Teaching a preschooler is so much fun… well if you love wiggles, silly faces, and lots of questions! But it’s those questions that make it all worthwhile. The preschooler is a natural learner. They enjoy finding out what they can about their environment. Just think, in the few short years that they have been alive, they have quadrupled in size, learned a whole language, learned how to eat, how to dress, and how to walk. WOW! That’s more than what we’ve learned in the past few years… They are incredible little learning machines, and introducing them to high interest subjects like science can be a great opportunity.
Of course, as most of you know I am not one of those who advocates pushing preschool learning. I think there are more natural ways to impart knowledge to these early learners. Science is a great way to do this. You can read them science stories, look at amazing science books (library has some pretty cool ones!), and even do some experiments. Natural learning by going on a walk and collecting things and then looking them up and finding out what they are when you get home – is also an awesome way to get your preschool hooked on science. Make it fun, make it interesting, remember their learning potential is huge!
Are you thinking… ??What?? I know it sounds off the wall, but what I really mean is that we must teach our children the meaning, and the usefulness of math, language, science, and history… while we are teaching them. Research has shown that education today is very disjointed. High school students can add, subtract, divide, and multiply but when asked a word problem evoking a practical situation…only 70% can apply the math to a real life situation. Then when asked a question that would result in 1/2 or a 1/4 of a person… only 33% of students realized that the answer would need to be a whole number.
…There is obviously a disconnect somewhere…
I believe it is the fact that so much learning today is solely text book oriented. What happened to learning while working and doing? Remember the days when young girls practiced fractional math while baking a double batch of something? Or young men helped dad build a shed and measured and cut and planned the dimensions. In pushing for test scores, and specific subject performance… we have left out the common sense equation in education.
Good news… homeschoolers have a wide open opportunity to make their child’s education apply to real life. For example, when you begin teaching your preschooler math it shouldn’t start with a text book or flashcards. It should start with games. “Can you get momma 5 apples for this pie?” or “Can you divide your candy in half and give half of it to your sister?” They must see the numbers and their meaning in a concrete form before they begin formal instruction. Yet, this doesn’t negate using flashcards and drilling the facts after they have the understanding. Before children can move into higher math they must be able to rattle off their elementary math facts without hesitation.
This is the foundation of education that lends to common sense. Children can see “why” they are learning math, science, and history when they see how it helps them and affects their daily life.
For some reason in the last decade preschool has been pushed down every new parent’s throat. Mom’s ask each other, where does your son/daughter attend? It has become astonishingly… a status symbol. “Do you send your little ones to the Royal Princes Learning Academy? Oh… they’re the best.” The way I view things, this is almost a crime.
The preschooler is being tossed about, sent to places that most of the time don’t really teach them anything except for how to argue, fight, and bite their peers. The parents are needing childcare because they are working, and truly a child who really still needs to be at home playing and enjoying the freedom of staying at home… is then pushed into a busy schedule.
Preschoolers learn the most from play, and they benefit from a relaxed schedule. There is no need to push them to start school early. Children learn when they are ready, and many times preschoolers are pushed to learn or write prior to readiness. In these early years, they learn much from their parents how to be kind, how to color, respect, and even please and thank you. Remember those days? When parents taught their little ones to be polite and say please and thank you?
The pressure is on to get our little ones into school earlier… but it isn’t necessary. There are times when instead of giving our little ones the head start they need, it causes them to get frustrated and burnt out with learning before they even get started. Be patient, teach your preschooler what they are ready to learn whether it’s homeschool science or just reading. If you are wanting to start teaching them numbers or letters, do it while they are playing – use life experience to teach. Count their baby dolls, or sing the alphabet song while you play. Make it simple, fun and stress free!