Homepreschool and Beyond

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    Homepreschool and Beyond will give parents the knowledge they need to find “balance” for their family. Find out what young children need to know—and how to teach it. Gain the confidence you need to relax and enjoy those precious preschool years—and beyond.

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Posts Tagged ‘Relationships’

Generations Radio Interview

Posted by homeschoolmentormom on October 22, 2010


      Ever wonder what I sound like?  I’m sure it won’t be what you imagine.  But if you’d like to know, you can listen to me on Generations Radio

    I was blessed to be interviewed this week by Kevin Swanson, a Pastor, author, leader in the homeschool community, and a homeschooling dad. 

    We talk about my book, the advantages of homepreschool versus institutional preschool, building relationships, the importance of conversation, music, and lots more.  You can listen HERE.

     Live the 4R’s!

                     ~Susan

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Posted in Homepreschool, Homepreschool and Beyond, Homeschool, Homeschool Preschool, Kindergarten Readiness, Mothering, Music, Parenting, Picture Books, Play, preschool at home, Radio Interviews, Readiness, Reading Aloud, Susan Lemons, Teaching Reading | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Not Enough Time: Really Being There for our Kids

Posted by homeschoolmentormom on July 23, 2010


     Classic Re-post:  This was first posted on my Homeschool Enrichment blog two years ago–and again when this blog was new.  I thought it was worth reviving.  My next post will be on our curriculum plans for next year.)

     As homeschooling moms, we devote virtually all our time and energy to our homes and families.  They are our very lives.  So if anyone dares to suggest that we aren’t doing enough, we naturally feel defensive or insulted.  I received such an “insult” recently, from my own seven year old.  My own son! (Whine, whine.)  He said (speaking for himself and his little brother,)  “You don’t spend enough time with us.”  

     My initial response: “WHAT?!  Not enough time with you?  What do you mean?  I’m with you everyday, all day.  I spend LOTS of time with you.  I take care of you, cook for you, read to you, do school with you…”  

     “That’s just it, Mommy,”  he answered.  We spend TOO much time doing school.  We want to do other things with you.” 

     “Other things?”  I probed.  “What kinds of other things?” 

     “Oh, you know…FUN things.  Things like playing outside with us, playing more games with us, doing more art, teaching us to cook…FUN STUFF!” 

     At first I was cross about this.  How could he say I don’t spend enough time with them?  Haven’t I devoted my whole life to these kids?! (More whining.)  And as for school time…we only spend around two hours a day.  How could that be too much? 

     Then I started thinking:  He’s just a little boy. He wants a relationship with me; that’s a good thing!  He needs me to be there for him not only physically, but emotionally.  Why can’t I put more effort into our relationship?  Why can’t I spend some time doing the “fun stuff”? 

     I realized that lots of times, if I was honest with myself, I would have to admit that while I am at home physically, I am not there emotionally.  Haven’t you all done this too?  Emotionally, you’re somewhere else.  Your mind is not with your children at all.  When they talk to you, you aren’t paying attention, but you mumble “uh-huh” anyway without really listening.  You are too busy doing housework, watching the news, cooking dinner, or even planning the next day’s school work to listen.  Any “conversations” are very one-sided. 

     Our children need more than that.  They need us to be fully engaged with them all the time.  They need us to put an effort into our relationship.  They need us to take time to do the fun stuff.  The fun stuff builds relationships and happy memories. 

     That is why I have decided to put some extra effort into my relationship with my kids.  Not because our relationships are bad, but because I want to see if they could be better. 

     Here are the things I have decided to do.   I challenge you to do them, too: 

     I am going to be more conscious of where my attention really is, making sure I am with my children both emotionally and physically.  I will take the time to have meaningful conversations with them, even if the conversation is just about their latest “Lego” creation.  They need to know I care.

     I’m going to make school more fun.  We will play more games, do more art, do some cooking and other hands-on activities.  I know that these are important parts of learning for young children, but I’ve let life get in the way of them recently.  No more.

     Finally, we are going to do “Christmas in July”.  Why should all the major fun and messy projects be saved till Christmas, when we are too busy to enjoy them?  This year, we are going to take time this month to do some of the projects I’ve been putting off.  I’m going to spread the fun around.  We’re going to paint, and bake, and make presents.   

