I have had little kids for eight years and have tried different approaches to homeschooling them in preschool and in kindergarten. While children are usually eager learners, there is a temptation to pour as much knowledge as possible into them early: hard memory work, math worksheets, phonics drills.
In the meantime, lasting knowledge that would become a building block for additional studies is rarely obtained through a textbook. At least, not in preschool, nor in kindergarten. Seven Most Important Things For Homeschooling Little Kids are things I learned while working with my four children, and things I wish I knew when my oldest was a toddler.
Seven Most Important Things For Homeschooling Little Kids:
- Schedule and discipline. Disciplined people who are organized and able to stick to schedules and plans seem to be more successful. I know, this statement will make many people angry, yet it is true: if you are able to set goals and have a plan for accomplishing them, you will likely accomplish these goals. If you like to “go with the flow,” that flow may get you to a great place, but necessarily towards achieving what you had set out to achieve. When this comes to little children, a specific schedule of activities, a plan and a simple work ethic should be taught early and above all else. Even a two-year old benefits from simple daily chores, which will teach him/her how to be a productive individual later. I hear a lot of homeschooling friends complain how their kids don’t want to do this or won’t do that. If you instill a sense of discipline into your child early on, you are unlikely to have this problem.
- Time outdoors. Kids love being outside and learn so much from counting clouds, observing caterpillars and digging in the soil. Outside, they learn about nature, math, science and more! They also learn how to entertain themselves with simple things and how to connect to something greater than themselves. Most preschool and kindergarten subjects can be taught outside, in any weather. Invest in some rain boots, umbrella and a good coat and allow your little children to spend at least three hours a day outdoors, regardless of the weather.
- Worksheets are useless. When children are older, worksheets can be helpful, but little children learn in a sensory, all-encompassing way. Instead of doing a worksheet on words that begin with “A,” show the child these words in a beautiful, classical book you are reading them. Maybe, even ask the child to copy a few words from that book.
- Math is best learned during games. Yes, you can buy your preschooler a fancy math curriculum, but they are a lot more likely to learn and retain math facts if you “play math.”
- Reading out-loud is crucial. You can skip reading instruction, you can skip math facts, you can skip teaching them how to write during those early years, but you cannot skip reading good books out loud! This practice teaches the child about the world. It also teaches them to love reading, to be inquisitive. It teaches them about a whole new world, hidden on the pages of the books.
- Learning-rich environment is a must. Read about learning-rich environment here.
- Adult role models are more important than academics. Personality is shaped early and behaviors are learned early. Usually, little children just mirror those around them. If the mother is stressed and is yelling at the kids to complete their uber-important phonics lessons for the day, the children are going to observe and mirror it all. Not just the phonics, but the behavior of the mother. If homeschooling little kids causes you to act in a manner that makes you dislike yourself, you need to rethink your curriculum. Or go outside more.