A new homeschooling mom writes about educating her four-year-old and two-year-old children. “I love the computer and work on it alot,so I thought maybe the computer was the way to go, but still dont know if it the right way,or if I should go with a set curriculum,I feel like I need something that is structured so that I get it done,and they arent waiting for mom to figure out what it is I am doing?”
This was my response to her. Anyone who is homeschooling a preschooler, this is for you:
Ok, I’m going to be straight up with you. You ready? Here it goes:
The only reason you are stressing is because you have some kind of
expectation of what “schooling” is supposed to be. Drop your
expectations, and let it happen. Voila – instant stress-be-gone.
You’re kids are 4 and 2. There is NO reason you should be stressing
about what they are learning. They will learn no matter what you do.
If all you did was play in the mud, read stories and throw around a
ball, everyday, for a year, your kids will learn. And they will learn
There is no need for you to plan anything. No need for your kids to
expect anything from you other than you being their mom and giving
them food, shelter, safety and love. There is no need for you to know
what you are doing. None.
Give me one reason why you need a curriculum, or any plan at all? Oh
ya, so you can “get it done”. Get what done? Being a mom? Listening
to your kids? Responding to their learning needs? Listening to them
trying to count to 10?What are you trying to get done that you can’t
do without a curriculum?
If your kids were 12 or 14, or 17, I might be singing a different
tune, but let me just say that four year olds only “need” artificial
structure because we tell them they need it. I would even argue that
it’s the adults that need the structure, and need to keep the kids
under their careful watch, not that the kids really need it.
Still reading after that last doozy? Awesome! Here’s the deal –
little kids need rhythm. They want to know what’s next, what to
expect and what’s for dinner. That doesn’t mean we have to have it
planned, or that we have to formalize our activities. That means that
we get up in the morning, do our thing and go along in a way that
makes sense – mostly revolving around meals and sleep, with play in
What about learning to read!? What about math? and counting?
They learn that through play. Play with them and they will learn.
Talk to them and they will ask questions. Be open to their needs and
respond to them, and they will be confident in themselves, and in
you. A child’s confidence will not come from whether or not you have
So, buy books that look FUN. Buy supplies that look like your kids
(and you) will enjoy them. Buy books and curriculum in the same
*exact* way you buy toys. When you walk into Toys R Us, do you feel
overwhelmed? Do you feel like you HAVE to buy your kid something to
play with? Think of “school” books in the same way as you think of
your kids’ toys. Go in knowing you don’t have to buy *anything*,
because you know your kids will learn even if all you had was a stick
and some sand. Do this, and choosing your stuff won’t be so stressful.
The computer is fun for kids, but at 4 and 2, it certainly is not
what they should be doing for their main learning. The vast majority
of their learning comes from just being in the world. Recognizing
letters, counting and other stuff they do on the computer is very low
on the list of what they absolutely need right now. If they want it,
and they crave it, they’ll ask for it. Not by saying, “mommy teach me
letters.” But by being curious about letters, by asking questions, by
talking about them.
Let me restate that your job as a homeschooler to a 4 and 2 year old
is NOT to formally teach them to read, or to do math or about social
studies. Your job is to be with your kids as they explore the world –
in whatever way works for them – with no expectations of what they
should know or how they should learn. This is the time to get to know
your kids, not hold their shoulders and point them in a direction.
When you support your kids by understanding them, you *will* be
teaching them pre-reading skills and math, because it’s important to
YOU, and because it’s important to THEM. They will demand it from
you, one way or another, if they are ready for the info.
Even if you think I’m full of it, I hope that this helps you realize
that stressing about what curriculum to get for a four year old is
crazy-making. Rather than buy books on how to teach your 4 year old
to be a math genius, buy books on How To Talk So Kids Will Listen,
and How to Listen so Kids Will Talk, or books on learning styles and
parenting. And certainly don’t buy any curriculum-type books/software/
gadgets at ALL until you can go into a teacher store, or check out a
education website and feel *excited*, not stressed.
You’re gonna get it. Give it time. And space. Step away. And breathe.