Is Formal Preschool Necessary?

Be sure that your children each day have: something or someone to love, something to do, and something to think about. – Karen Andreola, A Charlotte Mason Companion


Paradigm shift


In America, we’ve backed up the age at which children start attending school to three years old. When I grew up, children started attending school for half a day at five years old. In that era, more women stayed at home with their young children. The children learned with their mothers every day whether at home were out running errands. Children memorized the alphabet, use coloring books and puzzles, and read books with their parents. Formal preschool wasn't necessary.


As women entered the workforce, the demand for child care with a learning environment became important. But what about the homeschool mom? Should she plan for formal preschool? Preschool is exactly what its name states, a time before school. I recommend you don’t rush into curriculum; trust yourself to teach your youngest learners.


Young children delight in learning


Children’s brains absorb everything around them in a marvelous way. They learn from their older siblings, through play, educational programs, and books you read to them. They’ll enact imaginary worlds with their toys and copy their parent’s activities. Some will learn to read before kindergarten.


As you observe your children at home notice their strengths. Boys are often more inclined to mathematical concepts, and girls are more inclined for language. Keep in mind, kids tend to start strong in one area, then later advance in other areas. Abilities even out around third grade. Therefore, don’t worry about hard-and-fast rules for the preschool years.

Ruth Beechick, author of The three R’s, puts it this way; “Everything your child learns increases his vocabulary and develops his critical thinking skills.” Here are some playing/learning activities that can be purchased or made at home.


· Games that teach matching, sequence, shapes, colors, and/or numbers

· Child-sized kitchen set, mop and broom, play tools, etc.

· Books on a variety of subjects

· Craft supplies, lacing cards, puzzles, Play-Doh

· Preschool workbooks, lined paper, pencils, and crayons


Experiment with your child by giving him access to many items. Purchase a few simple workbooks to see if the interest him. If not, put them aside into your child is older and try again. ABCmouse.com and other computer teaching are valuable tools, but use a timer when kids are on the computer so time does it get away from you. The computer is a fabulous asset if limits are established.


On days when your stretched for time, don’t worry. You don’t have to instruct with one-on-one lessons every school day. Also, if there are older siblings in the house, you’ll be amazed at what a young child will learn listening to you work with them.

Trust your instinct as a parent and enjoy this sweetest of times with your children. Formal preschool is not necessary.


This is an excerpt taken from Take the Mystery Out of Homeschool: A How-To Guide by Jennifer Henn

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