     Let’s get out there and play, create, and converse with our children.  Let’s build relationships and happy memories.  Want to join me? 

  -Notes to my “remember mind”:  Make the main thing the main thing.  Be there emotionally.  Build relationships.  Stop whining before it spreads to the kids.

– Notes to my “Un-remember mind::  Forget the guilt over past projects that were left undone, and move on to the next thing.

© 2008, 2009, 2010 Susan Lemons all rights reserved.

Posted in Challenge to Parents, Elementary School, Encouragement, Family Life, Goals, Homepreschool, Relationships | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

What Kind of Homepreschool Mom are You?

Posted by homeschoolmentormom on July 8, 2010


    Tonight I wanted to muse about about different types of homepreschooling moms.  I’ve noticed three common types over the years; I wonder if you agree with my observations. 

1.  Keep ’em Busy Moms:  These moms have a singular goal:  Keep their preschoolers busy and “out of their hair”.  These moms overload their homes with toys and videos, with the hope that they will keep their children occupied and quiet.  These moms interact with their children only when they have to:  When the children are misbehaving, need physical care, or when meals must be served.  There is no schedule, little conversation, little time spent reading, little to no time spent participating in enriching art activities (too messy), and even less intentional spiritual or character training happening in these homes. 

2.  Competitive Moms:  These moms are aware of the importance of the preschool years, and have the best of intentions:  They want to give their children every academic advantage. They follow a strict daily schedule overloaded with “educational” activities, phonics lessons, math lessons, music lessons, and more.  There is little time for creative play…all play must have an educational purpose. Toys likewise must be “educational”, with electronic games dominating the toy box.   There is a lot of time spent reading aloud, but the reading selections are often too advanced for the children to enjoy.  Art and other enriching activities are offered, but since the emphasis is often on a lesson or an end product instead of the experience itself, the children don’t enjoy the activities.  While there is much time spent in conversation, there is little time to enjoy each other’s company…there is little time for JOY.  The children feel pushed, pressured and stressed; day by day, they are become more and more squirmy and resistant to their “lessons”.  Little time is spent on Bible or character training, since the total emphasis of the home is on academics.  The pressure is always on for these children, and the relationship they have with their parents suffers because of it. 

3.  The Balanced Mom:  The balanced mom seeks to address the needs of the WHOLE child…academically, emotionally, physically, and spiritually.  The balanced mom first and foremost emphasizes relationship with her children.  It is her goal to help her children grow close personal relationships God, and then with his/her family. 

     Balanced moms understand that children need to feel wanted and loved, and so she deliberately spends time working, playing and talking with their children everyday. 

      Balanced moms develop a simple daily schedule for her children–one that includes reading Bible stories, prayer, music, story time, and play time.  Children often dabble in art or music– (just for fun), and spend hours playing every day.  These children are neither ignored or indulged, over-stimulated or under-stimulated.

      Balanced moms want their children to learn, but understand that every child learns best in natural ways, and at his/her own pace.  Balanced moms see all of life as a learning opportunity, and try to take advantage of the interests and ‘teachable moments” in the lives of her children.   

    The balanced mom “makes the main thing the main thing,” emphasizing personal relationship with God, and character training. 

   What type of mom are you?  What type of mom do you WANT to be?!

© 2010 Susan Lemons all rights reserved.   

Posted in Challenge to Parents, Curriculum, Encouragement, Homepreschool, Mothering, Parenting, Relationships | Tagged: , , | 2 Comments »

Helpful Advice for Homeschooling Elementary School-Aged Children

Posted by homeschoolmentormom on June 12, 2010


Simplify the Curriculum, or “Colette’s List of 10 Things  (with my own comments added):

1).  Keep everything as simple as you can. Jesus wrote with a stick in the dirt, and He was the greatest teacher that ever lived. He used no curriculum or flannel graphs or lesson plans. Homeschooling can be made far more complicated than it should be. A simpler approach is much more effective.

     Why do we make things so difficult for ourselves?  Why do we feel we need to spend hundreds of dollars on curriculum, “educational toys”, manipulatives, etc to homeschool successfully?  Why do we glue ourselves to one single method or curriculum? 

      Remember, there is no perfect curriculum.  There is no special toy/manipulative or magical homeschooling method that will teach your children and solve all your problems.  The truth is, we can make almost anything “work” as curriculum if we need to–in fact, before buying curriculum, it’s always a good idea to ask yourself if it is really necessary at all.  Many topics can be taught naturally using real books and discussion. 

