Saturday, September 04, 2004

When Do You Start School?

I just love Back to School time and the Fall. The crisp air, the excitement of renewal -- new notebooks, new classes, new football season.
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As such, I enjoy asking people about the back to school orientations they've been attending this week [the school year starts after Labor Day in my county]. Knowing I'm interested in homeschooling my preschooler, they ask me when I plan to start homeschooling. Sometimes they even ask me what we'll be doing. This stumps me -- to me learning is living, so we started when she was born and we do it every day. How do we do it? We are alert and curious and we learn whatever strikes our fancy. This is perhaps a bit too abstract, so the most I can say is 'well, we read lots of books.' There are lots of ways to homeschool -- boxed curriculum/school at home, workbooks, literature based, unschooling. I tend toward a literature-based/unschooling approach.

I consider that I began homeschooling my eldest daughter last year, when she was 3 years old, only because so many 3 year olds go off to preschool that it seemed an apt time to 'begin.' While her younger sister napped, we'd cuddle up on the couch and read lots of books. If she didn't want to read books anymore, we'd play cards or with puzzles or playdough or I'd leave her alone to her pretend play.

If there was something I would like her to learn, I'd select books with this in mind. I tried to think of typical topics preschoolers might learn about [I really hate ending sentences with prepositions, but its a debatable practice, so I'll just say I fall on the side of it being okay, but it does make me cringe]. Topics we've steered towards include the seasons, the months, days of the week, various holidays, counting, community helpers, colors, shapes, alphabet, and the states. As I find the time, I'll start to post lists of some of the books we've really enjoyed. If she's not interested in the topic, we leave it, she can learn it later.

As far as socialization, we have one planned playgroup a week with several other homeschooled preschoolers and their moms, as well as playdates with other friends, both homeschooled and preschooled. We visit her grandmother once a week, go to the grocery store and library and area playgrounds. The nice thing about homeschool socialization is the range of ages of the people with which we interact -- its not 15 or so 3 year olds and a couple of adults -- its a variety of ages.

Its funny as I look back of our homeschooling journey [short as its been at this point] and I realize that my in-laws really got us started [unbeknownest to them!] by buying us books about the alphabet and counting and opposites and shapes. Seeing how much my daughter learned from reading these books again and again started to show me that traditional school might not be necessary.

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