by guest author Shari McMinn
At a recent CHEC Intro to Homeschooling workshop where I presented the Nuts & Bolts portion of how to actually homeschool, I had several people ask me about preschool. As this is becoming a more prevalent question, I thought it should be addressed from a Christian, home education viewpoint.
Historically, only families of means sent their kids to preschool. The upper class had nannies or tutors, and the upper middle class had preschool. Preschool prepared children to enter more rigorous (private) schools, which expected children to know the traditional things a child learned in Kindergarten, before they entered their rigorous Kindergarten.
The more selfish reason included home-makers having more leisure time for tennis, golf, or bridge each day at the local country club while their young children were occupied at preschool.
I grew up in the 1960s, and my parents refused to go along with the growing trend of sending children aged 3-5 years to preschool. Instead, we stayed home, spending time with my Mom who read to us, helping her with household chores, playing outside in our park-like backyard, making tents in the living room, and helping my Dad when he was home nights and weekends with the outdoor landscaping or fix-it projects in his basement workshop.
It was a grand and glorious childhood – idyllic, really. I continue to enjoy all of those things I learned in my family’s preschool and have taught them to my children as well.
Now our federal government wants to mandate preschool for all children. This institutional approach to education from a very young age is promoted in the Communist Manifesto penned by Karl Marx in the 1800s. His atheistic, power-mongering ideology was designed to transform our Christian nation into a godless welfare state of automatons who agree – or are forced to agree – with big brother government, which is run by a select few controlling the masses with over-regulation and high taxation. Sadly, it has succeeded in nearly every way. But, I digress …
The primary concern for our preschool-aged children is that an institutional classroom is not the best way for young children to learn. (Research proves that “Head Start” type programs do not have the intended effect.) Young children need to be actively engaging their environment inside and outside of their home. They need to socialize with a small group of their closest and most trusted family and friends. Children learn by playing and exploring.
They mimic what they see and hear, incorporating those experiences into their play. Who do we want them to imitate? If we are mature Christians, competent in social skills, diligent in work ethic, with love toward one another in our community circles, then we want them to mimic us. We don’t want them to learn from nor mimic some stranger we are not familiar with, who is teaching them who knows what, nor other children who can bully and be a bad influence.
Be assured you can successfully homeschool your preschooler! Now is the time for them to be with you as they explore and learn about the big world outside your home.
Young children want to be with their parents; build a relationship with them that will last through high school and beyond – be physically active; expect lots of questions and curiosity; talk to them with eye contact; use loving words and facial expression when correcting them.
Focus on the basics of life as you know it: alphabet, counting, dancing, exercise, music, reading aloud, playing, speaking; a steady routine including household chores and town errands.
Let them join in group lessons with other kids – they can play quietly in the same room or participate with hands-on activities
PLEASE limit technology and screen time (American Academy of Pediatrics states two hours maximum per day – I would argue for less than that).
Accept that there will be messes and chaos!
If you feel compelled to spend money on their education (I suggest hitting your local thrift store), then by all means invest in these kinds of tools for lifelong learning by creating a RICH play environment:
- Indoor play area: art supplies, audio books/music, costumes, blankets and pillows, blocks, boxes, dolls, kitchen toys, playing cards, professional kits (doctor, police, private eye), puzzles, puppets, stuffed animals, tinker toys, toy vehicles
- Outdoor play area: balls, butterfly net, croquet, fort or treehouse, hula hoop, “little tykes” structures, jump rope, play gym, roller skates, sandbox, scooter, supervised water in “turtle sandbox”
There are probably experiences that your preschooler naturally enjoys already within your family, and these are important to PRE-DEVELOP “school subject” skills:
- Christianity: church worship service with parents, family Bible devotions, hymn singing
- Civics/Geography/History: maps, museums, field trips, extended family reunions, travel
- Consumer Skills: errands, banking, shopping, post office, parent’s work
- Language: speaking in complete sentences, letters of the alphabet, one syllable site words from favorite books, reading books aloud, storytelling
- Math: counting money, cooking with fractions, measuring objects/distances
- Physical Fitness: walks/runs to park, playing outside even in cold weather, calisthenics inside on bad weather days, household chores like sweeping, walking family dog
- Science: baking, kitchen experiments, outdoor nature studies, night sky, weather
- Social skills: communicating with family, learning safe boundaries with strangers, please/thank you, taking turns, sharing communal items
- Writing: coloring books, or other fine motor skills tasks such as cut, paste, playdough
Attentive, intentional, loving parents can provide the best scenario for preschool education right in their own home. Along with nurturing and bonding, other important blessings to preschool at home are a Christian Worldview, and personal safety.
Parents can help children learn to cooperate, obey, respect, and share better than a classroom teacher because of 24/7/365 accountability. Parents are their child’s first and best teacher, know their child better than anyone, and have their best intentions in mind at all times. Besides, preschool exploring and learning is fun for the whole family, including Mom and Dad!
So, homeschool parents, if anyone asks you which preschool your four-year-old attends, simply say “The very best one available – we get to homeschool our preschooler!”