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Why Homeschool PreK and Kindergarten


mathmarm
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I started another thread and it is not really what I was hoping for, feedback wise, then I noticed that there is an actual place to talk about PreKindergarten and Kindergarten here on the WellTrained-Mind message boards. I am pregnant with my first child and Jr. is expected in the end of summer or early fall. I am exploring more options for his education and my question to you all is:

 

Why do you homeschool PreK and Kindergarten?

 

If you intend to homeschool your child through elementary school, why are you doing PreK and Kindergarten? Especially, do you feel that PreK and K is going to prepare them for 1st grade (if you are homeschooling them, can't you just meet the kid where they are at when you start 1st grade?)

 

I just assume that homeschoolers read to their kids, talk to their kids, take them on bike rides and walks and play with them--a good deal more often than parents who work outside the home or who stay stuck to the TV/computer all day. Is that where I am mistaken, the assumption that homeschoolers generally spend more 'quality' time with their kids when they are young?

 

I can understand wanting them to learn/get used to the concept of sitting and studying or working daily toward learning something, but cant you begin that in first grade if your child has any constant discipline in their lifes 0-5 or 6 when most people start 1st grade?

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I can only answer for myself, but I believe in the 'sensitive periods' of a child's life and the idea to intentionally foster the skills as a child moves through them. As a parent, being aware lets me prepare materials and exercises in advance and bring them out as needed/desired. This, of course, leads to a prepared background to start formal education in 1st grade. It does mean that I'm conscious of what my child is gravitating to and keep a checklist in my mind, but it doesn't mean we sit down with "seatwork" or block off daily chunks of time to 'teach'.

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we "afterschool" my PreKer (5yo now). My older didn't started until he was in 1st grade but I did start my DD early.

1. She asked.. begged . She is very motivated. She wanted to do her brother's work.

2. I believe little brain is like sponge.

3. It really only take us 15 mins a day and 3 times a week for math. And she is in the stage that she start to read on her own for pleasure now, so I don't even count that as school time.

 

For that kind of time investiment and return. I think it worth it

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I homeschooled my dd for K for several reasons, not all having to do with academics.

 

First, I did not want to repeat, in K, what she'd already learned at home.

I read to her practically from birth, and by 4, she was asking "what does that say?" constantly. She also had progressed thru the developmental stages of writing (random marks, scribble, circular scribble, linear scribble, random letter-like shapes, linear letter-like shapes, letter shapes, inventive spelling); I had simply offered her writing materials as part of her dramatic play, and she had noticed the writing I did. I knew she was ready, at four, to begin learning what they'd learn in K, I wanted to follow her interests. When K came around, she'd already passed the majority of that part of what they'd teach her. I wouldn't say I really "homeschooled" her for pre-K (she did go 2 days a week for a 2.5 hour, non-academic preschool program), but we did some things I thought she was ready for.

 

Second, I wanted more time with her.

K around here is full-day. It seemed too long to me to have her away.

 

Third, I wanted the experience of being her academic teacher.

I had had my two boys with me while I worked as a teacher in their preschool; I did not work as a teacher when dd was born, and I missed the chance to share what I thought were excellent materials and exciting/fun/important/whatever activities I would have done in the classroom. So I did some of them at home with her.

 

Fourth, I wanted to protect her innocence and way of looking at the world.

I read Pocketful of Pinecones as my first homeschooling book, and I remember putting it down after a few chapters and actually crying--the mother character had just seen her kids out in nature, and saw how free, how in awe of creation, how spectacularly happy and innocent and content they were. That's how my dd was--and I wanted so much to preserve that as long as I could.

 

Fifth, I wanted to introduce my child to faith in God during the course of our everyday lives--having time in the school day made that more efficient, more natural, and caught her at a time when she wasn't tired or sensorially "filled up" already from a long day at school. We got to start the day with devotions in a relaxed way (not hurrying to get to school), memorize verses, hear bible stories, and just very naturally incorporate the worship, praise, prayer, and study of Christ into our day.

 

As you see, I did not see K as just preparation for first grade. It, like all education, like all our days, is preparation for far greater things. I enjoyed doing that at home.

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Around here, virtually every child I know goes to preschool and full-day kindergarten. By the time they leave kindergarten the children are all expected to be reading and writing fairly well. Our pre-K at home has been very relaxed and mostly the kind of things that any involved parent would be doing at home with their child anyhow. Despite that, we've amped it up a bit in the last couple of months and will be doing a more structured kindergarten at home next year. My dd is very much capable and ready to start reading and writing now. To not offer her some basic instruction in phonics, handwriting and math would be a great disservice to her, IMO.

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We live in an area where full-day kindergarten half-day pre-K and at least three times a week preschool are the norm. All of my daughter's public schooled friends are in school by now. Even all her homeschooled friends are doing school by now. So, naturally, she is eager to start doing some school work. This past year would have been her pre-K year, we did maybe 5 to 15 minutes a day mostly at her request. I did not push it, or even encourage it terribly much. We also read aloud, et cetera. This coming year, we are going to do a somewhat more formal kindergarten. I anticipate about a half hour per day, plus about two hours on Tuesdays and Thursdays when my twin sons will go to a play based preschool. I think it will be good for her and I have to have the one-on-one time. We certainly spend many hours a day together, but there's only so much pretend to be a pony, etc., that I actually want to play. And school is fun! It is fun for both of us. She still has many, many hours a day to do all those other wonderful things and we spend most of our lives outside.

