Mama to & we &
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#9 of 26 Old 04-23-2010, 04:01 PM
 
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I think you got good suggestions. My son won't be 4 till August and I'm currently just following his lead completely. He loves video games. I'm not sure how I feel about that but they certainly seem to be good for his motor skills and problem-solving.

I read to him a lot as well and he's recently developed an interest in learning to write his numbers (1-20). He recognizes the alphabet and numerals 1-20...I think most of what he's learned and his motivation to learn it has come from being around his 5yo sis so much. She loves her school work and he is nearby while she does it. My older son, at 3.5yo, wasn't interested in learning to write and didn't even really want to sit still so I could read to him.

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#10 of 26 Old 04-24-2010, 01:30 AM
 
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just to give you a rough idea of what i did today with my 4 yr old....
he had a lot of free time to play with his little brothers and various toys, we went for a walk around the block, he played in the yard twice (sand box, swing set), caught a grub worm to observe in his bug catcher for awhile, watched some PBS, we went over info. about today on a calendar, he read a bob book to me, i read 2 pages to him about waterfalls from a discovery kids book, i read some books to him (some library, some ours...topics included mice, dinosaurs, construction vehicles), he did 2 pages of handwriting without tears, 3 pages of singapore earlybird math, 2 pages of ordinary parents guide to teaching reading, 2 pages of explode the code phonics, spelled 3 words, talked about 3 people from the bible, talked more about the clock and time telling, worked on putting on his own shoes and coat, etc. this was all done here and there throughout the dday...in between breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks, quiet time, etc. it may seem like a lot, but he was up from 8am until 8pm, and the total amount of time spent on all of these things combined doesnt amount to very much at all. we usually read more than we did today. i dont think children NEED to do things like math and phonics and handwriting at age 4 like mine does........but my child was more than ready for it and wanted to do it, so we started.
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#11 of 26 Old 04-24-2010, 02:40 AM
 
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OP,

Are you looking for activities to do together or are you interested in academics?

Studies show that kids who go to academic preschools and kids who go to play based preschools will be at the same point academically when they are in kindergarten. However, the children from the academic school will be more anxious and less creative than the children who were simply allowed to play.

I have been reading about delayed schooling. Finland has the highest academic achievements in Europe and they do not start school until age 7. Swedish kids don't start school until 7 and within 3 years they have the highest literacy rate in Europe.

So my 4 year old plays. We do arts and crafts. We do science experiments. We mix baking soda and vinegar to see what happens. Today we did this experiment http://thehappyscientist.com/science...ice-cream-foam except instead of using ice cream and soda we used frozen yogurt and carbonated juice. Often there aren't any theories or explanations when we do experiments, we just watch what happens and think how cool it is. He rides his 2 wheeler (no training wheels thanks to a balance bike at 2.5.) He plays with friends. He plays in the chicken coop. He and his little sister go down slides together and chase the dog.

I think you get the picture. We sometimes do counting on our fingers. He's known his letters simply from reading alphabet books since he was 2. He loves books about non-fiction stuff like the Magic School Bus. He also loves this series: http://www.amazon.com/Say-Can-You-Se...2087609&sr=8-1 He loves to take a flashlight and a book to bed at night. I can't even count how many books we read together or he reads by himself each day. And if you add in how many his 20 month old sister reads independently or with someone else, including my son, the number is way higher.

Created an instant family (7/89 and 5/91) in 1997. Made a baby boy 12/05 adopted a baby girl 8/08. Ask me about tandem adoptive nursing. Now living as gluten, dairy, cane sugar, and tomato free vegetarians. Homeschooling and loving it.

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#12 of 26 Old 04-24-2010, 09:39 AM
 
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What *should* you be doing or what are some things you could do?
I'm sure you've read lots of Waldorf ideas already. This is a blog I've found helpful recently.
What is your son interested in? My DD loves ballet so we do that. We watch ballet dvds and documentaries on the training of Russian Prima Ballerinas and read books about ballet and go to baby ballet classes (and now tap too) and dance. We turned her Waldorf playstands into a stage one day when she was two and they ended up staying that way (they get more use now ) although we'll have to rethink that soon because the stage is too small now and I'd like her little brother to be able to play with them (although he does, he thinks the stage is great for climbing on).
We also cook and although she doesn't always get involved, there are certain parts of the process she loves to do. We read (a lot). We play music. She does Reading Eggs if she feels like it (sometimes I'll suggest it if I need to nurse her brother to sleep ) occasionally we do a few pages of a Singapore earlybird workbook. We play outside, we play at the park. We visit friends and go to homeschool group. It's all led by her.
Are you familiar with the unschooling concept of strewing? If you're feeling he needs some new *things* to do, strew a few different things and see where it leads you both
BTW, yay for May babies

grateful Mama to DD May '06 and DS May '09
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#13 of 26 Old 04-24-2010, 10:54 AM
 
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lots and lots and lots of reading. Lots of time outside for play and for exploring nature and all the cool insects and bugs and trees. Including him in everyday life- cooking, cleaning -everything that you do.

