Preschool at Home: You Can Do It! (Easy Ways to Help Your Child Learn at Home)
Posted by homeschoolmentormom on March 6, 2012
I often receive phone calls and emails from parents who are excited about homepreschooling. Many ask me how they should get started, or what curriculum they should use. The truth is, homepreschooling is not something parents suddenly “start”…every parent who has preschool-aged children is already homepreschooling! After all, you taught your children to talk, didn’t you? And who held your baby’s hands while he was learning to walk? You did, of course. You are already a teacher, and already the facilitator of your children’s natural growth and development.
Parents nowadays have been programmed to think that they cannot possibly teach their own children. The so called “experts” have encouraged them to think that they are not “qualified” or smart enough to homeschool—even at the preschool level! But parents needn’t worry that they are not “qualified” to teach their own preschoolers at home. The truth is, you are the expert when it comes to your own children. No one knows and loves your children as you do. As a homepreschooling parent, you can assess your child’s interests and readiness, and then carefully move them ahead–without pushing them. No “preschool” can provide the amount of attention you can…and no “preschool” can individualize your child’s curriculum to fit your child’s own learning styles and interests as you can.
After all, it is God’s design that children be loved and raised by families, not institutions. Within a family, children grow strong, secure emotional attachments, which are vital to healthy personality development. Within a family, children are able to grow close relationships with people of all ages, including their own siblings. Within a family, children receive individualized attention, and children’s speech and vocabulary is enhanced by 50-100 times more individualized responses than they would receive in an institutional preschool (source: Moore’s Home Grown Kids.) Within a family, children’s character is molded, and their hearts are gently drawn to God.
Homepreschool doesn’t have to be hard or expensive. The best thing you can provide for your preschooler is your time and attention. Your children will never need anything or anyone as much as they need you! Most of what your children need to learn can be taught simply though good parenting.
Here are some simple, developmentally appropriate things that all parents can do to help their children learn. Good parents do these things instinctively, but it is always good to be reminded about them:
1. Provide your child with a stimulating home environment, rich in books, music, and open-ended play activities that grow with your child as he does: Play dough, blocks, cars, dolls, puzzles and so on. As your child gets older, have art materials available for your child to use anytime: Paper, crayons, felt-tipped pens, scissors and glue.
2. Give your children lots of free time for creative play. Play is greatly under-valued in our society. Through play children release stress, get exercise, get a handle on their emotions, and learn skills vital to their academic growth. Give your children time to play outside every day, weather permitting. If you can, provide a swing set, tricycle, balls and other outside toys; pets to love and care for, gardens to tend, and so on. Inside play should play should be “creative” or “dramatic” play, as much as possible.
3. Have your children work alongside you. Children need to learn to work with cheerful attitudes. Working is almost like play to the young child; they are practicing/pretending about their future adult roles. Teach them how to work while they are young and willing. Working together should be a bonding experience for you and your child, and an important learning experience for your preschooler.
4. Try to make all “learning” fun at first. As much as possible, let all “academic” learning take the form of games and play. If your child resists, back off for a while. It is much easier on both of you to wait for readiness and teach something in ten minutes than it is to spend ten hours (or days!) trying to teach the same skill before your child is developmentally ready.
5. Read, sing and talk, then read, sing and talk some more!! Help your child grow his vocabulary and base of knowledge about the world through conversation, lots of reading aloud and singing together. This is the true heart of homepreschooling.
6. Provide your child with the opportunity to succeed by giving plenty of practice with new skills and concepts learned–through repetition. We may become tired of hearing favorite books or songs over and over, or practicing jumping off the steps over and over–but preschoolers don’t! Repetition strengthens and reinforces learning.
7. Limit passive entertainment. Even “educational” television or computer games can’t match interaction with real people or real objects when it comes to learning. Most children spend more time watching television or playing computer games than they spend sleeping—much less playing! Too much passive entertainment can be harmful to young children’s development. Commonly observed effects of too much television or computer time include over-stimulation, shortened attention span, and a reduction in active playtime. Don’t let the television replace real life experiences, play, reading aloud and conversations in the life of your family.
8. Introduce your child to the best in art, literature and music. Art and music are more than just “extras” your child can do without; they are vital to healthy, normal, early childhood development. Enjoying literature of all kinds with your children lays the foundation for literacy. (Several chapters of Homepreschooll and Beyond are devoted to these topics.)
9. Explore the real world together. Visit the grocery store: Purchase new foods to try, and talk about where they are grown/how they are made. Visit your local state and National Parks; explore the streams, mountains and beaches, taking time to wade in the streams, toss rocks in the water, and look for wildlife. Visit your local fire station, police station, train station, and airport. Plant a garden in your own backyard. Work, play and experiment together, and talk about everything you do.
10. Remember that your children are learning all the time, whether you are aware of it or not. Homepreschooling parents simply take advantage of this fact, and choose to embrace a lifestyle of learning–consciously deciding to take advantage of those “teachable” moments. Life itself is the very best curriculum for preschoolers.
You CAN provide everything your children need for early learning. Your children will never need anyone or anything more than they need you. Let them have the love, time, and attention of their own parents. That’s all they really need.
*This is a compilation of excerpts from: Homepreschool and Beyond: A Comprehensive Guide to Early Home Education, by Susan Lemons, used with permission. Much of the material in this book was originally printed in Home School Enrichment Magazine, and is re-used with permission. You can read the complete article, What Your Preschooler Really Needs, HERE.
© 2010, 2012 Susan Lemons all rights reserved. Copyrighted materials may not be re-distributed or re-posted without express permission from the author.