The truth about preschool

The following is a guest post written by Carletta Sanders of Successful Homeschooling.

I absolutely love reading blogs written by well-organized, energetic moms who are creative enough to dream up fun activities for their preschoolers, and disciplined enough to follow through with their plans.

However, for all my reading… and dreaming… and planning… I’ve learned that I’m just not one of those moms. In the haze of multiple pregnancies, post-partum fogginess, regular household duties, and everyday life caring for four children ages 18 months to 10 years old, I’ve never consistently taught preschool at home.

The good news for those of you who are like me is – you can set your guilt and fear aside. My older children are excelling academically despite their mama’s shortcomings.

I’ve finally relaxed and embraced the truth about preschool – preschoolers can learn everything they need to know in the school of life.

Preschool in Our Home

If you peek into our home on an average day, you won’t find my preschooler doing circle time, reciting the days of the week and months of the year, charting the weather, exploring sensory bins, or playing with carefully crafted learning trays.

You’ll probably see him running around in a super hero cape or jumping from the couch to a beanbag to avoid the hot lava floor. You’ll see him helping mom with chores and making hot dogs in his toy kitchen. You’ll see him comforting his baby brother, pestering his sister and complaining that his big brother is cheating at Candy Land.

And, somehow, after a couple of years, he’ll just know all of the letters, numbers, shapes and colors. He’ll know how to write his name and count past 10. He’ll know that dark clouds mean rain is coming and tadpoles turn into frogs. He’ll know how to stand in line and take turns, and he’ll know it all without having been in preschool at home or otherwise.

Once again, I’ll be amazed that in the joyful mess of our lives together, my child managed to learn everything he needed to know.

How Children Learn

In a society that emphasizes early childhood education, it can be easy to forget that children are curious, inquisitive and wired to learn.

If you feel stressed, overwhelmed, guilty or afraid your preschooler will be behind, consider the following ways children learn naturally in everyday life:


You don’t have to use worksheets to teach shapes, colors, comparisons, counting, addition and subtraction. Even the youngest preschoolers know how to figure out who got the most M&Ms or the biggest piece of cake. They scramble to be first in the line for ice cream. They only eat sandwiches that are cut into triangles. And they wear the same red shirt 5 days in a row. Math is, quite simply, everywhere.


Words like yesterday, today and tomorrow are a natural part of everyday conversation.

“Mom, what are we doing today?”

“Honey, tell grandma what you did yesterday.”

“Time for bed, kiddo, we’ll read the rest of the story tomorrow.”


You don’t have to use elaborate charts and graphs to teach your children about the weather. Just open up the blinds and take a look outside.

Weather is another topic that’s easily addressed in daily conversation. “We better take the umbrella with us. It looks like rain.”

Community Helpers

Children see firefighters, policemen, postal workers, and medical professionals as a part of everyday life in a thriving community. They have moms, dads, brothers, sisters, grandmothers, grandfathers, aunts, uncles and cousins. Why rely on worksheets and projects when you have access to the real thing?


Do the crafts we plan for our preschoolers really encourage creativity? Or are our kids just cutting what we tell them to cut and gluing where we tell them to glue?

Don’t succumb to the pressure to micromanage every activity. Make paper, crayons, scissors, glue and other craft materials available, and see what your children can do on their own.


If you live in a literate household where books are available and children see others reading, your children will WANT to learn to read. Read to your children because reading is useful and pleasurable – not because you’re afraid they’ll be behind.

And remember, you don’t have to run to the library for stacks of books about every topic you discuss with your children. Out of all the books I’ve brought into my home, my preschoolers have always tended to gravitate toward a few favorites.

Learn from My Mistakes

I spent way too much time hovering over my oldest child, pushing him to do more, to know more, to be more.

And when my second child was a preschooler, I was too busy teaching my oldest and nursing a baby to do much of anything other than feel guilty about what we weren’t doing for preschool.

However, by the time my third child became a preschooler, I think I mostly figured out the winning formula – love, laugh, encourage, and get out of the way.

What does preschool look like in your home?

About Carletta

Carletta Sanders is a homeschool mom of four and editor of the website Successful Homeschooling. You can follow her family’s adventures in home education by visiting her blog.


  1. I love love love love LOVE this! My little guy isn’t even 2 so I don’t even HAVE a preschooler yet — although I did teach preschool once upon a time! But every single thing you say resonates with my sense of what feels right in building a home for our family.
    Lisa’s latest post: Strawberry-rhubarb jam tart

  2. Great article! I tried to do preschool at home with my (now 7 yr old) son. It was hit or miss as I just couldn’t get it together. He still picked up a ton of stuff from every day life.

    And from hearing about other friend’s families, preschoolers with older homeschooled siblings pick up even more, because they are listening (and sometimes participating) in big sister/brother’s stuff – even though they are still ‘too little’!
    Diana’s latest post: Wetlands!

  3. I loved your article Carletta…so many families feel pressured to send their kids to preschool. I’m sure your article will encourage many families.
    xo Jana
    Jana Miller’s latest post: I Was Terrified About Teaching My Kids

  4. A-MEN!

  5. Standing up and cheering! Well-written and so spot on, Carletta.
    Mouseprints’s latest post: Chapter Books For Doll Lovers

  6. This is so true! My oldest went to preschool for 3 years and then to K and 1st in public school. We homeschooled after that, but his little sister has been tagging along. I didn’t send her to preschool at all. She naturally wants to be included in the arts and crafts her brother does, and gets plenty of socialization with friends and family. She has tagged along in some of her older brother’s classes, learning as much as she could. We read together every day, and she is beginning to ask me to teach her to read (she will be officially starting homeschool kindergarten this fall). Both my kids have had such different beginnings, yet both are curious and eager to learn. I don’t feel my daughter missed out on very much not going to preschool or doing formal preschool at home. And it sure made our lives easier (and cheaper!)

  7. STacey Brown says:

    This is great. I am newly homeschooling my 8 and 6 year olds and I have a 4 1/2, 2 1/2 yr and 15 mnth old as well. I have moments where I feel I should be “doing” preschool with my littlies, but it just so hard to find the time. WE are far from where I would like to be in our homeschool -lots of wrinkles to iron out – but I think we are getting there. AS for preschooling I think what we are doing or not doing is pretty successful. I sometimes feel guilty about the lack of fingerpainting and playdough, and “sensory tables” (lol) but my 4 yr old is pretty much teaching herself to read, she listens in when I am teaching the “big” kids and sometimes corrects them. My 2 1/2 year old somehow learned to write her own name, Draws really awesome little people, she knows all her colours and shapes, can count ( 1-1 not just reciting a string of numbers). I have not ever “taught” these things. And they are all learning lots about life just by living it and being a part of it. Kids are curious and clever little people and they will learn, because that is how they are made!!! 🙂

  8. Not only did preschool look like that at my house (like Carletta describes, just life) but I did it that way up to age 7…. then gave my oldest some placement “tests” that came with various curric. and he tested right into 3rd grade…. SOOOOOoo… I kept school pretty loose after that. Now I am pretty loose to about age 12, and they can take a standardized test and get nearly perfect scores.

