Before you read any further, I need to tell you that I am now in the middle of my twentieth year of homeschooling, and my youngest child is now a high school junior. Knowing that, you may wonder what I have to say about homeschooling little ones in their early years, and that’s fair. That’s why I’m not going to tell you what curriculum or teaching style is best for preschool or kindergarten age, or what learning milestones they should reach by which age. I’m not in those particular trenches any longer, and my knowledge and memories of those details are either outdated or unreliable. I do, however, have a few bits of advice for homeschooling during the early years.
When I think back to when I was starting out with a first grader and a preschooler, I realize that too often I stressed about things I shouldn’t have worried about, and I doubted myself far more than I should have. So more than anything else, I want to tell the homeschool moms that are in that place now – RELAX. You’re doing a great job! You don’t need to spend money on a bunch of curriculum or fancy school supplies. You don’t need to sit them down to “do school” or stick to a strict schedule.
Four Tips for Homeschooling in the Early Years
1. Teach your little ones that learning is awesome and fun! Young children are learning new things every day, and sometimes they may seem like little things, but each one adds to their knowledge, skills, and confidence. Do a little celebrating when they master something new to encourage them.
2. Have fun and discover the world through their eyes! Kids are fascinated by the many interesting things they see around them, and they learn through play. Give them plenty of opportunity to explore things that catch their eye, and lots of free time to imagine and play.
3. Read to them and let them see you read. Choose eye-catching picture books and imaginative storybooks. Read expressively. Give the characters different voices, and have fun with the stories. Spend lots of time just enjoying stories before focusing on learning letters and sounds. Also, let kids see that you spend time reading for yourself. I believe that children should learn early that books are valuable and are a window to the world.
4. Love on them. It may seem like a cliche, but it’s true – relationships are more important than academics. Enjoy just being with your little ones, without pressure to learn letter sounds or counting by a certain deadline. The learning will happen, and there’s plenty of time for it. And chances are the learning will come easier in a warm and loving atmosphere.
What advice do you have for homeschooling in the early years? Leave a comment and let us know!