Back to Back Issues Page
The Whole Child, Issue #032- Join our Preschool Activities eGroup
October 30, 2006


The Whole Child e-zine brings you free preschool activities each week to maximize your child's potential, build skills and parent-child relationships in just a few minutes per day. Useful tips, quotes, resources, opportunities and articles will added for extra value!

If you enjoy this e-zine, please pay it forward and send it to a friend.
If you received THE WHOLE CHILD from a friend and you would like to subscribe, please sign up at Shirley's Preschool Activities.

29 October 2006, Issue #032


1. Hello from Shirley
2. Join the Preschool Activities at Home eGroup
3. Read my Mail
4. Tips
5. Quote
6. Book Reviews
7. Readiness Activities

1. Hello from Shirley

For the past two weeks, my husband has been on another business trip to China. It has been a long two weeks for us, but what has really made it easier is that every day the children and I have been able to video-chat with him.
In fact, I think he and I have probably had more conversation these two weeks than when he is at home! We even had an argument and made up over the Net!

Today I was thinking about how many children from broken homes don't get to have much of a relationship with a parent, because he (or she) doesn't live with them. Four days a month (every alternate week-end) does not leave a dad much time to build a relationship with his child, but with the free online communication programmes like Skype and MSN, they could spend a bit of time together online each day and strengthen those bonds.

If you are a single parent, don't deprive your child of a relationship with her other parent. Take advantage of the technology that is now available and let them get to know each other better. This is a stepmother speaking. I've seen first hand the need for a child to have a good relationship with both her biological parents - no matter how different from you the other parent may be!

2. Join the Preschool Activities at Home eGroup

This week I took the plunge and did what I have been meaning to do for ages. I started a preschool-activities-at-home egroup where we can all share our experiences of teaching and raising preschoolers.
It is a place to ask questions, ask advice and share the ups and downs of life with small kiddies.

I did send an invitation to all my subscribers, however some invitations were bounced by spam filters, so if you haven't yet signed up, you can do so right now by sending a blank email to preschool-activities-at-home-

Please also spread the word in your preschool and homeschooling circles. I look forward to 'getting to know' many of you better.

3. Read my Mail 

This is the latest in a bunch of enquiries I have received about what to do with toddlers under 3.


My daughter is 14 months but I would like to start her on a homeschooling program when she turns 2 which will be in August 2007.  I know it is a long way away but I am doing research on the different available programs and yours has been highlighted to me.  Could  you perhaps let me know how this can be adjusted for her age as your brochure states that your program is only from 3 yrs but can be adjusted for older or younger children.  Also let me know the costs involved as well as any other information that you think is important for me to know at this stage.


My first word to you is: RELAX. At 14 months your child should still be free to play and do whatever she wants, without the stress of formal learning activities. Consider these quotes by educational experts:

“A mother’s first duty to her children is to secure for them a quiet and growing time, a full six years of passive receptive life, the waking part of it for the most part spent out in the fresh air.” (Charlotte Mason)

“The idea that parents should hurry reading, spelling, writing, or math ahead of children’s normal development is not supported by a single replicable research study in the world or by any clinical experience in history. All history, research and common sense points in the opposite direction! We repeat: Any who push the three R’s early deny the readiness the Creator built in – reasonably mature vision, hearing, taste, touch, smell, reason, brain growth, coordination – as clearly documented in our books Better Late Than Early and School Can Wait.”
(Raymond and Dorothy Moore, The Successful Homeschool Family Handbook)

I suggest you read the article I wrote called "Don't start too early" on the Worksheets page of my preschool activity website. 

I know the pressure that we moms all feel to give our children a head start and to be able to prove that we are able to teach them and that they are learning, but having 4 kiddies of my own, I have now learnt that they all learn, each in their own time, and there is no need to put pressure on them. But I also used to suffer from what I now affectionately call 'first child syndrome' until I read about the damage that starting too soon can do.  I have learnt that as long as you create a warm, loving environment, they learn everything they need to naturally, in their own time, without much effort from the parents!

