How to get a preschool aged child excited about the idea of beginning homeschool? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 16 Old 03-19-2011, 12:20 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I'd like to begin official homeschooling with my 4 y.o. DS. Up until now, all DS has known is play all day. He does have a great attention span (he sat through DH reading all of the "Spiderwick Chronicles" and one of the "Beyond the Spiderwick" books!), so I think now is a good time to start with some structured activities.

 

However, I'm struggling to find the right words. I don't want him to think that he will be forced in any way (he's one of those kids that will automatically resist if he feels he's being forced into doing something). I'm searching for ideas of what to say so that he will feel excited about starting homeschooling. 

 

I'm planning on using Montessori activities, so they will most definitely be hands on and child led, but I would like to set aside time during the day for focused activities. I will most definitely ease into the routine, starting with just a couple of days per week, for however long he will tolerate (could be 15 minutes or 1 hour - doesn't matter much to me as long as he's getting into a routine).

 

I try to have a dialogue with him about how we plan to homeschool and that other kids do go to a school building, but that there are many ways to have "school". He seems to hear me, however, he has made comments about not going away to school "yet" because he's still little. Not sure if he understands what homeschool is, despite the fact that I talk about it on a regular basis.

 

I'm also in a bit of a conundrum because I'd like to start asap and not wait another 6 months until Sep. ("back to school" time seems so arbitrary to me anyway!)

 

If anyone has any fun phrases to use to get a preschool aged child excited about starting school at home or any other advice about talking about 'school time' (vs. playtime), I'd greatly appreciate it! Thanks in advance :)


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#2 of 16 Old 03-19-2011, 12:53 AM
 
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i don't think you need to talk about it at all. it' a foreign concept to a 4 year old and i don't think it needs addressing.  I would start with working little things into your rhythm. such as after breakfast we read a story or after lunch we take a walk etc.  then just add more and more each day.

 

work boxes may work. i get those plastic 4 drawer box things from walmart and fill each box with a project/activity . i don't care when ds does them as long as they are all done by the end of the day. Sometimes i suggest he goes anc checks his boxes and generally he can find at least one thing he would like to work with.

 

another thing is just set up something and YOU start doing it. he will want to do what you are doing and you can model it at the same time.


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#3 of 16 Old 03-19-2011, 02:10 AM
 
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Around 4yo is when my boys got all hot to trot about school.  Why?  Because of the fun yellow school bus.  And a little bit of the peripheral fun shown in schools that they see on some shows.  My 7yo outgrew it and kinda stopped asking about going to school around 5.5yo... I just kept reminding him that we homeschool, and isn't it fun that we can make lunch for daddy and go strawberry picking and go to parks and whatever else during the day?  When everybody else is indoors in school?  Still working on my 4.5yo - he's still a little in that "I want to go to school!" phase.  But luckily, I may have found an option for us next year in the form of a co-op homeschool group that all four kids and I can go to once a week.  Solves the "I wanna go to school!" thing, and gets us all out of the house.

Anyway... my 4yo was slightly mollified when I put together his own homeschool box like his older brother's (kinda like a giant workbox with all the fun books we read out loud), and when I pull out fun things like the pattern blocks and buttons and the rice and bean boxes and such.  It never fails, I'll pull out a book and start reading aloud, and they're like moths to a flame.  Pretty funny sometimes.  :D


ETA: Sorry, a relevant point.  Just start doing something "schooly" for 5-15 minutes a day.  Could end up doing 3 hours one day, nothing for the next 4 days, which drives some folks nuts but works for me.  ;)  For my now-7yo and I last year?  It was taking 20-45 minutes at night to read and do some of our quieter activities after all his siblings were in bed. 


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#4 of 16 Old 03-19-2011, 10:26 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I'm all about being flexible with the amount of time spent. I would be totally fine with doing a lot on one day and very little the next. I would, however, like to make it part of our "rhythm". I wonder, though, if DS would be into the workboxes. Our whole house is like one big workbox, with a ton of things to do and toys to play with, which is a good thing, but I'm not sure if he'd choose a box activity, or at least choose it enough to develop his skills in that activity. I would like to try, though.

 

We do have a couple regular co-ops we attend, so I could stress that as being his "school", but I also like simply making it part of our day, naturally.

 

I'd love to hear more feedback!


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#5 of 16 Old 03-20-2011, 07:27 AM
 
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I don't think you need to introduce something specifically as "this is school".  I agree with onyxravnos, why talk about it at all...just start doing!  Somewhere later down the line he may ask about school, and then you can reply "you're doing it"!  This is how DS and I started. Just start incorporating a little thing or two into your day.  As time goes on it will become more and more things. 

 

There are some interesting kitchen science kind of things you could do to get his attention.  You could also have some things lying around for him to take interest in.  Get a brightly colored abacus, count legos.  Have something in the shapes of letters stored in a bin...my DS loves these letter-filled bins.  Go outside, take a walk, and study plants or bugs.  Grab some interesting books from the library and read a little to him each day.  Find some educational crafts...there are lots of free educational coloring pages online.  Lots of things to do.  It doesn't have to be a specific time, like "9 AM every morning we will do 15 minutes of school", or anything.  Just try to get something in every day.  It will build on itself.