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#14 of 26 Old 04-24-2010, 02:06 PM
 
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I third (fourth, fifth, sixth?) the play and read. 4 is very little. 4 is very fun. Let him play and explore and be near you as you do your things. Then let him snuggle on your lap as you read to him. There is nothing you "should" be doing with a 4 y.o. other than enjoying life and finding wonder in the little and mundane things.

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#15 of 26 Old 04-24-2010, 03:59 PM
 
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I third (fourth, fifth, sixth?) the play and read. 4 is very little. 4 is very fun. Let him play and explore and be near you as you do your things. Then let him snuggle on your lap as you read to him. There is nothing you "should" be doing with a 4 y.o. other than enjoying life and finding wonder in the little and mundane things.
This.

We play, read, cook, tend our garden, take nature walks, play at the playground, jump on the bed, have dance parties, draw/paint, make playdough, build with Legos, tell stories, play in the bath, sing, make up our own fingerplays, take care of our aquarium . . . We really focus on the seasons so we try to have a stack of seasonal books to read each week, take lots of nature walks (right now dd likes to pretend we're bees helping the fir trees release their pollen), do seasonal activities and baking, celebrate seasonal festivals. I think 4 is still really little and that children have all the time in the world later to do academic things but they can never go back to being little again. Our motto is just "do fun things."

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#16 of 26 Old 04-24-2010, 04:15 PM
 
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I have one too

Keep him from taking apart the bathtub facut.

keep him from trying to remove screens from 3rd floor windows ...
We just had push out a screen on the second floor window and throw all his sister's doll house toys onto the roof. I have a feeling he's considering a career in aerodynamics

Welcome to the Real World she said to me, condescendingly, take a seat. Take your life; plot it out in black and white.
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#17 of 26 Old 04-25-2010, 11:53 AM
 
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lots and lots and lots of reading. Lots of time outside for play and for exploring nature and all the cool insects and bugs and trees. Including him in everyday life- cooking, cleaning -everything that you do.
Yes to this!

Read like crazy to him. Get books on subjects you think he'll like and read them to him, or just look through and explain what you see if the text is a little above his level.

Mama to four ('03, '05, '08 & '11) chicken3.gif
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#18 of 26 Old 04-25-2010, 10:01 PM
 
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We just had push out a screen on the second floor window and throw all his sister's doll house toys onto the roof. I have a feeling he's considering a career in aerodynamics
I am jsut glad the child did not fall out that window -- THAT is my biggeswt fear ALL.THE.TIME

We talk a lot about safty -- in one ear adn out there a lot -- but we talk about it

Aimee + Scott = Theodore Roosevelt (11/05) and 23 months later Charles Abraham (10/07)....praying for a little sister; the search starts May 2014
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#19 of 26 Old 04-26-2010, 06:15 PM
 
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My son will be 4 the end of May.

We do whatever he wants but we have started doing "school"
he was in small preschool program before the city basically shut it down because they are so in debt.

He asks to do school. We are tracing A,B,C's and #'s . I printed stuff out and right now have them in page protector sheets and he can write on top of them with a dry erase marker. We also use pinto beans for counting.


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Harlan (11/4/2011)http://www.desertreadingloft.com--Independent Usborne Books Consultant
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#20 of 26 Old 04-26-2010, 09:27 PM
 
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read, tell stories, lots and lots of outdoor play, digging in the mud/sand, looking at birds, bugs, neighborhood animals, singing, fingerplays, involvement in household chores (or not!), seasonal crafts and baking, play, play and more play! A strong rhythm (daily, weekly and seasonally)

I really love Carrie's blog, www.theparentingpassageway.com, for advice regarding the under 7's and waldorf parenting.

