I don’t know why preschool seems such a stressful time for homeschoolers, but I see this question often: “What curriculum do you use for preschool?” I always just want to reach through the computer screen and give y’all a big hug and let you know it’s going to be OK. They don’t need curriculum. Save what you think you want to spend for high school biology. Believe me. You will thank me when you get there.
Preschool is really only there to give at-risk youth access to the kinds of experiences the rest of American kids get by just living here in America with reasonably educated parents who take a reasonable interest in their lives. That isn’t to say that because their families are poor, they don’t love their kids just as much as any other American. But sometimes, when you are concentrating all day on surviving, there isn’t that much left over at the end of the day for thirteen readings of Tacky the Penguin.
You don’t need flash cards to teach colors. You ask that precious cherub if he would like to wear the green shirt or the blue one. You don’t need cups and plastic animals to teach sorting. You give her a step stool and let her put the spoons, forks and butter knives into their proper spots. Engage with your child, read to your child, talk to your child and they will blossom more than any curriculum could prepare them for.
Sure, they may not know all their letters and be sounding out simple words like that one kid at co-op. Maybe they wouldn’t even if you did hammer it into them all day long. But never underestimate the value of time spent exploring and the lessons that don’t necessarily show up when prompted.
So I thought I’d share a little of what homeschooling preschool means to us.
It’s holding the whole world in your hands and learning that you can move big things with the help of a little water. And trying to get Australia to the top of the world.
It’s touching and feeling and caring for animals.
It’s learning to take care of yourself. By yourself. Even if it means you miss a spot. And end up wearing an odd outfit to the zoo.
It’s overcoming your fears and stepping into the waterfall. And finding out that it is a pretty cool place to be.
It’s spending hours trying to dam a stream with rocks and sticks.
It’s working together to create your own little kingdom in the sand.
It’s wondering at the natural world,
Exploring wide open spaces,
Climbing a little higher than you thought you could,
And depending on family to help you when things get too hard.
It’s all the time we spend together and all the time he spends exploring while I sit back and watch. He is learning and growing every day. He may be shaky on counting and only know three letters of the alphabet, but he knows that the world is a pretty exciting place to explore, that the best rewards come after challenges and that his contributions matter. Sure, some day, I will give him a book and insist that he learns certain things. I will teach him to read, teach him history, teach him math. But these lessons that he is learning now as he explores and observes and experiments will be a solid foundation to build on.
Because they are at the heart of what learning is all about.