(This post contains affiliate links. See my disclosures for more information.)
It amazes me that preschool has come to dominate much of the education conversation. The media has become a PR outlet for those who advocate formal, away-from-home preschool experiences. Based on vague notions and buzzword, such as “ready to learn,” parents are clamoring for preschool curriculum
While speaking at a conference about teaching preschoolers, a mom approached me before the session and asked, “My child just turned two, what curriculum should I buy?” I was so stunned I didn’t really have an answer. God checked my initial responses of “Are you kidding me?” This mom also wanted to know how much time she should spend teaching her wee one.
I’ve seen parents spend $300 on preschool curriculum.
Let’s think carefully about what a toddler and young child need in order to learn. Is a curriculum or lesson plan needed to learn to walk, use a spoon, or say “Mama” and “DaDa”? These may sound like ridiculous questions, but it exemplifies how children learn—naturally. Until children are ready for academic learning, which is different for each child, not much is needed in the way of material.
My youngest son played school. He gathered his books, crayons, paper and sat at the table doing school while his older siblings worked on lessons. Learning was natural for him. In fact, he’s the one who learned to read without any formal teaching.
Here’s my preschool curriculum: blocks, books, craft supplies, large Legos, dress-up clothes, games, clay, kitchen utensils to play house, small garden tools to play in the dirt. No specific items are needed for a young child to learn. Please note there are no educational toys on the list.
Children learn while they play. They imitate what they see older people do. My son who played school was imitating what he saw his brother and sister do. He also learned to read because as a family we read together, there was an abundance of books, and he was given the time and freedom to explore and experiment with reading.
Relax and enjoy this time. It may sound trite, but these years of excitement and learning will be gone all too quickly. Get out and enjoy the wonder of the world with your little one.
What are you planning for your preschooler?
If your children are older, what was “school” like during the early years?
Learn more about the preschool academic movement in Preschool: At What Cost? This book is part of the Back to Basics Living Bundle along with other books about homeschooling, homesteading, cooking, natural healing, and much more in 59 resources. This bundle is available until Sunday, January 23.