by Susan K. Stewart
In the ‘90s, parents were told their child needed to be “ready to learn” by the age of five. Sending little ones to preschool was the way to assure this readiness. During the past year, radio and television ads have been telling parents that unless their child goes to preschool criminal activity is likely as a teen.
The push for universal preschool has left parents who have been instructed by God to teach their own children questioning their abilities even with their toddlers. The question now has become “What curriculum can I use for my preschooler at home to insure my child is ready to learn and won’t go to jail?”
A full early childhood curriculum needn’t be expensive or time-consuming. Based on my experience with my own children and, now, with my grandchildren, I’ve developed a program of study that you can begin using today.
A child starts developing good language by the age of three. In fact, babies begin to learn language and communication skills at birth. Some experts believe that a baby in the womb hears and understands her mother’s pleasant voice. Your curriculum should include talking to your baby and toddler. Don’t use or allow baby talk. Talk as you would any other person. Language, syntax, and grammar are learned by imitating adults. On the other hand, if your preschooler spends a lot of time with other preschoolers, it is their speech patterns that will be imitated.
Writing is also an important language skills; the ability to set language to paper. Allowing your preschooler to have crayons, paints, scissor, and paper will lay the foundation for learning to write and create. Most children want to learn to write their own name first. Often these attempts are scribbles as they imitate adult cursive writing. Give your preschooler time to “write” letters, even while you are writing checks for the bills.
In most educators, politicians, and parents’ eyes, this is the most important part of being ready to learn. We all know that a child who can read independently, can learn independently. Begin teaching your child to read by reading aloud, even as a infant. Also have books available for your child to “read” alone. Like language skills, your preschooler will be better prepared to learn to read by following your model. Your reading enjoyment will be passed on when your child watches you.
Most little ones come prepared to learn basic math skills; they all have two hand and two legs, and ten toes and ten fingers to count. Learning colors and sorting are also part of math readiness. As you do the laundry, your preschooler can help sort dark and light or black and white. While getting dressed, colors are learned by naming the colors of clothing.
These are the basic of being ready to learn for preschoolers. You can add science, art, and history if you wish and your child is interested.
I’m often asked, “How much time each day should my preschooler ‘do school’?” I tend to get flip and respond, “Whatever.” Actually it depends on you and your child. How long does it take to say the colors while getting dressed? How much time does it take to sort the laundry with your preschooler helping? (I know, probably longer than it would if you did yourself.) How long does it take to read a good book like Good Night, Moon at bedtime?
Set aside the false and contrived fears that your preschooler is going to grow up illiterate or a criminal. Enjoy these years before they are gone and along the way both you and your child will benefit.
Copyright 2005. Susan K. Stewart.
Reprinted with permission from the magazine the California Parent Educator, February/March 2005, published by Christian Home Educators Association (CHEA) of California, PO Box 2009, Norwalk, CA
Susan K. Stewart and her husband, Bob, live in a small rural community in central Texas. Susan brings her practical and inspirational messages for women, families, and homeschoolers. She is the author of Science in the kitchen, Fearless Science at Home for All Ages and Preschool: At What Cost?. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit her website www.practicalinspirations.com. This article is based on Susan’s popular seminar by the same name.
Susan will be speaking at the following AHEAD conference:
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