Thursday, May 2, 2013

Quit Worrying About Preschool. Seriously, Stop It.

I have lost track of the number of people who have asked me about what kind of homeschool preschool curriculum they should be using with their kids.  Dozens anyway. 

And me being, well, me... I have actually looked into it for them (especially since some of them were my sister) and there are some very cute-looking preschool curriculums out there, some based on picture books, some on bible verses, some on crafts.  There are online programs and books and pinterest and all sorts of stuff.  I'm sure they would be adorable and that kids would enjoy them and if you've got the time and the inclination, have at it.  If you want that email, let me know and I'll forward it to you.

But the short answer is: none.  I don't think you should be using any preschool curriculum with your kids.  I didn't.  I don't.  And if you're anything like me, you'll never be as free as you are right now to get out of the house and do fun stuff and be spontaneous with your kids.





Before I had school-age kids we had the freedom to do all sorts of stuff that really isn't possible for us now.  We had memberships at the zoo and a kids' museum and we used to go out and do things a couple of mornings per week.  Last year I took Gus (he was 4) to visit my Grandmother and she suggested we go to their kids' museum.  He was totally blown away by it.  Because he had never been to a children's museum in his life, or in his memory anyway.

Because things change, families change.  Either your kids will be in a traditional school and you'll have the full-time job of getting them back and forth and fundraising and volunteering (more on that here) or you'll be homeschooling, which I find to be a more relaxing lifestyle, but there are daily responsibilities that must be fulfilled.  And as much as I'd like to, there just isn't much time left in the week for the beach and the train museum.





Whatever the word is for the opposite of an unschooler, that's me.  We have uniforms and the pledge of allegiance and calisthenics.  I like order.  But not for preschool.  In my house, the preschool years are for fun and messiness and experiences.  Workbooks and phonics can wait.  Remember when the whole point of kindergarten was for getting ready for school?  So what's all this about kindergarten-readiness?  If a school I was looking at even mentioned that to me, I'd keep looking.  Or just homeschool.  No wait, that's what I did.

Some of my kids did attend a two-mornings-per-week preschool before the driving for that started interfering too much with our school day (plus, there are now plenty of people to play with who live at my house).  When I was looking at different preschools my number one requirement was that it be completely non-academic.  Number two was that it have stuff like a big bin of rice with little toys in it that kids love but I would not want in my house.





I feel the same way about homeschool preschool.  I want my preschoolers playing outside and listening to stories and dressing up and helping me in the kitchen and singing silly songs in the car.  They will learn to read, and count, and identify colors eventually.  Some of mine have been much farther along that path by first grade than others, but all of them have been able to read easy chapter books by the end of second grade and I'm fine with that.

But unless I end up with a fifteen year gap between kids (doing math, no not possible) I will never again have those years like I had with my first three, when we DIDN'T have to sit around the house doing school, and don't even get me started on how sports affect things (that's another post).  Don't get me wrong, those years are also absolutely the hardest to be a mother, the years with all little ones.  But I'm grateful I didn't complicate my already difficult days by trying to "school" my kids.  Because I don't think they need it.




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19 comments:

  1. I get this. But at the same time, I need something to help me have a schedule for my kids, because my 4 year old has a hard time transitioning. If I don't do something (even in the very smallest sense) with them, I feel like I'll be trying to scramble to find activities for them to do and feeling stressed when we're all bored & tried of "free play". Where we live right now, there is no zoo or children's museum, or play center or anything like that. It's also cold/snowing 4-6 months out of the year and while playing in the snow is okay for some amount of time, it can't be hours like it can be when it's warmer (or at least I can't spend hours outside in the cold!). My two cents anyways.

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    1. I wanted to clarify that I'll be doing some preschool for girls at home, not sending them somewhere (what a hassle!). Which means, I will be able to change up our schedule if the occasion arises or we go on vacation or whatever. And if we still lived in Phx I probably wouldn't try & plan anything bc there are SO many fun things to do there! I really miss it...sigh.

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    2. Well that sounds like it's what makes sense for your family, so I'd say do that! We did live in Chicago for two years, and I was never a fan of playing in the snow myself and the kids were super excited about it for like four minutes. But we had about a zillion indoor museums to visit there!

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  2. I totally agree with this...wow this made me nostalgic for those days when I only had little kids and we would spend the mornings at the zoo or children's museum or park or playdates and then come home for afternoon naps.

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    1. I remember those days, back when I could watch all sorts on nonsense on TV during naptime becasue there were no prying eyes around. Hmmm, maybe for me that wasn't better!

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  3. Amen! I'm only pregnant with baby #1 right now, but my husband and I don't see a point sending our (future) children to pre-school if I don't have to be working (I realize for some families this isn't an option). Children learn so much just from playing and doing other adventurous things, so if we're blessed with finances that allow me to stay home and play with them, take them on adventures, and introduce them to new things I am all for it. Once they hit kindergarten they have to be in school for a long time and we won't ever get those "pre-school" years back again.

