Laynie’s “Nursery School” Curriculum (Our first 3 years)

I’ve had so many people email me and ask me to give specifics about what I did with Laynie until now, so here I’ll try to explain it a little. It’s really been pretty easy, and not too structured actually. This is what I tell those who are interested.

I tend to be very relaxed in my approaches to teaching Laynie preschool. When Laynie turned about 2 ½, I began using a few more structured “resources,” but I don’t plan to actually have official “school” until K4 (in the fall of this year, when she’ll be four years old). I believe that teaching the basics of preschool doesn’t require a lot of money spent on specific curriculum or resources. With what I did, Laynie is already ready for Kindergarten, and she’s only just now 3 ½!

The First 3 Years
I personally believe that during the first few years, imaginary play and social learning is more important than structured school time, but there are also many things parents should do with even the youngest child to help them be more successful in future preschool and school, so I’ve listed what I’ve done with Laynie during those years. I’ve provided lots of opportunities for Laynie to learn the basics of a preschool education, mostly through hands-on and interactive play during her first 3 years.
Ages 0-12 Months:
(I did what I could, I was still working full time as a teacher)
Singing the ABC Song among other popular songs (yes, even as an infant – it was the one song for a while that she would smile at – we sang it to her during several portrait sessions just so she’d smile)
Reading books nightly (yes, as an infant! We began at week 2 – we would have begun day 1, except she was in the NICU for her first 8 days!) – 5 minutes
Allowing lots of tactile experiences – if it was messy, she got to squish, smash, throw, and splash it all over the place
Listening to lots of different kinds of music, singing to her
Talking to her, about anything and everything
Fingerplays
Playdates, church nursery school twice per week
Making sure she was on track developmentally (feeding, teaching her to walk, say her first word, sleep through the night, hold a sippy cup, etc… you know, all that good stuff you read about in “The First Year” books, LOL)
Her babysitter used to sit her swing in front of the television to put her to sleep during this time – just thought I’d mention that in case you’re wondering about TV time – not what I would have done myself, but it didn’t harm her now that I look back on it. I’m still great friends with her babysitter, and still use her to babysit at times – so no hard feelings there, in case you’re wondering.