    My 12yo picked out her own curric. from books I had made available and keeps her own schedule in a Planner.

    My oldest just made a 1930 on the SATs, a 32 on ACTs. He was a delegate to Boys State and was inducted into the National Honor Society. He’ll be a senior this year.

    My kids so far have jumped the hurdle from “loose” unschooling at home to attending brick schools and they all have 3.5+ GPAs….
    Amy’s latest post: Parenting Books Guarantee Instant Success!

    • Very impressive – your kids are doing great! We are pretty relaxed even after preschool at our house, too. My oldest is only 10 so it is nice hearing that a relaxed approach has worked out well for you guys. I figure we’ll get more serious during middle school.

  9. Carletta, What a fabulous post!!! It rings so true… My first child I spent hours doing stuff and outings and what not for pre-school… my second child hung on for dear life… my third child clung like a limpet to my side for the ride… ANd now folks ask all the time what my little ones do for preschool while my older kids do school… They live alongside me, they play in their world, the learn whatever is going and then some. Their days are filled with forts and mud, books and mud, arty stuff and mud, bikes and mud… and their “education” is miles ahead of anything I could ever have offered them!!!
    se7en’s latest post: Saturday Spot: Tribeca in Kalk Bay…

  10. I love this! Preschool in my home looks a lot like it does in your home 😀

  11. My oldest two children are preschool graduates, but it looks like my youngest two won’t ever go, for a variety of reason.

    The preschool my kids went to was excellent, and they enjoyed it a lot. But really, I think it was mostly for me. As a busy young mom, I used the preschooling time to maintain friendships, run all my errands, and get to the gym.

    But feel confident that my younger two will learn everything they need to learn in the hubbub of family homeschooling life. (I do feel sorry sometimes for the fun they might be missing–which is why I was glad to see this post.)

    Oh, and at the wonderful preschool–they have a staunch anti-worksheet philosophy. That’s not how kids learn!
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  12. When my two oldest were preschool-age, I thought I was destined to be a homeschool failure because I just couldn’t get it together to regularly do crafts and activities or to follow any sort of curriculum with them (we tried both BFIAR and Sonlight). It was really discouraging until an older mom said exactly what you’ve said here and added that it would come together when it needed to. And sure enough, we don’t struggle nearly as much to get our school time or stick on task now that the oldest is 7 rather than 4!
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  13. I think I just breathed a huge sigh of relief after reading this blog!! Thanks for sharing!

  14. Absolutely spot on! This is great and perfect for me right now. I do worry that I am really not a ‘preschool’ type, I just can’t seem to get it together to do toddler stuff, my youngest just does what I set out for my eldest but in his own way. So he is using water colours rather than tempra and listening to audio books about the pioneers in the car rather than singing nursery rhymes. I worry I am not doing circle or doing the Mary Poppins thing but I hope that he is being exposed to other, equally worthwhile things by learning alongside his brother.

    Great article!
    Emmalina’s latest post: Sew Red

  15. AMEN!! I love all those sites, too. But I tell you what, for the amount of work that goes into making and doing all of those activities, my children learn the concepts waaay to fast to invest that much time in it.
    I could spend hours making a lap book and my child will learn and know the information (whether shapes, colors, numbers, etc) within a week. Then what? I spend hours making another one? No way! Open a book and read about shapes! Post an alphabet and number chart on the wall and watch your preschooler become glued to it, asking what this letter is and what that number is.

    All we need to do is create the opportunities and watch them come to life. 🙂

    Excellent post and I couldn’t agree more!
    Christin’s latest post: The Loom {for Tapestry of Grace}

  16. This post was such a blessing to me. I have a 4, 3, and 2 year old, plus a newborn. When my first was born, I started buying preschool curriculum. After wasting lots of money and never getting organized enough to actually use the curriculum I have settled into a routine of having about 15-30 minutes of organized school, which consists of bible time. We memorize verses, read bible verses and sing bible songs. If I haven’t lost their attention, we work on letter sounds and recognition. Plus I read to my kids at least twice a day at nap and bed time. They love books and beg us to read to them. We even started reading the Little House series which holds their attention. I have come to the conclusion with the encouragement of my husband not to push them and just let them be kids. School will come and they will learn. Above all, hiding God’s Word in their heart is my number one priority.

  17. Great article! The greatest teaching moments we have flow out of interacting in normal, everyday life.
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  18. I’ve always found it strange when homeschoolers would say they were “homeschooling” their 3 & 4 year olds. Maybe it’s because we’re unschoolers, but little children especially don’t need a curriculum or anything structured out for them. I just had a lot of fun with my kids, took out tons of books, when to a lot of different places, and pulled out a lot of resources for them to choose from.

    Thanks for stepping out and assuring parents that kids do learn best just by being included in the family and by exploring new things on their own.
    Christina Pilkington’s latest post: A Collection of 100 Quotes About Natural, Self-Directed Learning & Compulsory Schooling

  19. this was so good. I see SO many young mothers overdoing it when it comes to young children. Just let the little ones be little ones. learning will and does come
    the real organic’s latest post: awakening the senses {smelling}

  20. G-R-E-A-T article!!!!! So, so, so true!!!!!!!!!
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  21. Preschool in my home looks just like yours! With 6 children now all 2 years or less apart life is learning. And now that the littlest is almost 3yo I know this is just fine.

  22. tiffany says:

    This is exactly what I needed to hear. My oldest will be 4 in the fall and I’ve been desperately and frantically trying to come up with a preschool plan (even if the plan is just in my head). I know what I want my child to learn, but to see other homeschool preschools teach worksheets and sensory bins, it all seems so overwhelming and I can’t get my head around how to accomplish that with regular chores and another 2 year old who wants to do whatever her big brother is doing.

    I really like Amy A.’s perspective – 15-30 minutes of bible time with memorizing verses and songs and if their minds are still with me, we’ll do more. I forget that all the fun stuff kids do actually TEACH them the same things I want them to learn anyway!

    I think I’m going to hang Christin’s quote on the wall as well!

  23. Veronique says:

    Absolutly Brilliant!

  24. ITA! I joke that we unschool preschool. When my youngest was getting ready to go to Kindergarten, the school gave a booklet with activities we could do to help prepare him. Well, the list of “things he needed to know” were things that he already knew just by living life day to day.
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  25. A to the Men.
    Jessica’s latest post: Eating healthy made me feel better. What?!