 

I guess I don't really see it as preparation for first grade, but more as meeting her where she is now. If she were going to school, she would be going for eight hours a day, every day this coming year. Five or six hours a week, most of which will end up being read aloud, seems like a reasonable compromise to me.

 

ETA: She's also very ready for academic work. I realize that not all children will be there. But it really depends on where you are with your child. My sons are very active and wiggly, much more so than their sister was at their age. They may well not be ready for pre-K for kindergarten. We will cross that bridge when we get there, right now I'm just going to let them be 2.

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I am finishing homeschooling my K'er this year and 3 year old.

 

My dd went to daycare / preschool until she was 4 while I was a student at the university I attended anywhere from part to full time since she was 4 months; my youngest went 1 year. Then I took them out after feeling dissatisfied with the influences there and not spending enough time with them. I kept my then 2 year old home and sent my 4 year old to preschool 3 mornings a week.

 

I ended up pulling her out after watching her struggle to keep up academically and felt like it was ridiculous to be trying to hel her keep up at 4! We were spending an hour a day replicating the work she did at school at home on days she had school and the other 2 days a week, the whole mornings! After seeing her confidence plummet and having sought alternate methods to try to teach her letters and numbers, lots if stuff I found on homeschool blogs, it became the most obvious choice as opposed to paying $550 a month for 5 mornings a week of the same for pre-k since at that point k was really not an option.

 

 

I ended up starting to do pre-k only but we were able to complete a k level curriculum and are sticking with it for 1st.

 

I am not against sending a preschool or k age child to "nursery school" and for some families where the younger kids are really derailing the efforts to school the losers a half day program would be great solution, but since I have 2 kids and they are only 2 years apart, homeschooling both works out fine. As other posters mentioned, I spend only about 15 minutes one on one with my preschooler and 45 min with my k'er; then they do 1-2 hours of "school time" together, which is at least 1/2 of what you'd do together anyway as a SAHM with kids that age-arts and crafts, baking, going on walks or to the park, reading out loud, doing some hands on science, etc.

 

If I chose to put my youngest in preschool, I would chose a play based half day program so that it is more for play and stick to doing academics at home.

 

Another thing is doing homeschool you realize that you pay a lot for stuff that is much cheaper at home. For example, I can have pretty much all the material I need for preschool / k for less than what I would pay for 1 month of preschool or private k for each child. As in we spent $500 in materials for 1st & pre-k with lots if extras, for an entire year, but would be paying about $900 to pay for private 1st and 3 mornings (3 hours) of preschool.

 

Other thoughts:

-kids have more time for unstructured play

-more consistency in parenting as you don't compete with different rules outside the home

-avoid outside influences at an impressionable age (so many parents today fail to parent their preschoolers)

-in these grades a lot of options are still available to parents for mommy and me classes where you can get socialization still

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I am finishing homeschooling my K'er this year and 3 year old.

 

My dd went to daycare / preschool until she was 4 while I was a student at the university I attended anywhere from part to full time since she was 4 months; my youngest went 1 year. Then I took them out after feeling dissatisfied with the influences there and not spending enough time with them. I kept my then 2 year old home and sent my 4 year old to preschool 3 mornings a week.

 

I ended up pulling her out after watching her struggle to keep up academically and felt like it was ridiculous to be trying to hel her keep up at 4! We were spending an hour a day replicating the work she did at school at home on days she had school and the other 2 days a week, the whole mornings! After seeing her confidence plummet and having sought alternate methods to try to teach her letters and numbers, lots if stuff I found on homeschool blogs, it became the most obvious choice as opposed to paying $550 a month for 5 mornings a week of the same for pre-k since at that point k was really not an option.

 

 

I ended up starting to do pre-k only but we were able to complete a k level curriculum and are sticking with it for 1st.

 

I am not against sending a preschool or k age child to "nursery school" and for some families where the younger kids are really derailing the efforts to school the losers a half day program would be great solution, but since I have 2 kids and they are only 2 years apart, homeschooling both works out fine. As other posters mentioned, I spend only about 15 minutes one on one with my preschooler and 45 min with my k'er; then they do 1-2 hours of "school time" together, which is at least 1/2 of what you'd do together anyway as a SAHM with kids that age-arts and crafts, baking, going on walks or to the park, reading out loud, doing some hands on science, etc.

 

If I chose to put my youngest in preschool, I would chose a play based half day program so that it is more for play and stick to doing academics at home.

 

Another thing is doing homeschool you realize that you pay a lot for stuff that is much cheaper at home. For example, I can have pretty much all the material I need for preschool / k for less than what I would pay for 1 month of preschool or private k for each child. As in we spent $500 in materials for 1st & pre-k with lots if extras, for an entire year, but would be paying about $900 to pay for private 1st and 3 mornings (3 hours) of preschool.

