Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Skipping Preschool

Are we homeschooling preschool, homepreschooling or skipping preschool? Take your pick. An interesting article on preschool and the home appeared in the most recent issue of The Link, by a mom who sent her son to preschool but withdrew him because he was bored. [if the link to the article doesn't work, try this one, its a different article, but she mentions this about halfway through it.]

I appreciate all the resources available on the web (many are also available in print, but its so easy to websurf). I like checking the World Book scope and sequence to see if we're missing anything. By their list, we're on target except for writing -- of course, this doesn't really help me because I'm not going to push writing, her muscles aren't ready yet. I think its a natural drive to want to communicate with others and I'm certain she will write when she is able -- she's at the scribbling stage where she claims its writing (though she knows it isn't), a developmental stage on the road to writing (just as pretending to read a memorized book is a step on the road to reading). At least the list gives me something to look at to see if there are any dreaded gaps (learning gaps is a fun topic on the hs e-mail groups).

Broadly speaking, the World Book scope and sequence for preschool lists skills pertaining to: size, shapes and colors, numbers and counting, reading readiness, position and direction, time, motor skills, and social-emotional development. There's really not all that much to it and nothing that requires any specialized tools or teaching. Most of this stuff can be learned by a child on her own or with demonstration and a few pointers. I love 'strewing,' so when I read on some list that preschoolers should know their address and phone number, I simply left a lot of at-home cards (business cards with our name and address on them) lying around for her to find -- it worked.

There are plenty of other lists out there. My state has its Standards of Learning listed on its Board of Education website and I imagine many other states do as well. There are also numerous differing philosophical approaches to education and most of them have skills lists. I was going to post a link to another list, but when I was going through the various homeschool websites, I was overwhelmed -- there is a lot of information out there.

Other items I've seen on preschool skills lists include: major holidays, days of the week, months of the year and seasons. We've learned these through reading lots of books that either directly address the subject or that include the subject. For instance, Eric Carle's The Very Hungry Caterpillar is about a catepillar's diet and his eventual change into a butterfly. The book progresses through the week as the caterpillar eats different things (On Monday...., On Tuesday...). Eric Carle's A House for Hermit Crab does something similar with months of the year.

As to writing, how are we working on that? By sitting with a pencil and workbooks, of course. No, just kidding -- by playing with playdough and cutting and pasting. Peeling and sticking stickers is another great way to work on fine motor skills. Its interesting, she can zipper and button, but her drawings are definitely in the abstract phase, though I can see her progressing -- she just added arms and legs to her figures.

Finally, who can ignore the importance of socialization? I don't think any homeschoolers disagree with the importance of socialization, we disagree with the assumption that proper socialization occurs only at schools (or that proper socialization even occurs at schools). Socialization opportunities are provided through playdates and park days and library story time, dance class and visits to the grandparents and Sunday school. How will she ever learn to sit down and be quiet -- not that it takes all that long to learn this important skill -- library story time and Sunday school. What about waiting in line? Go to the bank or the grocery store or almost anywhere. Take turns? Have a sibling or play with other kids.

One deficit we suffer by not going to preschool, we don't get invited to anywhere near the number of birthday parties that our preschooled friends do.

NOTE: this post is a work in progress, I plan to add more books to the subject areas noted above. I'm just sick of saving this post as a draft. If you're looking for books, check for updates or e-mail me.

NOTE to DH: your 2 year old nudie daughter just peed on your office floor. Apparently, she's untoilet-training herself. I preferred her sister's method of training after the age of 3 but with no accidents. Sigh. But I'm sure glad I'm not in an office somewhere doing real work. Grrrr.


Sarah @ Mum In Bloom said...

This was very helpful to me :) I'm the only mom I know "skipping" preschool and was looking for what I'll need to show him and words to explain what I'll be doing. Thank you :)

Marjorie said...

So glad I could help! The hardest part about homeschooling/skipping preschool/bucking the system is finding the support you need. The kids will show you what they need from you and you provide it -- it's just an extension of the mothering you've been doing since they were born.

Take joy!