Do preschoolers need really need “curriculum”? Nowadays, many parents answer, “Definitely, yes.” I say it depends on what your definition of “curriculum” is.
Many parents think of “curriculum” as textbooks or some type of pre-written “plan” that shows parents how to teach their children. The purpose of most curriculums is to teach academics (reading, writing, and arithmetic).
My definition of curriculum is different. “Curriculum” includes anything and everything we use to help our children learn. This includes things like literature, games, field trips, your daily routine, art supplies, music, reading aloud, real life experiences, etc, etc.
Preschoolers do need curriculum—just not the type of curriculum most parents have in mind. A good “curriculum” for preschooler’s should include:
-A simple, daily routine
-Ample time for play
-Music, finger plays, and rhythmic activities
-Lots of time being read to
-Real life experiences: Time in nature; “field trips” to the airport, grocery store, pet store, zoo, etc.
It should NOT include an emphasis on “getting ready for Kindergarten” OR learning preschool “facts” (academics).
Q: What curriculum did your family use for your preschoolers?
A: We didn’t. No “workbooks”, no flashcards. No “boxed” curriculum. I don’t think they are necessary. This is what we did instead:
We lived the 4 R’s. We established a simple, daily routine heavy on play, music, art, and reading aloud. We turned our reading aloud time into “themes” or simple “unit studies” by embellishing them with simple experiences whenever we could—things like “field trips”, music, art, cooking experiences, or games.
We watched our children carefully for signs of interest or spontaneous learning. This helped us be sure we were not pushing our children into skills that they weren’t ready for, nor holding them back from skills that they were ready to learn. Once we observed our children’s interest or spontaneous/natural learning in an academic area (alphabet, numbers) we began short, game-like “lessons” that were continued only as long as their interest and enthusiasm remained. When one of our children showed an interest in learning about trains, insects, whales or gardening, we’d head to the library and gather up all the books we could find on the topic, and learn about it together. (I show you how to do all this in my book.)
Q: What curriculum do you recommend for preschoolers?
A: As I have already stated, I don’t believe you need a “curriculum” for the preschool years–especially not an academically based curriculum. If you really feel you need a “guidebook” to help you along (besides my book!), there are only a few suggestions that I can wholeheartedly give:
All preschoolers can benefit from the developmentally appropriate activities in Dr. Beechick’s Language and Thinking For Young Children
These are all literature-based–books are the center of learning. Your children will learn and grow a base of knowledge about the world, without the usual emphasis on formal academics (seatwork.)
© 2010 Susan Lemons all rights reserved.