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#6 of 16 Old 03-20-2011, 08:31 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I know there are a ton of things to do that are educational, that part is not really the problem for me. I would however like to have a routine in place, for me and for him - I know not everyone rolls that way, but I do think it's important for us to have that rhythm. I guess there isn't anything that says I have to make it "official" and simply just start doing more little by little. I just thought it might be necessary to have an explanation to have it make sense to him with so many kids going away to school around him.


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#7 of 16 Old 03-20-2011, 01:22 PM
 
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If it puzzles or disturbs him that others are going away from home for school, you could simply explain that a lot of children go to school to learn but that a lot learn at home and at things like your co-op. What I found when mine was little was that I generally made a much bigger deal out of little things than were necessary, causing things to become issues on his mind that wouldn't have been. Your son may never care one way or the other about the idea of going to school - especially if he has lots of play time with other children. In fact, if it should ever start to seem like an issue that's coming up, this forum as a sticky where quite a few people have suggested books about children who homeschool.

 

I agree with others that there's no real need for a structure around such a little one's learning activities - but since you do feel a need for one for both of you, you can easily set up a rhythm of activities without having to call it anything or make it feel different - the less different it feels, the more likely he'll just go along with it and have fun with you. If you just set up a rhythm for doing or pulling out certain types of things at certain times of certain days, he'll feel the rhythm without your having to call it to his attention formally or call it anything - all those wonderful things KimP suggested could be planned on a calendar in a regular rhythm with ongoing small blocks of time in which your goal would be to try to include them or related activities.

 

He'd be learning just as much without a formal name for it, and would probably feel more comfortable with the consistency of you being his mom in a more casual way rather than what could feel a little more formal if you start to seem more of a teacher. If you have some activities of your own that you show joy and enthusiasm for, he'll probably want to join in, and that can provide lots of learning and skill building. If you keep a loose journal about all the things you see him learning from the things he does on his own and the things he does with you, it can be very reassuring.

 

But the bottom line is that he's awfully young for having to get started in formal activities for the purpose of education - he must be learning up a storm from all the juicy things he's doing there already. It seems to me that you've already "started" by having all the wonderful things in your home for him to play with and explore. I have a (noncommercial) page about preschool learning and activities with lots of ideas too (the list of links is underneath the box of articles).

 

As time goes by - as he gets to the age years from now where he would ordinarily be getting into the 3Rs, you could have things set up attractively in convenient and comfortable spots for all that, and that could give you both the comfort of feeling he has his own learning areas for those things like children who go off to schools.

 

Lillian

 

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#8 of 16 Old 03-20-2011, 04:04 PM
 
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It may be too waldorfy for you but you might check out littleacornlearning.com
Which I can't recommend enough! Even if the flavor of it doesn't suit you they can give you a great idea of how to build a good rhythm. U think they have 2 or 3 sample weeks you can download to get a sense of it.

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#9 of 16 Old 03-20-2011, 08:47 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lillian J View Post

1. "What I found when mine was little was that I generally made a much bigger deal out of little things than were necessary, causing things to become issues on his mind that wouldn't have been..."

 

2. "I agree with others that there's no real need for a structure around such a little one's learning activities - but since you do feel a need for one for both of you, you can easily set up a rhythm of activities without having to call it anything or make it feel different - the less different it feels, the more likely he'll just go along with it and have fun with you..."

 

3. "If you keep a loose journal about all the things you see him learning from the things he does on his own and the things he does with you, it can be very reassuring..."

 

4. "I have a (noncommercial) page about preschool learning and activities with lots of ideas too (the list of links is underneath the box of articles)..."

 

Lillian

 


1. That is so true. I've tried to really avoid talking about it too much for that very reason. There have been a couple of comments here and there that made me wonder if he was feeling the desire to go, so that's why I wanted to get everyone's input on ways to make the idea of starting homeschool fun.

 

2. I think you might be right. Like I said, he's the type of kid that will resist if he feels like I'm trying to make him do something, so calling attention to it could be a recipe for disaster!

 

3. I will definitely keep some records (though I haven't quite figured out how I'd like to go about it just yet.) to keep me organized and make sure I'm meeting his needs.

 

4. That page is AMAZING! I will have to spend all night reading all the interesting articles. Thanks!

 

All in all, these blocks of time that I'm planning are very relaxed. They could last as long as he is enjoying the activity or not even get past the introduction, being scrapped for another time. What I do know is that if I don't have some type of organization in my head, the day(s) / week will pass me by. I want to be organized enough to at least offer him the opportunity to discover a new activity.

 

I think for now, I will reserve those books from the library, play up our co-ops a bit more, and really invest in spending quality time with DS, without having to point out that he is not going to "school". If he starts asking about school when he gets older, I'll be back on MDC seeking your wisdom! LOL


 

Quote:
Originally Posted by onyxravnos View Post

It may be too waldorfy for you but you might check out littleacornlearning.com
Which I can't recommend enough! Even if the flavor of it doesn't suit you they can give you a great idea of how to build a good rhythm. U think they have 2 or 3 sample weeks you can download to get a sense of it.


