Being both anxious and excited, I couldn’t wait to begin homeschooling my first child, Mr. Senior 2013. Being around the homeschool community because my mother homeschooled my younger sister, I had an idea of how to begin. As I began, I knew some things, but it was nowhere near what I needed to know.
I still had many questions. When do I formally start, where do I purchase curriculum, what is considered curriculum at the preschool years and how much do I really need to teach my son at two or three years old were just a few of my anxieties.
Beginning Homeschool with Little Ones and Not Panicking!
I wanted details or some way to know when to move to the next step. So I’m hoping some of these important details will ease your mind.
- When do I formally start?
You already know that kids begin learning from the time they are born, but estimating a more formal start is not as easy.
Like public school, you can use Kindergarten or about 5 years of age as a formal start.
However, the one thing I could not possibly appreciate was that my son was very advanced in some skills and at the same time such a baby. It seems a paradox and hard to explain as I look back. Stay with me as I give you the full circle view.
When my son was 2 years old, I started receiving a box monthly with age appropriate activities for him. It had a craft, a music cassette (yes this was before all the free downloads now) and age appropriate language building skills. It was always centered on themes. Little did I know then that I would create my Kindergarten curriculum around that format. Back to my point.
My son was already writing his name, knew his letters and was reading before Kindergarten.
Out of my stupidity (I say this kindly about myself) meaning I really didn’t know what I was doing, I taught him to read. It was normal to me for him to be that advanced and we were ready to go on to other skills in Kindergarten.
It set me back in Kindergarten when I realized that the curriculum I purchased started off with the same skills I felt my son had mastered. Things I taught him like colors, one to one correspondence, opposites, letter sounds and about science were being introduced in the Kindergarten curriculum.
Too, I had another problem. The curriculum required too much sitting time for such a young age.
Did you know that Kindergarten only requires short periods of sit down work done in about 10 to 15-minute spurts? And that Preschool and Kindergarten are not the grades to make kids sit for hours because you decided to make a more formal start?
I’ve asked forgiveness from my first son. I’m here to tell you that he turned out beautiful, but it was hard to forgive myself for being so
overbearing anxious. Don’t make my mistake.
I knew that playing is learning in the preschool years and like any developmental age, it shouldn’t be rushed.
It’s hard to grasp that when you feel the whole weight of your child’s future rests on your shoulders and all he wants to do is play, chew on toys and destroy your house. However, those precious years are momentary flashes that you can’t ever bring back if you rush homeschool.
If you search the definition for Kindergarten, it would probably say something like a grade or class to prepare your child for first grade. But the meaning has been lost through the constant push of the education world, and you need to resist the urge to hop onto the formal education track too soon.
The translation of Kindergarten means “garden for the children” and a child has a right to a stress-fress childhood that is full of play, tender moments and your warm embrace.
Here is a tip that will ease your mind if you ever feel like anytime in your journey you are behind; in one grade or even one month, a child can make significant learning leaps. No pushing or cajoling on your part will move him ahead faster.
The years before and during Kindergarten should be about singing, dancing, crafting and practicing fine motor skills.
I gradually folded in preschool and Kindergarten; it wasn’t until first grade that I required a bit more sit down time.
When You’re Anxious to Use Homeschool Preschool Curriculum
- Where do I purchase curriculum? And what is considered curriculum during the preschool years?
Again, I can’t do anything balanced. I had curriculum overkill. My curriculum could have been scaled back to living books and crafts. And what I didn’t realize was that my house was already full of things ready to use.
Things like dried macaroni, dried beans for counting, measuring cups, bowls, jump ropes, dried cereal for graphing, rice for pouring, paper for painting, graduated mixing bowls, music for dancing to the alphabet, hopscotch made by chalk, building blocks, and toys for strengthening fine motor skills are what should consume a child’s day.
What I needed more of were living books.
Living books are opposite of basal readers, which are written by textbook writers. Living books are written in a story form and uses rich vocabulary, which is the stepping stone to effective reading and writing skills.
Ditch the formal curriculum until about first grade and focus just on teaching your child how to read and more important, nurture a love for reading. How do you do that? Reading aloud is the key to a lifelong reader.
I’ve said many times how I’m not quite sure what I did to help Mr. Senior 2013 read, but I do know for sure that I read a variety of books he loved over, over and over again. Too, I included nursery rhymes every day so that he could predict the next word.
Then, one day he started to mouth the words and took off reading with easy books. Look at my tips at Teach Your Homeschooled Child How to Read in 20 Easy Lessons.
Here is a list of read-aloud books to get you started. These are just some of the ones I read to each son as I got ready to formally teach them. They instill a lifelong love of reading.
The Story of Ferdinand
Harry the Dirty Dog
The Complete Tales of Winnie-The-Pooh
The Real Mother Goose
Where the Wild Things Are
Harold and the Purple Crayon
Blueberries for Sal
Five Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed
Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile Storybook Treasury
Curious George: 75th Anniversary Edition
Make Way for Ducklings
The Classic Treasury of Aesop’s Fables
The Ugly Duckling (Caldecott Honor Book)
Remember that everything you do daily like conversations and reading gives your child a foundation for grammar, phonics and reading more than any curriculum can do.
You are your child’s first teacher. Savor it. Do what your heart moves you to do each day in a natural way because he will learn and anything that you drop the ball on regarding teaching, you always have time to make up.
Relax, you got this!
Here are more tips, because knowledge IS power!
Be sure you go through each day of my free Homeschool 31 Day Boot Camp for New Homeschoolers, 5 Easy Steps to Putting Together Your Own Homeschool Phonics Program, What You’ve Got To Know About Teaching Reading Comprehension and 8 Components of a Boxed Curriculum.
Hugs and love ya,
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