With the President’s Universal Pre-K Plan in the works there has been a great emphasis on pre-K education that has impacted every educational institute, including the homeschool community. However, having observed and conversed with several other homeschooling families within my circles and having homeschooled my oldest two (10 and 6 years old) for the last 4+ years, my opinion is that 3-5 years olds don’t need formal education. If you’re feeling the “Pre-K Pressure” I’d like to offer my advice for avoiding the stress and the potential cost of purchasing a pre-K curriculum:
- Time: Spend time with your kids. The next three points all require this one- you have to spend time with them. Not intensive time for long periods, just hang out with your kids. Stop what keeps you busy and go spend frequent, short periods of time throughout the day, enjoying your children. The dust and FB will still be there when you’re done.
- Talk: While you’re hanging out- talk. To them, with them, and letting them do the talking too. My daughter asked “Why?”. She’d ask, non-stop, why things were the way they were. My son asked “What?”: “What’s this?” “What’s that?” 3-5 year olds come hardwired for learning. When you take time to talk, all sorts of education takes place.
- Read: Read to them- lots. Much like time spending, read a book or two at one time, several times a day. Libraries, and the librarians who work there, are a HUGE resource. If you don’t know what books are appropriate ask your Librarian! Repetitious reading, new books, readers and stories- all have their place. There are so many books out there that can cover all the basic pre-K knowledge in a fun way so, you really don’t need a curriculum when you have a library.
- Play: This one sometimes requires your time, but not always. In fact, it’s important that play sometimes happens without you which is a huge relief since I can only tolerate making plastic figures talk to each other for a few minutes at a time. What’s more, with or without you, playing is absolutely essential! It may well be the second most important point besides your time. 3-5 year olds need time to play! Play is how they work out what they’re learning of the world around them. This is the exact time of life for unstructured days. Keep your scheduling to meal and sleep times and, then, let the rest of the day happen at whim. You can’t schedule when something read in a book will prompt a talk or play time. You can’t know today when play time will best fit in the day tomorrow. This kind of organic flow is really hard for us type A’s to wrap our heads around, but it’s important that we do.
I bet you just said, “How is that different from what I was doing?”
It’s not different. Let me encourage you by stating: those four things, woven together with your LOVE, are all a preschooler really needs for a successful start in life.