Let’s not over-stimulate
our preschoolers with
unnecessary clutter, no
matter how attractively
the pretty package
By Deb Turner
Thirty years ago, this very young mother put her daughter onto a big yellow school bus. That precious 4-year-old seemed
so small. I stood there and watched her
step onto the bus—lifting her feet high to
climb the tall steps. I was ready to wave,
but she didn’t look back. A new chapter
for her had begun, and the simple, uncluttered years had come to an end.
Four years old is young for kindergarten. In our state (New York), if a child is
going to be 5 by December 15, he is expected to begin kindergarten. However,
it is not mandatory until the child turns
6 years of age by December 15. The pressure is on to get our children enrolled
right away, and since that long ago day
when I put my first child onto the big yellow bus, the pressure has increased, and
the age has been lowered—the sooner
the better, so the experts say.
As homeschoolers, how concerned
should we be about teaching our pre-schoolers? We face many challenges in catering a homeschool menu to a variety of
ages—not the least of which is what to do
with our preschooler. There are no “twelve
steps to success” for homeschooling with
preschoolers in the home. Every family is
different, every child is different, and each
set of circumstances is different.
Much of what came to be my philosophy of homeschooling came from the
writings of Dr. Ruth Beechick and Dr.
Raymond Moore. Dr. Beechick helped
me to walk out our homeschooling
years with a confidence that the children were, indeed, learning. Her writings helped me recognize the fact that
I could utilize and take advantage of
learning through all that was already
happening in our home and family and
in our corner of the world. Dr. Moore’s
writings helped me to find contentment
in waiting it out, recognizing that children need maturity and that waiting
for readiness kept frustration at bay.
At times I would succumb to the pressure—whether from within my own in-securities or from outside sources—and
I would find myself trying out less manageable ideals, only to find myself needing the simpler way.
What should we do with the preschooler? How do we teach our older children
with a preschooler or two in the home? If
our preschooler is one of those children
who clearly could learn to read very early,
should we begin? Or are there valid reasons to wait, even though he seems ready?
I spoke of pressure from without.
There’s that anonymous group of experts
we call they (“They say …”). There may
also be well-meaning relatives or friends
putting pressure on us to get our children
up to speed. In the world of academia, our
young children are expected to have at-
tained a certain level of achievement be-
fore they even get into kindergarten. How
does this help the child? If our nation was
founded by men and women who did not
have this advantage (sarcasm intended),
then why do we feel we need it now? One
of the best ways to relieve this pressure
from the outside is to understand what
our children really need—and how they
really learn best. Then we can proceed