  26. Great reminder Carletta!

  27. Stephanie says:

    Love this! Your articles have helped me so many times. We have only been homeschooling for 1-1/2 years so we are still overcoming the more conventional learning style to embrace what works best for us and that is family discussions and group learning. We do still have individual curriculum for the older kids for now but the longer I do this the more I realize that most of our “kept knowledge” is from life situation and family discussions instead of textbooks. My 2 year old knows more than some preschoolers because of the extra interaction she gets from being around her siblings.
    Keep up the good work!

  28. Great post. As long as the environment is rich with supplies, conversation, etc., the child will naturally learn everything (and more!) they “need” to know.

  29. Reading “A Nation of Wimps” by Marano. She makes a convincing and well-researched argument that what preschoolers most need is to play! Sounds like these kids are getting exactly what they need – plenty of play and relevant, experience-based learning, the latter of which is what progressive classrooms are striving for, anyway! And right in your own home! Look at that … 🙂

  30. This made me feel so much better…I will probably do something a little more formal when he’s closer to four but overall I like the relaxed approach to learning. I think making sure learning is just a normal part of life is important. Children learn so much from playing and from older siblings. But what if you’re on your first child? Should there be more guidance then?
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  31. Irritated says:

    Are you KIDDING ME? This completely disregards all of the RESEARCH done to show the impact a quality preschool education has on a child’s life. You’ve got to be joking. Being “relaxed” is fine – saying “they’ll get it eventually” or “preschool isn’t important” is a joke. It’s like saying “ignore all the warnings that the surgeon general has stated about smoking”. No, not as urgent – however, to skip preschool with your children is just ridiculous. As a former kindergarden teacher, it was absolutely CLEAR who had preschool and who didn’t. Beyond that – by teaching your kids letters, sounds, etc early on, you are giving them the opportunity to teach them MORE later. When you miss this, or delay it, you are ROBBING your child of his potential to explore beyond this at an age where a love for learning is established.

    • Actually, a lot of research shows a “better late than early” approach is just as effective. Have you talked with any grade 9 teachers about whether or not they can tell who went to preschool? I’m a grade 3 teacher and I can’t tell who in my class has been to preschool. Provided a child comes from a home where reading, exploration, play, and learning are valued and encouraged I doubt there will be long term effects of skipping preschool.

  32. Irritated says:

    And to say it’s the “truth about preschool”? REALLY? Why don’t you walk into any children’s library and ask what the truth about preschool is. They’ll hand you the real stuff.

  33. Thank you for this great article. I wholeheartedly agree.

    “Irritated” is not getting this article, perhaps because “Irritated” does not homeschool? Because anyone who homeschools has learned that when you have older children that you are working with daily, the little ones cannot help but get schooled as well.

    The older ones, though, play a huge part in pre-schooling the little ones, and it happens so naturally, doesn’t it? It makes me happy just to think about it — the way my 6-yr-old slowly reads to the littlest ones and shows them letters, the way she shows them how she’s learning cursive and how to properly take care of the baby dollies or our dog, she’ll even manage the chaos of finger-painting and water coloring at the table while I work in the kitchen nearby, etc… In fact, now that I think about it, the older kids in the home are much more patient with the little ones than even I am. Like I said, it just happens very naturally through the course of life each moment of every day.

    So it’s not about pre-schooling or not pre-schooling; it’s the way that the pre-schoolers get their education, what form they receive it, and with homeschooling, it’s a family affair! Yay!
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  34. Katherine says:

    Irritated, Have you ever read any of the writings of Charlotte Mason? Children are naturally inquisitive…you don’t have to have everything planned out for them. They are curious little beings! My kids create boats, towns, capes, etc, etc…just with supplies at their disposal…they love to learn and are thriving (by the way, I’m a former teacher too and have a strong background in classical education).

    Yes, preschool and kindergarten teachers can tell which children have been to preschool and which ones have not. The ones in preschool know how to stand in line and obey in an institutionalized manner.

    I don’t know many adults who don’t know their letters or colors either…not sure that argument has any weight. Again, I’d suggest reading some of Charlotte Mason’s readings before you get so irritated…and believe me, I’m not an “unschooler” by any means. But character and habit training, letting children play, and opening a world of wonder to them are much more important than learning silly Twaddle facts that they will learn anyway. Charlottte likens character training to railway tracks which help them “run” through life once they are formed (and being with mom who oversees their training) is *much, much, much* more important. And I think Charlotte Mason knows a lot more than the local librarian 🙂

    • I love Charlotte Mason! And her education philosophy is more than just about homeschooling or public schooling. If you homeschool, her methods can work, and if you send your children to school, they can help. It’s wonderful!

  35. Sorry, but you’re so misleading with this title. How is this “the truth about preschool?” This is YOUR truth about preschool and, sorry, but just because you choose to bring your children up the way you do, doesn’t make you the authority or make you right. And it doesn’t mean that someone else is wasting time and money with their children in preschool. There is no one RIGHT way to help your children learn. Mothers have to deal with so much “advice” and comparisons – can we just stop please??

    • I don’t see that tone in this article at all, Kelley. I think Carletta is trying to relieve the burdens of guilt moms often carry, not add to them.

      And of course this is her truth–she’s sharing her own experience. As readers, we can take it or leave it as we choose.
      Jamie ~ Simple Homeschool’s latest post: The Truth About Preschool

      • Jamie is absolutely right about my intent. 🙂

        I actually believe it’s fine to teach preschool at home as long as BOTH parent and child are enjoying it.
        Carletta’s latest post: Carnival of Homeschooling – Summer Camp Edition!

      • I think as mothers, we’re all interested in the choices we have on how to educate our children. Some of us are interested in homeschooling, some of us aren’t, some of us can and some of us find it too challenging. There’s no right way. My point is that when I read a title that says “The Truth About…”, I expect some substance – give me facts and figures and studies. Don’t give me negativity toward those who put their children in preschool, and a ‘my way is better’ approach. This is an opinion – I know we can take it or leave it as readers. I just find it arrogant to throw out an opinion as absolute truth.

  36. Love reading all (okay, most!) of these comments. Thanks for sharing your truth here with us, Carletta! Clearly it resonates with many readers, myself included.
    Jamie ~ Simple Homeschool’s latest post: The Truth About Preschool

  37. I love this article and don’t understand the negative comments. Piaget, Vygotsky, and Frobel have all proved, through research and experiments, that young children learn best through play and interactions. Sitting children at little desks and having them memorize letter sounds, trace letters, etc… does not indicate their future success. In addition, these scientists have also proven that children need to hit certain developmental milestones before they are truely ready for formal education and for the average child they don’t hit that stage until the age of 7. A lot of the discoveries made by these men are forgotten about in the current public education system and therefore the pressure is on to learn more and more at younger and younger ages. Ask any upper elementary teacher however and you’ll hear the same thing – more and more children are coming into third and fourth grade burned out, hating school, and falling “behind.” As for as “formal” verses “unschool” I don’t think it really matters. We all are providing opportunities to hit the “teachable” moments for our kids and giving them lots of time to just be kids. The article doesn’t bash or admonish anyone who is able to do a more “formal” preschool at home or otherwise, but rather comforts those who worry about not doing enough. It is saying that yes, simply reading to your kids and making mud pies is enough for them to have future success. It isn’t saying that you are hurting your kids in anyway by doing more.