 

Other thoughts:

-kids have more time for unstructured play

-more consistency in parenting as you don't compete with different rules outside the home

-avoid outside influences at an impressionable age (so many parents today fail to parent their preschoolers)

-in these grades a lot of options are still available to parents for mommy and me classes where you can get socialization still

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Heck, why bother with first grade? Or second? Why not just meet them where they are in third grade? Or sixth? You have to start somewhere.

 

And many of us have children who enjoy learning and reading, and who are working well beyond grade level. When your K'er asks to do a science lesson, it's not like you're going to say, "No, that's too academic for your immature little brain. Let's go outside and you can ride your bike around the block for the seventeenth time today."

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OP, if you dig a little deeper through the forum, you will find many voices in agreement with you. You will find many people say to relax and that you can start at 6 and go from there. (Or even later!) You might get answers more in line with your questions if you rephrased your title and post to something like "Is it okay to delay academics until first grade?" As a matter of fact, there have probably been quite a few threads with that very topic.

 

Asking people why they homeschool during the preschool and kindergarten years will give you a different set of answers entirely. We do it because we enjoy it. I'm not sitting here biting my nails that my children will never get into college if I don't start them on flashcards from birth, because we all know that's not the case.

 

Edited to add: And congratulations! :)

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What you think of as "doing kindergarten" may be very different from what most of us actually do. It doesn't mean strict school hours and worksheets at a desk. Quite a lot of us are more play-based than that. I mean, Waldorf has "kindergarten" but they retell stories with puppets, model with beeswax, and bake bread. That's normal mom stuff. And most of that does prepare the kid for more formal academics later, but there are also some good reasons for intentionally laying some foundational skills before you expect "real work."

 

If you notice your child can't rhyme or segment sounds, you should work on phonemic awareness activities so he can get ready to read. There's no good reason to wait until 6 or later (and the countries that start reading instruction at 6+ have much easier languages than English).

 

If you have a child who is ready to learn to read, it's better to give him a foundation in phonics rather than let him learn to sight-read. When that child can read, you have opened up a whole new set of possibilities (and also have to deal with a kid constantly reading over your shoulder LOL).

 

If your child has weak fine motor skills, you should provide him with opportunities to strengthen muscles. You should be intentional about including cutting, coloring/scribbling, pinching, painting, etc. tasks to build up those muscles. You don't wait until he is six before you think about it, because then you have a lot of catch-up strength training to do.

 

Math skills are easier to absorb through daily life, but it can still be very helpful to have some sort of program that at least gives you a scope & sequence of things to work on. I mean, not everyone thinks about teaching their 5 year old the value of coins, how to read a clock, or the concepts of greater than/less than. But those skills help a kid make sense of their world. I have a 5 year old who has his own store in the basement, complete with price tags, play money, cash register and shopping bags, and he hasn't picked up coin values from that, so we are doing some extra work in that area. I call that kindergarten, but you might call that mothering. It's just semantics.

 

"Kindergarten" doesn't have to be really formal, but there is no harm in doing instruction that is developmentally appropriate for the individual child. And kids want to learn, so if you can capitalize on that then you are doing more than just teaching skills. Another point - many homeschooling families are juggling the needs of several kids. Carving out some "preschool" or "kindergarten" time keeps the youngest from getting lost in the shuffle.

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For me it is a natural progression that varies from kid to kid.

 

When oldest dd was 4.5, I decided to add a 10-15 min reading lesson to our day. When she was 5 we started doing a K math book on a just for fun basis. In first grade we buckled down (lol) and started serious academics - which means about an hour of school in my home.

 

Second taught himself to read before he turned 4 and was begging for school like big sis, so he sat in on some of her lessons and was given his own math book at age 4.

 

I have been more deliberate with my third child. He has some learning issues so we take time each day to work on speech, fine and large motor skills, reading, number sense, etc. He has really benefited from this and doesn't see any of it as a chore.

 

Fourth is my latest preschooler, and he is just tagging along. I don't do anything "extra" unless he asks for it.

 

I don't even know whether or not to consider myself someone who does preschool. I guess I treat it like every other part of parenting; when they are ready to take the training wheels off the bike, you don't wait until they turn a certain age to do so. Likewise, when they are ready to learn a new academic skill, I teach it to them. OTOH, I don't see the point of the expensive preschool curricula or worksheets to teach kids their colors. I am somewhere in between.

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Are you asking why "I" teach my 4.5 yr old and my 3 yr old?

 

I guess if I wanted to be really techical, I "started" HSing when my oldest was about 18-20 months? He knew all his letters, numbers, shapes, colors, etc by the time he was 2. Nope, I am not a drill sergent. But he wanted to "play cards" with all the flash cards I had around the house. He couldn't get enough of those matching games, etc etc. I wasn't going to say "umm,nope, gotta wait until you are 5-6-7".

 

So, then, how was I suppose to stop? If he knew that stuff at 2 - I couldn't exactly wait for 3 -4 yrs until he is in 1st grade to start teaching more stuff.

 

I get very annoyed when people tell me that "at that age he should just play and you should take it easy". Where do they get ideas that he doesn't play, i don't know. But all his "studying" takes 15-20 minutes AT MOST and not even every day. I stop when he says "I am tired" and runs away to "play" with his solar system books or his dinasour books.

