One of the most common questions I am asked is “why do you do activities with your preschooler at home?” And gosh if that isn’t a loaded question. There are so many reasons we do fun activities at home.
Spoiler alert, none of my reasons have anything to do with getting a head start on academics. While I certainly want my kids to have the background knowledge that they will need to feel successful in kindergarten, that is a bonus 6th reason and doesn’t rank in the top 5.
Let me share with you the 5 main benefits that we get by doing preschool activities at home. And I know you will be able to relate to these reasons too.
We Do Activities at Home For Our Budget
Let’s start with the reason that started it all. It is the elephant in the room.
I had just quit my job as a teacher when my new mom friends started talking about enrolling their almost 2-year-olds in preschool. I knew instantly that there was zero chance I was going to be able to convince Eric to enroll Reagan in preschool when I had literally just quit my job to be home with her.
We have budgeted for both of our kids to go to one year of preschool right before kindergarten. It is 2 half days a week and it will cost us nearly $3,500 per kid.
If we had started enrolling both kids when they were 2, we would have paid closed to $10,500 (per kid) for part time. With me as a stay-at-home mom that wasn’t in the budget.
And if we had sent them full time and I had stayed a teacher we would have paid $50,000 per kid in preschool/day care from 0-5. We have 2 kids, so $100,000 in childcare was not in the cards for us.
Even if we had the money, that is not how our family would choose to spend it.
Activities At Home with My Preschooler Help Us Connect
Fun activities with my preschoolers are one of my favorite ways to connect with them. I have always loved teaching and getting to bring that into my own home exactly how I envisioned motherhood. When we do activities together we are laughing, being silly, creating art, and chit chatting. I get to love on them and praise them while teaching them something and it is such a cool feeling.
I shared about the four things all kids need to be successful and one of them was connection with their parents. I’m not great at pretend play, but I can do activities and crafts with my kids so that they feel how loved they are by me.
Activities Give Our Day Structure
Most of our days are different and we have a lot of flexibility, but we follow the same general structure each day. We have developed a routine that is predictable yet flexible.
This sense of structure and routine helps my kids transition through our day and give them a sense of control since they know when play time, rest time, meal time, and connection time will happen.
My kids watch tv every morning after getting dressed. It is just part of the routine. Fun activities at home with your preschooler make turning the tv off easier.
Think about it, when you say turn off the tv and figure out a way to entertain yourself your kids your kids throw a fit because play is hard work. Watching a screen is easy and hypnotizing.
But if instead you say “time to turn off the tv and let’s play a game together,” you aren’t asking them to turn off the tv just because you say so, you are asking them to turn off the tv so that you can bond with them. That will always be a win to your kid.
Activities are also really helpful tools to use when they wake up from nap or finish rest time and need a little loving.
Activities at Home to Lead to Independent Play
9 out of 10 times my kids start the activity that I have set out and then transition into independent play on their own.
My set up usually sparks their imagination. Then they want to begin creating and playing their own way. Sometimes they don’t even finish the activity I set up before they are ready to do their own thing. I roll with it. There is no sense in forcing them to play my way when their own play is 10x more beneficial.
There are so benefits to independent play for your child, but if we can, let’s take the moment to recognize that it has benefits for mom too. While your child plays independently you can cook dinner, drink your coffee, scroll social media, or read a book for your own enjoyment.
I want to be 100% transparent. While I try not to worry too much about academic “milestones” at the preschool level, I would be lying if I said I am totally okay with my kids knowing zero letters or numbers before kindergarten. I don’t need my kids to master these skills before kindergarten and I am more than okay with them being interested in play vs academics. That is normal. That is age appropriate. And they are practicing skills far more complex than memorizing letters and numbers when they play.
But, I still want them to have that background knowledge. I want them to sit in their kindergarten class and feel confident. I want them to think, “Oh I can do this, I have done it with my mom.” Or “Oh, I know this, my mom taught me.” The activities I do at home with my preschooler involve some academic concepts because of this. Academics and background knowledge would rank number 6 on my list.
What started out of necessity has turned into one of the biggest blessings. I am so grateful for the intentional time I have given my kids and myself. There are days when it is hard and I could benefit from a break from the kids, but given the chance there is now way I would have changed our path.
And if you are wondering what activities we do at our house, check out The Preschool Playbook, it is the curriculum I wrote and follow with my kids.