Most children do not benefit from starting school early. I know it’s exciting to buy new school materials! I know it’s fun to think about and plan “doing school” with those cute little 2, 3, and 4-year-olds. I know every mom wants her little one to be the smartest child he or she can be. But the truth is that starting school with your very young child is probably not the best thing to do. Very young children learn so much more by playing than they do by more formal, sit-down learning. Their minds and bodies just aren’t ready yet to sit down and concentrate for very long.
Another problem I see is that moms who do try to do more formal sit-down work with very young children then start to worry that something is wrong with their children. Those little boys and girls are probably perfectly fine, healthy, and “normal.” They just have a lot of energy and a lot of curiosity. They need to move around, jump around, run, play, and be active! God did not make them with the ability to sit quietly and pay attention for more than a few seconds (or at the most a few minutes) at a time. Of course there are rare exceptions to this, but by far the majority of children fit this general “rule.”
There is nothing at all wrong with teaching your preschooler, but it needs to be done by playing and having fun, not by sit-down-at-the-table to “have school” lessons. Young children learn best by doing physical activities.
I know it’s very tempting to buy all those books and notebooks. I know it’s tempting to plan all those lessons and get ready to sit down at the table together ready to teach and learn. I know that doing more “active” lessons through play really doesn’t seem that much different than what you’ve been doing since your child was born. And you’re right! You’ve really been “homeschooling” your child since birth! And look how much he or she has learned so far!
If there was one thing I could go back and do differently with my own children, I would have waited longer to begin formal homeschooling with my son (now age 18). All those years ago, I thought I had to start formal teaching when he was 5. I didn’t realize that I could have waited another year or two. He was absolutely not ready for it, so I drug him to the table each day and made the poor little guy miserable. I made myself miserable! But I thought I was doing what I had to do, and I thought I was doing what was right. There’s nothing I can do about it now, but I promise you I would do it differently if I had a second chance.
If you have a very young child whom you plan to homeschool, have lots of fun with him or her! Do all those active things that your child loves to do! Let him get worn out swimming, playing at the park, and even helping around the house and in the yard. Wait a little while to begin formal academics, and let her learn through play for now. And get ready for a wonderful and fun school year!