Raise your hand if the COVID-19 outbreak (and its resulting stay-at-home orders) made you a homeschooling parent. Yeah, me too. And, honestly? It’s not something I would choose to do. Ever. But the shut down meant Big A lost his morning preschool. And that broke his little heart. Being autistic, he simply cannot stand days that lack structure. At two years old, Little A isn’t a fan, either. That means we’re doing preschool in the living room, Monday through Friday. This is what our quarantine homeschooling schedule looks like.
No Pressure, It’s Preschool
I’m thankful that my kids are young. I don’t have to teach them Algebra, how to diagram sentences, or something godawful like that. Shapes, colors, and letters? I’m a freaking ace. Preschoolers have the attention span of a goldfish, so quick, fun activities are the name of the game.
The A-Team and I follow a simple structure: Circle Time, gross motor development activities, reading, and fine motor development activities. That’s it. The whole shebang takes 1 to 2 hours a morning.
Gross and Fine Motor Activities
When people hear the words “gross and fine motor activities,” they tend to think they’re bigger deals than they actually are. Nope. These are not fancy, technical terms that can only be broached by academic or childcare professionals. Gross motor just means big movements, like running and jumping. Fine motor just means smaller movements, especially focusing on the hands, like pincer grasp or using scissors.
Our Quarantine Preschool Schedule
Circle Time consists of calendar work, talking about the weather, singing songs, and a skill segment. The skill segment is drawn from one of four areas: letters, numbers, shapes, or colors.
During calendar time, the A-Team and I talk about the date and the day of the week. We sing the Days of the Week Song and I say things like, “It’s Monday, the first day of the school week!” I point to the date on the calendar and count all the days in the month. Then we look out the window and talk about the weather.
Then we sing three songs from a YouTube list provided by Big A’s preschool teacher. Don’t have a list? Pick a few songs that your preschooler likes.
Here’s another part that sounds harder than it is. I literally just talk about letters, numbers, shapes, or colors.
If we’re doing letters, I draw one on a magna doodle. I talk about things that start with that letter. We do hand-over-hand tracing of the letter. When discussing numbers, I pass out number tiles from puzzles, number flashcards, or write them myself. We may count on our fingers or count toys. I’ll use hand-over-hand to trace the numbers as well.
For shapes, I pass out toys/objects that are standard shapes and we discuss them. What else is a circle? How are squares and triangles different? For colors, I’ll use flashcards, different colored construction paper, toys, or blocks. I’ll point out items that are the same color, or talk about common/frequently seen objects: “This is red, like apples and fire trucks!”
Gross Motor Development Activities
We’ve been sitting for most of Circle Time, so it’s time to get up and move around! I encourage the boys to run, jump, and/or crawl. Most days, I drag out the mini trampoline and the tricycle. Big A gets to jumping and Little A does laps around the first floor of our house. Sometimes we have dance parties or do action songs like The Hokey Pokey. A little indoor tunnel gets them to crawl (which also develops hand strength).
Here are some other gross motor development activities:
- Throwing balls/tossing them into bins
- “Skating” on paper plates
- Find and tag: “Find and tag something blue!”
- Move like animals: walk like an elephant/run like a cheetah!
- “Volleyball” with balloons
- Use painters tape to make boxes and ladders to jump in, around, etc
- Simon Says
- Pushing full laundry baskets
After all that movement, it’s nice to sit with some books. We read for about twenty minutes. The boys have to put up and fetch new books, so it’s following instructions work as well. Big A’s teacher set up a Facebook page loaded with activities and videos. Watching a video of his teacher reading a book first seems to prime Big A to read books with us.
I ask the boys to point to things on the pages, count objects, and name letters as well. Reading time calls for lots of animation: special voices, giggles, etc. I want them to be excited about books and reading.
Fine Motor Development Activities
This section encourages the boys to use their hands. We could be coloring, playing with Play-Doh, or placing stickers on construction paper. If I’m feeling ambitious, it could be an honest-to-God craft, like constructing rainmakers out of old paper towel tubes or making Moon Dough. But it’s not necessary to do super involved craft projects every day. Or at all.
Here are some other fine motor development activities:
- Tearing/gluing paper
- Using a hole punch
- Picking up small objects with tongs
- Water activities/pouring stations
- Wrapping things with rubber bands
- Clipping clothespins
- Finger painting/water painting
- Sorting/pattern activities
- Lacing pasta/Cheerios with pipe cleaners
- Q-tip painting
- Stacking cups
I can’t stress enough how not perfect quarantine preschool homeschooling can be. If you can only rustle up the energy to let the kids run in circles, read a couple of books, and scatter crayons on the table, that’s completely fine. Traditional schools and teachers have all kinds of resources and craft materials. It’s fine if you don’t.
You’re a warm body that loves them. That’s enough. I promise.
How is your homeschooling experience going? Is it way more intense than mine? Are you tearing out your hair? Trying to juggle working at home on top of quarantine homeschooling? Is it easier than you thought it would be? Tell me all about it.
Share this article so other preschool parents understand that this stuff doesn’t have to be a huge deal.