Preparing a Preschooler for Homeschooling

The Fun Question:

How far apart are your children and how many preschoolers have you had in your house at one time?

Between 1 and 2-- 2 years minus one day

Between 2 and 3-- 2.7 years

Between 3 and 4-- 21 months

Between 4 and 5-- 22 months

Between 5 and 6-- 2.7 years

Between 6 and 7-- 3.3 years

Between 7 and 8-- 14 months

See that 3.3 year break?  I loved it.  I proclaimed to anyone who would listen that 3 years was the ideal gap.  From now on, we would try for a 3 year gap.  As someone wise once said, "We make plans.  God laughs."

I think three preschoolers at a time is the most I've ever had.  I usually have one preschooler, one toddler, and one baby.  I always have two in diapers :)

And the serious:

What are the most important things I can do to structure my 2.5 year-old's day to prepare for homeschooling?

-Sara in St. Louis

Hi Sara-

In my humble opinion, the most important thing you can do to prepare any child for homeschool is to teach them to obey you. Obedience needs to be exhibited as quickly as possible (show grace here, mama), thoroughly (remember that your definition of “thoroughly” might not match theirs and give them room to grow), and with a good attitude. No stomping feet, rolling eyes, or reasons why they can't obey. When I say, "Please put that towel down on the bench", my goal is for a preschooler not to say, "I'll just put it on the table." Delayed or partial obedience isn't our goal.

Is your 2 1/2-year-old characterized by obedience? By that I mean, does he or she typically obey you quickly, thoroughly, and sweetly? There will always be lapses or times when a child falls out of the habit and needs a gentle reminder, but overall is that little one obeying you when you give a command? 

You’re not looking for perfection; you want to build such a trust into a child that they respond with a heart that wants to do the right thing, even if their flesh is weak. And their flesh is weak! Mine, too.

Schoolwork is a non-negotiable, so when it's time to open a workbook or begin an assignment or activity, you need to know that everything you do with your preschooler is not going to begin with some sort of battle, be it small ("Do I HAVE to???") or big (a knock-down, drag 'em out tantrum).  Can you imagine how quickly you'd want to throw in the towel if this was your day, every day?  Teach that little one that your no means no and your yes means yes, and you will both enjoy homeschooling immensely more.

I'd also encourage you to take a look at the Bluedorn's Ten Things to Do With Your Child Before Age Ten.  I couldn't rewrite it any better!