     The key to homeschool success is relationship–your relationship with your children; the time you spend working with them one-on-one; your ability to individualize your methods and curiculum; the time you spend reading aloud and then discussing what you’ve read.  Relationship is more important than curriculum (or method.)

2).  Stick to the 3 R’s. They form the foundation of life-long learning in every field because they are the tools of study. There will be no need to formalize any other subject if the children are doing their best in these 3, because people who are well grounded in reading, writing and math will approach other subjects boldly, independently and confidently.

     I have to add Bible to that…I believe our most important subjects are Bible/Christian Character, math, and language arts.  We should concentrate most of our time on these.  Be sure to go for mastery, not just “exposure” in these subjects.  I have a good friend who says, “If your child knows and loves the Lord, loves to learn, can read and write well, knows basic math, and knows how to do research –then what else does he need?”   (Thanks, Peggy!)

     Do you worry about “gaps”?!  Things your children will miss?  All children have “gaps”.  You have them, too.  There is simply too much to learn; no one can master it all.  But if you love to learn and if you know how to do research, you will want to fill those gaps when they come up–and you’ll know how to do so.  You will be a lifelong learner.

     Don’t get me wrong; I do want my children to know science, history, geography, etc.  We do teach those subjects in our homeschool.  I also believe that art and music are important.  But sometimes we overlook the fact that our children learn lots from real life, being read to and through independent reading.  We make things harder than they need to be.  If your children haven’t mastered the basics yet, try concentrating on mastering them  for awhile.  For your other subjects, read aloud to your children, and discuss what you’ve read.  Also encourage your children to explore their own interests during their free time. 

3).  Let the children teach themselves as much as they are able to. This teaches them responsibility, intellectual independence, and builds confidence. It’s also better for the parent/child relationship because you can focus on parenting instead of playing schoolteacher.

     I agree, and yet disagree with this one.  I make it a rule not to do anything for my children that they can do for themselves; I encourage them to learn how to work “independently”  in their chores and their schoolwork (more and more as they grow older.)   But that doesn’t mean I expect to totally give up my role as “teacher-mom”  and turn all learning over to my children.  I think there has to be a balance of independent work and facitiated learning/discusion. 

      Sometimes in our haste to make things easier for ourselves, we turn too much over to our children too soon.  To make the most of our homeschool, we need to maintain our involvement in our children’s school work.  At the least, we should introduce new concepts and discuss them; introduce new assignments, communicating to our children exactly what is expected of them; supervise/check in on our children as they work; read aloud/discuss their learning; ask them to talk to you about what they’ve learned (or narrate–either verbally or through a report), and finally, inspect (check) their work immediately upon it’s completion.  If we overlook these things, we miss out on the best parts of homeschooling and in my opinion, let our children down. 

     I must admit, I didn’t do the best job with this for my older set of children.  I was so busy with my little ones that I entrusted them with too much independence too soon.  I didn’t discern their true needs.  Be careful to find a balance in your homeschool, so that you don’t repeat my mistakes.  (Note:  Plan to sit right with your children while they are doing their assignments for the first few years.  Maturity comes before independence.)

4).  Use the most direct method available. For reading, read. For writing, write, for math, do it, and for Bible, read it. Don’t fall for catchy curriculums or methods that are really just something else for you and your child to learn. 

     See my post, “Homeschooling Early Elementary…Keep it Simple”, HERE.  

5).  Don’t worry about your child’s age or grade. Just let him do the best he can each day. Children grow intellectually like they do physically: in spurts. Although we may have an audience of skeptical relatives, homeschooling is not a circus, and we refuse to train our children to do tricks for people.

     Our goal should be to find out where our children are now, and then move them forward from there.  Slow and steady wins the race!  We tend to expect far too much of our younger children, and not nearly enough of our older children.  Instead, duing the early elementary years, back off a bit and wait for readiness.  Children in Sweeden and Switzerland don’t even start school until they are 7, and yet they outscore American children on standardized tests.  (See my tab, “Readiness”, and my archived posts on readiness as well.)

 6).  Minimize distractions in the home. Watch for excessiveness in entertainments, snacking, outings, phone conversations and the like. These sorts of things can easily get out of hand and compete with the effectiveness of a homeschool and sap the family of time and energy.

