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Homeschooling Preschoolers Naturally

by Kelly Crawford

silhouette mother with babyMany new homeschooling moms feel anxious about their first years, worrying that they will not provide an adequate foundation for their children, having been (falsely) convinced that a professional has some magical formula for preparing children to learn that she doesn’t have.  Homeschooling preschoolers naturally, allowing them to be in a home setting with childhood play, is actually shown to be the best option for these little people.

A few years ago I was asked to write an article to the homeschooling mom of preschoolers. It originally appeared in The Old Schoolhouse Magazine, and is now available at Crosswalk.com.

Here’s a snippet:

“One of the greatest pressures moms of little ones feel is the push to “educate” children at younger ages. Everywhere we look there are “preschool academies,” Head Start programs, and subtle nuances that convince us our children will be “left behind” if they aren’t enrolled in the best program. We clamor to duplicate this model, despite the endless studies that reveal the importance of free, imaginative childhood play and the actual harm that can come from the lack thereof.

Studies reveal that while there may be a marked increase in test scores during the first few years of academic preschool, by the time those same students are in fifth grade, differences between the scores of preschooled and non-preschooled children are indistinguishable. However, there are marked psychological disadvantages for the children who were subjected to longer hours of academic instruction as opposed to a natural home setting during their early years.”   Read the rest of Homeschooling Preschoolers: The Natural Option

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Susan Lemons September 23, 2013 - 11:29 am

Thanks for reminding everyone! It’s so true! All preschoolers really need can be provided at home, simply and naturally, through the 3R’s: Relationship, routine, readiness, and reading aloud. That’s the best “curriculum” for preschoolers.
Susan Lemons

Word Warrior September 24, 2013 - 9:08 am

Thank you, Susan. And I highly recommend your book for anyone who wants to read more: http://generationcedar.com/2011/12/homepreschool-and-beyond.html

Susan Lemons September 24, 2013 - 12:57 pm

Thanks so much!

MM September 23, 2013 - 9:35 pm

Head Start programs have made an enormous difference to the lives of many poor kids, as study after study have shown. Unless you’ve actually spent time in one, I am not sure why you’d criticize these programs.

Have you ever spent time in a HS program?

Laura September 25, 2013 - 11:49 pm

There is also research that shows that when those HS children are followed on up through school, their progress eventually declines… It’s unfortunate that there are families and parents who are lax in their care of their children… or even abusive… but I know Kelly was pinpointing families who are already homeschooling and stable… and the temptation to give into fears that if we don’t give our kids an “early” start on academics, they will somehow be deficient… yet nothing could be further from the truth… healthy happy families can nurture and grow and teach and train preschoolers better than any program… I think kelly just wanted to remind us of that 🙂

Rachel September 24, 2013 - 6:53 am

Perhaps your comment was meant to stir people up, but it really isn’t necessary. I have spent time working with Head Start. And I can say it is a great program for poor children. But not for the reason you are implying. It is not good because it give children early formal education, but because it gives them a safe environment for learning. Many of the children in head start have single working mothers who donot have great home environments. It essence it is a substitute for mom and the home, when mom is not home and the home environment is dangerous (drug abuse, gangs, crime, etc.)
But for children in a loving home where mom/dad are present, preschool is not necessary.

Marie H September 25, 2013 - 3:19 pm

Rachel, I was just going to say the same thing! Children from disadvantaged homes come to kindergarten with something around 1/4 to 1/3 the vocabulary of middle class children–this creates a gap that is nearly impossible to close. So, though I do not support mandatory preschool, and though I absolutely do NOT see preschool as good or necessary for the majority of children, I completely support their existence in the inner-cities and other areas of extreme poverty. I would love if in the future all children came from stable, two-parent, loving households, but until then, as you said, children need a safe environment where they can learn.

Jessi October 16, 2014 - 10:39 am

My son will be three in less than a week and we plan on homeschooling him. Before I made the commitment to stay home with him, I was an early childhood professional. I taught Head Start for four years. The program that I worked in was VITAL for many of the children in our program. The city, a county seat for a very affluent county, had a large immigrant/Hispanic population. I worked with many families who worked 3 or 4 jobs between the two parents. Many of the children with me learned English while in our program for about 3.5 hours a day, four days a week. When they weren’t with me, they were often with a grandparent who didn’t speak English. The Head Start classroom was often their only opportunity to learn English.

In that 3.5 hours they were with us, we fed them two meals. For some of the children these were the only filling, hot meals they ate. Also, in this 3.5 hour window they were in my class there was an hour of free and half an hour of time to play outside. This again, for some of the kids, was their only opportunity to play outside in a safe, well maintained play area.

It’s not only inner-cities that need these programs. In every community in our country, there are children who need to go to school because that is their safe place; a place where they get food and know that they are not in danger. When I was doing my student teaching in kindergarten, there was a child who spent about an hour most afternoons sleeping because his home life was unstable.

Obviously, since my family is choosing homeschooling, we feel we can provide our son with better opportunities, but schools still do benefit many children.


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