Tanya, wife to my best friend momma to Blake 2/02, Jacob 5/04, Parker 12/05 and MaKenna : 6/09
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#21 of 26 Old 04-26-2010, 09:51 PM
 
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Everything I was going to say has already been said--except

Oh, boy! Am I in for it when my boy gets bigger!

Jessica: wife and helpmate to a farmer and mama to two girls and two boys
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#22 of 26 Old 04-26-2010, 11:44 PM
 
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*sigh*

It depends on the four year old, really.

Mine is almost five, and things have changed. Until recently (like the last couple months):

He didn't like drawing, colouring, or anything involving fine motor skills.
He didn't like playing with playdough for more than about 3-5 minutes.
He didn't like being read to.
He didn't like nature, except water....except as something to stomp (actually, he liked to stomp water, too, but he doesn't hurt the water).

He did like:
Making messes.
Peeing on the carpet.
Hitting people.
Throwing things.
Breaking things.
Playing with water (usually involving mud puddles up to his belly button, in the cold or flooding my kitchen).
Running into parking lots without looking.

I didn't "do" much of anything with him, except try to limit the damage, keep him alive and...yeah...that's about it, really.

Now, he likes to draw and paint and colour, and has become interested in sounding out words and things. He's also hitting less, and has completely stopped peeing on the carpets (Hallelujah!!).

I don't worry about the learning stuff at that age. If they're into it, great. If they're not...no biggie.

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#23 of 26 Old 04-27-2010, 09:28 AM
 
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another thought:

somethings I have been making an effort to do with my 4.5 yo --

1. expanding his "stories" and Imaginary play /..."what color is your pet dragon" "what did the Dino do next"

2. Asking HIM "WHY" "why do you think that mail car has a flashing light on it" "What do you think that work man is doing"

Nothing earth shattering, but just pushing him to think a bit more and talking about it all with him.

Aimee + Scott = Theodore Roosevelt (11/05) and 23 months later Charles Abraham (10/07)....praying for a little sister; the search starts May 2014
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#24 of 26 Old 04-27-2010, 08:46 PM
 
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My 3.5 yo ds began "homeschool" this January. Our philosophy is thst he's too young for much formal learning and should have most of the next few years to play. We set aside 2 mornings a week for "homeschooling" which usually includes art, letter writing practice and coloring sheets centered around a theme ("Gardens" this week). The rest of the time, we read to him and provide workbook pages, puzzles, games and blocks to him at his request only. He colors. He draws letters in the dirt outside. He watches a couple of PBS shows daily and nothing else. We take him to the library for 14 books a week. About once a week we go on a field trip to a cow barn or recycling center or something. All of this is very relaxed and at his own speed. We were afraid we were being too relaxed, until he wrote "Happy Birthday Gramma, Love Aedan" on a homemade card last month. He asked me how to spell the words. He also reads "Very Hungry Caterpillar" to me occasionally. So he's just fine.

My best advice is, keep the worksheets to a minimum until he's older. Give your kid time and supplies to create stuff and experiment. Once in awhile plan a fun (and informative) adventure. And yes, read until you're blue in the face. That can't be repeated enough.

Best of wishes.
Kate

Homeschooling, organic gardening, jewelry-making, bread-baking pagan mama to Bubba:
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#25 of 26 Old 04-27-2010, 10:21 PM
 
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Another thought: Winnie the Pooh (the original) and The House at Pooh Corner have been big hits here. They have vastly improved dd's ability to listen and understand a story. Also, she has really picked up on the subtleties of language (including puns and sarcasm) from these books. I highly recommend these for this age, as well as Beatrix Potter.

Allison:  a little bit Waldorf, a little bit Medievalish, and always"MOMMMMYYYY!" to sweet Cecily since 12.22.05
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#26 of 26 Old 04-28-2010, 02:12 PM
 
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IMO you should be:

reading daily and discussing what you read.

You should be encouraging vocabulary development, by using rich vocabulary yourself and having conversations often with your child.

Working on large motor skills, coordination, and playing outside as often as you can.

Work on small motor skills in a fun, for your child, way. cutting, tearing, sewing, tracing, mazes, dot-to-dots, clay, etc.

exploring nature in your environment, even if all you have is ants in a sidewalk crack.

Encourage self help/basic hygiene skills

Give them access to art supplies

Involve them in your day. Let them help cook, pick items out at the grocery store, match socks, etc.

Play with words and letters, come up with silly rhymes, play letter/sound eye spy, etc.

Limit media and provide quality toys (lego, puzzles, blocks, dress ups, play mobile, etc)

Have fun!
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