 

I can't speak for other kids, but I think it's my job to find the balance between challenging him and allowing him to be a 4 yr old. And I am doing the same thing with his brother who is 3

 

 

But just so you know - we were going to HS before we even had kids.

 

One more thing - I didn't start reading to my oldest until he was about 2, I think. He had NO interest in it what-so-ever. He wouldn't sit for it at all. So, I was worried there for awhile, but now he loves books.

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We do preschool/preK because all of my kids were eager to learn at that age and wanted to do school of their own. To me K is a perfect age for kids to begin to learn to sit still and follow instructions as well as learn beginning phonics and math. So for my 3-4 year olds school is mainly fun and optional depending on their interest and readiness. Starting in K I expect and require at least a short amount of daily school work. :)

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There does seem to be some division on the subject, mostly because a lot of what is "preschool and kindergarten curriculum" (colors, numbers, manners, exploratory play learning) is considered by many to be parenting, not schoolwork. I homeschool PreK because I want DS to get used to a little of formalized school and gradually ramp up the bookwork, rather than waiting until he's 6 and dropping a stack of books and saying we're getting down to business, KWIM? (Classical and books is my style, so going from 6 years of unschool type exploration with no bookwork to suddenly change would be a huge shift that I think would be difficult, obviously this depends on how rigid your schedule for elementary is.)

 

"Meeting your kid where they are" when they turn 6 has a lot to do with what you do with them before they get there. Every child is different, ditto every parent and teaching method.

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I started doing sit down work with my first before she turned three, and would have started 6 months earlier if I hadn't been in bed trying to keep my lunch down. :rolleyes:

 

She really liked the structure. It helped me (and her father) feel like messing around with the kiddo was proper work, not something one does as an excuse not to do dishes. If we didn't do school at least every third day, she behaved like a little feral, so we did school. She also has learning difficulties so from age 4, whether I called it school or not, we had therapy to do.

 

Ds has issues that don't allow for a bit of preK to get him into the routine of school being something we do most days. He comes in if any of dd's work involves music on the computer, he'll watch parts of her Arabic dvd and documentaries as it pleases him. In his "spare time" he builds with blocks and has been "reading" a lot of evolution books. Not sure why. I keep hiding them to see if it is the content or the convenient location, but he keeps finding them so he must be looking, lol.

 

Dd learns almost nothing unless explicitly taught, so I do. Ds refuses to be explicitly taught almost anything, so I am putting that energy into convincing myself that I'm fine with unschooling him, because I don't think I'll have a choice.

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I also want to comment that I do not think it is damaging to wait for most kids. Many families don't homeschool PreK or K, and just start in grade 1, and I think that's fine. I don't think my kids would be horribly behind after a couple of years if they went that route. But on the other hand, why NOT homeschool PreK and K? Grade 1 will go a lot easier if she knows how to read already and understands basic math operations. Some families have their own reasons to wait (kids aren't ready, parent isn't ready, personal preference, whatever), and that's fine. That will probably work out well for them. But I really don't think that 10 minutes a day of Pre-K will damage her either. There will still be plenty left to learn come Grade 1

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Are you asking why "I" teach my 4.5 yr old and my 3 yr old?

 

I guess if I wanted to be really techical, I "started" HSing when my oldest was about 18-20 months? He knew all his letters, numbers, shapes, colors, etc by the time he was 2. Nope, I am not a drill sergent. But he wanted to "play cards" with all the flash cards I had around the house. He couldn't get enough of those matching games, etc etc. I wasn't going to say "umm,nope, gotta wait until you are 5-6-7".

 

So, then, how was I suppose to stop? If he knew that stuff at 2 - I couldn't exactly wait for 3 -4 yrs until he is in 1st grade to start teaching more stuff.

 

I get very annoyed when people tell me that "at that age he should just play and you should take it easy". Where do they get ideas that he doesn't play, i don't know. But all his "studying" takes 15-20 minutes AT MOST and not even every day. I stop when he says "I am tired" and runs away to "play" with his solar system books or his dinasour books.

 

I can't speak for other kids, but I think it's my job to find the balance between challenging him and allowing him to be a 4 yr old. And I am doing the same thing with his brother who is 3

 

 

But just so you know - we were going to HS before we even had kids.

 

One more thing - I didn't start reading to my oldest until he was about 2, I think. He has NO interest in it what-so-ever. He wouldn't sit for it at all. So, I was worried there for awhile, but now he loves books.

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SereneHome, and any others who KNOW that many children really DO want to learn and can learn from FUN, non- pushy, child-guided methods of early learning...

At the risk of offending many awesome, experienced, knowledgeable parents in this forum, you may well find parents with similar experiences and ideas at the Brillkids forum.

WWW. BrillKids.com

Whilst I know that many on this forum are highly critical of any early, even child-led learning that involves anything remotely formal, flash-card-like, or similar? The primary philosophy there is that if the child is not having great fun and enjoying the experience? STOP immediately!

 

Age-appropriate learning means just that to me...learning the information in a fun, exciting, and creative manner that appeals to the child!

Just another source of ideas and information...