     Such distractions also get in the way of our children’s time to play,  explore their hobbies/interests, and so on.  These are vitally important to children of all ages.  Distractions eat up our own time as well; especially the time we could be spend reading the Bible,  playing games with our children, and giving them unrushed, real life experiences (cooking, nature walks, art, etc) they need.

7).  Seek quality over quantity. A few tapes of great music, a small case of carefully chosen books, a few special play mates, and an occasional outing is better than a large, but poor quality collection.

     Often we spend hundreds of dollars on these things–with the best of intentions–only to have them gathering dust on a shelf.  Start with a few of the best, and use them.  Once your children become familiar with the books and CD’s you have, you can add more.  This saves you from stress and guilt…and it saves money, too.  Sometimes I think we give ourselves so many options that we don’t know what to do; we’re like toddlers overwhelmed by a mountain of toys.  Less really can be “more.”  Believe me about this–I’ve learned it the hard way.

8).  If you must document your school activities, do it after the fact. This way you will not make promises you cannot keep. If you are required to make lesson plans, be as vague as permissible. Don’t let transcripts, diplomas, records and tests determine your academic plans. Focus on learning and the rest will follow.

     I don’t know about you, but I hate those “teacher plan” books…I dispise those empty boxes (even if I planned my day that way–i.e. alternating subjects.)  This year we’re using a simple, journal-type planner.  I added my own tabs to divide up the weeks, as well as tabs for writing down the books we read, resources we’re using, etc.

9).  Put the needs of your youngest, most vulnerable children first. If an older child gets a little behind in school, I’m sure you can forgive yourself. But if something happened to the toddler while you were busy homeschooling, I don’t think you would be able to say the same.

     Once we’ve given our youngest what they need, they will be content to let us work with our older children.  See my tab on “Routine”, and my article, “Keeping Little Ones Busy.”

10).  Love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind and soul and don’t neglect to seek him early…giving him the first fruits of your day and teach your children to do the same. I know that you are tired and that there aren’t enough hours in your day, but we serve a God who can make the sun stand still.

     Examine yourself:  Do you “make the main thing (JESUS!) the main thing”  in your personal life/homeschool/family life?  Do you spend time in the Word everyday?   Does your life reflect your most important goals?  Do you live out your faith?  Does your life rotate around GOD, or your family/homeschool?  (OUCH.)   I know I have a long way to go regarding these matters…I’ve been very convicted lately about truly living out my most important goals.  

     For more about “the main thing”, see my post, “Challenge To Christian Parents.” 

     Live the 4R’s!   ~~Susan

     Info about this post:  Simplifying,”   according to my information, this was orginally posted on the RC4JC Yahoo group and is used with permission:  “Anyone can use Colette’s list of 10 things; she’d like it if they credit the e-group or her by name, but it’s otherwise free for use without any conditions.”  (If this information is incorrect, please let me know so I can give credit where credit is due.  I did my best to find the orginal source.)

Colette is one of the moderators of the Robinson Curriculum email group:
Robinson Users for Christ

Simplify the Curriculum © Colette Longo, used with permission.  Other portions of this post: © 2010 Susan Lemons all rights reserved.

Posted in Curriculum, Elementary School, Encouragement, Goals, Holiness, Homeschool, Homeschooling, Methods, Readiness, Reading Aloud, Relationships, The 4 R's, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , | 6 Comments »

Character Trait: Graciousness

Posted by homeschoolmentormom on March 12, 2010


       Recent events in my life have left me pondering the character trait graciousness.  At first I was thinking of it only as it refers to kindness, hospitality, and good manners.  But as I researched it, I realized that graciousness is perhaps the most important character trait of all.

        Graciousness encompasses all other character traits.  Here is the definition of “gracious”, from Webster’s 1828 Dictionary:

1. Favorable; kind; friendly; as, “the envoy meet with a gracious reception.”

2.  Favorable; kind; benevolent; merciful; disposed to forgive offenses and impart unmerited blessings.

3.  Favorable; expressing kindness and favor.  

4.  Proceeding from divine grace; as a person in a gracious state.

           Here is a more modern definition, taken from  Noah Webster’s New International Dictionary of the English Language:

1. Abounding in grace or mercy; manifesting love, or bestowing mercy; characterized by grace; beneficent; merciful; disposed to show kindness or favor; condescending; as, his most gracious majesty.

