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Why do homeschoolers seem to start kindergarten early?

post #1 of 32
Thread Starter 

Just as an aside, I am not judging anyone here, just in general curious and also looking for some reassurance in the parenting of my soon to be 4 year old.

 

It seems to me, based on threads I have read and blogs etc., that many people start kindergarten curriculum with their 4 year olds.  I thought one of the reasons that many people site choosing to homeschool is because they don't want their children spending their days at desks etc.  (I know this is just one of many reasons).  It seems to me that if those people were not planning on homeschooling, they wouldn't be starting a curriculum with their child before they are school age, so why do they choose to when they are?

 

My DD will be 4 in November and I have spent so much of the last three years researching curricula and getting excited about homeschooling.  I was sure I would be starting her with kindergarten work this year, and I'm certain she could accomplish most of it, but now that we are here I don't see the point.  She enjoys reading and math games and is already fairly advanced in both., but would much prefer to be doing pretend play, crafts etc.  And honestly when I set up a fun game or activity with a goal of it being educational, it all feels so forced to me.  I have so many fond memories of my preschool years (I did not go to preschool) playing pretend games with my brother or alone, and none of anything educational.  I want DD to have the same opportunities while she is still young, and I don't really see the harm in waiting until she is older.  Hmm, now that I write this all out, it seems like maybe I am just an unschooler at heart.  

 

I hope I haven't offended anyone, I think we all make different choices in parenting and life in general, and that there really isn't a best choice in most things.  

 

Anyone else notice this as well, agree or disagree?  Has this always been true, or is it related to the push for early academics in schools? It is just something I was surprised to see among homeschoolers and wondered if there was an explanation I hadn't considered.

post #2 of 32

I think it's partly the push for earlier academics in schools. And it's partly the fact that homeschooling is still viewed as a fringe approach, and therefore it helps to validate your choice (to others and to naysayers) if your child is demonstrably achieving at or beyond school-based expectations. There's also the perfectly genuine enthusiasm parents have for starting homeschooling and for doing a proper job of it. And I also think that some parents feel better 'testing the waters' of homeschooling in the year prior to school eligibility, when none of it really "counts," when misdirected approaches and false starts don't matter in the same way they do when they're taking the place of actual schooling. They want to make their initial mistakes when the stakes are lower.

 

On the flip-side, you will also find a lot of homeschoolers touting the opposite approach. When someone posts a question here on MDC about some curriculum approach they've planned out for their 4-year-old there's an inevitable chorus of a dozen or more replies saying "At that age they really just need to play and lead interesting lives. Don't worry about curriculum." There are also a fair number of homeschoolers of the Waldorf and/or Better Late Than Early persuasion who believe in delaying formal academics to age 8 or so. 

 

Our family ended up being kind of a bit of a mixture. I did no curriculum with my kids prior to KG, and nothing other than a very gentle math exploratory program prior to age 8 or so, being very much of the unschooling persuasion, but my kids had different ideas. They mastered most of the kindergarten academic expectations at ages 3-5. But that was entirely unschooled and child-led, not the result of anything parent-directed. All I did was answer their questions, read aloud to them, include them in my life.

 

Miranda

post #3 of 32
Quote:
Originally Posted by mtbmomma View Post

Anyone else notice this as well, agree or disagree?  Has this always been true, or is it related to the push for early academics in schools? It is just something I was surprised to see among homeschoolers and wondered if there was an explanation I hadn't considered.

 

I didn't get any curriculum for my dd until she was 6 or 7 years old. 

I personally don't think it is necessary to actually buy curriculum for a 4 or 5 year old or do a whole lot of formal teaching. I feel there is more value in free play and exploration at that age than in adult directed activities. I know there are others who feel the same way who homeschool.

I also know that there are some parents of very young kids who are excited and eager to begin homeschooling and plan/buy earlier than I would. They also post about it more often.

There are also young kids who are more eager to pursue a more formal academic approach and they are being homeschooled.

 

I haven't really paid much attention to what parents of younger kids are doing lately to know if there is a new trend.

Reading your post, I had the thought that people who are homeschooling  older children sometimes include or start the younger kids early to help keep them occupied or because they want to do what the older kids do too. I don't think it necessarily means that they are heavily pushing academic achievement earlier.

post #4 of 32

Nodding while reading a lot of the previous answers.