  38. I was just having a conversation about this today! I am frequently asked where my 3.5 year old will go to school next year, and I get some surprised looks when I say “at home”. I homeschool her older sister (entering first grade) and I just don’t feel formal preschool is necessary or worth the expense for us. I will keep some “school” activities on hand to do with her next year in case she decides she wants to join big sis and “do school” but mostly she will cook us snacks in her play kitchen and rescue princesses from the Play Mobile castle. I love the research on Finland’s education system (which is often looked at as being tops among developed countries) and the fact that schooling isn’t required there until age 7. There is much we here in the U.S. could learn from that kind of thinking!
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  39. This was awesome, and exactly what I needed to hear today. I can easily obsess over things like this. I’ll have more fun with my girls if I just relax and live life with them!
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  40. Hi Irritated,

    There is research that supports delaying formal education, such as preschool. If you are interested in learning more, you could start by reading the works of Dr. Raymond Moore, John Holt, Charlotte Mason, and Harvey Bluedorn of Trivium Pursuit.

  41. EXCELLENT!!!
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  42. I totally agree! As a mom of four kids ages 4-13 (with another on the way), I can absolutely agree that children will learn very well without formal education, especially at the preschool age. It’s just completely unnecessary. It’s fine for kids and parents who both enjoy it, but a rich home environment provides all that children need to flourish.

    I think the grumpy “irritated” commenter is making a big error in logic. She’s associating non-homeschooling parents who did NOTHING with their kids with no preschool. There is a world of difference between being with a hands-on parent as you cook together, read together, explore nature, play, do chores, talk, etc. and just leaving kids in front of a TV all day. For most homeschoolers, “no preschool” still means an incredibly enriching environment.

    I speak from experience — my kids had no formal preschool and they are fluent readers who consistently test above grade level despite a lack in that “all important” sit-down, school-based nonsense.

    Preschool literally means “before school” so I find it especially ironic that so many people these days think it should be “school for tiny children.” Modern research backs up the importance of play-based learning at this age, and we mothers have known it for a while just by using common sense. 🙂
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    • Irritated says:

      SOoooooo … not grumpy … just irritated. And I’m entitled to my opinion. And I don’t believe that “nonsense” would be the correct word. That is all. Have a nice evening.

  43. So so true!!!

  44. Amen! I agree that my kiddos are learning so much more than what’s on a worksheet. I’ve been trying to “plan” out preschool for the fall, but what I want to give my kiddos is a love for learning, reading and relationships! Maybe this is why I can’t wrap my head around a “curriculum” for fall.

  45. Bethany says:

    Amen sister! Amen!

    Now I just need to remember this daily… maybe a printout is in order for mama? 😉

  46. hehe. the negative comments kind of make me giggle. it kind of shows in their tone why a relaxed approach to learning doesn’t ring true. 🙂

    what great advice. just play with your kids! we definitely need to be reminded of this in our busy world. it’s so easy to always feel like you need to be looking over your shoulder and fit in with what everyone else is doing. it’s a great reminder to just breathe and enjoy these short years!
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  47. One aspect I truly appreciate about Simple Homeschool is the variety of viewpoints offered through guest and editor posts. Every family is different, and I feel that positives from just about every post can be gleaned and applied to my family’s education and home life. Keep up the diverse posts–not all of us are *only* unschoolers, Waldorf or Montessori-followers, or even pure homeschool families.
    Katie B.

  48. I agree! I agree! I agree! 🙂 🙂 I even posted on my blog about how I “don’t do” preschool. 🙂 I went overboard with my oldest and by the time I officially started homeschooling (when she was kindergarten-age), I realized how ridiculous I was being. Preschoolers learn so much just by being preschoolers. She learned her colors, numbers, letters, shapes just from conversations and play time. As we added more children to the mix, I also realized how much the preschoolers learn from the school-aged kids. My almost-5 year-old has picked up on math and reading just from listening to her older brother and sister — not much effort from mom. 🙂 🙂 I don’t feel any pressure to add formal preschool to my day and it’s wonderful!! 🙂 🙂
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  49. Although I do agree that preschool age children do not need formal education at home or at school, I disagree with the assumptions you make about preschool. I am a preschool teacher and we teach in the same manner you advocate. We don’t teach the weather with charts and graphs- we open the window and say, “what do you think the weather is going to be today?” We don’t use worksheets or reproducibles of any kind. They are banned from our preschool because we believe in more natural learning through experience. I teach for a federally funded preschool not a more “natural” program such as Montessori. I think the heart of your article, that parents shouldn’t stress about teaching their preschooler, is wonderful, but I think you should be careful in assuming that you know what goes on in a formal preschool.

    • Hi Carol,

      I make no assumptions about what goes on in preschool classrooms – I have actually observed the use of weather charts, worksheets, etc. with preschoolers. Nevertheless, my post was not meant as an attack against preschool classrooms nor the methods used in those classrooms. I simply wanted to show the many ways preschool concepts are taught naturally in daily life. It sounds like you’re doing a wonderful job with your students!

  50. Thank you.

    My take on this, and everyone will take away something different from every article they read, regardless of the source, is to relax!! I was just telling my husband the other day that I felt guilty that I wasn’t doing more “official” learning with our 3 yr old. But you know what? We don’t *need* to do anything formal and official. He’s learning tons just by playing, living life, observing his siblings and the adults in his life. He’s always surprising me with something that he’s picked up. Is the fact that he can’t recognize the entire alphabet right now going to keep him from getting into the college of his choice? Absolutely not.

    Of course I’m taking complete advantage of the fact that at his age he is a sponge for information and has a natural curiousity and love of learning!! I’m just not sitting down with him and flashcards, worksheets, power point presentations, etc. There are SO many other ways to learn, and kids soak up a whole lot more from a whole lot more sources than people realize sometimes. He’s not sitting in front of the cartoon network all day either.

    We only recently started homeschooling our 9 year old. He went to daycare because we both worked, then preschool, then public school. Did his preschool make a difference in how “smart” he is or isn’t now? Nope. It prepared him for standing in line, sitting still at his desk, etc etc. Was it worthless? Nope again. He did learn. But it’s nothing he couldn’t have learned in another environment. We also don’t live in an area where you have to get your child into the “best” preschool in town, nor does that “best” preschool have a two-year-long waiting list, so maybe my view is skewed. His preschool was just okay. Not great. Not horrible. But very typical of most preschools available in my area.

