I am a relatively new homeschooling mom. My oldest son is a high school junior and attends public school. However, when I started staying home a few years ago, I started to think about things a little differently.
My cousin homeschooled both of her daughters. I also had a few friends that homeschooled their children and was intrigued by how much their children were thriving outside of the school system. Even though my oldest son enjoyed public school and wanted to stay, I started thinking more and more about what I would do with my younger children. As I considered my schooling options, I decided that I would just send them to public school. I told myself that they would do well just as my son had and that was that. Well…isn’t it just like God to speak something to your heart? Something that you can not deny…something that you know is from Him…something that He was lighting the fire for so that it would come to fruition. Yes, God birthed in me the desire to homeschool my youngest children.
Children are natural learners. They are born curious about any and everything around them. Their eyes light up with curiosity and excitement when they encounter something new. They learn best when they are happy and when they have interesting things to do and safe places to do them. The first and most important learning experiences happen in the family. Children learn from what they see, hear and do in the family and the wider community.
Even though they are young, preschoolers are able to learn A LOT and in a variety of ways. Homeschooling through the eyes of a preschooler is exciting! Preschoolers are fun, full of personality and very adaptable. Yes, they do enjoy the consistency of some things (the same fruit snack daily for a month) but they also thrive in environments where they can exert some independence and step out on their own a bit. Homeschooling offers this to us and I see it as an invaluable gift to my children.
For example — If you’d like to teach your child a second language, the preschool years are a great time to do it. Currently, we are teaching my 3 year old French. He can count to ten in French and can carry a basic conversation with some of the words that he has learned. His face lights up when we affirm that he has used a word correctly! For most children, the earlier they’re exposed to other languages, they more fluent they’re likely to be as they get older.
I also spark their curiosity by choosing books with their favorite characters and activities that allow them to show their talents. Right now, one of the best museums in the country (which happens to be close to us) has an Eric Carle exhibit. I was excited to know that it was coming. The museum has had several amazing programs, puppet shows and other interactive activities to get young learners excited and involved. My boys also enjoy a weekly music class in which they play instruments, enjoy stories and learn songs. I particular love this class because not only are they getting great exercise and time with friends, it is really sharpening their active listening skills. I believe it is imperative to find your child’s particular strengths and gifts and give them the opportunity to demonstrate them. Students love to feel needed and essential. When you play to the strengths of your child, it feeds their self-esteem and help them work on areas that may not come as easily to them.
Preschoolers also benefit a great deal from the informal learning experiences that parents can build into everyday interactions and routines. You can foster your child’s interest in reading, writing, counting, and more through play also. Unstructured play provides opportunities to make choices while playing alone or while playing in a group. It also fosters independence. Children learn to think independently and how to entertain themselves. As my children start to explore more and more around them, my heart leaps as I see them getting more and more excited about learning. They start asking more questions and are willing to try new things. Getting away from the idea that education is something you do to kids, and embracing the idea that it is something to be experienced with kids is what will make the difference between a good day and an unbelievably satisfying one. My budding young scholars love to take in everything around them. The world is not just their playground but also their classroom.
With a cold latte in hand and my latest read under my arm, I'm usually seen running around chasing little people. In my spare time, you will catch me spending time with family and friends, at live music festivals and on the hunt for a new favorite dessert.