I love preschoolers. I love teaching preschoolers. I love teaching my own, and I love teaching others’. I love teaching preschool in the classroom, and I love teaching preschool at home.
I was asked in an interview once why someone as clearly intelligent as I am would ever choose to teach children who are so young. “What could be more challenging,” I replied, “than teaching complex concepts to students who cannot take in any information from reading and very little from listening?”
There are some disagreements about whether young children learn better in traditional classrooms or at home, and whether all learning should be play-based, or if seat work should be included, as well.
My answer is simple. “Observe you child.”
I once took a call from a prospective parent during nap time. She wanted to start trying for a second child. She thought enrolling her preschooler in our program might help with the transition. It seemed like a good idea. I sounded like a capable and caring teacher; still she was torn. They were very closely bonded, having hardly been away from each other. How could she be certain that she was doing the right thing?
“It is simple,” I told her. “Observe your child.”
Come and visit our school and let her try it out; then really notice how she reacts. Her actions will tell you if she is learning and happy and loved here. Is she excited about coming to school each day? Is she eager to walk through the door, or is the light slowly going out of her eyes as you put her in the car.
Observe your child. She will tell you what you need to know.
This particular child ended up thriving in our play-based program with a student-teacher ratio of 5:1, although I did occasionally make her cry by insisting that she learn to take turns. Thankfully she forgave me.
Years later, I taught her little sister several days a week in our homeschool. We still read and played and made art projects.
We cooked snacks.
But these preschoolers had older siblings doing school. They wanted to “do school,” too.
Against all of my training and my own personal philosophy, I started letting them do a phonics worksheet and a math page each day in addition to our more developmentally-appropriate preschool activities.
How did I know that it wouldn’t ruin them? I observed them. They were awfully happy children, so I think it was probably okay.
I’m down to my last preschooler now, at least until I have grandchildren to teach.
She does some book work when the older kids are doing school.
She has a little desk set up in the den where she draws and makes books every chance she gets.
She helps with the animals…
and with washing the dishes. She builds with blocks and makes doll clothes out of coffee filters.
How do I know if it is not enough? How do I know if it is too much?
I look at this face and it tells me everything I need to know.
Genevieve–is a former public and private school teacher who has five children and has been homeschooling for the past thirteen years. In her free time she provides slave labor to Dancing Dog Dairy, making goat milk soap and handspun yarn, which can be seen on
Our Facebook Page and at Dancing Dog Dairy .