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Preschooling the 3 year old... academics or play?

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Chasing Babies... Growing in Grace: Preschooling the 3 year old... academics or play?

Friday, May 21, 2010

Preschooling the 3 year old... academics or play?

I recently received this comment:

Your kids are so little--have you ever considered taking the emphasis off letters, numbers, etc and trying units that will give them a simple base of knowledge about the world? I have a year's worth of traditional preschool topics listed on my might enjoy checking it out.
Blessings, Susan (

I initially replied with this:

Hi Susan,

With Tornado, I really haven't considered it, because he enjoys it so much. He's always asking me to teach him the words and "let's do school". What we do is to let him decide if he wants to do it. If he'd rather play, we play.

With Sweet Pea, on the other hand, I haven't even considered thinking about starting letters and numbers. We play with colors and shapes sometimes, but only in a pointing them out and talking about them kinda way. She's just not in the same place Tornado was at the same age. I imaging her 3s preschool will look much different than his. I'm excited to check out your ideas, especially for her... thanks for the comment!!!

I'm not sure why, but I haven't been able to get her thoughts out of my mind. I do struggle with a bit of "fear of man", so that might be part of it, but it has made me think, and think, and think. And maybe she's making me rethink a few things. Here's what I know right off hand...

I do push academics more than some.
It's true... and I know it. Much of this comes from my previous misconceptions about schooling my children. It's hard to shake the idea that I'm schooling if I'm not using academics and I have a hard time waiting until they are older to start. Though I'm getting over that, I do find it easier to stick to doing something when it's at least involved.

I don't do flash cards!
On the flip side, I don't believe I push beyond my child's ability or desire (I don't think). I make it available... but we don't park on it. Some days we don't touch on letters or numbers at all... other days it takes maybe 5 minutes of our time. Some days we do more than others, but I'm not drilling flash cards (anymore... there was a small period of time when I was that crazy, but I believe I'm over it. We're all learning, right?)

Not our focus!
I don't know what things will look like in the fall, or when Tornado turns 4... but right now, the traditional "academics" aren't our focus. It may seem like it here because it's a more tangible thing to share with you on a blog, but we spend more time with the Bible stories and verses than anything else. A decent chunk of time is spent singing and dancing around... or talking and learning about the world around us... or doing chores with mommy (I'm trying to be better at doing this with them). By comparison, we kind of breeze by the letters and numbers stuff most of the time.

By request.
The exception to the "breeze by" it claim is when Tornado requests it. For example, last week while we were gluing, he asked if we could play the "cup dice game" (Yahtzee). I brought it out and we played for a while... counting the dots and having fun. Would he have played in the same way if he were left to himself? I don't know.

Learning and transitioning.
I must say, I've learned a lot just in this last 6 months since starting our current curriculum. Really, I've learned a lifetimes worth in the last 4 weeks through some of these other moms. I'm learning, making changes, adding on to our learning times, and letting other things fall away. Our "curriculum" (meaning my plans for educating my children) is in an ever fluctuating process. Will I ever decide on something and stick to it forever? Probably not... it's not how I work. There is so much out there, and I'm learning new things everyday!

What I'm thinking now?
Ugh. To be honest, the more I think and plan and do, the more fickle I feel about the whole process. And how thrilled I am that I have all of you as witnesses to my fickleness! I can only hope being present for my journey may help someone... even just one of you! I've been spending some time reading the basics of Susan's blog again (I do check in there regularly anyway). Her "4 Rs" are particularly interesting.

As I spend some time thinking and praying over where we've been and where we're going, I am working through some decisions. Do I quit where we are in this current curriculum? If I don't quit is it because I don't want to be a quitter? Or because I believe it's what God has for me to do with my littles? Do I stick with it and just do the modified schedule like I've been doing? Should I drop the letters part? Does Tornado really like it, or does he just do it because I ask him to? Would he choose it over something else? Should I be giving him that choice at this stage? Or should he be learning to follow my lead in that area? Would something else work better? Should I move back to "Tot School" stuff with him?

Like I said, I'm thinking and praying over these things. And My Beloved and I are talking through them too. I don't know when I'll land on a decision... maybe today... maybe next week... maybe later this summer. My mind is spinning though, and I think it's a good thing. I'll let you know how it is going though... no reason hiding from you to save face now... you've already seen the fickle side of me!

I'd love to hear your thoughts and opinions, but in the end, My Beloved and I are the ones making decisions for our children. Please be respectful in your comments. Thanks!



At May 21, 2010 at 3:12 PM , Blogger Fiona said...

your two really are similar ages to mine! I would agree with what you are saying. My eldest child is interested in sitting down and learning letters etc.. where as my youngest is not at all bothered. I think really it depends on the child and what they like doing.


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