Ages 12-24 Months:
(Still working full time at this point, but began staying at home when she was 20 months old)
Singing the ABC Song with her until she began singing it herself, then I’d just grin proudly when she would randomly burst out in song
Reading books nightly – 10 minutes
Playing with as many educational toys with her as I could, for as long as it would hold her attention (like the Leapfrog Alphabet Bus, counting blocks, shape sorters, etc.)
Listening, dancing, and singing to lots of different kinds of music
Talking to her, about anything and everything, and giving her opportunity to put in her own two cents
ABC poster in the playroom, singing the song and pointing to the letters at least once per week, or whenever I thought about it
Began printing off alphabet sheets off the internet for her to color – only about one per week, and in no specific order)
Began counting EVERYTHING we saw – focusing on counting through 10
Began pointing out colors and shapes of EVERYTHING we saw
Coloring books or just coloring on plain paper, fingerpainting and painting with paintbrushes and even random objects too
Playing with playdoh
Laynie’s babysitter continued to put her in a baby swing in front of the television to put her to sleep, up until she was 20 months old and I began staying at home with her (not kidding!) – just thought I’d mention that in case you’re wondering about TV time – not what I would have done myself, but again, I really don’t think it harmed her now that I’m looking back on it. There’s really no telling how much TV this kid had seen in her first 20 months of life, LOL! When I began staying at home with her, we began watching select, educational kids’ shows on TV – one per day – yes, I really did! She was addicted by this point, so scaling back was really what I did.
Reciting fingerplays and nursery rhymes
Easy puzzles
Interacting with puppets
Playdates, church nursery school and “Mission Friends” twice per week
Making sure she was on track developmentally, but not as worried and OCD about it as I was the first year though, LOL
Ages 2 – 3:
Began having “school time” at about 2 ½ – no more than 20 minutes a day, four days per week. During this time, we began doing 1-2 pages in an educational workbook, four days per week (bought them at Walgreen’s, Barnes and Noble, etc.). I also began working through Teach Your Child To Read in 100 Easy Lessons, four days per week – but we did just 10 minutes per day, which made it about 1-2 lessons per week. And, we began reading “Bob Books” on occasion.
Sat her in front of Leapfrog’s The Letter Factory DVD or PBS’s Super Why show– once a day, four days per week – she knew all her letter sounds within a few weeks and I didn’t really have to do a thing! (please don’t judge me harshly, lol)
Reviewed letter sounds using her various educational toys we’ve got around the house, and that ABC poster in the playroom
Counted EVERYTHING we could, focusing on counting through 20
Began using Letter of the Week and Starfall online, plus some JumpStart CD’s I got at a consignment sale – just once per week, for 20-30 minutes at a time
Began writing familiar words for her to recognize (her name, Mommy, Daddy, Nana, cat, etc…)
Began encouraging her to draw pictures instead of just scribbling
Reading books nightly – 20 minutes
Playing with as many educational toys with her as I could, for as long as it would hold her attention (like the Leapfrog Word Whammer on the fridge (also bought at a consignment sale), magnetic letters and numbers, writing on a chalkboard, whatever and for however long it would hold her attention)
Listening, dancing, and singing to lots of different kinds of music
Talking to her, about anything and everything, and encouraging and allowing her to continue the conversation, allowing plenty of “response time” and actively engaging her.
Having her point and sing by herself using the ABC poster in her playroom
Continued printing off alphabet sheets and numbers sheets off the internet for her to color, but now choosing the ones that had traceable alphabet or numbers included – only about one per week, and in no specific order)
Encouraged her with counting anything and everything – focusing on counting through 20 or higher
Using descriptive words (even above her vocabulary level) to describe objects we saw – “bring me the fushia crayon, please – yes, the one that’s kindof pink and purple” or “would you like the large, medium, or small size ball?” etc.
Encouraging her to color in the lines in her coloring books, or to draw her own pictures to color or paint
Playing with playdoh, moon sand, silly putty, goo, homemade gunk, etc. – encouraging her to use tools or cookie cutters to purposefully form shapes and objects out of it.
Reciting fingerplays and nursery rhymes, independently or together
More challenging puzzles – we now put away the puzzles with the “knobs” and attempted to put together easy jigsaw puzzles, teaching her techniques for putting them together such as doing the outside edges first, and looking for matching patterns for the inside pieces.
Pretend play with dolls, dollhouses, stuffed animals, building our own pretend things out of blocks for them, and role-playing with them
Playdates, church nursery school and “Mission Friends” twice per week
Not worrying about if she’s “on track developmentally,” not even sure where those books have gone to, lol!

2 thoughts on “Laynie’s “Nursery School” Curriculum (Our first 3 years)

  1. Kewkew – Thanks for visiting! I just stopped by your blog, and you're doing some fun map activities – I'm going to use some of those ideas with Laynie! And congrats that your little one just sounded out her first word! That's so exciting. To answer your question… I read just about everything. Board books, paper books, but it was "short and sweet" – no more than a few minutes. Laynie was always interested in the pages, and I had to teach her early on not to tear them lol! If the story was long, I'd shorten it and not really read the exact words on the page. Most of the time, I'd point and say, "flower" or "teddy bear" etc, even if the page had two or three paragraphs. In other words, often I'd just describe the pictures for her. As she got older, her attention span got better and better and I was able to read her the actual paragraphs on the pages. We were lucky in that she began as an infant with a whole bookshelf of books (mostly bought at yard sales or consignment sales, or were baby shower gifts or came from my old bookshelf from when I taught school). My favorites to read to her were board books like "Goodnight Moon" and "The Very Hungry Caterpillar" and many more.

  2. Just stopped over from Homeschool Creations when I saw there were a couple new links for preschool corner. I'm amazed at how much you did with your daughter at such a young age. Was wondering what types of books you read to her as a newborn. My daughter, who is now 19 months, wouldn't listen to me read at all until several months ago.

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