What My Preschooler Does All Day

I have been back on facebook for a little while, and I have seen several posts in homeschool groups expressing concern as to how to best homeschool children of preschool (or younger age). It also came up a bit in a recent conversation I had with my friend Aubrey for an episode of her podcast. I had sort of forgotten that perspective as I have been immersed in the aesthetics of Pinterest and Instagram which are teeming with photographic evidence of young children fully immersed in play through various mechanisms.

And that’s really what it’s all about at this age, PLAY!

One of the downsides to the developmentally inappropriate approach that the common core takes, in my opinion, is that parents inherit a warped sense of not only what children are capable of doing, but also what they should be doing on a regular basis. Internet based learning has only further attributed to this misunderstanding, in my opinion. (Donna Simmons wrote a thought provoking piece on Waldorf via zoom recently, for example.)

Tempera paint is a definite favorite

Play is an important form of experimentation for your children, and it is widely recognized by all experts in Early Childhood Education as foundational work. Young children are incapable of abstract thinking, and so they must be allowed to fully develop a working database of information garnered via concrete learning, typically through hands on activities and in person experiences.

If you would like to learn more about the importance of play, you can read the original writings of educational theorists and contemporary authors, such as*:

*I recommend reading the original writings of these authors as they are very difficult to distill into brief blog posts. However, the articles provided do offer a very basic overview.

I decided to take several classes on Early Childhood Education in order to refresh my perspective on teaching approaches for my own children, and the message of the importance of play was resounding.

Phew, now that I got that out of my system, let’s turn to what my preschooler does all day, shall we?

Continue scrolling to the bottom of this post for more photos. Formatting posed a bit of a challenge for me with this post, and as a result the alignment is a bit wonky. My apologies!

One of our fancier poetry tea time outlays
fingerpaints, whether authorized or not

On any given day, my preschooler:

  • rides her scooter
  • is pushed in some sort of container by her siblings (carboard box, etc.)
  • does imaginary play, independently or with a sibling (pre-COVID she was just beginning interactive play)
  • plays in her sandbox (the sandbox was her favorite thing to do at the park)
  • paints
  • draws with crayons
  • draws with markers (she did Lunch Doodles with Mo & got her very own certificate!)
  • draws with colored pencils
  • cuts with various kinds of scissors
  • glues with white or clear or glitter glue
  • glues with glue sticks
  • strings beads or cheerios onto a piece of whatever string we have
  • does directed art projects in accordance with her ability
  • pretend reads books to herself or looks at the pictures
  • is read to by her siblings or her mama (e.g. Ladybugs picture book)
  • plays with calico critters
  • listens to her favorite songs (e.g. Bananaphone)
  • does animal moves (e.g. hop like a rabbit)
  • listens to one of her brother’s lessons about trickster tales or dinosaurs, etc.
  • plays with playdough
  • does preschool specific activities that I have prepared in advance, e.g.
  • climbs trees
  • jumps around
  • pretend Irish dances
  • pretend dances ballet
  • runs around in circles
  • hops from one circle to another on the carpet
  • jumps on the couch (ahh!)
  • runs across the grass
  • runs through sprinklers
  • plays in a small swimming pool
  • kicks a soccer ball
  • sneakily takes things from her siblings’ desks
  • shreds things like picture books (lol)
  • uses a pencil to scribble in picture books
  • plays at museum exhibits (pre-COVID, attending various science and other museums was one of her favorite things to do.)
  • goes to the library (pre-COVID) and demands that we check out every single Piggy & Gerald book ever written (or Good Dog Carl, or Dora, etc.)
  • enters into library contests via her older sister (she won a summer reading prize!)
  • swings on swings at the park (pre-COVID)
  • climbs things
  • goes down slides
  • catches ladybugs
  • goes hiking & demands to be carried, but not too much anymore
  • splashes in big muddy puddles
  • goes to the ocean or other water body
  • does puzzles (small or large)
  • digs random holes in the dirt in our yard
  • plants seeds
  • waters the plants
  • plays with rocks
  • collects pinecones
  • collects dandelion wishes
  • participates in poetry teatime (she has a small teapot I fill with tepid water for her to pour)
  • plays with her water table (lately adds water from it to her sandbox)
  • asks a LOT of questions
  • plays with math blocks
  • picks wildflowers
  • builds with blocks
  • builds with legos
  • builds with duplo blocks
  • participates in our science experiments, to the best of her ability
  • pulls weeds from the garden
  • plays with loose parts
  • handles rolly pollies and gives them names
  • decorates cookies
  • collects leaves from the park or our yard or anywhere really
  • collects sweet gum balls
  • plays with our dog
  • plays with or talks to our cat
  • tries to pick out the heaviest pumpkin at the pumpkin patch
  • facetime calls family or friends
  • attends our monthly book club
  • plays with something that isn’t a toy, e.g. atoms from a molecule set
  • plays with seashells, at home or at the beach
  • sorts things
  • lines things up
  • picks cherries, or apples, or whatever
  • feeds animals at the petting zoo
  • tries to bowl
Valentine’s Day science experiment all of the kids did together

So, as you can see, play takes up most, if not all of her time. Sometimes she’ll watch an occasional show, such as Barney, Dora, or her recent favorite “If You Give a Mouse a Cookie, but that takes up a very limited amount of time. Ideally she wouldn’t engage with screens at all, but I do have 5 kids and no childcare support beyond my husband, so it’s a concession I’m willing to make in order to keep the bajillion things it takes to run our household going.

loose parts setup I put together from the dollar store

If you’re homeschooling a preschool or toddler aged kiddo this year and you’re feeling stuck on what sorts of things to do in order to keep them engaged and learning, go an search on Pinterest & Instagram. You can find super low key/low prep activities that will add to your rotation.

And, most importantly, don’t sweat the academics. If you allow your child the space to play as much as possible before they turn 5, when the time comes to gently raise the stakes, they’ll be ready to meet the challenge!

the coolest rainbow leaf
always making good use of the stepping stools at the library
holding up the end of the hike club group
science molecule set
seashell collection she regularly examines
landform puzzle play
An incomparably huge sandbox
a nature walk on a rainy day
a “bee waterer” she recently made
sort all the things
book & doll my preschooler won for participating in the summer reading program

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