Join me every week as I show you how me and my 4-year-old Certain Little Someone do . No curriculum, no pressure, but lots of learning!
Having come from a very traditional schooling background with an emphasis on classical education and a splash of Montessori thrown in, “unschooling” really isn’t on my radar as an educational alternative for my children. However, I think there is great value in being intentional about discovering what interests and intrigues them, and then developing those interests in an educational setting.
That’s why, after Bible , Phonics , Reading , Handwriting, and Math, we have a subject I like to call “Other”. It’s very purposefully left vague so that we have the freedom to explore different topics of interest throughout the year without being restricted by a topic like “Science” or “Social Studies”. Preschool is the perfect age to explore a variety of subjects because children are like curious little sponges, always desirous of soaking up knowledge about the things that catch their eye.
The possibilities are literally endless, and depend entirely on your child’s interests and what is going on in your life at any given time. Here are some ideas of topics we’ve pursued and/or intend to pursue soon.
You can incorporate holidays into the other subjects by choosing worksheets, games, and reading materials that reflect the holiday in question. But you can also choose to focus on the holiday a little more specifically, and learn about its history and the way it’s celebrated today. For example, Thanksgiving is coming up in the next couple weeks, so we’re going to spend some time learning about the Pilgrims and Native Americans and the First Thanksgiving. We’ll read some books, do some crafts, and focus on the quality of Thankfulness over the next week and a half.
Preschoolers are so curious about their world, and it’s a great time to take advantage of that curiosity and explore it in depth. Any number of scientific subjects can be taught at their level with field trips, books, movies, crafts, experiments, and more.
By “community”, I mean the people and institutions that make our modern world go around: firemen and fire engines, the postal service (my Certain Little Someone went through a stage where he was VERY inquisitive about how mail got from one place to the other), farmers, police officers, traffic lights, etc. Most of our education about these matters has taken place outside the context of our school time, but we’ve intentionally taken advantage of opportunities like visiting a local firehouse at their open house, and taking a ride on a train in a nearby city, or visiting local farms during special events. And, of course, we read lots of books from the library about things like garbage collectors, and construction workers, and police officers. Lots and lots. Those are pretty hot topics for little guys, apparently!
Some of my friends took the time during this past election season to teach their little ones the very basics of the American system of government and elections. Of course, there’s not a great deal a child this age can understand, but at this point, it’s mostly about introducing a subject to open the door to later learning. Other major events could include:
By “geography”, I mostly mean getting a taste of different cultures, and creating an awareness that there is a great big world out there outside the limited experience of your child. Preschoolers are only just beginning to understand that whole concept, and maps and globes will mean very little to them. However, they will be fascinated by the dress, food, language, and customs of different countries, and it’s fun to teach, too!
Little kids love to get crafty! And learning to use scissors, tape, glue sticks, paint brushes, markers and crayons are all important fine motor skills that need to be developed. And the crafts do NOT have to be extravagant. You’d be amazed by the simplicity that delights a child!
Music likewise does not have to be anymore complicated than listening to music or singing children’s songs. Learning about different types of instruments would be very interesting to most little learners. Hey, you can even experiment with making your own instruments !
Art can also be explored at this age. Don’t be afraid to take your child to an art museum (just don’t expect their interest to hold for TOO long!), and point out some different types of art, like sculpture versus painting for example. Children have so much fun learning about primary and secondary colors, and experimenting with mixing them in different mediums. Read a children’s book like “ Katie Meets the Impressionists ” or watch the short movie “ Linnea in Monet’s Garden “.
It’s not as stuffy as it sounds. Truly, the English language is blessed with a bounty of beautiful children’s literature that delights, fascinates and educates. Fairy tales, folk tales, tales of imagination and fancy, rhymes and poems… the possibilities are endless. In fact, I would say that it’s impossible for any child to experience the depth of English literature available to them. A few categories or genres stick out to me as excellent ones to explore during the preschool years:
The only question remaining is, how do you go about teaching these subjects? Thankfully, that’s pretty easy. Don’t waste your time planning out lengthy lessons that will only bore your small child. Instead, choose one of the following activities to participate in each day on any given topic until you’ve exhausted your resources… or your child is exhausted!
I could go on and on about ways to enhance your child’s learning by taking advantage of his or her natural curiosity… but I think you get the general idea!
Other posts in this series:
Phonics - Phonics, Part 2 - Reading - Reading, Part 2 - Handwriting - Math - Days of the Week - Bible - “Other”
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