Written by Lora Lynn Fanning of Vitafamiliae
I always believed that preschool was for over-achieving mamas. I tend to agree with my fellow Simple Homeschool writer that “preschoolers can learn everything they need to know from the school of life.”
I did “preschool” with my eldest children because we needed a routine of some sort to break up our days. But it was very laid-back. I chose a curriculum I could manipulate, pick and choose from, or not do at all.
And I usually went for option 3.
My third child learned by osmosis and jumped into first grade without any formal preschool. I have simply assumed that this tactic would work for the several other Littles I have coming up in the ranks.
And then came my fourth child… My highly opinionated daughter, who is driven by forces I do not understand. She pushed, cajoled, wheedled, and nagged until I gave in and agreed to “do school” with her. Because while she certainly doesn’t NEED it, who am I to argue with a child when she WANTS education?
The challenge, then, was to combine our low-maintenance philosophy for school with a preschool program in the midst of our normal schooling and living chaos.
I’ve seen the cheap, downloadable curriculums online. They’re pretty, well-thought out, and my daughter would enjoy them. But the last thing I needed was a project for ME. With this sort of program, I’d need to do daily or weekly printing and hunt down pipe cleaners or buttons at 10 o’clock the night before. Too much pressure…
The truth about preschool curriculum is that we don’t really need it. We could conceivably come up with a print-out about the letter A and then go around the house naming all the things that start with “A.” We can play rhyming games without a piece of curriculum to tell us what to do.
But sometimes, when a mama is mired in a lot of other subjects with other children, her brain simply doesn’t have the energy to think about counting syllables with the three year old or painting the letter B on the ceiling with shaving cream. She’s too busy wondering what to have for lunch and why there are crayons in the bathtub.
My criteria for low-maintenance preschool curriculum became the following:
- Open and go – no prepwork required.
- Disposable – I’d love to be cheap and reuse the workbook, but low-maintenance mamas don’t have that kind of time.
- Fun for my daughter, fun for me.
- Not time consuming. We have a lot of people to educate around here.
- Includes my other children, because I need them in my line of sight at all times or they’ll burn down the house.
Once I found a curriculum that suited us, I’ve been surprised to discover that we actually enjoy preschool. My daughter’s enthusiasm is contagious. She keeps me accountable and makes sure we do her school every day. She is making good progress and will have a great foundation for learning to read.
Beyond that, I’ve discovered there’s extra joy in spending regular, focused time with my Littles every day. It’s a short time, but it’s Fun Time, not just “meet their needs time.”
Does this make me a reformed fan of preschool? I suppose it does. I still don’t believe it’s an absolute necessity, especially if your child isn’t that interested in formal school time. This is a great age to let them play and live and soak up the world around them.
And while, in our large family, it would certainly be more convenient if all of my kids were content to learn by osmosis, the benefits of the consistent time with my little people far outweigh any added “inconvenience” to our day.
I’ll probably never be a fan of cutting, pasting, and 800 rounds of “Itsy-Bitsy-Spider.” But I will always be a fan of fun learning with my kids.
So do you do preschool? Do you go all-out or are you more low-maintenance in your approach?