Thanks! I've checked it out before. Although I am taking a Montessori course, I consider myself more of an eclectic homeschooler, taking bits and pieces from lots of different methods. I love Waldorf and would like to learn more so I can incorporate it into DS's day. He's such a creative, imaginative little boy, that I think he'd really take to Waldorf activities.

 

Thanks everyone for your advice! thumb.gif

 


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#10 of 16 Old 03-20-2011, 09:29 PM
 
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Quote:

Originally Posted by zebaby

 

What I do know is that if I don't have some type of organization in my head, the day(s) / week will pass me by. I want to be organized enough to at least offer him the opportunity to discover a new activity.

 



Yes, that's a pretty common reason why people want to set up a structure of some kind, and many find that just setting up a very loose one gives them the cues they need to remember a craft on some days, book reading at certain times of day, getting out into nature at certain times, etc. That kind of thing is probably a good idea for anyone, with children or not, to remind themselves of all the great ways we can be spending our time.


Have fun! : )  Lillian

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#11 of 16 Old 03-21-2011, 12:20 PM
 
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i got a student planer at office max and every sunday i go through and jot down the next weeks 'school' activities.  (not WHEN or how long they should take  but just a few things for each day)

 

i find it works well to keep me on track and lets me have something in my hand to see whats been accomplished. I also keep a few samples of work in a main lesson book as a keep sake for the that years work as well as to get me into practice of record keeping. I made a post with pictures of our preschool lesson book if you want to take a peek. http://barefootedfamily.blogspot.com/2010/11/preschool-main-lesson-books.html


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#12 of 16 Old 03-21-2011, 01:20 PM
 
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... I also like simply making it part of our day, naturally.

 



Then you simply need to do what onyxravnos said and start incorporating things into your day. The idea that you need to say that this particular activity is "school" to a 4yo child wouldn't really feel like a natural incorporation into your day. It would feel like a completely new, alien, unnatural thing that you're doing all of the sudden. (To be clear, I'm not really talking about "natural" and "unnatural" in terms of nature and all that, lol. Just in terms of working something into your day without it feeling weird.) He's only 4. Just decide what it is you want to do and show it to him. There's really no reason to say, "This is school" or whatever. If he wants to do it, great. If not, great. He's still a little bitty kid. :)

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#13 of 16 Old 03-21-2011, 01:41 PM
 
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I just started with my 3 year old 2 weeks ago.  We just started cold turkey and are both having such a fun time.  Seriouosly...I am having just as much fun as he is! 


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#14 of 16 Old 03-21-2011, 04:29 PM
 
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3. I will definitely keep some records (though I haven't quite figured out how I'd like to go about it just yet.) to keep me organized and make sure I'm meeting his needs.


My own suggestion about keeping a journal, by the way, was just about giving yourself some reassuring feedback from observations about what's going on - I find that really looking at what all is being learned from simple activities can be pretty enlightening. Records won't really need to be kept, though, unless there are some unusually demanding laws in your state, because it will be very obvious what's being learned.

 

You could take a look at some sort of standards list once a year or so to see if anything jumps out at you that you'd like to introduce in some way, but always keep in mind that those guidelines are just goals teachers try to touch on by the time a school year is over, not things that are all expected to be covered throughout or at the beginning of a school year.

 

And keep in mind that schools have their own reasons for needing to be organized about what gets studied when, but there's not need for that in a home setting - you have a luxurious amount of time over the coming years to be "ahead" in some things, "behind" in others, to explore things not normally covered in schools, and to ignore things that are sometimes included in schools . I know people tend to start out with a lot of anxiety about making sure everything is going to be covered, but it really isn't going to be as daunting as you must think now.  ; )   Lillian

 

 

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#15 of 16 Old 03-21-2011, 09:15 PM - Thread Starter
 
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So I just found out that one of the kids in our long running co-op (homeschooling co-op) has been accepted at one of our city's selective enrollment public schools. After hearing all your reassuring words, I'm kind of scared of what might come of this now. I have a feeling that the family was rather celebratory about the news, so I'm hoping that the child won't turn on the others in the group and "brag" that she's going to school in the fall. Not sure how to handle that. I do plan on talking about it with the mom so that we can figure out a way to deal with the children in a gentle way. I was actually thinking it might be o.k. to not really mention it at all and just explain to the others that she'll be taking classes in the mornings (just as she would be doing when she took park district classes). Not sure if that's the best solution, we'll definitely talk (mamas). Any advice on this development is welcome!


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#16 of 16 Old 03-22-2011, 07:19 AM
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We just tell my almost 4 year old that "some kids do school at a place, and some kids do school at home." We're not actually the school-at-home type, much more unschooly than that, but she doesn't know the difference and is very generally very excited to talk about which friends do school at home and which do school at a place.


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