As I began planning my next article series on homeschooling preschoolers, I felt torn in several directions as I tried to frame up in my mind what a homeschool preschool should look like.
There are so many approaches you can take with these budding little sponges! What works great for my oldest daughter may not work so well for the youngest. What works fabulously for my family may not work for my neighbor.
What does your homeschool preschool look and feel like? What does it NOT look and feel like?
If you haven’t yet started, what do you want from preschool for your child?
Here are some of the *types* of preschool formats that were running through my mind as I wrote the rest of the series. There isn’t any one type that is right or wrong as a whole, you just have to choose what will fit best for your child and your family.
* * *
Young PreSchool – You begin to purposefully put things in front of your child that will help him learn some of those educational basics such as colors, numbers, letters, and sounds before the child turns 4-years-old. I’ve done this with each child, beginning with #2 because #1 was already homeschooling (he’s 5 years older than #2) and I needed my younger ones to be quietly engaged in some sort of non-messy activity so I could teach my oldest. It just made sense for me to give her some crayons and a sheet with a big *A* printed on it or give her all red toys to play with in her high chair. I’ve considered my kids to be *in* preschool from about 2 years old.
Old PreSchool – This preschool setting doesn’t *start* until the child is older than 4 years. Children will learn about their surroundings no matter what you do or don’t do – so, it isn’t that a child isn’t learning. I just mean the purposeful instruction from an adult with a goal of learning some specific in mind.
* * *
Structured PreSchool – This would be more of a scheduled environment. Everyone knows what task is coming and when. The homeschool teacher has certain activities planned ahead of time to teach the children a specific skill, including the preschooler(s).
Unstructured PreSchool – Today, we need to bake some bread, so we’ll learn about numbers and fractions. Tomorrow is free admission day at the aquarium, so we’ll learn about fish and their habitat. Life is the classroom and each moment brings a new teaching opportunity! Activities aren’t necessarily planned ahead of time, we’ll just see what the day brings.
* * *
Goal Oriented PreSchool – We, on purpose, want the child to know a predetermined set of skills by a certain date. Each day, new activities and experiences are made part of the day in order to meet that goal.
Let’s-See-What-We-Learn PreSchool – We’ll let the child’s and our own curiosity lead the way and know that our little one will learn as we go. When they are older, we’ll have set goals, but for now we want to explore!
* * *
In my own experience, we’ve done a Young, Structured, Goal-Oriented PreSchool.
Much of it was driven by necessity. My first child is five years older than my second. By the time the second was a toddler, I was into first and second grade with my oldest. I really needed some quiet times with him for teaching and there were other things I wanted to do during her nap times. So, it just made sense to set her at the table next to us and have her working while we were working. It was great! She really enjoyed the time and absorbed every little drop of information I put in front of her. She is naturally very calm and could happily sit for long periods of time without a problem.
The structured part comes in now that I have more children. In order to keep chaos to a minimum and to actually get anything accomplished throughout the day, I HAVE to be on schedule. Regardless of their age, all my children are fit into that schedule. From about six months onward, my kids wake up, go to sleep, do school activities, go outside, have independent learning all at predetermined times. I know for some people, that just sounds horrific. But, I can honestly say that my kids are much happier when we are on schedule than when we aren’t.
As you read the remaining articles in this preschool series, the way I’ve structured preschool for my children will keep coming out in what I say and how I say it. I’ve tried to keep the articles as well-rounded and applicable to everyone as I could, but it’s very hard to do most times.
Please chime in and tell me how your preschool is different and how it works for you and your children!! I’d love the adult conversation!