    I think the title of this post is completely appropriate. “The Truth…” it’s the author’s truth, and that is enough. It’s a blog post. Not a PhD dissertation. Everyone’s truth is different. And I, personally, appreciated the “relax, don’t overthink it, just have fun!” approach that the author is describing.

  51. This was so helpful to me! I’m in the middle of obsessing over preschool for my 2 1/2 year old. Now I know to hyper down a bit, and just let her be. 🙂
    Charity Long’s latest post: A Quote

  52. This is a great post!!! Thank you. I am sure it relieves many moms from guilt.

    With my first she is very much into workbooks and sitting still and learning that way (which I find wierd for her age, but I go with it). At 3, she simply LOVED sitting down and learning about the letters, which came naturally to her, and was fun for both of us. There was no pressure, and she loved it. So that worked well for us. I did this because SHE asked me to teach her about the letters. She is simply wired that way and still is.

    My 2nd child I don’t think will want to or be ready for that at 3, in 6 months time. We’ll see. If she asks, or if I want to try it and its fun for her, I will do it. But I think kids pick up these things just day to day like you said. She already knows the letter A since its her first initial and she watches her sister write it (my youngest asks my oldest to write it for her sometimes).

    I find the funniest thing is that I didn’t realize my youngest knew some things she did. I didn’t formally teach her. I think she picked a lot up from life, reading, and from having an older sibling who likes to teach the younger one, and its done in a fun way.

    I do remember all of a sudden realizing that my oldest child didn’t know ANY shapes and we did at that point have a reason to know them. So I simply filled in that blank when I needed to. It was easy and simple for her. She learned it when she needed to!

    I think we need to let kids be kids and not put so much pressure on them. Which is hard to do especially in our society in North America. Where I live its BIG pressure for preschool and I have been told by several people that because I did not do preschool and am not doing kindergarten and homeschooling for at least a few years that my child is going to be disadvantaged. Which is simply not the case at all, she is doing great.

  53. Thank you! I needed this today! I think I’ll throw away all the “school” crap for my two preschoolers and just play dolls tomorrow! Bless your heart!

  54. Kris M. says:

    Thank you so much for this post! I’ve been obsessing over my almost 4 year old not going to Preschool this year and worried he won’t be where his older brother was at his age. A little bit of “mommy weight” just lifted off my shoulders!

  55. I just have to say…AMEN!!!! It took me three kiddos to figure that out, but you are totally right. I wish I would have understood that much earlier.
    Preschool at our house is a lot of observation, lots of talking, lots of playing in the elements and lots of reading. I firmly believe that’s all you need but find myself feeling guilty that I haven’t added much more than that at times. Thanks for the reminder!!!
    Lindsey’s latest post: Sausage Beans and Rice, Dairy-Free

  56. Wonderful timing!! Our first day of “official” homeschooling is tomorrow…LOL! Even though we are mainly using the CM/AO y0, which is very informal for my 4.5yo DD, I have still been alternately worrying & praying for guidance.{{{smiles}}} So glad I hopped over to this site–guess I got my guidance,didn’t I??
    Thanks & God Bless!

  57. wow- this was a great post to read as a mom that has her son in preschool outside of the home 3 days a week. He is my first and only and oh boy do I get caught up in making sure everything is “just right” – this was a great exhale to read, Thank you!
    Dee’s latest post: Providing Healthy Options

  58. Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh…..that’s me exhaling. I’m so feeling this post. Every year I start jumping through the “open house” hoops signing my youngest up for every new charter school that looks promising. Why? Because I’m afraid I’m not “doing enough” with him at home … not enough art, not enough circle time, not enough this or that. Thank you so much for this affirmation.
    Monica Utsey’s latest post: It’s Time to Employ the Principle of Kujichagulia In Our Homeschool

    • Monica, I had to laugh because every spring I would panic and actually enroll my son in school, feeling like I was a slacker! The main character in my novel sort of goes through this progression too, of feeling like she has to do everything perfectly to learning to relax and let them learn more naturally. And Carletta, this is a GREAT post! Loved it!
      CharityHawkins@TheHomeschoolExperiment’s latest post: Not Quite Ma Ingalls

  59. When my oldest was pre-school age, I was thrilled that she “got into” the expensive, beautiful nature pre-school that I had hoped for. It was a nice experience for her and she had a lovely, nurturing teacher, but it also added many logistical stresses to our day (including messing up nap-time for my youngest which had a negative trickle-down effect for the rest of the day). When my youngest hit pre-school age, our situation had changed–we had moved to another part of town, and both the drive and the cost made this coveted pre-school prohibitive for my son. I was so distraught, thinking that he was going to miss out on this amazing, life-shaping experience that his sister had. In the end, the three of us spent far more unurried time in nature, TOGETHER, than we ever would have if I had managed to enroll him in that pre-school. In the end, it was that realization that was life-changing for me, and for all of us, really–it led me to postpone (and then skip) kindergarten for my oldest–and ultimately to shift my whole perspective on formal education (I was formerly a public school elementary teacher).

  60. Hi Carletta,
    I have 5 kids, ages 2 to 9. It’s so nice to find someone that does preschool just like me. I too have felt the guilt for not “doing” preschool. But honestly my kids never liked much of the “preschool” type stuff. And I have too many to micro manage a craft. I put it on the table and let them have fun. When new homeschoolers stress about preschool I tell them that preschool in my house is learning to unload the silverwear from the dishwasher, learning to make their bed and dress themselves. My kids have learned to check the weather everyday by walking outside before they get dressed. No need to chart it.

    • I agree completely that the over-scheduling of 3 and 4 year olds leaves those out of preschool without playmates. In fact when I had my then 4 year old daughter at home and was meeting a new mom, I mentioned this fact. I was hoping that our same aged daughters could become playmates. What really happened was that this mom became so worried at lack of playmates, that she signed her daughter up for preschool! Funny now, but we had a difficult time finding people to play with us. Now that some of my children are older and in a homeschool co-op, we have many children for my younger ones to play with.

  61. I have no academic worries about not putting my daughter in preschool — but I do have social worries. She loves to play with other kids and since all the other 3 and 4 year olds are in preschool or daycare there aren’t many kids left for her to play with :(. I’m going to check out my local homeschool group this summer and see what it has to offer and I might even do a day or two a week of preschool this fall. Not because of the academics but because it gives her a chance to meet more kids. We love family time, too, but I don’t think 1 or 2 half days will cut into that too much;

  62. Great post Carletta! It’s amazing what my children have learned over the years that I have not purposely taught them. Kids are like little sponges. They are watching everything around them.
    Heidi’s latest post: Homeschool Curriculum Kindergarten

  63. I love this post! This is sooo where I am right now. I have a 3 year old and twin 17 month olds. I don’t have the time to give my 3 year old an activity let alone plan one!!! My 3 year olds says and does things all the time that I don’t intentionally teach him, he just picks up. Thank you for this!

