I promised to follow-up our “why” we’re homeschooling post with a “how we plan to do it” post. And I thought I’d start out by addressing a great question from a reader who asked, “Why bother “pre school homeschool” anyways?…I might have a stricter idea of preschool homeschooling in my mind though, I really see formal preschool as something that could get in the way of natural play and development at that age.” I completely agree that “natural play” is what we should be going for. Children are natural learners and I aspire to encourage our preschooler’s natural desire to learn and grow through our “homeschooling.” Here’s how I feel about early homeschooling:
We’ve been “homeschooling” since Benjamin was born. We would read aloud to our fussy, colicky newborn during those loooooooooong sleepless nights: Peter Pan, The Iliad, and The Silmarillion. We read board books ad nauseum. We talked to our infant son, pointed out animals and plants, and explained what they were. And we’ve been answering those “What is that?” “Why does it do that?” “How does that work?” questions til we’re blue in the face. This is all part of our son’s education. The only reason we’re calling it “homeschooling” now is because he’s starting to be school age (3.5) and seems to be needing a little bit more structure to his days to prevent boredom. Basically, we want to offer him the resources to satisfy his seemingly insatiable desire to learn about the world around him.
We began by making some goals with Benjamin. We asked him: What do you want to learn about? We wanted to see where his interests currently lie. He told us that he wanted to learn about two things: “Space and Dinosaurs!” So, we ordered bunches of books from the library and are having a blast. (Our Space preschooling curriculum coming soon!)
Daniel and I also have some goals in mind for the year. We want him to do a little bit of pre-reading. He already knows all the uppercase ABCs and some of the lowercase but we want to spend more time getting familiar with the lowercase letters, reinforce what sounds each letter makes, and practice writing them. Benjamin is very interested in learning to read and will “read” aloud to himself books that he has memorized. So we want to offer him some resources to progress toward reading. However, if he doesn’t seem interested in the pre-reading activities we have in mind we will take a break and wait until he gains interest again.
We also will begin to do some learning together about our Catholic faith that follows the Christian Year. A friend gave me a great resource that is a curriculum for Home Catechesis for 3-6 year olds that looks perfect for Benjamin. It’s by Moira Farrell and is in the Montesorri tradition. I couldn’t find it on Amazon but you can find it here. Our first “lesson” will be setting up our family altar. We would also like to memorize more prayers with him. He has known the Our Father, Hail Mary, and Glory Be since before he turned two and he recently mastered the Bless Us, O Lord for mealtimes. But I think the Memorare, the Hail, Holy Queen, and the Prayer to St. Michael would be good ones to work on this year.
During read aloud time (which isn’t a set time at our house, just whenever Lucy is occupied or sleeping and I’m having one-on-one time with Benjamin) he asks to read our new library books about Space or ABCs. When he asks to be read something else, I obviously don’t say “no, we’re doing school now and that storybook isn’t on our syllabus!” I just try to use the library resources when the right moment strikes. If he doesn’t seem interested for a whole day (or a whole week), no big deal.
It’s also important to me to incorporate the visual arts and music into our learning (more on that when I explain our “lesson plans” for our unit on space.)
So, in our minds, “preschooling at home” is simply providing Benjamin with the resources to learn about what interests him, to spark his imagination, and to encourage him to develop skills that will help him learn to read when he’s ready. There will be a whole lot of the same activities we did last year: reading together, going to museums, going to the IMAX, playing outside, cooking inside, going to the park with friends, etc.
Do you have little ones learning at home? What is your vision for preschooling?
p.s. Thank you for your concern, love, and prayers for our little Benjamin! Your comments and emails are so appreciated. He is doing MUCH better. Breathing treatments are keeping his asthma under control and his terrible cough seems to be more from the little virus he’s been fighting off than because he’s struggling to breathe. His temperature is down and he’s back to his old tricks So glad to have my sneaky, wild, always hungry boy back after a couple days of no appetite and lethargy!