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Feeling Mommy Guilt....

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This is probably completely ridiculous, but I have been feeling completely guilty about not doing any school work with my little guy. I know he is only 3.5, but I was doing school with my dd at 3 and feel bad that it isn't a priority with him. He does ask on occasion and I do try to add it in for him, but it isn't as easy this time around. I work from home and teach dd, plus dh works long hours and isn't home much to help. When dh is home, we tend to ignore the world and spend time together as a family, which I am totally fine with. I guess I feel like my ds may be behind because I'm not working with him:( He can definitely do many things my dd couldn't at that age, but as far as academics, he doesn't even know a single letter. Any advice or experience with starting school a bit later?

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He will be fine, please don't feel guilty. My current 5 year old had no interest in learning her letters until recently, so we never worked on them. She is now learning to read just as easily as her older brother who was eager to learn.


I read a lot to my kids and really think that is plenty until they start asking for more. When they start asking, I'll work with them as they ask. My 3 year old has never asked but is managing to learn some here and there just overhearing what his brother and sister learn. I'm continually surprised but all that he knows.


I'm betting your three year old will be just fine.

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He's 3 1/2.  It is totally normal to not know letters at that age.  Don't feel guilty.  He's got a *long* time for formal education.  He should be experimenting with his body and his world right now.  Read to him, play with him, let him play by himself completely unstructured, etc.  Kindergarten isn't until age 5.  Let him be little, guilt-free :)

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I hate that we teach the alphabet to toddlers.  Hate it.  I hate how it screws with them, giving them all sorts of useless information and then two years later we're all "AHA!  That doesn't help with reading one whit!  NOW, you get to learn their sounds!  And lowercase!"

There, feel better?  You not teaching that is going to make your son a better reader, since he won't have to do initial translation work in his head from name to sound. :)


There are sooooooooooo many things a 3yo should learn, though:


How to pour a cup (and how to drink from a real cup if they don't know how)

How plants grow

Basic timelines: seasons, story sequence, the order of the day

Predicting what happens next in best loved stories

How to use tweezers, color, paint, and use a glue stick

How to hop, the game head/shoulders/knees/toes, hokey-pokey

Nursery rhymes and finger play

1:1 object correspondence

What different textures are and how to match them

Building with blocks, playing cars, and pretend play of real life (cooking, firefighting, construction worker..)

How to care for himself: brushing teeth, going potty, putting on shoes and jacket.

Matching pairs and folding simple folds

How to climb, slide, and hang

Logically thinking through 1-3 steps/copying in various degrees of difficulty (for example, a picture of three stacked shapes, and a black outline of three stacked shapes).


Academics are so very little, but a child who can have a good, healthy background will be ready for them later.

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Don't feel guilty! That's very normal.

However I often feel like I should be doing more with my little ones. So I have a 30 minute time block scheduled into every day for my younger 2 kids. For my youngest who is almost 3 we fingerprint, do chalk pastels, play with shape blocks, practice cutting paper, glue shapes, practice counting, play with a math balance, and do simple coloring books together. We often have great conversations about educational things and she has learned so much just from our simple time. And she so looks forward to our special time. It also eliminates mommy guilt because I feel like she is getting time focused solely on her.

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Just by way of reality check, when did age 4 become "late" for starting school? ;)


Sing to him and tell him nursery rhymes once in a while, and read him a picture book a day, and you have pre-reading covered. If he already knows "The Wheels on the Bus" and "Hickory Dickory Dock," and recognizes his first name if he sees it, he's doing great.


Three is fine for food math only. "Look, here are three strawberries for you, just like you're three years old!" If he can count three (or even better, five!) objects, again, he's all set. And while you're doing your life things, you're probably unintentionally introducing him to math vocabulary like more, less, before, after, next, etc.


A boy is less apt than a girl to want to start early, anyway. DS went to a preschool and the 3s class teacher insisted that they try to write letters. DS hated it, because he wasn't ready.

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All of you make me feel so much better:)


HomeAgain, I love your list...especially since it is all stuff he can do or we do on a daily basis.


Lexi, I think I need to be more diligent setting aside time for just him.


I completely agree that he is young for "school," but I have a very bad tendency to compare. My dd was ready at his age for advanced learning. She is still my academically driven child (in fact, she requests to do R&S Grammar on top of her regular grammar "because then I'll learn even more" and also requested French be added to her language list along with her current Latin, Spanish, and Greek). In many ways, he does a lot more for himself than she ever did and I have to remind myself that they each learn in different ways.

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Any advice or experience with starting school a bit later?


This might not what you're looking for, but one of my kids did not start formal schooling until she was almost 8.  She's 10 now and right on grade level.  My son who wasn't reading until closer to 3rd grade is 12 now and two of his classes are high school level.  *shrug*  

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