by Susan Lemons
This article was first posted by Susan on a chat loop and has been copied with permission.
I read with interest the previous post about homepreschooling, and would like to take a slightly different tact for everyone to think about.
I agree that real life experiences, reading aloud, and involving our preschoolers in our older children's school time when we can helps our preschoolers learn. These and other real life experiences often make some of the best learning for our preschoolers.
However, I do hope that parents of preschoolers will ALSO consciously plan enriching activities for their young ones, just as they do their older children. Even better, give them a short "school" routine all their own, including devotions, calendar (4+), music/fingerplays, story time, and perhaps an art experience or game (not emphasizing "seat work" or workbooks, but rather learning through games, art, music, directed play with manipulatives, etc). It doesn't take very long to do this.
This provides them with age appropriate learning. This makes them feel special, and helps them realize that they are just as important to us as their siblings are. Additionally, it satisfies their need for attention, thus giving us more uninterrupted time with our older children. This is, in my humble opinion, the best and most developmentally appropriate response to the two camps I often see when it comes to preschoolers:
1) Don't worry about them much at all except to keep them busy and out of my hair, or the other extreme,
2) push them into early academics. I think most of us fall in the (more reasonable) middle somewhere, seeking to find that difficult balance of providing enough time, attention, and enriching activities for our preschoolers, just as we do our older children, while not pushing them-- or spending so much time with them that our older children's time/attention/school
is neglected. It isn't easy.
I think another trap some homeschoolers fall into is the "Kindergarten readiness" trap. Many parents, especially young parents with their first child, have gotten the idea that the preschool years are all about getting the children ready for Kindergarten, and so they begin to "live the list", not a life. What I mean by this is that somewhere these parents find a 'laundry list" of skills, facts, and so on that their two, three, or four year old child should know/be able to do, and they proceed to work and push their children hard every day to master these skills. I've seen lists on Christian homeschooling websites----for three- year-olds----that contained eleven pages of the public school's inappropriate curriculum push down. Eleven pages. This is inappropriate.
We need to throw away that government school mentality and remember that we don't have to make our preschoolers "ready" for Kindergarten. We can make our homes ready for them, instead.
I know that Dr. Beechick is very concerned about the readiness issue, and the inappropriate push down in curriculum that the government schools employ...As homeschoolers, we must be careful because this government school/curriculum pushdown mentality HAS made it all the way to homeschoolers, and many curriculum suppliers as well.
I would like to encourage everyone to remember that the preschool years are a wonderful, special, time of life all their own that is precious, fun, and oh so fleeting. The most important goals during these years are not to get our children ready for Kindergarten, but, as the other posters said, learning through life. And I think the most important goals of this "life learning" during the preschool years should be to help our children know and love the Lord, and develop Godly character; to grow a base of simple knowledge about the world; to grow their vocabularies, which helps them learn now, and prepares them for later learning/reading comprehension; to provide them with exposure to the best in art, music, and play experiences, which are learning experiences all their own, vital to normal early childhood development; to encourage our children's creativity, and to nourish their curiosity and love of learning.
All these goals are very "Beechick".
Excuse my "rant", but you know me, I just can't pass on another opportunity to encourage homeschoolers to make the most of these fleeting years, and enjoy LIFE and BOOKS and ART and NATURE and MUSIC and RELATIONSHIP with your preschoolers.
Let's let our children learn have a traditional, non-pressured, developmentally appropriate home preschool experience.
Susan Lemons and her husband Randy have homeschooled their four children "from birth". Susan holds both Associate and Bachelor Degrees in Child Devlopment, and serves the homeschooling community as the Early Learning Columnist for Home School Enrichment Magazine, first contact for new homeschoolers in her area, Thinking About Homeschooling group leader. and conference speaker.
You may contact her with questions at
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