For your 2-6 year-old child:
- Decide on a theme. One way of planning what to do with them is to first decide on a theme. I might follow what their school is already doing or if they see a snail and are going on and on about snails, that can be an impetus to study that too.
- Plan the subjects / skills you want to teach and find a related activity (E.g. Volcanoes) Then I go into the subjects and try to link the subjects to the theme.
The languages are fairly easy to relate to the theme. I will first go to NLB Catalogue to look for books on the theme. I find it useful to do my homework first so that I can just go to the library to pick up the titles that are available. Or if it is a specific book I REALLY REALLY want, then I'll place a reservation (only $1.55!) but that's quite rare because I'm not a picky reader. I think at this point, any book is better than no book. And any book I can get my hands on is better than waiting weeks or months for Book Depository to slowly take their own sweet time because by then, my kids' interests will have moved on and I end up not catching that window of interest. I usually also teach some phonics (maybe a letter sound that they encounter a lot? E.g. /V/ for volcanoes)
ii. Math and Art and Craft are more skill-based so it takes a bit of scouring to find materials on it. Thankfully, with the internet and many teachers and mothers willing to share resources, sometimes I can get free printables related to the theme. Pinterest is a great friend here. There are many paying sites if you can't find what you want for free. TeachersPayTeachers and LivingMontessoriNow has some free and paid resources.
iii. Science is quite fun because you can find related activities to do with the children and they are so amazed at seeing the experiments work out before their eyes! The recent activity I did with my kids on volcanoes is a baking soda-vinegar explosion. They always love to see the bubbling!
iv. Mandarin is always challenging. I tried to introduce words and phrases with 火 －火山， 火灾，着火. In a flash of inspiration, I even managed to introduce 灿烂. Not expecting it to stick but oh well, it was related! Chinese books that are simple enough and related to the theme are hard to find too, so sometimes they are a hit and miss.
This is an example of a subject plan on the Sea Life theme for a 4-6-year-old. Every theme your child's preschool teacher teaches should have gone through extensive planning like this (and more) because after this, the teachers still need to create the learning resources and learning centres for your child to explore and engage in. They do work very hard! Please appreciate and encourage them!
As you can see, if you want to plan your teaching thematically, it does take a fair bit of work to do the research. Then you need to print, cut, gather and sometimes even create your resources. If you have the time and interest to do these, I hope the pointers above can help you to start planning! But the reality it, time is tight, especially if you are a working parent. Even stay-home parents are multi-tasking 1001 things! We understand that! Thus, we're happy to announce that we've got the solution for you all in a box. We do the work of planning and sequencing the lessons, finding good books and creating all the theme-based learning activities, packed properly with instructions for you to carry out the activities with your child. If you think you can find pockets of 10-15 minutes, 2-3 times a week to do the activities with your child, we believe it will help you engage your child more, help him/her with mastering essential skills of reading and math while having fun together.