  64. May I please say “Thank You”. I used to teach art in the public education sector. I now am a WAHM freelance artist, art educator, and an arts in education advocate. I find most folks really afraid of trying to teach art because they are not crafty or talented. It is true what you have written above about art and it really is a “if you build it they will come” or in this case make art. To parents, please just buy the materials and the kids will be fine. Talk to them about their artwork, “tell me a story about this picture” is one of the greatest gifts you can give your kids.
    Paige’s latest post: Wordless Wednesday

  65. Thanks for the great post! My 4 year old and I do a lot of crafts, but I don’t push a formal curriculum on him. He likes to make lapbooks (folders with tons of info in there) to take on road trips, but mostly we just read together, cook together and play. A lot of play. It feels good to know I’m not letting him “fall behind” while other parents are pushing their kids to count to 100 and be able to read before going to kindergarten. I like the laid back approach. Well, as laid back as you can be with multiple kids running around the house. 🙂

  66. I love this post, and agree completely. Our homeschool preschool sounds a lot like yours, love the simplicity and it is amazing how much they learn with no pushing. Thank you.
    pepper’s latest post: backyard dance

  67. MommaGina says:

    I love your article and totally agree with letting kids be kids. Learning will happen through play and daily life experiences, so why pressure them at such a young age. Just enjoy their childhood with them.

  68. our preschool at home is beginning to look a lot like this! 😀 i’m slowly learning to let go and follow a rhythm that we are all comfortable with. we started last year with a printed lesson plan and a set time to start our “lesson.” now, with a baby in my arms and more time on the bed nursing, my first child is still learning and greatly enjoying her childhood we have envisioned for her: magical and joyful.

    wonderful post!

  69. Amen, amen, amen! When my daughters were PK age, I searched high and low for formal curricula that would work for us…but I never actually found anything I liked, a fact for which I am exceedingly thankful now (must have been the Lord’s protection on my kids…because I did, in fact, pressure my oldest when she was K-age and that was bad/harmful enough!). We ended up doing what you’ve written about…and my girls mastered all the things of which you speak “by osmosis.” Then I witnessed the same phenomenon with the children for whom I’ve provided babysitting the last five years – I’ve not had time to do tons of structured activities with them, but somehow they know all of the above, and then-some just by being in an environment bathed in valuing books and learning. I am going to share this on my blog and many other venues, as I am SO dismayed by the numbers of moms I see who are stressing out their kids and themselves trying to do it as
    “the system” does instead of realizing that the system is just plain wrong!
    Tina H.’s latest post: Discipleship Deliberation: Vol. 2, Issue 1

  70. Thank you! My husband has been talking about our 2.5 year old and that maybe I should start some ‘formal teaching’ (I’m 7 months pregnant). This is what I needed to read and I’m sure he wouldn’t mind either! I agree, kids learn so much on their own!
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  71. Love this post! I’ve been struggling all year to get into a schedule with my five year old, and prepare for Kindergarten (starting in Sept.). I finally chucked all (100) of our worksheets and decided to stop pushing. It’s going so much better. We don’t fight anymore over work, and I’m much happier about not being as organized as other moms.
    Lisa Marie’s latest post: Art, Spiderman & a 5 Year Old’s Birthday Party

  72. I LOVE this!! I have 6 kids. The oldest 4 are all in grade school. Never had preschool. This year my friend asked me to do a co op. I am cringing at the amount of structure that is wanted. (we do routine but we don’t micro-manage) I am scared to death of how this is going to work. 🙂

  73. Love this post! love, love, love it! That’s all I can say!

  74. Homeschooler says:

    I totally agree! I am seriously the only one of my friends who isn’t enrolling my kids in pre-school at 2.5 years old! Even some of my homeschool friends go over the top with pre-k and stress themselves out! I do not have any fear my children will be behind. And in all honesty, my 1st grader seems MORE advanced than the other kids in her Sunday school class who started school at 2.5 years. I plan to continue my relaxed pre-k and kinder approach with my others.

  75. This was so refreshing to read. I have been stressing this year trying to juggle my 1st grader, preschooler, toddler and baby due at Christmas. This reminder to relax and let it happen is exactly what I needed to read.

  76. VERY inspiring! Thanks for sharing 🙂

  77. While my kids are well beyond pre-school age, I SO enjoyed this article! None of my children attended preschool (my oldest is 19 and youngest is 9), they all did very well in kindergarten. Let them be, they will learn.

  78. Love love love this post. I’ve just stopped working to do “preschool at home” with my 2 and 3 year olds. While I’m still chasing the fantasy of sensory bins, activity trays and circle time, your post does help silence all the anxiety I feel when I think of all the kids this age who are booked solid with soccer, music, and Mandarin lessons. And if/when I become pregnant again (and on the floor with fatigue), I’m going to want to read this post daily!
    Britta’s latest post: Setting intentions for the new year

  79. Love this post! Good reminders for me this morning.
    Crystal Bowden’s latest post: TaDa! – My Workboxes

  80. AMEN to that post, I even extended this philosophy into Kindergarten and guess what,…. no losses whatsoever!

  81. Oh, thank you for confirming my own experience! I wrote this post: “Walter & Wilma, Pre-school Drop-outs” about my own experience, more than twenty years ago.

    So very true – if we simply share life with our children, they learn so much! And, thank goodness, so do we.

    Emma Ann

  82. Preschool at our house looks like a coop. I have participated in cooperative preschools (which is parent participation preschools) with both of my boys and I love it. We don’t go every day and a fundamental principal in all of the coops I know of is play based learning – just like preschoolers do at home. Most coops include a parent education component which has been incredibly helpful. Most importantly, my children and I get the opportunity to be part of a caring community and have made some wonderful friends.

  83. Love this post! It’s so true…people have always asked what we “do” with our boys when they’re this age and my answer is always….nothing….we just let them play and learn as they go. My oldest 3 have all turned into great readers and love math…my youngest just turned 3 and right now is into stuffed animals, super hero capes and light sabers…just as he should be! 😉
    Lari’s latest post: We’re still here!

  84. THANK YOU! My husband and I have decided not to send our children to preschool mostly because of the cost. Really, $200 for 4 to 6 hours of play a week?! Come on! In reality we cannot afford that. My oldest is in 2nd grade and without preschool he is excelling and reading at a 5th grade level. I wish more moms would give themselves credit and spend more TIME with their children. Yes, mothering is hard, moms need breaks. My advice is spend that $200 on babysitters and date nights with your hubby. As far as the socialization for children, there is Sunday school, play dates, doctor’s appointments, bringing your kids to grocery stores and restaurants. They need to learn how to act properly in a social setting. Thanks again, this was a wonderful post!

  85. Love it! Drives me crazy that in the ‘burb where I live, you are considered less than a good mom if you don’t send your kids to a preschool. I mean, people give you looks.