 

 

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I think from your first post, people where getting the impression that you considered PreK and Kindergarten homeschooling very formal, sit down work (PS schooling at home). For my dd, kindergarten was 30 minutes total seat work per day. Before homeschooling, she had been in a Montessori-style preschool. She couldn't count (no one-to-one correspondence), didn't know her letter sounds, and barely knew how to write her letters and numbers.

 

So kindergarten consisted of:

* A partial to full OPGTR phonics lesson

* Reading a phonics sentence, building up to a phonics reader

* Writing a 3-letter word, building up to a 3-4 word sentence

* Doing one lesson of Singapore Early Bird (which I would not use again)

 

Everything else was extra. We would go to the library and I'd teach her how to search for books. I also had read-alouds with picture books grouped by theme.

 

Books by artist

* Tomie dePaola

* Chris Van Allsburg

* Marcia Brown

* Eric Carle

* Robert McCloskey

* Virginia Lee Burton

 

Books by storyline:

* Cinderella Around the World (Cinder Edna was the favorite)

* American Tall Tales by State

* Runaway Food Products (Gingerbread Man, Runaway Rice Cake, The Cajun Cornbread Boy)

 

Books by weather or season:

* Snow

* Rain

* Sun

* Wind

* Fall

* Spring

 

I didn't do ANYTHING else. The only prep work was putting a few books on hold. We might as a family do an art project. If she was interested in honey bees, I'd help her find a book. Otherwise, she played with math manipulatives. She drew pictures. Construction paper, scissors, and tape could keep her occupied while I worked with the older child.

 

However, if I'd known she was going into a PS for first grade, I would have spent more time on her reading, doing two lessons per day instead of one. She had a large gap between reading and math skills when she was tested at the end of K and the tester warned she might have a LD if the gap continued into first and second grade. Most of her friends were reading easy readers while she was still working on phonics readers. Had she gone into first grade with her reading skills at the end of K, she would have been far behind her peers in the school district.

 

I will say that she made tremendous strides in first grade and is now caught up with her peers. But I doubt a PS teacher could have devoted as much attention to her as I did. If there is any possibility the child will go to school outside the home, some sort of schooling is critical prior to first grade.

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Doing homeschool for preK and K doesn't have to mean it looks like the bookwork of 1st and beyond.... PreK should be games and singing and learning the ABCs. Why not do learning activities would be my question? It doesn't have to be with a purchased planned curric (mine never was that young..) but we still did preK and K. I met each child in those years where they were. It was just a continuation of what we had always done from birth and up. Me reading to them and singing with them and taking them to the zoo and the library was preK along with me having certain skills that I was working on with them in one way or another and in accordance with their own development.

 

One reason we called it preK and K here is that preK is offered free of charge in all of our public schools here. Everyone does it, and it was strange to my child not to go. She craved that. She was in the preK class at Sun. school. All of her playgroup friends were now going to preK and no longer met us in the park and at the library during the week like they had for the past 2 years. Everyone asked her about school constantly everywhere we went. She was hyper aware that she wasn't going. So it helped to start "school" with her using school words while that young. She wanted it and felt like she fit in better to talk about her school. My other child didn't care when her time came, but she had been in hsing groups and community for awhile by then. But the first needed it to be official, down to asking for a lunchbox and back pack for her 5th bday :)

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I think many kid are ready for a little something by 4 or 5. Not a lot, just a little. And life really does work best when you work with the developmental stage they are in. If they are ready to learn, by all means, give them something to learn! Don't shut that door and tell them to wait! My youngest wanted to read when she had just turned 4 (spring). I told her we'd start in the fall when we started "school" again. So she went and pulled out all the phonics readers and started sounding out words. She taught herself to read. I was like "Oh, ok. Well, I guess we're doing this NOW."

 

I also think it is best to introduce formal schooling gradually for most kids. If you all of a sudden expect them to do several hours a day, it's going to be quite a shock for you all. I've used K-2 as that gradual introduction into more formal schooling. My eldest was not ready for very much seatwork until this year (3rd) and it has still been a process of learning to do so. It's not her natural inclination. My youngest (1st/2nd) can sit down and bang out a days worth of schoolwork in one sitting... unsupervised. They are completely different. With one I have to make sure I teach her the self-discipline needed to get her work done. And with the other I have to remember to keep it light and playful and not overburden her. You never know what you're going to get! I don't think we ever did anything that was PK, but we did start at K.

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I don't "homeschool PreK", but I do have my kids home for the PreK years. I just don't do anything formal at a PreK level. I haven't really needed to. The younger ones have had some PreK type workbooks to do for fun because they asked for them, just because my oldest was doing school.

 

I'm with Mergath though - Why start at age 6? Why not 8 or 10 or 18? What's so different between 5 and 6? Most kids are ready to learn to read between the ages of 4 and 6, so I don't think starting at 5 is so bad - it's right at average for when kids are ready to learn to read. Waiting until 6 is necessary for a few kids, but I'm not going to delay my ready-earlier kids because some other kid isn't ready at age 5.

