Preschoolers: First Things First

I heartily endorse the message found here…an article titled Doctors urge more playtime for children. (Thanks go to MInTheGap for the link.)

We’re bombarded everywhere with programs for our preschoolers. Driven almost by fear that our children won’t measure up with their peers, we enroll them in all kinds of structured enrichment activities…bombarding them with academics before they’re even school age. And we homeschoolers are no different.

What skills do children need before Kindergarten? Honestly, I wonder which teachers would find more helpful…children who know their numbers, abc’s and the basics of reading, or children who have good listening skills, fine motor skills, and respect for authority?

It’s kind of like the philosophy: Spread the gospel in India and you’ll solve their hunger problems. (no more sacred cows=plenty of meat for all).

It’s SO important to teach your littles about God their Father, and His plan for their lives. It’s not just about reading Bible stories, it’s about applying them in real time…talking about the heroes of the Bible and how we can apply God’s truth in our everyday lives. Go for their hearts, not just their heads.

Attitude is key to getting a good education.  And teaching your children about God while they’re young, is key to them following Him all their lives. (Look at the Catholic church and how they take the first and most formative 7 years and with their religion classes produce lifelong commitment) As a homeschooling mother, believe me, you will be way ahead of the game if you spend the preschool years working on obedience, cheerfulness, and cooperation…

Well, you say, my 3&4’s are ready, they get whiney and bored without fun workbooks to accomplish, etc.  Excuse me? Whiney and bored? These are character issues that need to be dealt with, and not by thwacking another worksheet down on the table!

Let “kindergarten” be your “school readiness program”. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for stimulating learning through environment and activities, just don’t steal that joy of childhood by starting too early on the regimentation of requiring this kind of “success” from your 3 and 4 year olds. (I’m picturing a parent sitting with a child for two hours at the table, trying to complete a ‘curriculum’ and getting frustrated with their squirming child. Please don’t make them feel stupid before they’re even six years old!)

Let them stress when they’re old enough to handle it. For now, let them play. Let them learn what they were created for. Teach the important stuff.

There’s plenty of time for the other.

P.S. For all you moms/dads who’ve made the decision to homeschool and are raring to jump in with both feet…wanting structure and achievement, why not spend this “waiting period” on enriching your own education? Your love of learning will spill over, and everyone will benefit from it.

17 thoughts on “Preschoolers: First Things First”

  1. Wonderful advise! I’m eager to homeschool (the baby isn’t even here yet, so I have awhile to wait!), but I don’t want to get so caught up in our child being bright, ahead and outgoing and all that. I would much rather her heart be directed toward God!
    Thanks for the reminder.

  2. I love your thoughts, Mary. The Word says, “In quietness and in confidence shall be your strength…” and that is not referring to human confidence and scheduled quietness. Don’t you agree? It has to refer to the quietness that comes when we are at rest in Him and depending on Him and how in the world can we achieve that apart from God’s truth and His wisdom?

  3. I admire parents who homeschool, but I there are some reservations I have always had. I feel children need to be around other children of different cultures and races. It helps them to grow into a more productive citizen.

    I am not sure if you are aware or not. But kindergarten is not just about ABC’s etc. Before entering Kindergarten the children should already know their ABC’s, how to write and spell their names at least know how to count to 10 and recognize both. Kindergarten is basically what 1st grade used to be. My son was already coming home with homework.

    1st grade teaches addition, subtraction, geometry and algebra, believe it or not. And the poor kids are literally rushed through. Lots of homework.

    Poor kids.

  4. Leticia, I have heard that about Kindergarten. The nice thing I’ve found about homeschooling, is that my children have learned all these typical “kindergarten” things without formal “teaching” and before kindergarten age. For instance, my children were all toddlers when they learned the abc song, just because we sang it together and read alphabet books together. And my first child actually learned it best from her singing Elmo doll that grandma bought her! Repetition. :O)
    I don’t have a problem with preschool age children learning, only if it pushes the envelope of schooling to too young of an age. I’m just cautious, because I’ve seen eagerness turn into resentment when preschool is taken too far. It seems here in America that we just keep lowering the age and raising the expectations.
    Personally, I think it’s another thing for which to thank the feminist agenda. After all, if most kids are in daycare from 6 wks of age and on, then how much better is it to get them into preschool…the sooner the better?

  5. Hmm. All very interesting thoughts. Leticia, regarding sending kids to school so they can be around other cultures and how that is supposed to make a better citizen… Well, I really doubt that the schools are making better citizens. Just look around you, do you still see hate crimes? I do. And most of America goes to public school where they are supposedly “socialized” to become better citizens. But I think it would be far more likely that we would have better citizens if our children were raised from a Christ centered worldview. Christ was accepting of all races, and we can teach our children that at home. In fact, kids don’t come out thinking other kinds of races are weird or dangerous, they are taught that, most of them through experiences at school.

