Mommy School, AKA Lazy Home Preschool

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

I was a teacher by trade before having my kids, so you might think I'd make an excellent teacher within the home for my own children and that they are budding geniuses.  You'd be wrong.

Here's the thing.  I think I am in charge of ensuring my kids read a TON, play independently and imaginatively a TON, and have minimal screen time. (This last one can be hard, but I think it's so worth it to make screen time a short reward (or for a mom-emergency) instead of the norm.)  But I don't feel that it's my responsitibilty, not to mention good for them, to force my children into formal learning at a young age, such as teaching them to read by two years old.

Ain't nobody got time for that!

CJ is almost reading at 4, but that's her.  She knew each letter of the alphabet and the sound they made by 18 months old, and it was largely because of her simply picking up on things while we were reading.  R is just as into books, but at almost 3 years old he still identifies most letters as "H!"

You know what, it's not a big deal!  Every kid develops at a different pace and I simply want my kids to love books.  I want them to be bored a little too, so they know how to develop their own interest in things and entertain themselves!  Boredom is a choice around these parts, and as much as my kids deserve quality time with mom every single day, mom is also not the designated entertainer.

All that being said, I have loved doing what we call a little "Mommy School" with my kids starting around two years old.  Since I'm home with them, I don't want to put my kids into a formal preschool until 4 (this might change with R though; the man needs some buddies).  But I still want them to engage in a little semi-formal learning, get curious, and have positive experiences with "school" so they can carry that engagement into when they do attend a bonafide preschool.

Here is what I did with CJ and am currently doing with R.  It's very simple, non-scientific, and loosy-goosy.  I might not be the best arts and crafts mom, or the fun mom, but I can take 15 minutes every day or so during the week to sit down and do a little mommy school.

So, however you adapt this to your family, keep it simple!  I don't plan any of this ahead of time as there really is no need!

1) We sit down and I draw the letter we are learning.  I show them the letter, have them repeat its name and sound several times.  They trace the letter with their finger.  Then we repeat!

2) I get out another piece of paper and we draw a couple of pictures of words that start with the letter we are learning.  I'm no artist, so don't feel pressured here.  I write the words of each picture and have them point to that day's letter, and underline that letter.  We are very happy about every little success here!  Give lots of gentle guidance.

3) We sing a song that might have the letter in it somehow.  (Such as "It's Raining, It's Pouring" if we are learning "R.") If I can't think of one, we just sing a couple of songs and be a little silly and move our bodies!

4) I pull out a couple of books and they chooses one or two as well.  This is where I might quickly look for a book that I remember has a word with the letter we are learning.  But most of the time, it's a random pull and we can always find the letter of the day in the book somewhere.  When we come across our letter, I point at it and get excited and try to have the child start to recognize them too.

5) We then hang up the letter and its pictures on a wall, our "word wall!"  I try to review the letters with them from time to time when I think of it.
Yes, I spelled gorilla "ghorilla." Remember, I am very sleep deprived.  It seemed like the right way after I spelled "ghost."  

And that's it.

I do usually two of these lessons per letter.  Some weeks we learn a two letters. Other weeks (like last week!), we don't even get to "mommy school."  Heck, we even took a whole month off between Thanksgiving and Christmas!

The biggest key I've learned for doing any sort of teaching in the home for little ones is to keep it short, engaging, and repetitive.  They'll get there!

With my 4 year old, we're starting to use a book on learning to read that I'm liking, as she's definitely past learning the letters/sounds.  I'll give more information on that once I get a little more consistent with it.  Also, I'd like to start a little math/science with her--my weak areas--but something that is more fun than formal.  Any suggestions?


  1. Ahhhmazing! At 3 years old Davis knows none of this!!! You are doing such a wonderful job!

    1. I should be clear, R isn't necessarily picking ANY of this up! He usually identifies every letter as, "H!"

  2. Ahhhmazing! At 3 years old Davis knows none of this!!! You are doing such a wonderful job!

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  4. I think your approach is perfect - loved reading this!


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