How did I teach my preschooler? Before I get into that, did you know that a person’s character and intelligence is a skill that can be nurtured and developed? I bring this up because character or intelligence is often referred to as a “trait”, which suggests permanence or something acquired through genetics.
Sure, individuals are born with varying levels of intelligence and character, but that is just the baseline. Keep reading to find out why understanding character and intelligence played such an important role when deciding the best learning tools to teach my preschooler.
When it came down to teaching my toddler, I made the rookie mistake of thinking what worked for my older child will work for my other children too. Wrong! They were polar opposites. I have a highly spirited middle child. What works for the majority of children just absolutely does not work for him. When I came to grips with that fact, I gave myself more grace and reduced my anxiety with parenting him.
What I wish I knew as a first time parent
I wish I knew the relationship between character, intelligence, and personality earlier on in parenthood. Before I go into “why” I want to share briefly different ways parents can develop and teach their toddlers and preschooler these skills.
1. Character skills = social and emotional learning. This includes helping our children manage emotions, show empathy, being kind to others, and understanding how their choices can have good or bad consequences.
2. Intelligence skills = cognitive development. This is the exposure of sensory inputs in a child’s environment such as visual, auditory, and tactile. Parents can support cognitive development by teaching preschoolers to be curious about their environment, having self-control, problem-solving, making connections.
How does personality play into nurturing character and intelligence?
Personality is what makes a person unique and that is your child’s nature. Understanding nature informs how to nurture your child’s cognitive and social-emotional skills.
You can’t alter your child’s nature because that is who they are. However, you CAN develop your child’s intelligence and character. You can do so effectively by understanding your child’s nature.
Now that you understand the relationship between your child’s character, personality, and nature – you will be able to determine the best learning program to teach your preschooler. This is because you can enter a program with an open mind and understanding that your child is a sponge.
If your child does not understand a concept, you know it’s not due to your child’s intelligence since intelligence is a skill that can be nurtured. The question is, how can I best support my child’s learning. A lot of it comes with the right tools, guidance, and mindset.
How do learning kits teach my preschooler?
Because I understood my child’s active nature, I wanted an interactive and hands-on learning kit. That means it doesn’t require rote memorization or workbooks! Here are the 4 criteria I had for effective learning tools to teach my preschooler.
- Flexible structure. I look for programs that will help me teach my preschooler skill-building activities found in preschool and homeschooling programs, but without a rigid schedule. Programs that doesn’t make me stick to specific scripts when presenting activities is also important. I want to have natural conversations with my child.
- Materials provided and ready to use. When I was a working city mom, I didn’t have time to cut, laminate, prep, let alone purchase and store materials. I needed a learning kit that provided me with all the materials and designed for busy parents and families on the go.
- Activities that serve multi-purpose. As I mentioned before, I didn’t have the space to store a lot of things in my small city apartment. I valued activities with space saving manipulatives that progress with my child. This also allows me to observe my child’s intellectual growth.
- Engaging themes and illustrations. Children are visual learners and my son was not any different. The activities had to be fun and capture his attention. It should feel like he’s playing, but with skill building lessons built-in.
So, is there a learning kit that meets my criteria?
What’s the verdict? Unfortunately, I did not find a learning kit that met my criteria. I found “learning kits” at Costco and Barnes and Noble that covered various preschool subjects. It was useful to see what I should be teaching my preschooler, but it didn’t meet my hands-on criteria. The kits mostly contained workbooks and flashcards.
I’ve also tried standalone workbooks and at-home preschool programs (online and offline) out there. I found that the materials and structure were too rigid for my child’s personality. He needed a learning kit that understood his needs. My preschooler is high-energy and can’t sit still for long periods of time.
It’s not that I have anything against workbooks. But I knew my child wasn’t developmentally ready to do many of the workbook activities like matching one object to another. Circling the correct object. Tracing letters and numbers. I didn’t want to subject him to it just because it was the only thing available.
So what does any mom on a mission do? I created my own hands-on learning kit to teach my preschooler.
The learning kits are all anchored around classic storytime favorites, like “Little Blue Truck” and “The Runaway Bunny“. I chose the books as the anchor to my preschool lesson plans because although my toddler is a high-energy child, he can sit still for books that are captivating (stay tuned because I’ll be writing a new blog post about that). He’ll want to read them over and over again, which is promising because that’s how children learn – through repetition.
Why the learning kits helped me teach my preschooler.
Because I had full control over the learning kits’ structure, the TigerKubz storybook-based learning kits met all four of my criteria for an effective learning kit.
- Flexible. The learning kits have a flexible lesson plan structure and does not require parents to present it in a specific order. The preschool activities engage children in skill building games and approved by early childhood educators.
- Ready to Use. Materials are provided and ready for use! The learning kits are for busy parents who want to spend less time prepping and more time engaging.
- Space saving, multipurpose, portable. The activities and hands-on materials are made on cardstock and laminated for durability. That means it stores flat in a folder and can also be easily transported. The activities can be modified to meet your child where they are developmentally = multipurpose!
- Engaging. The learning kits are based on classic children’s book so I know the stories are timeless and will appeal to many children. The illustrations and activities are designed by yours truly for her high needs child.
How do I know if the learning kit will help me teach MY preschooler?
The learning kits cover six subjects with a thorough parent guide teaching you how to engage your child in math, literacy, science, social studies, fine and gross motor, and brain-boosting concepts. Each activity is based on characters, themes, and concepts found in the story. The learning kits come with hands-on manipulatives that, although written for a specific activity, give families the flexibility to use the materials in creative ways to extend and modify learning.
Young children are active and spontaneous and may prefer to use the materials in a different way. Because of its open-ended adaptability, parents can easily modify an activity based on their child’s mood and interest. For example, “The Runaway Bunny” learning kit comes with the Bunny Hide and Seek number recognition activity. Parents can hide the bunny behind one of the number cards to practice number recognition. Children can also use the same pieces to do a story re-tell.
What is your child’s key?
If you have multiple children, you may have quickly learned they have different personalities and learning styles. By understanding this, you know that every child has their own unique key. It is our job, as parents and as our preschooler’s first teacher, to find that key. When you find that key, you’ll be able to unlock your ability to engage your child and help them achieve their potential.
In this post, I went into great detail about the 3 components to help you effectively teach your preschooler. To summarize, they are:
- The right tools. Learning materials like these learning kits encouraging children to use hands-on manipulatives and meets your child where they are developmentally. This is because young children are visual and tactile learners.
- Parental guidance. Parents do not need to have a degree in early childhood education. We already have the motivation to teach our children, we just need some guidance to help us fill in the gaps.
- Mindset. Now you know that character and intelligence are skills that can be nurtured. This means you can now work with your child’s personality/nature instead of trying to fit them into a box.
What questions do you have about teaching your preschooler?
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Sheryll is the proud mom to 3 boys (1, 5, and 12-years-old) and wife to her better half. She is the founder and CEO of TigerKubz and is on a mission to empower parents with tools to easily engage their little learners. When Sheryll is not thinking of creative ways to make learning experiences of everyday life, changing diapers, or chasing after her kids, you may find her in the kitchen trying out new recipes, attempting to fish on a nice day, or jamming out to Disney singalongs with Alexa.