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Copyright 2006 Julie Shepherd Knapp
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Copyright 2006 Julie Shepherd Knapp.  All rights reserved.
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The Homeschool Diner's Guide to
Homeschooling Special Situations

Homeschooling Preschoolers

by Julie Shepherd Knapp, copyright 2006

Resources and suggestions for teaching 3 to 5 year olds at home.

Should parents get a "head start" on academics with their 3, 4, and 5
year olds?  Should the preschool years be spent learning thru play and
natural discovery?  Is there room for both types of activities?  There are
researchers who support both extremes and the middle of this debate.  

Children develop and mature at very different rates.  While a few 3 year
olds and some 4 year olds may be ready and willing to learn letters and
letter sounds... not many will be ready for seat-work or formal reading
programs.  Many 5 year olds are ready... but some would really benefit
from another year of play and unstructured exploratory learning.  Even
though public schools are beginning to teach reading at ever younger
ages, not all experts agree that it is the best thing to do.     

Many homeschool parents find that educational TV programs, like
Sesame Street, are all the preschool curriculum they need.  Children can
easily learn about colors, shapes, numbers, and letters from watching
educational programs, from singing songs and playing games with their
families, shopping and preparing meals with Mom, and from ordinary
daily life.  

If your child really enjoys educational coloring pages or worksheets,
there are many free online resources for those types of activities (see
below).  There are also many brands of preschool workbooks with the
same types of activities available in your local bookstore.  Several
curriculum providers also sell packaged preschool-level curriculum.

It is up to you, as the homeschooling parent, to decide what will be the
best approach for your preschoolers.  Whatever path you choose, be
aware of how your child is responding to your choice, and be prepared to
try something different if things don't work out the way you imagined.

Preschool experiences (both good and bad) can set the stage for future
attitudes about learning.  So aim to keep it fun, and be sure the lessons
are short and sweet... there are many years of learning ahead, but only a
few years for exploring the world thru the eyes of a preschooler.     

Here's what some of the experts have to say ...

A Homeschool Curriculum for Preschool and Kindergarten by
Lillian Jones

A Gift of Time by Sue Smith-Heavenrich , September - October 2001,
Home Education magazine

Much Too Early by David Elkind -- read what the original experts on
early childhood learning had to say about academics vs exploratory play

Let's Not Institutionalize 3, 4, and 5 Year Olds by Larry and Susan
Kaseman -- When preschoolers learn at home... "... they can explore the
world freely, in their own way and at their own pace, with the security that
home and family provide."

Do you know your state's "Compulsory Age of Attendance"?  
The school entrance age varies by state so be sure to check your own
state regulations to find out when you need to begin meeting homeschool
requirements.  See The Homeschool Diner's
Before You Begin section
for more information.

Curriculum and Other Resources

Tons of Preschool Curriculum, Free Online Resources,
Activities, Games, and Other Options

Ready, Set, Read!  How to Read to a Young Child by Dorothy P.  
Dougherty -- tips on reading to infants, toddlers, and preschoolers

Related Issues

Pre-writing skills and activities   to strengthen hand muscles and
improve dexterity in pre-writers and children who struggle with writing

Is Your Child Gifted?   Take a look at gifted characteristics in children

The Diner's All Time Favorite ABC Books

Delayed Instruction Approach

Avoid Costly Curriculum Mistakes

Homeschooling on a Budget  

Family Connections -- information on a family-school outreach program
cites research which shows that enlightened parental involvement is the
best indicator of positive school outcome

Tykes on Trikes: The Preschooler's Bill of Rights -- parents against  
compulsory preschool (proposed in California) present their case

Learn about Early Childhood Development

Learning to Communicate

Developmental Milestones for ages 1 - 6  includes milestones for
motor skills, language, and social skills

Social Skills Help

Doctors Urge More Playtime for Children

Old-Fashioned Play Builds Serious Skills by Alix Spiegel

Walled Gardens by Bruce Van Patter -- striving to preserve childhood

Raise Children with a Wild Streak by Mark Pruett

The Wild Child a "deep thought" by Scott Noelle

Values, Emotions, and Respect from the U of Illinois
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