 

I can only answer for our family, but I am also guessing that a lot of people, in the year or two years before starting officially homeschooling will buy some kind of preschool curriculum. I personally don't think it's necessary, but we have been using Sonlights preschool packages for the past two years--at age 3 and 4. Basically, they are wonderful literature collections that you read aloud do your child--and while the packages do include a few other items (games, scissors, some fun critical thinking workbooks) it has been a wonderfully informal learning experience for us.

 

I also wonder if families that intend to homeschool tend to be more aware of learning opportunities and/or purchase more play-based "school" items like pattern blocks, magnetic letters, chalkboards to scribble on, etc. during the preschool years. DS (5 now) learned to read about a year ago, but it was not due to any formal teaching on my part. Sure, we talked a lot about print and I answered his questions/pointed out features of print on road signs, etc, but much of it was his own curiosity leading to his discovery of how to read. Once he started writing, I did purchase a handwriting book for him--since as a former teacher I have seen a lot of kids who have developed bad habits with incorrect letter formation. We didn't have a set routine for "doing school" though--just kind of did a few pages when he felt like it. The read-alouds took more time, but I would have been doing that anyway, with or without a curriculum.

 

In short, even though "school" last year was extremely informal, DS picked up enough reading and math from it that a typical kindergarten curriculum probably would bore him to pieces this year. I wonder how common this experience is.

 

Just my two cents.

post #5 of 32

I can't say I've noticed it particularly as something HSers do more of, even if reading this stuff gives you that impression.  I think that questions naturally arise when one embarks on HSing, and often you see that the age is just that young.  Many families want to do preschooling at home as well.  I think the early-academics style that has been increasingly in vogue in schools and preschools has a lot to do with it, but, like Miranda wrote, there are many reasons.  But I don't see it standing out particularly.

 

We are unschoolers, but I still count myself as a "Better Late Than Early" fan.  We would be "putting off" formal curriculum until 8 even if we weren't USing.

 

And maybe that's one more thing.  Those of us who do wait probably aren't that vocal in looking for help with KG curriculums at an age earlier than 5-6, so that's going to skew your perception somewhat.  And I don't blog anything.  (Can I venture to say that people with the wherewithal to keep up a blog have a bit too much energy on their hands?  Probably not.  orngtongue.gif)

 

And can someone please invent a word for "preschoolers" that doesn't use the word "preschool" in it?  This irks me.  "Child".  "4yo".  I don't know.  I just can't count how many times I have edited around "my preschooler, but we HS.....".   Clunky.

post #6 of 32
Quote:
Originally Posted by SweetSilver View Post

(Can I venture to say that people with the wherewithal to keep up a blog have a bit too much energy on their hands?  Probably not.  orngtongue.gif)

 

 

LOL! orngtongue.gif right back at you.

 

Miranda (blogger since 1998)

post #7 of 32
Quote:
Originally Posted by SweetSilver View Post

And can someone please invent a word for "preschoolers" that doesn't use the word "preschool" in it?  This irks me.  "Child".  "4yo".  I don't know.  I just can't count how many times I have edited around "my preschooler, but we HS.....".   Clunky.

Yes, please ... get on that, would you?  So awkward.  I try to keep it to "my three year old" when talking about her specifically, but when I want to refer to her peer group, 'preschooler' is the only word there is!  Argh.

post #8 of 32

I guess technically I started DS1 in K early.  If he were going to public school then he would have missed the cutoff by 2 days.  I started him when he was not-quite-5, mainly because it gave him something to do during the day and kept him from brawling with his sister.  For us, homeschooling adds a bit of structure to our day and keeps the kids from getting bored with whatever they are playing and starting to fight.  redface.gif

post #9 of 32
Quote:
And can someone please invent a word for "preschoolers" that doesn't use the word "preschool" in it?  This irks me.  "Child".  "4yo".  I don't know.  I just can't count how many times I have edited around "my preschooler, but we HS.....".   Clunky.

toddler as in clothing size- 2T, 3T, 4T, 5T and 6 is a child (children)- prior to "pre-school" general usage- they were called toddlers until the went to school (use to be 6 in my area)

 

BTW, we don't HS K, we don't do legally or really even for fun until our state school age- 7 and we don't mandate K in my state either  

post #10 of 32

I know... every 3year old appears to be reading already.  Anyway- I bought a preschool book because I thought we were the only ones just playing.  So we did that for a couple of weeks and it quickly got canned.  Then last year I bought a kindergarten curriculum and that was ok- but I wish I would have just bought more books with the money- since it wasn't really anything DD didn't know just through life.  Now this year we are in 1st grade and I finally think we are finally getting our moneys worth.  I do think I will use the preschool and k stuff though for my younger children to keep them busy while DD does her work....  I don't think it is really worth it to push younger ones though- I might change my opinion later though....

post #11 of 32
Quote:
Originally Posted by iowaorganic View Post

I know... every 3year old appears to be reading already.  

