In this post we will be discussing the truth about preschool.
I have all kinds of caring moms asking me about preschool, or at least telling me how advanced their preschoolers are.
This is very familiar to me, as I was in the same mindset with our first babies. I had been brought along with the idea that:
- Children won’t learn unless they are led to learn.
- The earlier they start formal lessons, the better.
- I need expert help to know what to do with preschoolers.
Then I read, reread, and re-reread articles and books from folks who had spent considerable time thinking about this subject, and my mind was totally changed.
It seems (just like everything else associated with public education) that the social engineers had their fingers in the pie all along. In fact, the first federally instituted preschool program, “Head Start,” was begun by none other than President Johnson, one of the worst social-engineering presidents. This is the same president who authored the “War on Poverty” (which should have been entitled the “War on the Impoverished” for the way it destroyed poor families).
Preschool was originally thought of as a “warm up” for institutionalized learning. Tiny tots were instructed to move and function as a group (called “social skills”) or, to put it bluntly, to become part of a herd, hive, or an anthill (sarcasm intended).
It was also sold as a way to keep teens from dropping out by giving them a “head start” when they were very young. If education is all about schooling, then it makes sense because the goal is to receive an official paper saying we have “learned” things approved by some folks in a board room somewhere.
If we have been paying attention, we should know that these officially signed and stamped papers do not signify that someone has learned anything at all. They could have turned in the papers and passed the tests, but stink at what they have the paper for.
The point: schooling and learning are two very different things. As homeschoolers we want to focus on true learning, not schooling.
So, this is the truth:
- Children are voracious learners! They beg to know stuff, to experience new things, to explore and go where no toddler has gone before…
- Children learn best from their mommies (or other loving relatives) in the safe, warm atmosphere of their own homes.
- When it comes to academics, it is actually better LATE than early.
What social engineers fail to realize is that people are not “products” in a factory, but priceless eternal beings created by a God of love. In this more enlightened context, an early start has no advantage, but a warm, loving start has a tremendous advantage.
Benjamin Bloom (of the famed, Taxonomy of Educational Objectives) was once a proponent of Head Start, but eventually changed his mind:
There is no question in my mind that a mother who is really interested in her child teaches that child so much more than the child could learn with a group of twenty or thirty other children…I am only trying to say that what we have done is to take the child away from almost a tutoring program–the mother–and the mother is enormously more successful than a group program. There is no way you can avoid that.Benjamin Bloom, Education Week
Ruth Beechick in her book, The Three R’s has much to say on the subject of pushing formal academics on young children.
She relates the story of a school district which set up an experiment. Some kindergartners in the district were given extensive reading instruction, and other kindergartners followed a science program that was rich with hands-on experiments and observations.
The results?–by the third grade, it was the children who enjoyed the science program that were ahead in reading scores.
Beechick goes on to explain why. In her estimation, the children who were given focused reading instruction were robbed of the time they could have spent gathering information from the world around them to build a context from which they could have understood reading better.
This research…drive[s] home the fact that each child has only a limited amount of time in his early years. That time can be squandered in trying to teach reading before the “optimum” time for it. Or it can be used wisely in teaching “real stuff” that the child is ready for.Ruth Beechick, The Three R’s
She goes on to suggest that real life is the most valuable education program of all for young children. Simply including little ones in every day activities gives them more than the most expensive, manipulative-laden curriculum ever could.
Here is something from Dr. Raymond Moore, one of the pioneers of the modern homeschooling movement:
…children are not mature enough for formal school programs until their senses, coordination, neurological development, and cognition are ready.Dr. Raymond Moore, The Successful Homeschool Family Handbook
Here is another quote from the same book:
The best early “academics” are your responses to your children–giving yourself to them in warm fellowship, conversation, travel; reading and telling stories with moral values; working at home chores and cottage industries together; teaching them by example how to serve others (in the home and down the street); being alert to their highest motives and interests; and encouraging them to develop their own creative ideas in the sand pile, with kitchen dough, with a telescope, in a diary, and with tools in the garage or garden.
He speaks even more clearly and directly here:
We repeat: Any who push the three R’s early deny the readiness factors the Creator built in–reasonably mature vision, hearing, taste, touch, smell, reason, brain growth, coordination…
Having said all this, we all need a little assurance that we are on track. For this, there is a site that lists the “typical course of study” and is not directly tied or funded by the public school system; it is the World Book (encyclopedia) site. Here is the direct link to the preschool portion (there are portions for each grade):
If you go through the different lists for preschool on this site, you will find that most of what is listed should be learned naturally by any young child of average intelligence as they play. Some of the items listed need some direct instruction, but they don’t take any extensive curriculum. These could be taught with stuff laying around the house, such as beans and index cards or a wipe-off board.
If you need some more information and inspiration, you can watch my Youtube video on the subject: