To the extent that I've been conceiving of this time with my kids as "school" at all, I've considered it Preschool-in-the-World as much or more than Preschool-at-Home. But during the cold weather of recent weeks, we've been cooped up in the apartment for days at a time, and I've gained a renewed sense of how much a great play surface means to a small child.
We've had a train table for more than a year, since my twins were about 2 1/2, and it's been their favorite play spot. They're getting a little tall for it, though, and we're fortunate to have a big open space in our living room, so I recently ordered an actual preschool table from a school supply company to supplement what we have.
It's fabulous. It has folding legs, so I can store it away when I want. The height adjusts, so the table will grow as the kids do. And it's super sturdy, so they can climb all over it, bang on it, smear it, and slime it.
From the minute I opened the box, the kids gravitated to it -- for everything from painting to building block towers to putting together jigsaw puzzles, they'd much rather stand at a table than sit on the floor. In less than two weeks in our apartment, it's been a fort, a bed for stuffed animals, a reading spot, and an art space.
It wasn't cheap -- with shipping, it was more than $150 -- but where I live, that sum wouldn't even cover half a week of preschool tuition for my twins, so I consider it a very worthwhile investment.
Now I'm just waiting for the weather to warm up so we can drag it out to the back yard and use it as a water table ....