Tuesday, September 19, 2006

What about Preschool?

Jules at Everyday Mommy emailed and asked,

I've begun preschooling our 4 year-old at home with a simple curriculum I've put together. However, it is very basic and we speed through it in no time. I know that every parent thinks their child is bright, but I'm afraid that I truly do have a very bright child on my hands. I don't say this boastfully, but fearfully. Am I capable of teaching a gifted child? I was a B+ student. Nothing to write home about. However, I am passionate about learning to this day, I'm passionate about our child and I'm passionate about homeschooling. Could you take a moment and share some thoughts on homeschool preschool curriculum? Any recommendations?
I've heard it said, "God doesn't call the equipped. He equips the called." By God's grace and His wisdom, you and your husband can teach your gifted son. You may not understand Calculus yet. But don't worry most preschoolers, even the gifted aren't ready for that just yet!

One of the joys of homeschooling is that you get to learn all the things you may not have learned the first time around. All education leaves some gaps. It's just a matter of which gaps they are. So I encourage you to determine to homeschool not just based on what you know, but what you and your son can learn together. With your passion and his energy and aptitude, you'll be a dynamic team. I wrote a more detailed post on choosing curriculum that you may find helpful.

At the preschool stage, curiosity is the best curriculum and exploration the best teacher.

You are teaching him how to learn. Provide lots of opportunities for him to ask questions and then discover the answers together. Build a habit of attentiveness by asking him about what he sees around him. Ask him to describe the objects and why he thinks the Lord gave them to us. What is their purpose? How does the object relate to other things around it? Attentiveness is just one of many habits our younger children need to mature and learn about the world around them.

Charlotte Mason, an English writer from the 1800's talks about many of the early habits we are to help cultivate in our children. I would strongly recommend her writing as a source of inspiration and information. Even if you don't use the "Charlotte Mason method" her words of advice and wisdom will help you gain a greater understanding of education. Karen Andreola has taken the lengthy of works of Charlotte Mason and condensed them. Her website, Charlotte Mason, is a goldmine of information. For a daily burst of Charlotte Mason, visit the blog Charlotte Mason.

Other resources I have found helpful for preschoolers are,

Five In A Row by the Lamberts
Alpha Phonics by Blumenfeld
Math U See (A gifted child son would probably enjoy this method.)

Although, some may disagree I would discourage the use of electronic teaching at this stage, both TV and computer. I would also encourage the use of plenty of read alouds that are a little longer than a story book. Something that would take a few days or a week to finish. I wrote more about this in my post, Don't Control the Remote...Control the Appetite.

And don't discount "playtime" as just a waste of time. When someone asked homeschooler Micki Colfax what she did with her preschoolers she replied, "They played with a lot of legos." It must have worked. Her boys made it into Harvard. Their book, Homeschooling for Excellence will give you some insights as well.

I'm just getting back into the preschool phase after being out of it for a few years. So if others have tips and ideas please share them. I also didn't speak too much about training that is so important during the preschool years. I hope to get to that soon.

I've also been asked what to do with preschoolers while your trying to teach the older ones. I'll try and get to that question soon. In the meantime, two resources that I have found helpful are Preschoolers and Peace and Terri Maxwell's Managers of their Home. If others would like to share their thoughts on that question feel free to chime in.

Heather has also blogged about preschool and kindergarten. She's always full insights and this post is worth a read.

The Carnival of Homeschooling is also up at the Thinking Mother. There is always lots if ideas and inspiration there as well.

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