I’ll give you a hint-it’s neither curriculum or worksheets.
Many of us arrive at the decision to keep our kids out of school before our eldest is old enough to be enrolled. And, from the amount of posts and information around on how to “school” a very young child that are going around, it seems that many of us feel like we need to be doing more than just letting the kiddos play and make some mess.
I think being inspired by pinterest boards and blogs and books is GREAT. Setting up activities can be fun for everyone and I am the first one to tell you my love of creating inviting spaces and strewing.
But we need to remember that we are talking about pre-school aged kids. All of what they do can be open ended and they need to play play play play play PLAY. If you were sending them to a great pre-school their emphasis would be on play. The years stretch out long ahead of you, the worksheets can wait.
I’ve now home educated three kids through the pre-school years and here are my top 10 things you need.
1-Books. Lots of books. Get them from the library or buy them or borrow them. Incorporate e-books and audio books too, if you like. Rotate them. Don’t leave out non-fiction and magazines. Read to your kids every day. Be prepared to read the same book over and over and over. Do the reading and sharing of stories without testing or expecting them to read a single thing. Do it purely for the love of it.
2-Hats, Coats and Gumboots. Kids love to and need to get outside. Whether it be to the local park, the beach, a hike or just to your backyard don’t wait for perfect weather. Rug up or cover up and get out there!
3-A thick skin. People will question you. They won’t all have positive things to say about your choice and any slight “imperfection” in your child may be seen as caused by your child’s lack of attendance in a school type setting. Some people will be downright assholes to you. Unfortunately it comes with the territory and you need to learn to shrug it off.
4-Some great art supplies. Don’t limit yourself to paper and pencils. Think paint, chalk, glue, clay, giant pieces of cardboard, textas, pens, watercolours, pastels, textured paper, felt etc etc. Go WILD with having different types of supplies on hand. On one condition-you give them a fair bit of free scope at how they use them. I’m not saying never do an art project with an expected outcome-sometimes they are fun. I’m also not saying to have all the supplies on hand all at once. But change it up, let their imaginations run wild and worry about the mess afterwards.
5-An ability to deal with mess- Kids get messy. Sand, paint, water, dirt, food. When they are home more they make more mess. Find your zen, it’s worth it.
6-Construction toys- some ideas are;Lego, duplo, wooden blocks, planks, loose parts, magnetic tiles, play dough and placticine, tap tap, mobilo, train and road sets, real tools and so on and so on.
7-Imaginative play toys-some ideas are: dress ups, baby dolls, plastic figurines/animals like schleich or papo, a home corner, toy cars, soft toys, swords and guns, a fort or cubby house and so on and so on.
8-Open ended loose parts- some ideas are;sticks and leaves collected at the park, an old car tyre, some squares of different coloured cloth, empty boxes/cups/containers and so on and so on.
9-Another family with similarly aged kids on a similar path. We all need friends and peers. Some of my and my kids’ best friends are school families, and that is ace. But it was really important (for everyone involved) that we had some friends to talk to who were walking a similar path. I wanted my kids to have friends who’s “normal” was the same as ours. I think it has made a big difference in our success and happiness thus far.
10-Time! It can be tempting to fill days with lots of structured activities. I know, I fall into that trap from time to time. But young kids need lots and lots of time for unstructured play. They need time to immerse themselves in a game or spend a whole day at the beach or be able to jump for an hour on the trampoline. They need to be able to chill out in front of the TV or for you to read them their favorite book 16 times or to have an extra long nap. It’s great to have the luxury of time to make spur of the moment plans for a trip to the zoo or playground if they are needing to run around. On the other hand, sometimes we all need to spend a day at home building blanket forts and painting. They’re little, there are lots of years for them to drag you around to lots of activities at their insistence-trust me!
Do you have anything you would add to this list?
Have you chosen to keep your kids out of school?