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A Homeschool Curriculum for Preschool and Kindergarten
Lillian Jones

Can anyone recommend a curriculum for pre-K and kindergarten? This is a frequent question homeschooling bulletin boards and email lists. It's a perfectly reasonable question, but some of the responses can be confusing to new homeschoolers.

We all come into homeschooling with some common preconceptions of what the program should be - but many who have been at it for a while or raised homeschool grads are likely to strongly suggest not setting up a structured study program for young children. This is where some misunderstanding can come into play.

Saying that a structured study program for a young child is inappropriate is not at all the same as saying that learning is unimportant during the early years. It's simply that many experienced homeschoolers and other educators feel there are certain kinds of activities that are much more important and appropriate in early childhood than studying the 3 R's - and that to establish a structure that emphasizes the 3 R's at that age can actually be detrimental. If a child is asking to learn to read, of course, that's a whole different matter - but it's simply a question of helping that child learn to read, which is very different thing from setting up a curriculum.

An enlightening article to read on this subject is Much Too Early, by David Elkind, Professor in Child Development at Tufts University, and author of Miseducation: Preschoolers at Risk and many other books. Dr. Elkind is a consultant to schools, mental health associations, and private foundations. This article explains in some depth why he feels that certain common educational practices for pre-schoolers and kindergartners are not only inappropriate but harmful; and he describes the kinds of educational activities that are appropriate for that age group.

Dr. Elkind's views are shared by a number of professional educators and researchers. You can find some interesting - and perhaps surprising - reading in the articles collected on this page: Preschool and Kindergarten Learning Activities.

If you've been raising a child up to the age of "pre-school" or "kindergarten," you've already begun homeschooling. In those early years, the most appropriate homeschooling activities are things that gently introduce a child into the wonders of his immediate world and the imagination. As Einstein said, Imagination is more important than knowledge - and those early years are the perfect time to provide an atmosphere where the child can freely dream and play and explore and grow in both body and imagination.

These are lots of things a parent can do to help a child develop a love of learning and searching - things that will carry through as a foundation for a life of joyful and successful learning. Most of these are things a parent does at one time or other anyway. A bonus is that your child will be getting a good foundation for later studies, even picking up some elements of reading, writing, and math!

Many more ideas: Lots of delightful web pages provide terrific learning activity ideas suitable for young children - many of the best are listed in this set of descriptive links:
Preschool and Kindergarten Learning Activities!

From personal experience, and that of many friends who have traveled this path, I feel I can say that the sooner a parent lets go of the idea of being a teacher, and embraces the idea of being more of a tour guide or docent, the sooner it will all fit smoothly together and allow the magic to proceed. Lead them through the world and tell them a little about what you know - while also letting them lead you while they explore in their own way.

You can just go about living your lives, exploring, observing, and posing questions for yourselves. That is an appropriate pre-school/kindergarten curriculum for a homeschooler. Your child will ask plenty of questions - you won't need to worry about what to teach. Promise! They want to learn and will learn about their world, because it's a built in human drive - we need only to give them some freedom, provide rich opportunities, and model the joy to be found in learning.

Childhood is short and fleeting - and important - don't let them miss the opportunity to fully experience it and be a child during those very important golden years.

Copyright 2005 Lillian Jones

Lillian Jones, the editor of BestHomeschooling, once trained to be a teacher and taught in public schools for a short time before realizing that she didn't feel comfortable in the system. Later, while homeschooling her son, she found that teacher training was much more of a hindrance than a help. She has long been active in homeschooling activism and online support, especially with the HomeSchool Association of California. Her writing has been published in a number of popular publications and books about homeschooling, most recently in the book, See, I Told Me So!. She now pursues her lifelong passion for art, painting and traveling.

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