Education Parenting

Stop Saying You’re Homeschooling Your Preschooler

Stop Saying You're Homeschooling Your Preschooler

By Melissa Roy of Beyond Mommying

We began homeschooling after a year of part-time preschool abroad, a year of pre-K and a year of kindergarten at our local public school. As our family fell apart due to early wake-ups, schlepping everyone to and from school twice a day, homework and no time to play, we realized that we are just not school people.

Early education is a pretty big deal in our area. Almost all children avail of the free VPK year paid for by the state, and most even do an extra preschool year. I was surprised how many times I was asked if my then 3-year-old middle daughter was in preschool and the shock I would receive (and quick program suggestions) when I replied that she was still home with me. As if she had somewhere to be other than at home with me, reading books, running at the park, helping me cook, or playing with her baby brother.

And as I get more involved in our local homeschooling community, I’ve started to see the trend of “preschool is important” trickling even through this alternative world. And everywhere I turn now, I seem to find parents proclaiming to be homeschooling their young children.

But let’s get one thing straight:


Sure, you may be teaching them their ABCs, colors and how to count. They may even be learning to recognize letters, what sounds they make and early addition. But that’s not homeschooling; that’s called parenting!

It’s what parents have been doing for all of eternity. It is the parents’ primary job to prepare their children for the world they live in, and in our world, it means knowing these academic skills. But that doesn’t make it homeschooling.

I’m not saying that teaching these skills to young children if they are at home is not necessary, but we need to start being realistic about what young children really need. They need to run, build, explore. They need to read books, have books read to them and sing songs. They need to play with other children, interact with adults and learn the rights and wrongs of their culture.  Thy need to be loved and shown their value, worth and place in their family and world.

If these things are done in conjunction with conversations about letters, numbers and colors, then children will naturally pick up the skills we want them to know without even trying. Simply being a good parent and talking to our children will set them up with more in life than pushing academic skills. It will set them up to be good, well-rounded people who are ready to learn academic skills when the opportunity arises.

So let’s stop already with the shoving curriculum and academic skills in the faces of our young children. Let’s stop pushing down the curriculum and making our children feel like failures from a young age because they can’t meet our high standards. Because the standards are wrong.

We are asking children to do things before their bodies and minds are developmentally ready. We are not giving them the chance to do all the things little minds and bodies need to do in order to become successful learners and human beings. By pushing the standards down to younger children, we are giving our children behavior problems, anxiety and self-esteem issues along with them. We are not valuing childhood, and we are creating our own problems in the classroom by expecting too much without the proper preparation.

By taking away play time, the time children need in life to explore not only their world but also how their bodies work, we are causing long-term harm.

Children’s bodies are not developing like they used to. Their vestibular systems are immature from too much time sitting in chairs and not enough time spinning around, hanging upside down and climbing up the slides. Children who aren’t given these experiences are clumsy, awkward and fidgety. They can’t sit still because their bodies are aching to move. They can’t concentrate because they aren’t given the time to expend their childhood energy. They are bored and act out because they aren’t given time to play and be creative.

We all choose to homeschool for our own reasons. For many people, it is because we don’t have a lot of faith in the “system.” So why are you trying to replicate the system at home? If you’re worried about your child falling behind from not getting an early start, maybe instead take a look at the research and realize you’re on the wrong path. And if you are, in fact, homeschooling your preschoolers by giving them worksheets and assignments and projects and following a curriculum, you’re doing it all wrong.

They should be building with blocks, Legos and Lincoln Logs. They should be dressing up and playing pretend. They should be at the park, playing and outside collecting bugs and exploring plants. They should be doing puzzles and playing board games. They should be snuggling up to read books and asking lots of questions. They should be helping you cook, helping you clean and learning to take care of their things. They should be hanging out with other kids of all ages as well as adults and learning how to share and be kind. They should be out in their community, running errands and eating at restaurants where they can learn appropriate behaviors. Because these are the things that will make young children successful learners, not workbooks and enrichment classes.

So just slow down a second and think about what you really want for your children. All children are capable of learning to read and do addition, and every child will when developmentally ready. Starting earlier does not make better or more successful learners. Respect the only childhood they will ever have. Embrace their wonder and innocence. Look at the world through their eyes and let them guide you.

They have plenty of time to “learn” later.


About the Author

Melissa is a homeschooling, ballerina mommy of four and lives by the motto “Life is never boring when you’re never alone, but I know somewhere out there, there is life Beyond Mommying.”  She shares her parenting adventures on her blog Beyond Mommying. You can also find her on FacebookTwitterPinterest and Instagram.