 

I start in K, because I like to give them that year of ease and learning to read and do basic math without worrying about other subjects. My current K'er is doing first grade math this year, but that's because he likes math and finds it easy, so we just go at his pace, whatever that is. Reading is harder, and he has definitely needed this year to learn to read. He's also learning to write and has needed that. Next year in 1st, I plan to continue more of the same, but adding in a few more subjects. His day will still only be about an hour and a half total (this year it's 30 minutes of seatwork and 30 minutes of read-alouds). So it's laid back, but we're making tons of progress. One nice thing about starting at age 5 is that they're a bit more pliable at that age. As they get older, it can be harder to suddenly start requiring more than you used to. This child in particular really needs structure, and starting at 5 was a good thing for him.

 

My oldest had a different path than his brothers. We did nothing formal at all in the PreK years, and he plopped into a K private school class with ease. He was already reading well (self-taught) and doing math above grade level. K at school was quite boring for him, and I had not used any curriculum or formally taught him at all. I just parented. ;) My youngest is a sponge and learns from his big brothers, so he doesn't need any school. He just asks for it. He gets a whopping 5 minutes, if that, of instruction, and he thinks he's "done school". He then might work on random workbooks on his own, sometimes for as much as an hour. That's all on his own though. I have no requirements whatsoever for him. :) My middle son asked for school at age 4, so I started a bit of phonics (he was ready) and K level math at that age. I waited until 2nd half of his K year (when he was already 6) to really dig into handwriting.

 

Every child has different needs and abilities. Every parent has different expectations of what the ideal is. If you want to start homeschooling at age 6 instead of 5, that's perfectly fine. Nothing wrong with that! If you plan to public school (as your original post on the General board suggested), I highly recommend K, as public school 1st grade is NOT the beginning of school like it used to be. But if you're planning to homeschool, you can do whatever you want. I would recommend until you actually have that child in front of you as a 3 or 4 year old and see what he's like, because he may make the decision for you. ;) Some kids are more than ready for formal school quite early, and some kids aren't ready until later.

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I didn't for my first two.

 

My third has delays and didn't really take in much.

 

My fourth is absolutely soaking everything up. With 5 kids she doesn't always get special time. So, I decided to do some pre-k/k stuff with her starting this fall. It will be dedicated time just for us.

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I am not sure how you understand homeschooling preK - it sounds to me like you are referring to formal schooling - sit and do a worksheet type homeschooling. I do homeschool preK and I start very very young - around 1 year of age, but my children do not do worksheets or sit - it is basically about time spent teaching them things - reading to them is a huge part of it, letting them explore by painting and drawing is another big part of it - sometimes they draw on the bricks around the pool with chalk, sometimes they paint on normal paper and sometimes on long sheets rolled out on the floor. I teach reading very very young too, by basically showing them what is around them and pointing it out - there is no sitting and doing phonics lessons in the toddler years - it is pointing out to them what is already around them. When the jar that says "tea" is on the counter and my 2 year old is helping me make tea, I tell her that word says tea... at some point I might say: "t" for tea and later t-ea to introduce blending. My child likes sticker books so instead of princess and Disney sticker books I get her ones that teach colours and shapes - yes, she is more interested in the stickers than anything else, but at that age they are sponges and will learn the rest too - and yes, I could teach her the same things with Disney and Princess sticker books, but it helps me to have a special preschool one as it is more easy to use to present those things.

 

Do I feel preK and K will prepare my child for first grade - no, that is not why I do them with my child. I feel that learning is part of life and that learning takes place on a continuum. The things most people talk about when referring to preparing a child for school have nothing to do with academics - mostly it is: can your child listen to authority and obey, follow commands, socialise with children their own age, can they dress themselves, take care of their belongings, can they sit reasonably still and pay attention (and really I have never met a child who can sit as still as most schools want no matter how hard they practice beforehand - ok I have a very active 5 year old who would probably be labelled ADHD if in school). I could homeschool K and teach none of these things, or I could NOT homeschool K and teach them all some other way. These lessons however are part of life and so with normal parenting they will be taught to some extent.

 

Can you begin sitting and studying daily in first grade - yes you can, especially when homeschooling. Working daily towards learning something however should (and usually does) begin at birth. If they are 3, 4 or 5 and not learning something daily then they are being neglected simply because at that age so many things are new.

 

So why do I homeschool preK and K - my children enjoy it. It gives them something to do. I make sure their lives and school are fun. At this age all children love learning and I want their days to be fun and I also want to spend time with them - so if they are out playing games in the garden I do join in and teach at the same time without interfering too much. My child in K is advanced and is essentially doing mostly first grade work but with the attention span of a child in K, my two year old is learning to read... my K child does do some seat work, my 2 year old certainly doesn't. We read history in the bath and play "wars" and "gladiators" outside. Finally preK and K give me something to do - I have to be with my children and I have to supervise them at this age - teaching is a natural way to go.

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Why wouldn't I (homeschool pre-k and kindergarten)?

If I can teach my child basics that will make their first grade year easier and more enjoyable, why on earth wouldn't I?

If they do not learn to write, read, or basic addition and subtraction until the first grade, that is precious time having to be dedicated to that at a grade when most children are diving deeper and getting more than just the basics.

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Why do you homeschool PreK and Kindergarten?