Keep in mind that people tend to be a lot more vocal about the subjects where their kids are excelling, and so if you talk about reading, you'll hear from the parents of early readers, and if you talk about music, you'll hear about the kids who are especially gifted in that, etc...

 

Also, there's not much to say about not starting kindergarten/preschool at home with your 3 year old-- you don't need to choose curriculum and people rarely give you a hard time about "unschooling" a 3 year old.  Just because people aren't posting about being unstructured with their 3 and 4 year olds doesn't mean they aren't out there.

post #12 of 32

I see folks doing it almost as a way of "earning" a right to be in the home schooling groups. Hurry up and get started so you "count" as a home schooler, if that makes sense. I'm not starting any kind of curriculum until at least 6 and potentially never. We'll see how life goes. :)

post #13 of 32

I didnt start until age 6.  before that it was pretty causal like numbers, shapes, colors, alphabet etc.  if I did public school i probably wouldnt even start kindy until age 7 personally.  my xsil's son was done with kindy by the time he turned 5!  i didnt realize they let them in at age 4 here
 

post #14 of 32
I didn't start anything until 6. The only downside was that in library programs and similar I felt a little awkward as clearly my kids didn't have the instruction, especially in writing, that the other kids in the programs seemed to have. I don't regret waiting. In fact I think one of mine could have benefited a lot with more delay....even a lot more delay. His twin, though, was ready. I think he's the type of kid who would have loved some academic type stuff earlier actually. He's just bent that way. I didn't do it and I don't regret that. I just mention because kids are just different! If I had one of mine only maybe I would have started earlier. If I had the other only I certainly would have started later. It sounds like you, OP, know what is best for your specific child. Don't worry about waiting!
post #15 of 32
Quote:
Originally Posted by moominmamma View Post

 

LOL! orngtongue.gif right back at you.

 

Miranda (blogger since 1998)

And I love joy.gif that people with too much energy on their hands *do* keep blogs.  

post #16 of 32

It occurred to me that there may also be a self-selection bias: parents of kids who are academically precocious are more likely to choose to homeschool on the assumption that schools may not adequately serve very advanced kids. The homeschooling population may show a preponderance of naturally advanced kids, so you may hear about this kind of kid in homeschooling circles more than you would in a random sample of all children.

 

Miranda

post #17 of 32

My daughter is four with the vocabulary, grammar, and syntax of the average twelve year old. One of the reasons I am homeschooling is because I believe she will be pushed inappropriately in academics because she is so advanced in this one narrow way. I was very asynchronous as a child. It was hard on me that I "had" to be in advanced math because I was in advanced English. It takes all kinds. :)

post #18 of 32

I bought a couple workbooks for my youngest prior to kinder. . . not because I felt she needed them, but because she was saying "Me too" when the older girls worked on school.  When, if, and even How she used them was up to her.  I don't do much with formal curriculums until about grade 3.  I am not an unschooler though.  I am more eclectic and I have tons of stuff on hand.  We use what is working for us at the moment.  

 

And, FWIW -- pretend play is HIGHLY valued at our house.  All three girls still participate in it.  The oldest two have discovered a love for drama; they use the dress up stuff to make their own plays, etc.  

 

Amy

post #19 of 32

Technically, we did start Kindergarten stuff when dd was 4 or just barely 5 (her preschool year, according to public school grades), but it was just because she seemed ready for it and interested in it.  Plus, it was for about 15 minutes a day, only if she wanted to, and that was it!  The rest of the time was just spent playing, reading, cooking, etc.  So I don't know if that is what you are hearing from others and it just sounds like they are doing a lot of school work really early? 

post #20 of 32

I sent dd to preschool last year when she was 4 yrs old, not for academics, but for her to get some time away from ds and I.  Since ds is homeschooled dd has always been with us.  I felt like she needed some space to develop her own sense of self.

 

This year she's HS'd for kindy and we're starting but slowly.  She just turned 5 a few weeks ago.  Yes, I would have sent her to public kindy if that's the route we had chosen but at the same time I can feel she's not quite mature enough for more academic learning.  I think she will be in about 5-6 months. 

 

And yes, I notice lots of HSers who start kindy early which always had me wondering as well.  Admittedly I sometimes have a mental battle between "let them learn at their own pace" vs "keeping up to standards."
 

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