I’ve never been an advocate of early child education.  Even though studies* continue to confirm that the job of young children should be play, we continue to try to make children as young as three conform to classroom structure and teach them ABCs, thinking we’re doing them a favor.  All it does, really, is train them on the particulars of classroom behavior, and group dynamics (and the names of letters, which isn’t all that helpful, actually, in learning to read English).

Even though I’m an eight-year veteran of teaching my children at home, I don’t even advocate early homeschooling.  I’ve seen a large number of mothers get frustrated that their 4 year old doesn’t “get it”, and toss in the towel, chalking it up to, “I’m not a good teacher” when in reality, they have expected far too much of that child, which is what what led to “failure.”

I’m all in for reading picture books (as many as they want!  I heart picture books!), building block towers, playing Play-Doh, learning sing-song counting games, etc.  But not in the form of, “It’s 9:30 now!  Time for school!!”  But, more like, “Yes, sweetie!  The green grass is wet!  The sprinklers came on earlier this morning” and, “Will you please sit down on the red chair?  No, that’s the brown one.  This one is red!”  Voila!  That’s the “lesson” on colors for the day.  Plus a bit of following instructions, and a wee bit of sensory integration.

  • And building pillow forts in the family room (gross motor skills!).
  • And helping mom pick up the dog food spilled on the the floor (fine motor skills — pincer grasp!).
  • And spinning until dizzy in the family room, falling down in a heap of laughter (vestibular stimulation!).
  • Et cetera.

I may have to adjust my stance somewhat, though, for Audrey.  She is four years and five months, and has been endlessly pushing me to “do school” with her.  She can read (a bit), and she recently decided to start writing, by copying, to the best of her ability, the writing of others.  This has led to a number of impromptu handwriting lessons, because I don’t want her to develop detrimental writing habits.  (For instance, she used to form the “d” in her name by making a circle, then drawing a tallish line out of the mid-top of it, then a tiny line down from the mid-bottom.  I have encouraged her to make a “magic c”, go up like a helicopter… up a little higher… then bump back down.)

Audrey has branched out, now, into spontaneous spelling, which is a first in our home.  I can confidently state that none of my three boys (her older brothers), spelled for “fun.”  In contrast to the boys’ spelling and writing avoidance, I keep receiving notes from her that say “Audrey lovz Mom”.  🙂

She won’t believe me, however, that “lovz” does not contain a “z”, and resists my correction to “loves”.  I’m not pushing it…  She’s FOUR!  I’m pretty confident that, when she learns a bit more, and matures, she’ll spell it right.  I may, though, pull my trusty and well-used Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons, though.  We ended last school year on lesson 35 or something like that…

So, maybe preschool is OK, some of the time.  😉


*To which I’m not linking, out of laziness.  Or something.

About Karen Joy

I'm a partially-homeschooling mother of six -- 3 boys ages 19, 17 and 15 years old, and three girls: 11, 8, and 3. I like birding, reading, writing, organic gardening, singing, playing guitar, hiking, the outdoors, and books. I very casually lead a very large group of homeschooling families in the Phoenix area. I have a dear hubby who designs homes for a local home builder and who is the worship pastor of our church. I live in the desert, which I used to hate, but now appreciate.

Posted on August 16, 2010, in Books for children, Homeschooling, Parenting, The Kids. Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. I so agree with not pushing education in a formalized way at such an early age. Yet, in a couple of weeks my nearly 4-year-old will be starting at our public Montessori school. I question subjecting him to such a structured educational environment at this age, but I tell myself that Montessori is a different sort of learning environment that encourages learning through play and tactile application. I would consider holding off, but to get him into the program, we have to start him now. We’ll see how it goes.

  2. My 4 year old is asking for school also! She writes random letters in rows in all her notebooks and on any scrap of paper she finds. You’ve inspired me to give more structure to her last year at home. We were just going to craft, play, cook, keep the house, and unpack from our move (we’ll still do those things too). I’ll look at that book you mentioned.

  3. I just started that book with Lion Cub. He is so excited! I haven’t ever tried it before. Go figure! Hopefully this will make it easier.

    He can’t read or spell very well but I am (just like you) an advocate for waiting until later unless they show signs that they could handle it earlier.

    BTW he is only 5. But begging to learn how to read.

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