 

If you intend to homeschool your child through elementary school, why are you doing PreK and Kindergarten? Especially, do you feel that PreK and K is going to prepare them for 1st grade (if you are homeschooling them, can't you just meet the kid where they are at when you start 1st grade?)

 

I just assume that homeschoolers read to their kids, talk to their kids, take them on bike rides and walks and play with them--a good deal more often than parents who work outside the home or who stay stuck to the TV/computer all day. Is that where I am mistaken, the assumption that homeschoolers generally spend more 'quality' time with their kids when they are young?

 

I can understand wanting them to learn/get used to the concept of sitting and studying or working daily toward learning something, but cant you begin that in first grade if your child has any constant discipline in their lifes 0-5 or 6 when most people start 1st grade?

 

 

What I bolded in your quote is exactly why I don't send little ones to preschool and Kinder. I don't want my kids to be stuck inside with a desk and a cubby and working on mindless coloring sheets and cutesy crafts.

 

BUT that is NOT what homeschooling prek and k usually is about. Learning to read and write and do some math and learn a bit about the world doesn't need to be a strictly scheduled sit down and have school time activity. Homeschooling at those ages is just a natural part of life. There may be some sitting down and doing some pages in an ETC book, but it in no way resembles what sitting and studying and working daily in a public school would look like.

 

Homeschooling at these ages simply means providing a learning environment and opportunities to young children. Homeschooling IS quality time, not an absence of quality time.

 

Also I'm not ever trying to "prepare" my kids for anything. it's just life right now. I'm not teaching my 5 year old to read so he can "be prepared for 1st grade" which means nothing to me in our homeschool environment. He's learning to read because he is just ready to do that and learning to read is pretty darn important for a happy life. Nothing special or different happens in "1st grade"---we'll all just be a year older and maybe a little bit further on the road of a lifelong learning adventure. There's no reason in my mind to declare 1st grade as official homeschooling (unless I lived in a state that required certain legalities).

 

It just IS. Reading, writing, math, science, history....it's just what we DO, regardless of an arbitrary "grade" system. Much better to think in terms of a child's age and developmental abilities.

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Thank you all for the feedback. I see that my own querying skills aren't that great and I may be posing my questions in the wrong ways.

I am not biased toward modern day Kindergartens because I have almost zero-experience with early-elementary class rooms.

 

I suppose that in the end, many things I think of as just pro-active parenting and being engaged in a childs life is what many of you seem to be calling PreSchool and Kindergarten and in the end, I suppose the label that you put on a thing isn't really all that important. To me, most of what has been described is just parenting and I am going to keep all of these replies in mind over the next few years. I don't know what we will wind up doing with Jr. but its nice to be able to follow so many other familes journeys.

 

I guess coming from Academia and trying not to think in terms of labels and levels is going to be a little hard for me to get used to.

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I guess coming from Academia and trying not to think in terms of labels and levels is going to be a little hard for me to get used to.

 

That is very common. I come from a family of educators (dh is a teacher, as are both of his siblings, his mother, and a cousin) and the education "system" has a structure to it that is often taken for granted. Of course kids must learn to read at 5, jump rope by 6, and do division by 9. The only way to teach is to write down your objectives ahead of time and have your kids complete a KWL chart so you can have them admit on paper that they learned something.

 

Many homeschooling parents make a reactive decision to homeschool because school is NOT working for their kid (and I am one of them!) and most of us have a period of time where we fight to let go of the expectations of institutional school. And honestly, there is a very wide continuum of homeschooling styles. On one end you have families who believe that institutional school has it all wrong, and the best education can be gained from letting your child explore his world at his own pace, letting him guide his studies with his own questions. Then on the other end are families who want their children to outperform institutionally-schooled children and who accelerate their children through a more typical course of studies. You may always feel more comfortable on the more structured side, and you would have lots of company. But it's very freeing to realize that there are MANY acceptable ways to school and you have the flexibility to go up or down the continuum as you and your children need.

 

By the way, I totally agree with you that a public type preschool is largely unnecessary. My 5 year old attended pre-k off and on last year, and recently resumed it this winter. I can say with confidence that most of the "teaching" they do in those classes is just ineffective. They are doing a letter-of-the-week thing which some kids are way beyond and others aren't learning from. It took his teacher 4 months to realize he could read, because he is tuned out when she does her instruction time. The school district provides the pre-k version of their adopted reading program, which is colorful and shiny but just a scattershot approach to literacy. I'm not aware of any math they do, but I'd bet it's nothing more than counting to 10 and number recognition. The flaw in public/private education is that it is provided to kids whether they are ready or not, and either they will get it or they won't. So readiness becomes this HUGE issue because your kid has to be prepared for the next step or he won't learn what he needs. Homeschooling just isn't like that (unless you use a PS type framework). You can start offering instruction at 3 or wait until 5, based on what your child is ready for. We call it preschool because it covers preschool-level skills, despite not looking anything like a "regular" preschool class.

