There was a notice sent out about a kindergarten roundup for next year’s kindergarten class. I can’t believe Big Sis is old enough to start school. I thought back on how much I enjoyed school and I had a moment of sadness. But it only lasted a second. I immediately thought of all the ideas I have for our future, all the encouraging blog posts I’ve read, the community of homeschoolers I have found, and my husband and his students. He is a high school teacher and so many of his kids have lost their curiosity and desire to learn. They just want to be told the steps rather than figure out how to solve a problem. They just care about their grade, and they would rather not have to work hard to earn that grade (a lot of their parents don’t think they should have to either!) There are a lot of reasons why I want to homeschool. Helping my children keep their curiosity, creativity, and desire to learn is a big reason why I believe in it so much.
Big Sis is 4 1/2 and loves to learn. She asks questions about everything and I try my best to answer them. Some things I don’t really know though. So I am starting a list of questions she has that I need to explain further because I really want to answer things as they come up. What is a cartoon and how are cartoons made? What are the other planets like? She asks all sorts of questions and I do my best to answer them. She has especially been interested in planets and space lately. So my grandma gave her a globe. We look at it and talk about oceans and where we live and where other people live and where different kinds of animals live. And the other day we turned off all the lights and got a flashlight and talked about the sun and the earth turning and how we have night and day. Later she pretended to be a teacher and she taught me about night and day, gravity, etc. It was so cool to hear her talk about it and it gave me an idea of how well she was understanding things.
Homeschooling is great because it allows for flexibility. It can look like something completely different depending on the kid or family. I can already tell that Little Sis is going to learn a completely different way than Big Sis. I think homeschooling is going to be great for them for different reasons and am excited to see what kind of kid Little Bear will be.
So what are we doing right now for “preschool?”
The answer is…not much! Haha Or so it seems. I don’t feel like we are doing much of anything but when you look at this list it looks like a lot.
I really believe that children so young should just be allowed to play and learn as they please. They play together most often- playing princesses or super heroes, hiding from bad guys, building a zoo, taking care of babies, going trick or treating, giving each other doctor check ups…but sometimes we all play a game, have a dance party, do a craft or do a puzzle. I try to get them outside but I am not as good about that in the winter, especially with a baby. I make sure that the majority of their time is spent being active participants rather than just passively watching a screen or something…although we definitely love watching movies in this house 🙂
Big Sis likes to learn so I let her take the lead on that. I encourage her and help when needed when she is counting or sounding out words. But I make sure to say things like, “try to sound it out…what sounds do you hear in that word?” or “well you just did SIXty, so what do YOU think comes next?” rather than just telling her the answer. (Big Sis just counted to one hundred the other day without any prompting. She was so excited!) Then I really encourage her and give her high fives when she figures things out or tries really hard. At this point I don’t care at all if a word is spelled correctly…just that it is spelled how it sounds. (Not that I am pushing her to spell things…she started that on her own too!) Because more important than her getting something right, I think, is for her to learn to be proud of herself and feel satisfaction when learning or figuring things out on her own.
I answer her questions. This week she has learned about planets and space; how our body works with blood, a pumping heart, energy, and why we need to eat healthy food; dinosaurs; taking care of babies; and how to tie a bow… because she asked. I love it.
We read a lot. All kinds of books. We started reading chapter books a few months ago and Big Sis just loves them. Little Sis doesn’t usually sit still for them yet. But she still likes to look at the book when we are done and pretend to read, so I think just having her around it is a good thing. She loves books for her age though. Books with lots of pictures.
Big Sis and I watch documentaries sometimes while Little Sis naps. She doesn’t usually watch an entire show in one sitting, but frankly I’m surprised she watches them at all. I watch them with her and talk about it as things happen, because the narrator most often talks over her head. But she likes to see planets, astronauts, animals, insects, etc. She really learns things this way. Just this morning she was talking about how I have milk to feed Little Bear and asked me if I remembered the show we watched on kittens and how the kittens drank their mommy’s milk too. Netflix is great for this.
She plays educational games on my ipad during quiet time if she cleans up her toys fast enough to have time for it. We have found some really fantastic apps and it’s crazy how quickly she learns from them. I will do a post about my favorites soon.
She learns responsibility at home. Or…we are trying anyway. Chores, helping, and not whining are a tough ones for us. But I just made a sticker chart for awesomeness like “nice to your sister all day” because we are really working on using our words instead of our bodies to communicate when we are upset. (In other words…there’s a lot of hitting, pushing, and pinching going on these days!) I kept the sticker chart small and attainable. Then I also made cards for getting things done- getting dressed, brushing teeth, toys picked up, etc. She has a “to do” envelope and a “done” envelope. She needs to get all the cards to the done envelope on her own without me telling her she needs to do it. She gets a sticker for this. I made a small sticker chart for Little Sis too, to get her started. It is going to be more tricky with her and I hope that I keep at it.
We also got connected with a really great community of homeschoolers in our area. We joined a PE class that meets once a week to play games and sports…things that are hard to learn at home with just us. I also met a mom who lives down the street from me with girls the same age and we just recently started a preschool group. We just started but we plan to meet twice a month for songs, games, crafts, and play time. The purpose of it is really to develop relationships with other homeschooling families, have fun, and help the kids learn skills like cooperation and listening. We will also be getting together to do fun kids programs like the children’s museum and field trips like to a local farm. I am really excited about it.
Do you homeschool? What does your day look like? What kinds of things do/did you do with your preschooler? What are your favorite blogs about homeschooling? Thanks for reading!