2. Abounding in beauty, loveliness, or amiability; graceful; excellent.

3. Produced by divine grace; influenced or controlled by the divine influence; as, gracious affections. 

        Synonyms:  Virtuous.  Good.  Self-sacrificing.  Kind.  Friendly; with kind condescension (in other words, being kind even to those you think are “beneath” you and/or those who are younger or less knowledgeable than you.)  Dignity.  Charm.  Class. 

        Antonyms: Immoral. Bad.  Selfish.  Rude.  Harsh.  Unkind. Unbecoming.  Unmerciful. Unfriendly. Annoying. 

       We often associate graciousness with the old south and kind hospitality–or with older, Godly women who set good examples for us…

 Titus 2: 3-5 (Amplified Bible):  Bid the older women similarly to be reverent and devout in their deportment as becomes those engaged in sacred service, not slanderers…They are to give good counsel and be teachers of what is right and noble, so that they will wisely train the young women to be sane and sober of mind (temperate, disciplined) and to love their husbands and their children, to be self-controlled, chaste, homemakers, good-natured (kindhearted), adapting and subordinating themselves to their husbands, that the word of God may not be exposed to reproach (blasphemed or discredited).

        …But we should associate the word “gracious” with God.  The root of the word gracious is grace.  Praise God for his Grace, which is a part of the very nature of God.  Without the undeserved grace God has given us, we would all be lost in our sins for eternity. 

       The very first time the scriptures describe the nature of God, the word “gracious” is used:  

Exodus 34:6-7:  The LORD, the LORD, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin….  (NIV)

        This theme–in fact, these same words (“compassionate and gracious God”), are used over and over in the scriptures.   

          God is gracious, and we are to imitate Him.  I think we could take it a step further and say that graciousness is part of holiness—and we are called to grow in holiness: 

 1 Peter 1:16  For it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.”

 3 John 1:11   Dear friend, do not imitate what is evil but what is good. Anyone who does what is good is from God. Anyone who does what is evil has not seen God.

        The word “gracious” is epitomized in the Golden Rule and in the phrase, “What would Jesus do?”  It’s all about treating others with kindness, consideration, and class.  It’s about having good manners.  It’s about love.

 John 13:34 (NIV) A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.

         In the workplace, graciousness is the epitome of professionalism. In the home, graciousness is shown in sacrificial love. On the freeway, a gracious woman defers her rights for the sake of others.

        Traditionally, graciousness has been a sign of a good upbringing.  Conversely, a lack of graciousness will effect your reputation in a negative way.

 How to be a Gracious Person

-Always help others feel comfortable—even if you are uncomfortable.

-Be friendly, even if you feel shy.  Give a firm handshake, and look people in the eye when you are talking to them (when listening to them, too!) 

-Use good manners. 

-Be a servant to others.

-Gracious people take criticism graciously, even when the criticism is unjust.  It’s normal to feel an immediate need to defend ourselves, especially if our reputation is at stake…but it is best to keep quiet and not let the heat of the moment overcome us. 

-Don’t speak when you are angry.  Avoid arguments and disagreements. 

-Accept constructive criticism with poise.

 Remember that:

-A gracious person would never set about to hurt another person purposely, nor seek revenge for wrongs done (whether real or perceived.)

-A gracious person, when wronged, will seek a peaceable resolution privately.  A gracious person doesn’t gossip, grumble about others, or make private disagreements public.

-Graciousness, or a lack thereof, reveals your true heart and character. 

           Every day we are given chances to practice graciousness:  When we are driving and someone cuts us off or forces their way into our lane; when our children are being silly and loud, ignoring our commands to stop; when we are sick, cranky or tired; when someone is sick and needs extra care; when our husband calls at the last minute to say he’s bringing the boss home for dinner (or to say he’s not going to be home for dinner—and you’ve taken the time to fix him his favorite!) 

          It isn’t easy to be gracious.  It is a character trait that seems to have almost disappeared in the world today—even amongst Christians.  All too often, we demand our “rights”.  We want things to go our way. We are selfish.  We even long for revenge when others hurt us.  But I am more convinced than ever that I want to be a gracious person.  I want to be a reflection of God’s Grace on earth.  How about you?

 Matthew 16:24   Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.

