I thought I'd write an update on how preschool has been going for us. We started right after Labor Day weekend, so it's been about 3 weeks. Such a short time but such significant changes for us that I just had to write a post about it.
Just to recap, I tried preschool last year and was going about it from an in-school preschool mindset, like I wanted to set up a 2 hour slot of time three days a week where we'd do things in a similar fashion and sequence. Yeah no, that lasted less than 20 minutes.
This time, I thought about it more realistically. I was listening to a homeschooling podcast and they were saying that up until your kids are in 5th grade, schooling doesn't take more than 2 hours a day to complete (so outside preschool being only two hours would mean it'd be way less time to complete at home). I realized that a lot of the time spent in preschool is geared towards working with 10+ kids at one time. There's a lot of waiting, lining up, different kids being taken to the potty, PLAYING, etc. The actual preschool "work" isn't much time at all.
So my new plan this year was to schedule 1-2 activities 5 days a week (we skip a day sometimes, obvs), with no activity taking too long to complete, and it has been going AMAZING.
My 4 year old loves crafts, reading books, singing songs, and generally being introduced to new things. My 2 year old really isn't ready for the crafts, but he loves books and songs (he's more of a tag-along).
So here's how it's been going.
My vision of preschool vs reality
In my fantasies, both boys, or at least my 4 year old, really get into the activities. I flit around the boys, warmly praising their efforts and stepping in when they ask for my help. Sometimes I'm even wearing an apron and baking a homemade goodie in the background to serve after preschool is done.
In reality, both boys definitely have invisible timers above their heads that go off after just a few minutes. Dacky, the 2 year old, can last like 5 minutes. Piggie can last longer but he does start to get antsy and loud. I spend a longer amount of time preparing an activity sometimes compared to the amount of time they actually spend doing it (I'm sure I'll get better at that and develop some kind of system). I lose my patience at times and have to refrain from trying to control every aspect because YOU DON'T COLOR A CAKE BLACK, but I'm learning to let him color the cake black if he wants to, and every other page black as well. My inner perfectionist is dying a slow death.
I'm letting go of high-ish expectations and learning to accept the fact that they will be hyper, they won't do things how they're supposed to, they'll be done with it before it's actually done, they may not even actually try, I may be the one who ends up doing most of the project and not them, etc.
It's all okay. They are having fun and learning, that's all that matters.
Changes in the boys
I was not really expecting this since we've been doing such small activities, but my husband noticed and commented that the kids are acting so different now!
Not like they weren't happy before, but they seem happier. We hear them singing the preschool songs to themselves and they (my 4 year old especially) asks a lot of questions after certain activities we've done. In the moment while doing the activity, it seems to me like he really isn't paying attention or doesn't have much interest, but hours or days later, he asks questions about it.
Changes in our relationship
Another change I wasn't expecting is how much we've been bonding over these little activities! I'm not sure what it is, but once we've done an activity or read a certain book, lots of things pop up in our daily life that create more conversation because it reiterates what we're learning about. I didn't even think I'd have fun doing that, but I am.
I've been finding myself surprisingly anxious to "do preschool" every day and look forward to it. The boys ask almost daily to do preschool and when I ask them if they want to do a craft, they both come running into the kitchen squealing "yesss!" I just find that all three of us enjoy this time together, even if they make me frazzled and I lose my cool...we're all learning together, that's for sure.
So yes, two benefits I wasn't even expecting. I'm loving it, we're having a lot of fun, I'm learning to let go of a Pinterest-perfect ideal that's in my head and just enjoy it as it is.
What I've learned so far after one month of homeschool preschool is:
- don't try to copy an outside preschool schedule
- small activities coupled with books is perfect
- the Pinterest preschool photos are made for Pinterest re-pins, not as a real reflection of what preschool at home actually looks like (it's not that perfect looking, trust me)
- there's a million different ways to preschool out there (traditional, Montessori, Waldorf, etc) - don't let that freeze you up. Just do what looks fun, what's important to you, and what you think your child would enjoy.
- you don't have to have the patience of Job to preschool your kids or in order for them to enjoy it. My boys are proof of that! I'm psycho-mommy and they still love it!