 

I send my kid to preschool because his teacher is amazing and is helping him develop self-control and social skills around other ornery kids, which doesn't happen at home because I don't have a bunch of ornery kids. It's not for the academics - we have that covered at home. I don't know why other parents send their kids there - probably for the socialization time, but also probably because they don't know what they can do themselves to prepare their kids for kindergarten. It isn't apparent that any of the other kids have been taught at home. So what seems obvious to me (of course I'll teach him his letter sounds when he's ready, and blending, and decoding, and handwriting, and math concepts...) isn't part of their parenting plan. I see that stuff as falling under the domain of parenting, while they see it as belonging to the school. I don't understand it either.

 

My district provides a 2-page list of kindergarten readiness skills. It includes social-emotional, motor, behavioral, and academic skills. ALL of these can be reached through inclusion in an attentive family, except a very few of the developmental ones like being able to sit still for 10 minutes. But if there was a readiness checklist for first grade, I bet it would include a lot more academic stuff like writing a full sentence. That's harder to meet without a more structured homeschool plan.

 

So in short, I agree with you that a formal program isn't necessary unless you want your kid to be ready for PS-leveled "first grade work" in first grade. I just took a really long path to making that point. LOL

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Some people just feel more comfortable giving a label to things. You can start with first grade, and what ever your kid is ready for is what you do during first grade.

 

Many kids will be reading at the start of first grade, others may have minimal letter recognition, but a severe love of books and fantastic memories. If your kid isn't born yet, you have time to plan accordingly. I say give your child a rich babyhood and guide/expose them to whatever level of 'academics' or 'enrichment' you are comfortable with until they are ready to start school and when they are ready to start school either find a program for them that fits, or meet them where they are at and label it 'first grade'.

 

I was homeschooled. The requirement for starting 'first grade' in my home school was that we could read well enough to read our own textbooks, my parents were very hands off on the actual teaching part. Very big on the discipline and discussion part. So we learned to read and some basic writing (letters and numbers) before starting first grade. We schooled year round and moved at our own pace.

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I consider our upcoming KG year to be our first official "homeschooling" year. I see where your question is coming from, because my DD has learned tons and tons of stuff in the past 4 years just from the things we do at home, and I don't refer to that as "homeschool". The reason I am going to be taking a more official and formal (yes, we'll have some workbooks and structured "school" time) approach for this coming year is partly because Kindergarten (5 years old) is the year that kids where I live are generally expected to be "in school," so I guess I feel like if my child isn't "in school," we should have a very apparent alternative. Part of it is so we can show other people that we are "doing school" and part of it is for us too. Also, more than preparing my DD for 1st grade, I feel like I am preparing MYSELF to be a 1st grade homeschooling parent. This being my oldest child, I am looking forward to having a little bit more structure, so I can see see more clearly how our next few years homeschooling will be. Also, my DD seems to be very academically-minded, and actually enjoys workbooks and "activities," and she is very excited about starting homeschool. With all that said, I am envisioning a max of 2 hours of structured school work a day, along with lots of "practical life activities," outdoor play, spending time with extended family, and unstructured play, which will be just as important as any formal school work.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I homeschool preschool because DD seemed to want me to do so and my Type A personality works well with structure. About a year ago, she asked me to teach her to read. She already knew her letters and most of the sounds, so we intentionally worked more towards reading. Now, a year later, she is working through her third set of Bob Books and still enjoys learning to read. I was planning on getting several math manipulatives when I realized that the RightStart curriculum came with pretty much all the manipulatives I wanted and didn't cost much more all together than the manipulatives were going to cost me on their own, so I went ahead and bought the curric. I use the parent manual as a guide for what order to introduce new concepts. She loves colorful "workbook" pages, so we use the Kumon fine motor skill books and just added some stuff from Critical Thinking Company.

 

I don't schedule "school time" but do offer up these activities along with the usual art projects, outdoor play, reading aloud, etc. I refer to it as homeschooling because it feels more intentional than most of our other playing even when that playing does result in learning. However, I've noticed that I refer to it as "homeschooling preschool" in homeschooling forums and with my husband, but tell non-homeschoolers that I "intend to homeschool", referring to when DD is traditional elementary-school age. I don't really care what others call it :)

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Where I come from there are three options:

1. Proper parent who cares about her kids so sends them off to creche and prechool

2. Lazy b**** who doesn't care about her kids enough to get off her behind and take them to creche and preschool

3. Proper parent who cares about her kids so homeschools.

 

In other places there is an option of "proper parent who does normal, developmentally appropriate activities at home because that is what proper parents do" but where I come from, if you do that, you had better call yourself a homeschooler (or "preschooler") if you want to stay on pleasant terms with everyone else. :)

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Because they wanted to. My son asked to learn to read at 4. He understood basic math concepts and he LOVED work book pages. We just did a little, 30 minutes 3-4 days a week for kindy.

 

DD wants to be like brother. We just do a little. She will be kindy this year. We are focusing on learning to read, basic math skills, letters, numbers and penmanship. We will continue to read. Not much formal work. She likes science and the labs.

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Why not? If we're going to homeschool we have to start somewhere. I don't plan on following a strict schedule or forcing school time until 7, maybe even 8, depending on her maturity. But she has shown an interest and been asking to do things since she was 2. I'm not going to tell her no just because preschool is unnecessary.

 

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