      Next time:  Teaching Graciousness to Children

 © 2010 Susan Lemons all rights reserved.

Posted in Character Traits, Encouragement, Goals, Holiness, Mothering, Relationships | Tagged: , , , | 4 Comments »

What Should a Four Year Old Know?

Posted by homeschoolmentormom on February 13, 2010


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         I have been disturbed by the trend in homepreschool circles to push young children into early academics.  So many parents have fallen for the public school’s curriculum push down and believe that they must force feed their preschoolers academic “facts” to get them “ready for Kindergarten”.  Somewhere they have found a list of skills that “every four-year old should know,” and with the best of intentions, they diligently teach this list to their preschoolers…turning life into a list.  While seeking the “good” for their children, they overlook the “best”:   The things their children really need:  Relationships.  Routine.  Readiness.  Reading Aloud.  Imagination.  Play.  And most of all, learning about God.

        Here is one of my favorite articles about what preschoolers should be learning.   Note that embedded in this post from Magical Childhood, is a link to World Book’s Scope and Sequence (a traditional “list” of what children “should” know).  Take a look at it; I think you’ll be surprised. 

      What should a 4 year old know? 

          By Alicia Bayer of Magical Childhood (used with permission.) 

I was on a parenting bulletin board recently and read a post by a mother who was worried that her 4 1/2 year old did not know enough. “What should a 4 year old know?” she asked.1.  She should know that she is loved wholly and unconditionally, all of the time.  

Most of the answers left me not only saddened but pretty soundly annoyed. One mom posted a laundry list of all of the things her son knew. Counting to 100, planets, how to write his first and last name, and on and on. Others chimed in with how much more their children already knew, some who were only 3. A few posted URL’s to lists of what each age should know. The fewest yet said that each child develops at his own pace and not to worry.

It bothered me greatly to see these mothers responding to a worried mom by adding to her concern, with lists of all the things their children could do that hers couldn’t. We are such a competitive culture that even our preschoolers have become trophies and bragging rights. Childhood shouldn’t be a race.

So here, I offer my list of what a 4 year old should know.
 

1.  He should know that he is safe and he should know how to keep himself safe in public, with others, and in varied situations. He should know that he can trust his instincts about people and that he never has to do something that doesn’t feel right, no matter who is asking. He should know his personal rights and that his family will back them up.  

2.  She should know how to laugh, act silly, be goofy and use her imagination. She should know that it is always okay to paint the sky orange and give cats 6 legs.  

3.  He should know his own interests and be encouraged to follow them. If he could care less about learning his numbers, his parents should realize he’ll learn them accidentally soon enough and let him immerse himself instead in rocket ships, drawing, dinosaurs or playing in the mud.  

4.  She should know that the world is magical and that so is she. She should know that she’s wonderful, brilliant, creative, compassionate and marvelous. She should know that it’s just as worthy to spend the day outside making daisy chains, mud pies and fairy houses as it is to practice phonics. Scratch that– way more worthy.  

But more important, here’s what parents need to know.  

1.  That every child learns to walk, talk, read and do algebra at his own pace and that it will have no bearing on how well he walks, talks, reads or does algebra.  

2.  That the single biggest predictor of high academic achievement and high ACT scores is reading to children. Not flash cards, not workbooks, not fancy preschools, not blinking toys or computers, but mom or dad taking the time every day or night (or both!) to sit and read them wonderful books.  

3.  That being the smartest or most accomplished kid in class has never had any bearing on being the happiest. We are so caught up in trying to give our children “advantages” that we’re giving them lives as multi-tasked and stressful as ours. One of the biggest advantages we can give our children is a simple, carefree childhood.  

4.  That our children deserve to be surrounded by books, nature, art supplies and the freedom to explore them. Most of us could get rid of 90% of our children’s toys and they wouldn’t be missed, but some things are important– building toys like legos and blocks, creative toys like all types of art materials (good stuff), musical instruments (real ones and multicultural ones), dress up clothes and books, books, books. (Incidentally, much of this can be picked up quite cheaply at thrift shops.) They need to have the freedom to explore with these things too– to play with scoops of dried beans in the high chair (supervised, of course), to knead bread and make messes, to use paint and play dough and glitter at the kitchen table while we make supper even though it gets everywhere, to have a spot in the yard where it’s absolutely fine to dig up all the grass and make a mud pit.  

