Celeste Land: Hi! I am Celeste Land with the Organization of Virginia Homeschoolers, and I am showing you how to begin homeschooling your child. Right now, we are going to take a look at how to go about homeschooling with very young children. There is increasing pressure on young families to send their children to school at very young ages. The preschool pressure is going to be very hard to resist especially when everyone you know is signing their kids up. You may be doubting your ability to educate your young child at home. The good news is that you are already homeschooling your child.
Very young children can program to absorb knowledge like little sponges. Just think of all the things your child has learned already without formal instruction; walking, talking, the names of countless people and household objects, and how to make all sorts of mischief around the house. Very young children learn primarily through play and daily-life activities. Your job as a home schooling parent is to provide the right opportunities for learning to occur by doing things like reading books, acting on stories, doing arts and crafts projects, building up blocks and other toys, taking nature walks in the neighborhood, playing games, visiting everyday places like grocery stores and post offices, and so on.
Chances are you are probably doing most of these things already. There are prepackaged curriculum material for homeschooling preschool on the market but most families have found that this is not necessary for learning letters, numbers, colors, or shapes. Also, many parents have reported that requiring structured formal schoolwork at this age created a lot of unnecessary heartache and frustration in their house. Instead, these families recommend creating an enriching learning environment in your home, full of colorful and interesting things like dress up clothes, crayons and markers, building materials, measuring cups, books, educational games, and so on.
There are all sorts of books and Internet resources which explain how to do this at low or low cost. Many parents are concerned about whether they should teach their very young child to read. Reading readiness is a very personal matter, with some children teaching themselves at extremely early ages, and others not being ready until well pass their seventh or eighth birthdays. Most children are not ready to read until after age five or six, and girls tend to read earlier than boys on the average. Late reading is normal in many children, and should not be seen as a reflection on your parenting skills.
If you are concerned about your child's reading or not reading, it may be reassuring to talk with experienced homeschooling parents who have had early, late, or reluctant readers in their families. The best way to survive the preschool pressures is to surround yourself with friends and family who are living and learning outside of school. Informal playgroups or playful learning groups can give your child regular exposure to group activities in a low stress setting. A successful unpreschooling group need not be complicated or fancy. Three or four families meeting weekly at a home or park to play, talk, and possibly do a short project together can be all that is required.
This gives you an opportunity to visit with other homeschooling parents and gives your child the chance to build social skills and form friendships with other children. One special challenge for parents of very young children is how to homeschool when younger siblings are competing for attention. There are many different ways to handle this situation. Some families adopt the curriculum to meet the needs of all their children simultaneously using unit studies or child-initiated learning. Other families do lots of classes and activities outside their home when their children are younger, saving the formal instruction for later. Some parents have special toys or activities that only come out during the older child's school time, or say formal school-time for nap time or sitter time.
Veteran homeschooling parents may be happy to share their solutions for this very common problem. Many of the books and resources for homeschooling do not address the needs and concerns of parents of very young children. Your state homeschool organization and local support group may be able to refer you to other families in your community who are homeschooling very young children.
Ann Zeise's Homeschooling A to Z website and the Abecedarian Academy website have lots of lists of helpful books and Internet resources to get you started on your unpreschooling journey. Don't forget your local library which has lots of books with fun educational activities for your children. So that's how you can homeschool with very young children. Now we are ready to take a look at how working parents can homeschool their children.