With most Kindergarten through grade 12 schools starting in less than a month, many parents are trying to figure out what is best for their family when given the option between in-person or virtual learning?
What about preschool for 3 to 5-year-olds who were looking forward to in-person learning this fall?
For parents who believe it’s safer to keep their child home, there are ways to get them learning beyond the A, B, C’s.
“With our younger children we know they really thrive in predictability and routine and that is all gone right now,” said parenting expert Carly Dorogi.
Preschool participation has fallen by half during the pandemic, according to the National Institute for Early Education Research. But that doesn’t mean kids can’t learn at home.
Dorogi says children ages 3 to 5 can learn math using everyday items.
“If I have five Cheerios on the table this is what five looks like and it’s a small amount compared to when I have ten Cheerios on the table,” Dorogi said.
Playing with dolls or action figures can help language skills, forcing children to talk and put sentences together. Playtime is motor skills time.
“Our little guys can actually improve their handwriting by playing with play dough or doing anything that’s a small motor that strengthens their hand muscles,” Dorogi said.
If you want to introduce virtual learning, Dorogi suggests Osmo’s starter kit. It’s an app and hands-on play.
If you’re looking for workbooks, check out Grand Haven-Based School Zone Publishing. They say their preschool-aged items have been selling more now due to the pandemic. And they have an app called Anywhere Teacher that has a curriculum to follow.
Barbara Peacock is the managing director of School Zone Publishing.
“What they need to learn first, then next and it’s a step by step program so it’s really nice to kind of tie the two together both print material, doing flashcards, working on worksheets and then putting them for 30-minutes a day on Anywhere Teacher and working with them,” she said.
It is OK if your preschooler can’t sit still.
“They need to move," Dorogi explained. "Sitting at a desk for even an hour is too much and I don’t want parents to feel like that’s the expectation. So, think about alternative seating. If your child learns best laying on the floor or sitting in a bean bag.”
Dorogi suggests something as simple as a yoga ball on a milk crate that allows your fidgety child to focus.
“That is truly how their brain works and when we allow them to move and interact and talk that’s when they are going to learn,” she said.