Just recently I did a couple mystery shops at day care centers and I was surprised how many ideas I got for our own homeschool! I signed up for them originally just for the extra cash, and because I could take my kids with, but now I’m glad I signed up to take a couple tours at day cares!
Sign language from birth
Okay, I knew about this before, but it just served as a reminder that I should start signing with Tulip already. While I don’t like to put too much structure on very young children, there isn’t anything stifling about teaching a small child sign language, assuming it’s used in daily life and not a sit-down lesson. Sign language really helped us with Little Miss so she could tell us what she wanted, and she still uses it sometimes, either to be cute or because she’s not being understood.
This day care (I’ll leave the name out of this because I’m not sure if I can disclose it because of the mystery shop) has an entire curriculum planned from birth to Kindergarten! I looked at this exact day care center about 8 years ago when I was looking for day care for Care Bear and they had nothing like this at the time. You can tell day cares are trying to get kids ready for school, and having a curriculum helps them be competitive also. Again, I don’t like a lot of structure for little kids, but I liked reviewing the goals they had for each age.
Circle Time centers
A couple things I saw that I hadn’t thought of before are having a word wall, and having a calendar with velcro on each day and only adding the date as it comes up (to teach counting). Even though it’s just a couple of us that would take advantage of a circle time at home, I like the idea of having that time to set the day and begin a routine, in sha Allah. Little Miss doesn’t seem too interested so far, but at some point I see Circle Time being a part of our day.
Shorter outside time more often
Right now I take Tulip and Little Miss out to play for around an hour a day. I dream of being out all day and having adventures in the woods, but I’m not there yet (and I’m starting to realize I’m kind of a fair-weather park goer. I’ll try to break out of it, but I may need to adjust my expectation, too). Still, at first I was put off by the idea that they only go out for 20 minute increments, but when I think about it, it could work out a little better if I can get Little Miss out more times a day. I’m not set on this yet, but it’s definitely a reasonable option for another way to handle getting outside while she still needs constant supervision.
I have to say, I was quite surprised by how many changes there had been since I had toured the day care for Care Bear 8 or 9 years ago. There was not any curriculum and it seemed a bit more run down. I have mixed emotions about a set curriculum so young, but it really looked like they hid it in play time, so I can’t complain. Overall, it gave me some ideas for our home preschool, in sha Allah.