At 2 years I really don't believe that a child needs formal learning. Perhaps a regular routine yes, like meals and a nap at regular times, storytime etc...but not a structured programme. I would rather encourage you just to spend as much time with your child as possible to meet her emotional needs, which are more important for healthy development than 'academic' type of activities. I don't believe in trying to produce super babies - I think it is unnatural to stimulate children before they are emotionally and developmentally ready for formal learning activities.

As you go about your day, just talk to your child, about whatver is relevent or sing to her too. Classical music is also good for brain development in young kiddies, but I also expose my kids to other good quality music that I enjoy - various genres from pop to worship music to gentle opera! Whatever you enjoy!

Make sure she gets lots of outdoor activity, walking, running, playing ball, visiting play parks etc. to develop gross motor skills...and of course read her lots of stories. I have reviewed a whole lot of worthwhile ones in my preschool manual, ABC Fun & 1-2-3, but also see the article about Reading on my preschool website for age-appropriate suggestions. You could just begin at the library for now! She'll appreciate ABC Fun more when she is older (aged 3-6)

I know moms of 2 year olds that spend hours teaching their children rhymes, colours, shapes, counting etc ...but it is more to boost their own egos than for the benefit of their child. Kids of that age don't need to know that stuff yet in my opinion. Rather let them play and learn by exploring their world in their own time - they only get to be kids once...and once they start formal learning at school age, they can never get the freedom of those early years back again!

Children are naturally curious about  the world around them. We need to trust in their ability to learn everything they need to in their own time..and not fall into the trap of comparing. Each child develops at his own rate and each has his own strengths.

I also have a newsletter called The Whole Child to which you can subscribe in which I give ideas for activities to do at home with small kiddies to develop different skills - gross motor, fine motor, language, visual skills etc .... in a fun relaxed way. At the moment the activities are aimed at older kids, but I think there is a need for activities for younger ones too - maybe I'll add that soon, as I often get enquiries like yours.

There are also some articles to encourage moms on the homeschooling page.
Since you asked the cost, ABC Fun is R250 including postage in SA, but as I said, you can wait a bit before you start something like that. Rather play with balls and toys and other fun stuff!! 
Regards Shirley

P.S. ABC Fun & 1-2-3 can also be purchased online in ebook format for only $22, that's less than a dollar per week! Click here to learn more about it!

4. Tips

Yesterday I had a child 'stuck' in a zip-up swimsuit that wouldn't unzip. Some remedies for sticky zippers are:

1. rub the lead of a pencil point up and down the zipper to act as a lubricant
2. rub soap on the zipper
3. what finally worked for us was a few drops of cooking oil!

5. Quote 

If I had my child to raise over again - Anonymous

If I had my child to raise over again,
I would finger paint more and point the finger less.
I'd do less correcting and more connecting.
I'd take my eyes off my watch and watch with my eyes.
I would care to know less and know to care more.
I'd take more hikes and fly more kites
I'd stop playing serious and seriously play.
I would run through more fields and gaze at more stars.
I'd do more hugging and less tugging.
I'd build self esteem first and the house later.
I'd teach less about the love of power
and more about the power of love.

6. Book Reviews 

I have listed some of my favourite parenting and homeschooling books at Shirley's Store where you can browse and purchase those or any other books you like using's secure online shopping. By ordering via my store, you are helping to support my site, as Amazon will pay me a 3% commission!

Last week I reviewed Grace Based Parenting by Tim Kimmell and I recommended The Power of Motherhood, currently on special at

Having received a number of enquiries lately about what to do about teaching little ones under two years of age, I want to recommed for all parents of preschool children the book Better Late Than Early by Raymond and Dorothy Moore.

Quote from a review by Henry Cate 111, published on [my emphasis added]:

Raymond & Dorothy Moore spent years investigating the results of early education. They examined other studies and did their own studies. They found that in the early years, up to somewhere around ages 8 to 10, it is best for children to be at home in a loving and supportive environment. They found that children who are kept home until they are ready for school quickly catch up with the early starters.

