Last month I finished a book called Einstein Never Used Flash Cards: How Our Children Really Learn — And Why They Need to Play More and Memorize Less by Roberta Michnick Golinkoff and Kathy Hirsh-Pasek. While the info presented wasn’t anything new and shocking to me, as in, I’ve already been doing a good number of the things mentioned in the book without even thinking about it too much, it was eye-opening in a way that confirmed my decisions as a parent. I tend to think that I do a lot of “going against the grain” when it comes to parenting, and while I’m ok with that it is nice to once in a while have other sources confirm what I’m doing.
The book confirmed to me that the way I allow my children to spend the day – running around, playing outside, goofing off, being independent, playing in their play room, reading books or playing library, doing puzzles by themselves, playing with blocks (not playing with electronic “educational” toys) – all those things was really the only thing I needed to be “doing” in order for their pre-schooling to be complete. Because while they’re doing all these activities, they’re learning. Even if I’m not hovering over them and nitpicking every part of their activity (which I don’t do), I can still guide them in learning things like letters, numbers, shapes, colors, etc… All things which come up during the normal course of play, which doesn’t necessarily have to be “taught”.
I realized while reading this book that quite possibly the reason people send their children to preschool is to make sure the child gets all the exposure needed to learn the letters, numbers, etc… (if not to get a leg up academically, which BTW the book went into a lot of detailed experiments about how early academic “booklearning”/”schooling” doesn’t necessarily translate into “smart later in life”). And I said to myself “well, that’s what we do here. We learn the letters, numbers and all, just by our everyday interactions. (Especially on the days we don’t “do” school).”
It hit me, why am I spending so much effort trying to make sure we “do school” or read the appropriately titled books for whatever letter of the alphabet we’re on? One, we can’t realistically accomplish all the activities in the little preschool book I have (totally not the fault of the book, completely everything to do with me not being able to keep things moving all-day-long). Two, at the end of the day, will it really be beneficial to them if I try to “push” it?
The other thing that really caused me to look at the “why am I giving up preschool”, last month I made a post (you can find it here), where I mentioned how frustrating it was some days to not be able to “do schoolwork”.
I am hoping to not start anything formal until kindergarten because trying to do something with preschoolers is so daunting
That comment, sealed my deal. I realized I was trying to do too much. I was already teaching my kids their ABS, 123s, colors, shapes, even beginning reading skills, just by normal every day interactions. And Playing! Trying to add more on top of that was exactly what the commenter stated “Daunting”. So, in my effort to simplify the chaos that happens over here, I’ve decided to cut out the formal book-learning preschool stuff and just focus on the “play-learning” stuff instead.
I still may use the book to guide a conversation or two, but I can’t keep telling myself I “have to do these activities or my children won’t be ready for school”…. I don’t even remember preschool being something “official” until maybe 10 years ago, so obviously before then there were brilliant people, who never did a preschool curriculum. I’m also going to attempt to do a little more child focused learning for a while. For example, right now the kids are fascinated by telling time, clocks, etc… I have no idea if they’re even able to mentally grasp that concept, but I don’t see any reason to not keep at the very least talking about it (even if they don’t get it yet, when they are able to grasp it, they’ll already have the vocabulary to talk about it).
I think that’s it for this afternoon. Time to get moving on dinner 🙂
*** Disclaimer: I understand that for some families keeping their children at home all during the preschool years is not possible or simply not something the family wants to do. That’s OK. If that’s what works for you and your family, then by all means, keep at it. I’m not advocating for “don’t send your child to preschool”. I just feel that “doing” preschool while we already informally “do” preschool is too much for me.