Learning with Alphabet Magnets: Prepping for Preschool

Image of alphabet magnets

Not long after my son's first birthday, I began researching preschool programs in our area.  Yes, I know, I'm that mom.  But believe it or not, some preschools have a wait list that begins well before some children are born, so I wanted to be on top of things early.

Having worked at a daycare/preschool center in the past, I was fairly familiar with the typical requirements most centers have.  However, it has been some time and I know different centers vary on what they will and will not accept.  Here is a but of what I have learned:

How old is your child?
 
Usually, children start preschool between the ages of 2.5 to 3 years old, but there are certain requirements, in addition to age, that the child must meet in order to be accepted.

Is your child potty trained?

This one is pretty much a no-brainer.  No preschool teacher who has 10+ other kids to look after wants to add changing diapers to his or her list of daily demands.  Other self-reliant abilities such as hand washing and eating unassisted go right in line with this as well.

Has your child been without you before?

Up until he was ten months old my son was in daycare full-time.  Now that I stay at home with him I try and take every opportunity to get him around other kids his age as well as other caregivers.  Thankfully, I have another SAHM friend with a child his age.  We are able to get together weekly with the kids as well as take turns watching our littles so they can have time away from both mom and dad.  Plus, the occasional date night is an absolute Godsend!

Additionally, our church has a fantastic Sunday school that gets our son around other kids his age.  Even though it is only for an hour a week, I love how much interaction he gets packed into that time.  Although it may make me a little sad sometimes, it is a wonderful feeling havig my son happily go to his classroom each week without crying for me as I walk away.

Do they do well on a schedule?

Now I am only speaking for myself, but this one is the absolute least of my worries.  I am so grateful my husband and I insituted a fairly strict schedule with our son almost from day one.  I, personally, thrive on schedules, so everything from sleep training to night weening worked so well for us when we followed a specific schedule.  Luckily, my son still is a schedule keeper.  Almost to the point where I can predict to the exact ten minutes when we will fall asleep and wake up.  it is fantastic.

But I certainly am not blind to the idea that not all families operate like mine.  Even since becoming a SAHM, I can see how it can be easy to lax a little from the scheduled life.  So if you are much more laid back with your schedule, not to worry.  Simply be prepared to incorporate a more rigid timeline while your kiddo is in school each day.

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Believe it or not, one of the most common criticisms I have heard from other preschool teachers is that parents believe their child is ready when they are not.  Just because they are in the right age range for starting preschool does not mean they are ready--and that is totally okay!!  All children progress at their own rates.

One common mistake a lot of parents make in thinking their child is ready is that they know their entire alphabet.  While this is a fantastic accomplishment, many teachers are surprised to find that many toddler are simply familiar with the ABC song.  But when asked to identify letters out of order, many find they are unable to.

This astounded me, because I, too, was one of those mothers who found herself constantly singing the song.  Since then, I have made an extra effort to come up with different games that not only teach letters, but help with recognition of them.

My son is now 20 months old and can identify nearly every letter of the alphabet.  Here is what we have been doing for the past eight months.


Reading!

It is no secret to any parent these days that if you want your child to have a love of reading you need to read to them every day.  However, you can take it one step further by breaking down the stories and really engaging your toddler.

One of E's favorite books is Dr. Suess's The ABC Book.  We have both the full version and the board book, both of which I've now thoroughly memorize. **aghem, brag, brag.  This book is fantastic!  It has colorful pictures to keep my son engaged and wacky workplay to keep me entertained.  Try it:

Big T, Little T, What begins with T?  Ten tired turtle on a tuttle-tuttle tree!!

See?  It's so fun.


Alphabet Magnet Exercise

My wonderful mother purchased E a set of refridgerator magnets when he turned one.  Though I had to watch him tirelessly since these particular magnets were a bit of a choking hazard, it was clear from the beginning how valuable they could be.  You can get toddler friendly ones via the link below.  Bonus! They are a Prime item!





How to Play:
  1. Sit your child in his/her high chair.  I usually do this right after lunch when E is most content.
  2. If this is your first time playing the game, take some time to hold up each letter and say it outloud a couple of times to your kiddo.
  3. Lay out your alphabet magnets in no particular order.  In fact, as your child improves, try to dramatically change the order of letters or even omit some from the game.  
  4. Over time, start adding challenges to the game.  Not only do I leave letters out now, but I have added colors into the mix.  Since the magnets usually come in red, yellow, green and blue, have your child arrange them into groups based on their colors.

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