Over the years, many moms, usually already staying at home, have asked me about homeschooling their preschool children. All of these women are caring, actively involved mothers, but our culture of early academics has cast a shadow of doubt on their confidence. Most moms know that the best place for their young child is with them, but they are mostly afraid that they will "ruin" their children by not socializing them in a school setting. That is so far from the truth.
Everything is a learning opportunity for a preschool-age child and there will plenty of time for formal learning in the future. They need concrete, hands-on activity, and lots of free time to explore their world, especially 3-5 year-old boys. Here are some suggestions for giving your preschooler a head start:
- READ, READ, READ. This one thing will set a foundation for all later learning. It will not only strengthen the bond between you and your little boy, but it will expand his worldview, help him develop a rich vocabulary and the ability to listen, and give him a knowledge base to build on later. Choose good quality books, like Newbury and Caldecott Award winners and classics. Avoid too many "junk food for the brain" books. Don't limit yourself to fictional stories, also read non-fictional books about things he's interested in. For example, if you dig up some worms while planting flowers and he's excited about them, get a book on worms from the library. Or tigers, sharks, race cars, etc. Here are Ten Read-Aloud Commandments to get the most out of reading with your little one.
- Include your child in your everyday activities, such as cooking, shopping, errands, and chores, including some of his own. Explain what you are doing as you do it and why.
- Go on field trips to the museum, botanical garden, nature trails, the zoo, farmer's market, orchard, and the library (storytime).
- Study nature. Plant a small garden together, grow sunflowers, put out a bird feeder and watch the birds, go on a nature walk and observe bugs, flowers, trees, etc., collect things (rocks, leaves, etc.), catch tadpoles and watch them grow into frogs, order some caterpillars, press flowers.
- Teach letter names and sounds using signs, story books, menus, food labels, etc. Focus on one letter each week.
- Build a foundation of math literacy. Count everything (beans, M&Ms, cars, houses on your street, etc.). Sort legos by color or size. Have him figure out how many place settings you need at the table.
- Encourage small-motor skills. Make playdough. Play with rice in a plastic tub or dishpan. String large wooden beads. Work with wooden puzzles. Practice pouring water or rice from cup to cup.
- Expose him to the rhyme and rhythm of language. Sing songs and read silly poems and nursery rhymes. Take turns making up combinations of rhyming phrases.
- Let him have lots of time to run around in the yard and just play. Provide toys that promote creativity and imagination (instead of toys that have only one use), like blocks, play food, dress-up stuff, little people (my 5yo loves Playmobil).
Sometimes, your preschooler may want to do "real" school, which to them, most likely means paper and pencil work. This website has printable learning pages and activities for a wide variety of subjects. You can also utilize technology for preschoolers with interactive websites for pre-reading and other basic skills.
Some would try to make you believe that it is necessary to send your young child away to preschool. Usually, the reasons all boil down to socialization, but this article tells you why you should NOT put your child in preschool. You know your child better than anyone and you have taught your child so much already. Keep up the good work!
Linked to Better Mom Monday and Titus 2 Tuesday.