Saturday, January 05, 2008

Beginning the Homeschooling Process

I saw a blog entry today from a relatively new mom who's just beginning to think about homeschooling. Her little guy is just two, and she's already evaluating whether he needs preschool or not. She has a lot of serious questions, and I am impressed with her thoughtfulness as she begins the process.

As I wrote a comment on her blog, it occurred to me what a privilege it is to be homeschool our preschoolers. Many women are not even at home during these special years; and of those who are, many don't take seriously the process of teaching, loving, and guiding these precious little people. Here's what I wrote to her, and what I'd recommend to any mom at home with preschoolers:
I remember being in a similar situation to yours. There are so many
questions when you are beginning to think about homeschooling. Fortunately, you
don’t have to decide right away. The best place for your son right now -
regardless of what some may say about how he needs preschool - is at home with
you, as you love him, care for him, and teach him. You have several more years
before you even have to begin the formal process of education, whether you
choose homeschooling or private school or some other option.

By the time my daughter was ready to begin kindergarten (and few states
even require that), I knew I could homeschool her - I had already taught her
more than she would have learned in preschool, just by remaining involved in her
life. She learned her shapes, colors, numbers, and letters - she learned to
count and to help cook and to figure out how many would be at the table if we
had our family and two guests. She learned to take care of a baby (by watching
me, not playing with baby dolls!), to enjoy an excellent story (by cuddling on
the couch, not sitting on a story carpet), to button and zip and snap her
clothes (by doing it, not having Mom finish in a rush and then imitating it on a
doll), to choose healthy foods (by going to the grocery store, not looking at a
food pyramid), to draw a pretty picture, and so many other things that would
have had to be simulated in preschool but could be done in real life at home
with me.

At this point, rather than answer all your questions about
homeschooling (which would make for a REALLY long post!), let me encourage you -
read about it, mix with other homeschoolers, and experiment with home
preschooling for a few years. Check out some homeschooling curricula so you
begin to get a feel for what you do and don’t like. Don’t get too formal about
it - just have fun and get to know your little guy, and guide him as you would
anyway. Go to the library together - and consider checking out books on a
particular subject each time (baby animals, firemen, the circus, sharks, the
mail, poetry, etc.). Play games and do fingerplays and read stories and bake
cookies and take care of a pet and do all the other things you can think of to
keep his life (and yours!) interesting and fun. And by the time you’re ready to
decide whether to homeschool or not, you’ll be so hooked on your little fellow
(and any future siblings) that you won’t be able to imagine sending him off to
school all day!

Here’s a really excellent homeschooling curriculum I used for many
years: http://www.sonlight.com. They have just put out a new, younger
preschool curriculum that’s perfect for beginning the process - in a year or so
when your son is ready, or even now if you think it’s time.

Have fun - you have a wonderful adventure ahead of you!

I forgot to add - take them for walks, especially to parks or other wild places if you have any available. Let them try "science experiments" - my younger daughter delighted in mixing soap and water or sand and water and seeing what happened. Let them play with bubbles and see what happens. Pray with them.

In the midst of the pressures of living with preschool children, hopefully this will be an encouragement. You don't have to do it all or know it all, and you don't have to decide on a schooling option today. All you have to do is be the best mom to preschoolers you know how to be. That way, whether you homeschool your kids all the way through high school, or send them to school at some point, you've given them a solid foundation for life.

7 comments:

Dana said...

The thing that I find interesting in these discussions about preschool is that the point of preschool was originally to try to help level out the large differences between socioeconomic groups evident at the start of kindergarten.

Whatever it is that middle class America was doing prior to that was evidently working. And those disparities continue to exist, demonstrating that preschool is not able to adequately compensate.

So why do we keep pushing for preschool as some sort of model? It is the concerned parenting...the natural education that concerned parenting entails...that is the supreme model.

Kim said...

Hi Marcy,

Thank you for your encouragement!! I really can't thank you enough! God used your comment to quiet my overwhelmed heart and allow me to sit back and enjoy the teaching process with my 2-year-old son! I took your advice and have let my son play with bubbles, play with flour (he likes to feel it) and play with dried beans and peas (closing watching him so none go in his mouth!) I am amazed at how much he likes these simples things! Thank you again!!

Kim (aka, kimita)

Charity said...

Marcy, I was just looking at your blog in my feed reader the other day, wondering if you would post again.

What a great post!

Marcy Muser said...

Dana,

You make an excellent point. Preschool was never intended for children of intelligent, caring parents. It was supposed to be for those kids who would otherwise have started school behind the others, for kids who didn't come to school knowing their shapes and colors, and how to share - things it was assumed most parents would have already taught their little people.

I'm afraid that somewhere along the line, though, preschool became a) a status symbol for high-achieving parents (my child is in a better preschool than yours); and b) a way for do-gooders who think families are not the best places for raising kids to gain more control over society. Some time ago a very intelligent man said, "Give me a child until he is 7, and I will have him for life." In order to counteract the powerful influence parents have on their children's lives, these folks have to get their hands on our kids at younger and younger ages. In the process, they pull all the joy of discovery and learning out of them.

Preschool is such a wonderful time for kids, especially if they have a loving home environment in which to begin the process of learning. I'm glad to see more parents keeping their little people at home.

Marcy Muser said...

Kim,

I'm so glad to have been an encouragement to you! The experiences your little guy is having at home with you can't possibly be duplicated in a school situation.

Enjoy the adventure! :)

Marcy Muser said...

Charity,

Thanks for the kind post. I'm afraid I've been terribly busy this year and posting has been slim. Hopefully I can find some time to post more frequently again. :)

Shawna said...

I love the statement about setting a foundation. And I am so happy to see you posting again!

I often wonder about that long lost ideal of nursery schools--so much more innocent and loving than a preschool. And I often wonder why we even have a term "homeschooled preschooler?"

I guess in my ideal, simply being at home and doing those oh, so normal things you pointed out are merely life and I never considered it preschool LOL

I personally would like to see the term "homeschooled preschooler" disappear, so that parents go back to simply parenting and nurturing and guiding without the emphasis of learning and education. And thus the term "preschooler" would be reserved for those children who do attend preschool.

In fact, I think you have given me a research project: the word "teen" was coined in the arly 1900's--I wonder when the word "preschooler" was coined and how we referred to our young children prior to its use?