i slacked off for a while on preschool and there was a big difference.
the days seemed longer (especially the dreaded afternoons) and i had less patience with the boys. i don't know what it is about having some planned activities, but it makes a world of difference in all of our moods.
when we first started i was hand-writing out my plan for every day (ugh) and trying to figure out a good rhythm. i've pared it down a lot and this is what i've been using to plan my "lessons" (and i use that term quite loosely):
i printed the page and put it in a clear page protector, and i write on it with wet-erase markers. it's in my command central binder (which i haven't actually worked on much yet).
(for music and movement, i have a list of a bunch of songs to help me if i get stuck. basically we march/run around in circles and sing every song i can think of. today we did instruments and brought out the bells, shakers, drums, etc. it was actually pretty fun, even for me. [let's be real here. as much as i love them, hanging around with toddlers all day isn't exactly intellectually stimulating.] music and movement usually lasts from 10-20 minutes, depending on the boys' moods. and on how quickly i get bored/my throat gets dry from singing.)
theme: this is where we usually do some sort of art project (if i feel like it). coloring, gluing, etc. i usually pick a random theme for the day (a shape, a color, body parts, an animal...whatever) just to help me come up with an activity. today we did sorting and matching, so no messy art projects. :)
activity: so far this is has been things like blowing bubbles, food coloring in water/oil, "washing dishes", etc. not always water activities, but that's all i can think of right now. basically i pick something simple, not messy (water isn't a big deal, as long as we do it in the kitchen), that will take 10-15 minutes.
independent play/focus time: this is usually 20-30 mins (depending on whether or not they're crying during IP). ;) one boy goes in the room while i do a focus activity (usually something geared towards practicing a skill, counting, letters, colors, etc.) with the other boy. then switch. usually i have some ideas of things to do and then see how it plays out (like today, the focus time activity i had planned was over desmond's head so we ended up
morning activities: here i just list ideas of things we can do if there's a lull in the day. stuff like blanket time, reading time, maybe an activity that i come up with that they can do with minimal supervision. i use this section for ideas of things to occupy the boys if i need to work on dinner (often i cook it during naptime, but sometimes i...nap instead.)
and a lot of days when we haven't done formal "preschool time", i just pick random activities to fill boring spots in our day. on those days i'll just list a bunch of stuff on the planning sheet and pick whatever sounds good at the moment.
*i just feel i should add, that preschool time does not have to be a lot of work. i don't put a lot of work into it. it takes me just a few minutes to plan, and i have so many activities pinned on pinterest that it's usually fairly easy to find something. it might look like i'm doing all this cool stuff, but...i'm not. writing it out like this and taking pictures makes it seem way more involved than it is.
**my second point. i do not believe that children should be entertained every minute of the day. that is not my job. i also do not believe children should have crazy academic schedules ("okay bernice, first we're going to have your mandarin lesson, and then we'll move onto violin appreciation and toddler algebra concepts!") children learn best through play. but i think it's okay (and even good!) to have some predictability, some structure to your day (if you want it). balance is always nice.
and to end, 2 amusing stories for you.
yesterday we were sitting in church with about 10 minutes left to go, and silas remarked on how bored the boys looked. (desmond was in my lap with his head tipped back, saying, "umbrella...umbrella...umbrella...")
i said, "good." silas gave me a weird look.
"i just meant that it's good for them to be bored sometimes," i said. "life isn't always fun, and they need to deal with it."
i wasn't feeling very patient yesterday.
and this morning, i was in the kitchen when i heard this excited stage whisper:
less than a minute later i turned to see two grinning boys, standing in front of me, with a fistful of condoms each.
they found the treasure trove.