One of the main points is children can't effectively learn until they are developmentally ready. The book explores readiness issues dealing with eye sight, hearing, coordination, ability to focus, emotional stability, and others. Once children have hit a certain level, then their ability to learn is amazing. The book explores some of the problems that can happen when a child is forced to learn before they are ready.

Another main point in the book is how the home is the best place for young children. It is acknowledged that in some situations, like a working single parent, a child may need to be put in preschool, but that the optimal environment is a home where the child feels secure and is free to develop at his own pace. They are free to make mistakes without 25 other students making fun of them. They feel loved. One of the problems with sending children off to preschool is how many of them feel rejected by their parents.

The second half of the book covers various age ranges and gives insight on what is happening to children at this age and advice on how parents can best support and help their children."
Here you will find age-appropriate activities that will help your child develop necessary skills and prepare them for formal learning activities at a later age.

 7. Readiness Activities

To download the printable pdf you will need to have installed
Adobe Reader - opens in new window.

The Whole Child - Week 34-35 Activities- printable pdf

Week 34

Gross motor skills

Let your child climb inside a pillow case. Holding it up with her hands and with her feet in the corners she must take small steps forward. To make it interesting if she finds this easy, place obstacles in her path or ask her to jump forward with both feet together.

Fine motor skills

Encourage your child to draw pictures of whatever she chooses. By now she is at the pre-schematic stage. She will combine different shapes such as lines and circles to represent things.

Visual perception

1. Continue with the color scrap book that you began previously. Encourage your child to cut out different shades and tones from magazines and paste them on the correct color page in her book.

2. Play the hop-scotch-shape game my kids invented this week-end. Using chalk, draw different shapes on the ground at random, a leap apart. Number them in sequence. Your child must name the different shapes as she leaps back and forth from one to the next. Begin with known shapes, like circle, square, triangle, then add a rectangle, oval, hexagon, heart, house, octagon, diamond, star etc. Have fun.

Auditory perception

This game is for multiple players. Blindfold one person. The others must each make a sound. The blindfolded player must name the sound and say who made it. You can whisper, sneeze, cough, giggle, growl, squeek, singing, barking etc.

Language and thinking

Read a book together in which the emotions of the characters are clearly depicted. After reading the story, page through the book again and talk about expressions. Develop vocabulary to describe feelings like sad, scared, happy, glad, shocked, worried, sleepy etc. Encourage your child to use new vocabulary in her conversation.

Some suggestions: We’re Going on a Bear Hunt
Books by Richard Scarry

Faith building

Last week I suggested you start building a caterpillar with different Bible Memory verses on each segment. Another idea is to print out the illustrated Bible verses at Place two back to back and laminate them to create reversible place mats that you can use at the table.

Week 35

Mathematical Skills

Let your child play with dominoes. Let her sort them into groups so that all the ones, twos, threes, fours and fives are together. While you're at it, show her the 'dominoe effect' of falling dominoes too! Have fun.

Gross Motor Skills

Let your child hop forwards on one leg at a time. At age 4-5 years she should be able to jump about 8 times on ONE leg.

Fine Motor Skills

Let your children paint a picture with thick paints. To minimize mess, you could use just the three primary colours and work outside if you need to keep your stress levels down! Your child should manage to load the brush and paint alone by age 4-5.

Auditory Skills

Sing songs with your child. Decide on hand signals to tell you to sing louder or softer, Take turns giving each other the signals.

Language and Thinking Skills

As your child to act out a song, story or nursery rhyme that she knows.

Faith Building

Honour your father and your mother. The Bible commands children to honour and obey their parents. As parents we know that this is for their own good, but as children ourselves, do we as adults set the example, by honoring our own parents?

I am not suggesting that you should still obey your parents, but by your actions and your tone of voice, when speaking of them, you should show respect - no matter what kind of people they are or were. Your children will learn to honor you by the example that you set for them.

If you are too busy to visit, phone or write to your parents or in-laws, the chances are that the same will happen to you …so this activity is for you and your child – pick up the phone, write an email or let her draw a picture to send to her grandparents. Build family relationships. If your parents have passed on perhaps you could befriend some other older person.

Back to Back Issues Page