    At least now that DS is 5, I can say, “Oh, we’re homeschooling.” For some reason, that is okay, while keeping your preschooler at home is not. Go figure.
    Emily’s latest post: What to expect from the Crunchy Coach Blog

  86. Kimberly says:

    I’ve tried to read the comments to make sure I’m not repeating – but there’s a lot of response to this. I work at a public elementary school which has a Pre-K program. I think those of you who have read the article and are concerned for your children – they will be fine. You are involved, you are talking to them, modeling behaviors for them to copy. Public Pre-K/preschool, in my opinion, is an alternative for those kids who are babysat by a television, who have less interaction with other people. It’s sad to see some of my students in Kindergarten who have no idea what to do with scissors, glue or even crayons. Involvement is what is most important for your little ones. Talking to them, letting them learn by doing or by imitating is so beneficial to their development. Now, I know there are hard working parents who are involved with their children who do need to use preschool. I’ve been there, had to choose if it was better to send the kids to preschool or just stay home with them. Here’s the key – when I was with my kids, I talked to them, I colored with them, I played with them. It was a difficult choice. After deciding about preschool, I remained involved with my kids. If you’re already involved with your children, they will be fine; they will grow and develop; they will learn. If you’re not involved with your child, get involved, crawl on the floor with them, cuddle with them, show them things you are interested in. They will model what you are doing. Most important is love and care. Each one will grow and develop on their own, at their own pace – just be there for them.

  87. Ah, this helps me with a discussion my hubby and I had about whether to send our son to preschool (when he’s old enough). I like that you help take away the guilt I feel about not sending him to school. We do plan on homeschooling, but even as a former preschool and elementary teacher, I was feeling inadequate as my hubby and I were discussing it. Where I live homeschooling isn’t very popular at all, so I feel a lot of pressure to send my child to preschool.

  88. Oh, yes. I agree! Pre-school isn’t about real learning in terms of knowledge of man, God, and the universe. It is what its name suggests: Preparation for School. Eeeeeeeew.
    Glory’s latest post: Steeping in American Independence & Freedom

  89. Thank you so much for this post. I know this may sound a bit dramatic, but it seriously made tears well up in my eyes. I am a SAHM, and my daughter just turned 2. It seems like all of her playgroup friends are going off to preschool (at age 2), and I often worry if her being at home with me will make her “behind.” I started looking into preschools, but in my area, it costs about $10,000-15,000 per year, depending on part-time vs full-time preschool. Finding out the cost has made me feel sick to my stomach, yet the guilt that I’m somehow making my daughter behind compared to her peers is eating away at me. Your past made me feel a lot better.

  90. This is great! With my first child, I spent so much time teaching her her numbers and ABC’s and animal sounds and sign language, etc. She is super smart and learned to read at the age of 3 and now at 5 is reading at a 4th grade level and doing math and science at a 1st grade level. But, what I have learned is that has nothing to do with me, it has to do with her love for learning and her inquisitiveness, etc. When my second came along, I didn’t have the time to focus on teaching him like I did with my first. And I just recently learned that it doesn’t matter. I’ve never formally taught him his ABC’s or numbers but we were at the library the other day and he went over to play with the magnetic alphabet and guess what? He knew every single once of his letters.

  91. Great and inspirational preschool ideas!!! We also LOVE our homeschool co-op! It is a great 1x per week way for us all to meet friends and to share ideas and fellowship! 🙂 My Latest post
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  92. This is a great article and comes at a good time. My daughter just turned 4 and I too started to worry if I was doing enough to help her learn. I\’ll be honest I haven\’t spent much time teaching her because I want her to just have fun and be a kid, you only get to do that once! I see that she picks up things so much on her own and surprises me when she shows me something she can do that I had spent little to no time showing her how to do. She learns through life experience. I was told my daughter is advanced from the doctor and other people who have met her. She is just the type of kid who when she wants to learn something she will teach herself or have little instruction on how to do so and do it. She always wanted to do things earlier in life. I hadn\’t planned on starting her until she was older but outside pressures started to take its toll and I began to listen. This article helped put my perspective back into check. My daughter is doing just fine and actually even better than a child her age should be doing so why start her earlier? She gets interaction with other children, she is a happy child, and she is already learning and for free! My hubby is afraid she will fall behind if we don\’t hurry up and get her in the school system but how can she possibly fall behind when she is already ahead! Thanks for the article.

  93. Charlotte says:

    As a preschool director, I see many moms who do not have the luxury to stay home and school their children. Preschools can be a wonderful alternative than the babysitter or family friend/aunt/grandmother who more often than not, uses the television for “educational purposes”. Research has proven that children who attend preschool are more prepared for kindergarten than children who do not. Kudos if you are able to spend the time with your child … The activities you offer are fantastic. But, truth be told, this is not the norm. Preschools (the right ones) can offer fantastic opportunities to learn, play, explore and socialize. Hopefully, parents will gain from your post, that children need activities, conversation, guidance, exploration time and love (all which is offered at my preschool), not that preschools are all about circle time, repetition and standing in line.

  94. YES! And child development experts will agree with you! I have a Masters in Early Childhood Education and we spent much time in my program discussing how to mimic the home environment and a child’s natural learning in a classroom setting as that has been well known to be the best thing for young children, not just emotionally, but also for their long-term learning. Preschools are businesses and as a whole they’ve done a great job making the general public think that kids “need” them. A good play-based one will certainly help kids who come from an unstable home environment, but most kids do not benefit from preschool in the long term at all. Multiple studies have shown this.

  95. I so agree with this blog. Kids in public schools have so much structure that we wrongly feel that without it, we can’t be successful at homeschooling. However, sometimes these efforts hold them back.

  96. Thank you…. I stumbled across this post just when I needed to hear it 🙂

  97. Carletta, I just LOVE your post here. I’m a 59 year young Mother of 3 GROWN children, now 30, 27, and 25. My niece wants me to help her with a little bit of learning for her 4 year old so I thought I’d look on line to help my remember what four year old can and like to do. I found your post and must agree that your philosophy about pre-school is mine and WAS mine when my kids were little. I never felt pressured even back then in the early 80’s to put them in preschool. Having never been put into preschool by my own mother and never needing it, I felt sure it was right for my own kids too; and their lives have proven it over and over again that “letting life” be their “preschool,” is the best thing. They didn’t feel pressured to learn. It came naturally. (Now if you don’t have the option to stay home with your chldren that’s a different story.) (But I will say that my best friend was a single mom who decided to stay home anyway with her kids and she took in other children to make ends meet. All three of her children are grown now and all three have hearts that stayed close to home and didn’t rebel — so if you are a single mother and want to stay home, or if your finances just won’t let you stay home I suggest praying with all your heart for God to make a way, because He loves to work out amazing miracles for those who ask, and I believe that most of the time He will work out a way, unless for some good reason it is not His will.) I will also suggest that Sunday School is a gentler way very to help prepare little ones for for their eventual entrance into some kind of classroom setting (IF you are planning on that.) In case you’re wondering, our oldest son is a high school English teacher, our daughter is a missionary overseas, and our youngest son works for Apple. — and I end with a prayer that God will bless and guide all who read this post with the path that He knows is best for your precious family. //// p.s. thanks again Carletta for your wise words.

