BATU, Indonesia. Photo by Jes Aznar

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Preschool Homeschool: You Can Do It Too!

Ever thought of homeschooling your child but not really sure if you can do it?

Homeschooling advocate and my fellow Kindermusik mom and educator Mariel Uyquiengco says it can be done.

In a talk on preschool homeschooling last Saturday, Mariel shared her experience as a homeschool mom to her four year old daughter and two year old son.

Mariel, who documents her homeschooling experience in her blog, The Learning Basket, believes that parents are their children's first and best teachers. And as such, are better than any other adult or education expert.

She convinces parents that preschool homeschool can be a better option over the traditional schooling method because parents can ensure that they are building the best foundation for their children.

"Childhood is fleeting. It is the time to build a foundation of love and trust with our children," she says.

Mariel herself took that leap of faith when she decided to homeschool her eldest daughter. She knew that she was no expert but being her daughter’s parent, she believes, is enough to take on the responsibility of being her first teacher.

As a homeschool mom, Mariel did a lot of research on the Internet, with fellow homeschool moms and even from accredited organizations in the Philippines.

She uses the 4 R’s method, introduced by homeschool advocate and blogger Susan Lemons as her guide.

The first R is Relationship, which Mariel says is the most important step a child needs to grow and develop.

“And the most important relationship they have is with their parents,” says Mariel.

Taking the cue from here, she encourages parents to work hard to build a healthy relationship with their children, one that is defined by love and trust.

The second R is Routine, which is not about having something to do every hour, by the hour.

Mariel says that children need to know what will happen next in their day because this helps build stability for them.

“Routine is very important in children’s emotional development,” she says. 

Readiness is the third R. This stresses the importance of making children “ready” to learn.

“Children learn faster and better when they are developmentally ready,” Mariel says.

Lemons, in her blog, says that readiness is helping children become physically, emotionally, cognitively and spiritually ready for the experience” of tackling new tasks.

The fourth “R” is Reading Aloud, which Mariel says is the single best thing that parents can do for their young children.

“Reading aloud to your children is the single most important thing that you can do to help them learn.  Reading aloud, and the discussion that goes with it, does more than teach the content of the book you’re reading:  It also teaches pre-reading skills such as learning that letters make words, learning that print moves from left to right, learning to value and enjoy reading/language, learning the basics of grammar, learning correct pronunciation, and so on.  It also is a great relationship builder,” Lemons says in her blog.

During Mariel’s talk, parents shared how reading aloud really helps children become curious with the world around them and how it boosts their imagination.

Some parents, like homeschool mom and blogger Tina Rodriguez shared during the talk that they read to their children in the morning and before going to bed.

Guided by the Four Rs, Mariel does homeschooling using play-based methods. She uses imaginative play and open-ended toys such as wooden blocks. When reading at home, she uses classic picture books and discusses with her children the elements of the story.

In teaching math concepts, Mariel relates this with real life situations such as having her child set the table, count the utensils to be used and measure the food.

Assigning simple chores to the children can help them a lot in developing a sense of responsibility.

She also does activities that help develop and train a child’s character so that she learns the values of politeness, obedience, gentleness and kindness among others.

“Everything can be a tool to help children in character training,” says Mariel.

Mariel assures that while the concept of homeschooling seems daunting, it can be done.

Dr. Benjamin Spock, author of the child book used by generations and generations of parents said, “Trust yourself. You Know more than you think you do.”

Mariel, too advises parents to relax, saying that it’s the best way to homeschool.

“The best way to homeschool your preschooler is to relax,” she says.

She also encourages parents to take the homeschool path to be able to participate more in their children’s growth and learning in the early years.

“Childhood is fleeting. When I think about what we’re doing, I think it’s helping preserve our children’s childhood. It’s not school at home, it’s learning,” Mariel says.

I couldn’t help but agree. As a mom to my only daughter, I never want to miss a thing. When she was a newborn, someone told me to cherish every moment because it will be gone before I even know it.

Homeschooling may not work for all families but whether you choose this path or not, let us remember that as parents, we can be our children’s best teachers and we only have one chance to do it with them. Real life is the best curriculum and every moment can be an opportunity to teach.

Indeed, childhood is fleeting. Let’s make each moment with our children as magical as possible.

(Preschool homeschool inquiries may be addressed to Mariel at The Learning Basket. Photo by Jes Aznar)