Friday, June 29, 2012

6 Tips for Teaching & Learning Fun with Little Ones Guest Post by Lauren

Holy cow did I ever need this post by Lauren from Daisy Cottage Designs! My 4 year old hates structured learning. She LOVES to learn but only on her timetable. I got out of the swing of things while trying to sell our house (how on earth do you do craft projects and have 3-5 showings per week?) and being pregnant/having a baby. I'm going to be spending some serious time on her pinterest pages and preschool pages (links in the article below.) I love her photography style! She is seriously gifted! You should check out her etsy shop--she crochets too!!! (Did you know I'm addicted to anything crocheted?) Without further ado, meet Lauren:

For starters, let me introduce myself. I'm Lauren, the girl behind the Daisy Cottage Designs blog and shop. My wonderful husband is the youth/assistant pastor at our church in Central Florida and works hard to provide for us so that I can stay home with our two daughters, Riley (2 and some change) and Caroline (almost 4 months).
Before I had the kids, I was a third grade teacher and loved every minute. I enjoy staying at home with my little chickadees even more, but I definitely needed some way to work my passion for teaching into daily life with my girls. When Riley hit two years old, I decided to get serious about teaching my toddler. Riley and I embarked on our preschool adventure and we haven't turned back. Every week or two, we pick a new theme complete with a letter, shape, and Bible verse. We then spend time having age-appropriate discussions and doing fun activities that will help us learn as much as we can about the topic.
I occasionally have people ask me how we fit so much in or friends think I'm crazy for trying to do so much with a two year old. I know you haven't asked the question, but I'm going to share 6 tips that have helped us accomplish lots of learning and crafts over the past few months.
  1. Let the dream of a perfectly clean and orderly house fly out the window. If you're like me, you'd feel like a successful lady if your house were always clean and you wore a size 4. You might be a size 4, but you're definitely not going to have the perfect house if you're spending lots of time finding, preparing, and conducting fun activities for and with your little preschooler. The counter will get paint splatters on it (thank you, Lord, for washable paint). Clothes might get streaked with marker (invest in an adorable smock or apron). It's okay. Your children will remember the fun activities and things they've learned. Not the mess that may or may not be around them.
  2. Have high expectations. My grandfather said it best: Kids are smarter than people. Your two year old might not be a rocket scientist or a brain surgeon when she grows up, but face it: it's pretty amazing what she's able to learn. Your child is probably capable of more than you think so be sure you take that into consideration when you're planning. This isn't to say that you can do activities geared for a 7 year old when your child is 18 months, but it does mean you should try to push them a little bit.
  3. Be willing to say no. This might sound like a weird tip, but it's important. Your three year old is just as opinionated as he is intelligent. If you're constantly listening to your child's every whim, you'll end up with blue trees, a very messy floor, and a huge headache. You have to set boundaries during your learning time.
  4. Take your toddler's interests into consideration. This may seem to go against the last tip, but I promise they go together. If your little scholar is into fish, read books and do crafts on ocean life. Sort sea creatures by color and learn about other animals in the ocean. Your goal is to get them to love learning and there's no better way to do this than to include activities that they're going to love.
  5. Repeat after me: Pinterest is your friend. While I do come up with a few activities on my own, most of them are found on Pinterest. I typically type our current theme followed by the words craft or activity into the search bar and find tons of ideas. I then pin them onto my preschool or craft boards for future reference.
  6. Document the process. Whether you decide to take on preschool as a daily activity or you just incorporate crafts here and there, be sure to snap some pictures. We have done far too many crafts to keep each and every one until Riley gets married (though there are some keepers for sure). Each week, we have a photo shoot to capture the crafts. I've found a great way to take some fun, candid shots is to have her show Daddy what we've been up to. I'm off to the side with my camera snapping away.
We have a great time doing our projects and I know you and your kiddos would enjoy them, too. I encourage you to start out doing a project one day a week. Talk about it, pick a letter to learn, and go from there. If you want to do more, go for it. If that's enough for you, that's okay, too. Just remember, whatever time you spend actively engaging your child and teaching her to learn will pay off down the road.
If you're interested in keeping up with our adventures, please see our Preschool at Home posts on our family's blog. 


  1. This is such a great post- it is amazing what kids can learn at that age! Riley is adorable and looks so happy with her grass face! While I don't do "preschool" at home with Domino, but we do fun experiments and grow things all the time. Her pumpkins have overtaken our backyard and she is just as excited! LOL! Thank you for all the great advice!
    Karie McKean

  2. amen to the pinterest tip - what did we do before that? so many ideas, so little time.

  3. Great post, Lauren!! I am on a mission now to figure out how to accomplish this with a four year and 2 two year olds! Thanks for the tips and insight. :)