    Anyway, regarding kids doing two hours of pre-school… I think that kids need to play, but I also think that they need meaningful work. My son is 3.5, but God has given him a very intelligent mind, and a strong desire to learn. We spend two hours give or take a day on school. He is learning Kindergarten math, and First Grade Reading. Plus science and hsitory. We do fun things like art projects, (he thinks we are playing!) and other things like music. We have a devotional time everyday. My son begs me to do school. He still has plenty of time to play, and he also has meaningful work to do. I thik that this post is good for a guideline, and I think that the spirit of the message was “don’t rush your kids and pressure them into doing school too early”, but not all kids feel it is pressure, some think it is playing, and it doesn’t matter when they learn algebra, if they find it fun and are able to do it why hold them back?

    Mrs Meg Logan

  6. Oh one more thing. Doing school is teaching my son how to be still, and to respect authority, and those other things you mentioned. They aren’t left out, they are encouraged.

    Mrs Meg Logan

  7. I would love to homeschool but unfortunately my hubby isn’t interested so I guess it’s something I”ll keep praying about. I think as parents we are the best teachers our children can have.

  8. Couldn’t have said it better myself Mrs. Meg Logan…

    Besides that, where I live, we are so rural there ARE no other races and cultures in the public schools. Literally. So would you say I should send them AWAY for school so they can learn those things? No, I would rather do it in the comfort and fun of my own home, through meeting interesting people (like the missionary family from Africa that comes to our church and usually our home once a year), etc and with our focus firmly on God’s will for our lives. Something they will NOT get in a secular humanistic gov’t school.

    Leticia, do some looking into how well rounded homeschooled people who are now adults end up being. It might surprise you! :)

  9. And by the way, my kids don’t have homework. With a one-on-one learning situation, we can get our “school work” done in a couple of hours and have the rest of the day to bake, dance, draw, sing, play outside, garden, rake leaves, write letters, make up plays…

    You’re right…poor kids. Poor, poor kids!

  10. Mrs. Meg L, got it right, on the spirit of my post. If your child is ready, by all means encourage them in their pursuits. I think it’s neat how the younger siblings will often learn way ahead of their “age/grade level” just by overhearing/copying their older siblings’ lessons.
    Plus, I’ve been around children with absolutely no imagination whatsoever. Is this just their personality? Maybe, or maybe they need to be able to entertain themselves a bit better?

    Thanks for all the great comments!

  11. Mary you are so right!! My Luner is under a lot of pressure, the school he attends have to meet some ridiculous quota and if the poor kids don’t “get it” they are left behind!! I was shocked when I heard the teacher telling the parents at a parent/teacher conference.

    This is First Grade! And it just blows my mind they are having these little babies taking timed tests, etc. It is too much.

    So, now I am think I am for homeschooling again, hee.

  12. Great article. My wife and I are praying about starting to have children. It’s such a huge responsibility that I cannot even begin to fathom. But we know the Lord will give us the wisdom to guide our children to Him. we live in NYC and all our friends’ kids are bombarded with piano classes, violin classes, karate, soccer, etc. They have their own calendars that are busier than their parents! It’s crazy! And what’s worse is that these kids will be trained to have a performance-driven and success-driven mentality that is so contrary to the Gospel!

    Love your thoughts and insights! I’m glad I found your blog.

    – s

    A Look Into A Christian Marriage
    http://www.myloveforher.com

  13. Leticia, I’m sorry for what you’re going through, wish homeschooling was more of an option for you! My little girl is 6, and in first grade, and I know for a fact that she’s just not emotionally up to spending all day away from home pinned to school and it’s pressures. I have no doubt that she’d adjust, but there’d be a hardening effect to her in the process. Plus, she has the same hard time focusing as my dh did, and he was labeled early on and put in a remedial reading class. My oldest wouldn’t have had any problem with it, she’s much more social and once I started teaching her to read she caught on immediately and jumped several grade levels. Imagine if they were the same grade level. One would be put in a remedial class and one in a gifted class. One would feel stupid. It’s sad, because I know my 6 year old is smart, she just needs a lot more time and gentle prodding as she focuses on the task at hand. She’s always been this way. I’m grateful that I’m the one teaching her. We can plod along till she gets it, and then she’ll probably catch up and go beyond her “grade level”. I’ve seen that happen time and again with other homeschooling families.

    -S~ all the classes you mentioned are exactly what I was balking at…there is so much pressure for little ones to “perform”, and I think it wipes the whole family out trying to keep up the pace. Plus, my favorite childhood memories are of what I did in my free time…collecting shells and driftwood at the ocean, burying treasure in a remote corner of my grandfather’s pastureland…TV wasn’t readily available and I played my little heart out. I don’t recall ever feeling “bored” except for when I’d just been watching tv! Anyway…

    Thanks, everyone for your kind comments about my post! I admit, after re-reading it, it almost sounds as though I don’t recommend teaching preschoolers anything, but that is not what I meant. I plan on posting another one soon on non-school activities that you can do to promote a love of learning for preschoolers!

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