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  4. yes to this. My oldest is approaching five, and I did buy a preschool curriculum book, but I use it mostly for two things: it matches each virtue with a bible verse (and our focus on virtues has been incredibly fruitful), and it has great booklists. I occasionally pull out another activity, but mostly just talk and pray about our virtue of the week and then read and play.

    Another great part of homeschooling that I'm really appreciating at this age: no kindergarten freak-out. No k vs pre-k angst, no evaluations, just books and prayer time and talking about numbers and lots of play with little brother. Awesome.

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  5. I was just thinking about his, perusing a homeschool catalog for Lily. Food for thought. i pulled Lily out of school two days ago so everything is upside down but what a relief it is. She was being bullied.

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    1. That's terrible Justine! What a blessing that you're able to take care of it. I had a terrible time in elementary school and middle school, and I've never thought I was better for having experienced that. Much better for kids to grow up feeling safe and loved!

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  6. I like this idea. It's crazy I didn't learn to read until FIRST GRADE. Now we have kids in Kindergarden and sometimes younger who can already read. I really don't understand the rush for the academics? Guess what I still managed to graduate high school and college and I (gasp) didn't know how to read until first grade!

    Now I did go to nursery school and preschool but all I remember is painting, coloring, learning about shapes, abcs. Real basic things and it was only twice a week. I'm also the oldest of 2 kids and the nursery school I went to was 2 doors down ha. I do remember my friends brother didn't go to anything before Kindergarten and he was really behind in school :( idk the answer haha

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    1. I didn't learn how to read until First Grade, either! And I ended up scoring a 30 on my ACT a few years later in English. Who would have guessed? :)

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  7. Appreciate your perspective! And have to say I agree!

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  8. I agree whole-heartedly and for the very same reasons.

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  9. Thank goodness! I feel the same way, but it's nice to see someone (especially someone with as much parenting experience as you) write what I've been thinking. I really don't want to use a curriculum, it overwhelms me. I'd rather just plan a few fun "educational" activities for us to do together and let my daughter mostly learn from the world around her. Although I may end up carrying that into elementary homeschooling (I'm guessing I won't be as organized and scheduled as you, but it's possible I could change a bit by then).

    I had thought that even if we sent our kids to public/private school, I would keep them at home until 1st grade because I HATE how the push education younger and younger. Little kids need to play! We really are leaning toward homeschooling though.

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  10. The tough thing is that there is this culture of "Kindergarten-Ready" out there these days. So many of the people we know (homeschoolers included) feel like kids should be reading BY Kindergarten. I have worried too much about my five-year-old keeping up with his friends. We went ahead and put him in an all-day Pre-K at our parish Catholic school, and he's had discipline problems all year (little wiggly boy and aggression stuff) because I think it was just too long. He won't nap at school during naptime anymore either, but almost always will at home on the weekends. We al do the best we can to very prayerfully discern God's will for each child, but after this year, I am worried that we discerned wrongly because I'm not sure if he's had the best experience, or if it's exactly what he was supposed to have. We'll see. Year to year, child to child.

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  11. We are at the point where we have a 4 year old, 2 year old, and one more on the way. After a lot of discerning we are going to do a simple homeschool preschool routine for the 4 year old in the fall. I'm not trying to push early reading or making sure he is "kindergarten ready" but the kid is seriously in need of structure. He begs me to do school work with him and to make projects. We have memberships to hands on museums and the zoo and regularly go to the park and library story time but I honestly don't want to feel like I need to get out of the house every single day. I feel like having a half an hour of "school time" for him a day will do him a world of good for providing him some structure.
    Another reason I want to start preschool homeschool is to practice for next year. We haven't come to a conclusion on what to do for kindergarten. I'm hoping that having a successful preschool year will show my husband that our son can still thrive by doing homeschool.

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    1. We sent our oldest son to a prek program at our parish school that was one day a week (there were options for more days) just to test the waters of driving kind of far and paying tuition etc. It was not a bad year, but it solidified for us that we really did want to try to home school kindergarten for him. We started in June and really love it. I'm glad we tried the other option that was a "maybe." I really think our I education plans for our kids are going to be year by year for now. Good luck!

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    2. We sent our oldest son to a prek program at our parish school that was one day a week (there were options for more days) just to test the waters of driving kind of far and paying tuition etc. It was not a bad year, but it solidified for us that we really did want to try to home school kindergarten for him. We started in June and really love it. I'm glad we tried the other option that was a "maybe." I really think our I education plans for our kids are going to be year by year for now. Good luck!

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  12. Hi Kendra! Can you fwd that email to me about the preschool curriculum ? My email:
    ixoxlucy@yahoo.com
    I know you are very busy now so whenever you get a chance!
    Thanks!!

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