Inquiring minds often ask, “When do I start homeschooling my preschooler?” I think we can all agree that learning takes place all day every day, and that it is never too early to start teaching the fundamentals that all children learn, but in terms of “real school,” for me it has just depended on the kid.
There are no right or wrong, hard and fast rules about this, it’s a matter of hearing how others do it and figuring out how you can learn from others while also adapting it to your life.
Here’s how I answer it when someone asks me when to start homeschooling their preschooler.
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Eager learners start earlier than those who are more reluctant. I can also say that younger kids who are around for the schooling of older children just pick up on things. I have had it happen with more than one of my children where one of my young ones just told me the color of the shirt they were wearing without ever having being “taught” their colors.
With my kids who had a huge vocabulary and loved people reading books to them all the time and often “read” books on their own, I started on reading skills earlier. They loved hearing the stories, so they were motivated to learn to read.
Official preschool type learning generally starts around the age of four at our place. This is after they know the basics, but in terms of a preschool type curriculum, this is what I start around age four. I love starting my younger ones out with a couple of preschool workbooks, books like these:
When they have books like this, they feel all grown up and are usually eager to do their “schoolwork” just like the older kids.
We also have a wide selection of cards, games, and other things to choose from. Over the years we’ve collected a few books that give lessons on basic character, manners, of course Bible stories and Bible memorization. There are also plenty of basic books that have fables, stories with lessons, or a fun way of learning any of the core subjects. We have this book,
for instance. Drawing, painting, puzzles, games, felt boards, and even copying a basic lego creations are great, too.
Another common question is, “How long is the school day for these younger ones?”
Not very. Obviously they have shorter attention spans so we tend to do little bits here and there. My younger kids are required to be around for Bible reading and devotions with everyone, too, but other than that their school days are short, maybe an hour of formal learning, again broken up into manageable segments.
I think one of the keys to homeschooling a preschooler is just to make sure that they have plenty of time to just be a kid.
Schooling, even things like learning letters, numbers, and colors shouldn’t be rushed, and it certainly shouldn’t be something that is met with tears – yours or your child’s!
I think moms can feel such pressure to teach their children these kinds of things when the focus should just be on having fun. Kids who learn their alphabet at five rather than at four or three do just as well academically as those early learners.
As I have had more children, I have some to realize just how fast childhood whizzes by. Make sure your preschoolers have plenty of time just to focus on having fun. They have an entire lifetime to learn if they so choose.
Incorporate learning into everything they do
Help them explore the world around them. Encourage them to keep that sense of wonder that simply falls along the wayside as they get older.
The truth is, you will know what your children can handle when they can handle it if you follow their lead
I did have a daughter who was reading chapter books by five years old and I have had a son who is just learning letter sounds at that point. Each child is unique, and each child has their own unique set of gifts and talents. Allowing them to learn at their own pace is the greatest gift of all.