My preschoolers, finally past the manic toddler phase, were usually quite eager to settle down and join the big kids in doing school for part of the day.
|Older siblings help this very kinestetic PK-er learn the alphabet actively|
|Goofy brothers try to eat their toes|
While sorting through old notebooks recently, I came upon this list of goals for preschoolers I wrote many years ago. These are big-picture type goals, not specific ones for a given year.
I want to:
- Keep the little guys happily, productively occupied during school. (i.e., I don't want them off destroying the nether regions of the house or plopped in front of the computer or video babysitter.)
- Prepare my preschoolers for more formal instruction later. They need to learn to sit still and listen, increase their attention span, work hard, and obey. We'll work on this by having them diligently do their chores and other age appropriate tasks, listening to picture and chapter books read aloud, memorizing scripture and poetry, and other means.
- Have some moments of individualized special times with each child so my middle children don't get lost in the shuffle while I teach the older siblings and care for the babies.
- Include the preschoolers in the family direction and studies.
- Instill a love for learning in each child. (Don't kill it by pushing academics too soon, but be really aware of what each child is ready for.)
And here are some general academic aims from the same long-ago planning sheet with a few newer notes interspersed:
- Work on Bible memory and basic Bible knowledge
- Lay a foundation for phonics/reading and math by teaching letter sounds, counting, etc. Play lots of math and pre-reading games. (Some of my PKs were ready to learn to ready to read, but for most, I waited until kindergarten.)
- Develop a love for literature. Read good books together every day!
- Science – especially nature study and simple, fun experiments. Hands-on all the way!
- Age appropriate art, music, and movement activities as time allows.
|Newly hatched butterfly (and yes, another bathing suit)|
However you structure things, keep it fun and simple. Hands-on, real, active learning beats seat work a hundred times over for little ones, especially sons. Include your under-K's along with the family as much as possible. But do make sure to spend time early in the day with your little people so they don't feel shoved aside while you get on to the "serious business." Enjoy this time with your little ones! Laugh together as you read The Trumpet of the Swan. Watch their eyes sparkle as they discover simple things like a butterfly hatching from a cocoon.
Now, so far I've been addressing this post and its predecessors to those of your who have school-age children and little ones. But what if your preschoolers are your oldest children? Should you start doing school with them? Opinions will certainly differ here! My advice is, don't feel any pressure. As long as your children are involved in real life learning, listening to good books, exploring the outside world, baking cookies, and generally living life alongside you and their dad, that's great!
But if you are eager to begin schooling, sure, go for it. I started homeschooling two and then three days a week when my oldest were 3 ½ and 2. I wanted to get my feet wet before it “counted,” and I knew in those early years there would not be much pressure. Also, I had some fears about teaching reading which seemed like a mysterious process. Andrew, Kara, and I had a couple of sweet years doing preschool before Andrew officially began Kindergarten at home. God was gracious to this insecure mom, and my firstborn, who had trouble talking because of ear issues, learned to read readily before he was four. That helped me grow in confidence for teaching other areas, and the daily routine we established helped all of us transition to a full week of school when it became necessary. But most of all, we had such a wonderful time doing crafts, reading Bible stories and all kinds of other books, trying simple science explorations, and much more. What a joy it was learning together!