Homeschooling during the early years

Homeschooling during the early years

Preschool at home

I'm on my sixth year as an official homeschooler, and I still receive a lot of questions. Most come from new friends and acquaintances who are trying to understand our educational choices more. One of the more common questions I receive is about the length of our school day.

This question sometimes comes from parents thinking they don't have time to homeschool, but wishing they did. Sometimes I get it from those that see us out and about early in the day, or to whom my youngest declares his school day is over at 11 a.m.

Our average school day is about four hours long for my sixth grader, although some days he finishes more quickly and others take him longer. My second grader could easily finish his lessons in two hours, although he often gets involved in a project that takes all day. When both boys were preschoolers or kindergartners, formal lessons often lasted less than 30 minutes, and that was just perfect.

Young kids don't need lessons all day. If you enter the average preschool or kindergarten room, you rarely see the kids sitting quietly filling our worksheets. No, they are actively learning – playing letter games, working with math devices that look more like toys, or playing with actual toys to improve fine motor skills.

Instead of a formal curriculum at this age, instead sing songs and play games to learn the alphabet, then later the letter sounds. Count and string wooden beads or make patterns with math rods. Tangrams and geoboards are popular and help develop early geometry skills. And don't forget arts and crafts! Finger painting, clay work and cutting paper improves those fine motor skills and strengthens little hands for eventual writing.