5.  That our children need more of us. We have become so good at saying that we need to take care of ourselves that some of us have used it as an excuse to have the rest of the world take care of our kids. Yes, we all need undisturbed baths, time with friends, sanity breaks and an occasional life outside of parenthood. But we live in a time when parenting magazines recommend trying to commit to 10 minutes a day with each child and scheduling one Saturday a month as family day. That’s not okay! Our children don’t need Nintendos, computers, after school activities, ballet lessons, play groups and soccer practice nearly as much as they need US. 

They need fathers who sit and listen to their days, mothers who join in and make crafts with them, parents who take the time to read them stories and act like idiots with them. They need us to take walks with them and not mind the .1 MPH pace of a toddler on a spring night. They deserve to help us make supper even though it takes twice as long and makes it twice as much work. They deserve to know that they’re a priority for us and that we truly love to be with them.  

And now back to those 4 year old skills lists…..http://www.worldbook.com/wb/Students?curriculum
Since we homeschool, I occasionally print out the lists and check to see if there’s anything glaringly absent in what my kids know. So far there hasn’t been, but I get ideas sometimes for subjects to think up games about or books to check out from the library. Whether you homeschool or not, the lists can be useful to see what kids typically learn each year and can be reassuring that they really are doing fine.
http://www.redshift.com/~bonajo/early.htm

I know it’s human nature to want to know how our children compare to others and to want to make sure we’re doing all we can for them. Here is a list of what children are typically taught or should know by the end of each year of school, starting with preschool:

If there are areas where it seems your child is lacking, realize that it’s not an indication of failure for either you or your child. You just haven’t happened to cover that. Kids will learn whatever they’re exposed to, and the idea that they all need to know these 15 things at this precise age is rather silly. Still, if you want him to have those subjects covered then just work it into life and play with the subject and he’ll naturally pick it up. Count to 60 when you’re mixing a cake and he’ll pick up his numbers. Get fun books from the library about space or the alphabet. Experiment with everything from backyard snow to celery stalks in food coloring. It’ll all happen naturally, with much more fun and much less pressure.

My favorite advice about preschoolers is on this site though:

What does a 4 year old need? 

Much less than we realize, and much more.

       Visit Magical Childhood at http://www.magicalchildhood.com/index.htm .

(Thanks, Alicia!)

Posted in Goals, Homepreschool, Mothering, Parenting, Readiness, Relationships, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , | 8 Comments »

What Preschoolers Really Need

Posted by homeschoolmentormom on January 30, 2010


 

            Yesterday I posted two important quotes about the needs of preschoolers.  With all the talk nowadays about early academics and the importance of “socialization”, I think we, as parents, often forget what our children need the most:  Us.  Their parents.

            I love the way the second quote makes it so clear:  “Experts” agree (how often does that happen?) that what children want, and need, is the “affection and unhurried attention of their parents”. 

            The pace of life today seems preclude this.  In reality, it’s a matter of priority. 

            Preschoolers spell love “T-I-M-E”.  “Quality” time is good, but it isn’t enough.  The term “quality time” is often used to ease our (parent’s) guilty feelings.  Parents tell themselves, “I have very little time to spend with my kids, but as long as it is good, quality time, it doesn’t matter.”  Baloney.  It does matter.  Preschoolers need BOTH quality AND quantity time.

           Those of us who are stay at home moms might feel a little smug about this.  After all, we’re with our children all day, everyday, right?  Are we?  I’ve become aware of this issue in my own life lately.  I see that very often, I am with my kids in “body” only.  My mind is somewhere else.  I can’t see the forest for the trees. 

           I’m re-committing to “being there” for my kids.  That’s my challenge to you for you as well:  Be there in body, mind, and spirit.  Re-connect with your kids. 

Here are some important things to do:

-Spend time cuddling in the morning.

-Play games/work on puzzles together.

-Take time for conversations.

-Take the time to look at the things your kids want to show you-the things

  that are important to them—even if they seem silly to you.

-Watch movies together.

 -Eat together, minus the TV. 

 -Attend church together.  (We sit together during church.  Even preschoolers can make it through <at least> the worship part of the service, with a little training.)

© 2010 Susan Lemons all rights reserved. 

Posted in Encouragement, Mothering, Parenting, The 4 R's, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , | 2 Comments »