A Homeschool Curriculum for Pre-school and Kindergarten

Posted: February 12, 2005
By: Lillian Jones,
Editor of BestHomeschooling.org
Ambassador for HomeSchool Association of California

Reposted here with permission. This article is copyrighted by Lillian Jones. If you would like to post or reprint this article you must have the author's written permission. Contact Lillian Jones at Lillian@besthomeschooling.org

"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.

These young scientists are busy working on their latest project... It will be exciting to see what they've uncovered with their research.

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.

A very enlightening article to read on this subject is Much Too Early, by David Elkind, Professor in Child Development at Tufts University, and the 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 kindergarteners are not only inappropriate but harmful; and he describes the kinds of educational activities that are appropriate for that age group.

Careful now...

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!

From my own 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 - don't let them miss the opportunity to fully experience it and be a child during those very important golden years.

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Preschool Resource Links

These are some of the many web sites that provide great ideas for activities suitable for young children:

Lillian Jones, the editor of BestHomeschooling.org, homeschooled her own son and has long been active in homeschooling activism and online support, especially with the HomeSchool Association of California. She formerly wrote homeschooling book review columns for Home Education Magazine, and her essays on homeschooling can be found in a number of popular books about homeschooling. She now pursues her lifelong passion for art, painting and traveling.

© 2005 Lillian Jones