  98. Yes! So, I recently contributed a post for about DIY Preschool Alternatives, and talked about how preschool is not really needed, or at least paying for it isn’t. And some people were definitely up in arms about it. It isn’t needed. Kids will learn when they are ready, and they pick up things like sponges.
    Katelyn F’s latest post: Saving Money During College with the Cheapest Wireless Plans

  99. This is a great post! And very needed today. I am homeschooling for the first time. I pulled both my Kindergartener and my Preschooler out of their traditional schools in order to teach them at home. My kindergartener has had two years of school..prek and Junior Kindergarten so he is much less distracted and knows how the process of school is supposed to go. He is also my first child so I had a lot more time when he was young to teach him his letters and numbers. We worked on it in the tub every night with those foam bath letters from Target. It worked great. Needless to say he is way advanced for his age and we are doing a predominantly 1st grade curriculum for him. My second child…my only daughter…didn’t have any school at all until we put her into Prek only to pull her out after two months because Mommy wanted to homeschool her instead. She didn’t have that one on one time learning her letters and numbers in the tub…she honestly wasn’t taught much in a purposeful way other than just observing us and learning through real life. She is very smart but is 4 1/2 and is just learning her letters and basic counting and numbers. I am honestly really overwhelmed with what I need to catch her up on in addition to teaching my oldest and keeping him interested. I am not confident in my homeschooling yet and am feeling like I’m just messing everything up. Plus I have an 18 month old baby boy that is a tornado and going a 100 miles an hour all the time! HELP! I would love some specific advice on how to schedule my schedule to fit with needing to teach both of my kiddos. Any advice or just general encouragement is very very appreciated! Thanks in advance!

  100. Alyssa Tate says:

    Well said! I feel the same way.

  101. As a former preschool teacher, I agree with you 100 percent. Young children learn so much more through exploration, play, and unstructured activities at home than they do at preschool where they must deal with tedious time-consuming rules because there are so many kids (e.g. sit cross-cross applesauce, raise your hand, line up). Because of pressure to adopt more “rigorous” learning, some preschool now have “escalated” curriculums, meaning they take practices from elementary schools and use them with little kids — foreign languages, sustained silent reading, writing in journals, copying the style of famous artists. It doesn’t matter that these practices are not developmentally appropriate; preschool owners will do whatever it takes to make money. Believe me, I know!!! Let kids be kids! Don’t rush them! Learn by doing is best!

  102. I love this!! My son is 4 and my daughter is 2. I had all the “homeschool plans” pinned that I was going to do this year and it just hasn’t happened! However, my son is smart and and asks tons of questions and knows way more than I thought he would! Last night his belt was laying on the floor and he asked mom what letter is that, we proceeded to have a “lesson” on the letter u and then he made other letters with his belt. It was fun, impromptu and he was learning! Kids grasp way more than we give them credit for! Thank you for this encouraging post!!

  103. Ashley Tieman says:

    I cannot even put into words how much this post has meant to me. I decided not to outsource preschool for my two kids (4 and 18 mo.) for a mixture of reasons, some financial and some from a more emotional “they’ll be in school long enough, why rush it” place. But the summer before my son turned 4, I became obsessed with putting together a wonderful preschool curriculum with unit studies, sensory bins, etc. But then when my deadline approached, I just didn’t have the financial or mental resources to carry out this exhaustive (in all senses!) plan. So…I didn’t. And I felt really, really horrible about it, like I was depriving my son.

    It’s around this same time I also started thinking about homeschooling. At first that guilt of “failed preschool” gnawed at me, but gradually over the last few weeks I have realized how much he has already learned just from doing life together. This post has finally given me permission to forgive myself and to let that guilt go! THANK YOU SO MUCH!

  104. What if your child shows a readiness for more structured education at an early age?

    I have a newly 3-year-old. She has always been academically-minded. She loves to learn and picks up new facts and skills quickly. Not to brag, but to demonstrate what I mean : she knows the alphabet including the sounds of some letters, can write about half of the alphabet, knows shapes (even the odd ones like trapezoid), can draw some shapes, knows colors, can count past 10 (12-15 depending on her mood), can sing several hymns and other songs from memory, can trace a line on a paper, can cut straight lines out of short pieces of paper.

    We have always intended to homeschool(my husband was schooled at home K-12 along with 4 siblings), so that is a no-brainer. I know what curriculum I want to use.

    My hang-up is when to start. I have read so much about delayed start and I totally get that it is important for kids to be kids in these early years. I would not be upset at all if my kid had zero interest in school until age 6 (compulsory attendance age), and even then would delay reading etc until even age 8 if she were not interested or ready.

    But she seems ready NOW. And she thinks she wants to “do school” like her friends and cousins. I have this fear of starting down this road too early. My husband is very relaxed about it. He says the beauty of homeschool is doing things at your own pace and on your own timeline. He says maybe start now with some workbooks from the dollar store and see if she really is into it. Then buy preschool curriculum. But don’t get hung up on doing X pages every day. Let her decide.

    Is he right? Am I going to squelch her love of learning by starting now in that manner? Is the lack of structure going to someday come back to bite us, when she DOES need to complete X pages per day?

    I want someone to tell me — go ahead, as lon as you are following your child’s cues and desires, the timing doesn’t matter. I have just read so much about starting later eater than earlier that it has almost scared me!

    Sorry for the novel. Would love and guidance. Have followed your page on Facebook for ages.


    • Hi Victoria! Your child may be gifted academically, but just keep in mind that to her this type of learning that comes so naturally is just play. So let her play with it! Just don’t get attached to her “achieving” something through it, so that if she tires of that type of play you can let it subside for a while. Gifted kids also need a core phase, so just make sure you’re focusing on the right lessons for that phase and everything else will work itself out in the way that’s right for her:

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  106. Thank you so much for this. I was stressing over what to do today. My little guy is 5 and basically knows most things, but he needs some help in reading and writing. He has been in PreK for a month now, and I don’t really know if they are just taking my money or not. He doesn’t seem to be learning much yet. I know it’s only been a month but my older boy went to another Prek and he learned a lot in a month. That place sadly is out of my price range with two kids. And this place is cheaper but also a stretch financially. So googled prek vs homeschool and this came up. LOL So thanks now I won’t feel guilty if I pull him after this week.

  107. I love it. I wish I had been able to do it for my own children. I am happy my grand’children are getting it.

  108. That is actually my comment, above!

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