Opting Out of Preschool - Red Apple Reading ExpressIf you are the parent of a young child, you will eventually have to make the decision to either enroll or not enroll your child in a preschool program. According to the NAEYC, 43% of three-year-olds and 69% of four- and five-year-olds were enrolled in a center-based early childhood program in 2005. Many parents (for various reasons) have opted out of sending their 3-5 year-olds to school.

If you have decided against enrolling your child in a formal preschool classroom, your kiddo can still be prepared to enter kindergarten when the time comes. Red Apple Reading has some suggestions to help ensure that your little one is school ready!

Be Intentional
If you are a stay at home parent, you have a full time job! Not only are you responsible for the care of the children, but most likely you take on a large load of the household chores. It may seem overwhelming to add educational activities to your already busy schedule. However, you must distinguish between what is urgent and what is important. For instance, while mopping the sticky kitchen floor seems urgent, how important is it in comparison to sitting down and reading to your little one? Many times we get caught up in the things that need to be accomplished (errands, housework, phone calls, etc.) and forget that our children will only be little for a short while.

It is important to schedule intentional times of learning into the daily schedule. Perhaps you could take a half hour to hour each morning to do a hands on activity with your kiddo. Make play dough, play with a sand tray, or do a collage. If you think that this sounds like playing and not education, think again! Little ones learn by playing. For example, making play dough requires measuring; let your child be responsible for that task. Using scissors to cut out paper for a collage requires the use of fine motor skills which your child needs to be developing.

By setting aside time each day for specific activities with your child, you are helping him become ready for school. Also, you should have times during the day in which you read aloud to your child. Prior to nap is a great time for a little snuggle and a good book. By being intentional you can give your kid a head start when he begins school.

One positive aspect of preschool is the opportunity it provides for children to socialize and work together. Just because your kiddo doesn’t attend preschool doesn’t mean you have to forfeit this advantage. By scheduling play dates, going to story time at the library, participating in community sports, and playing at the park, you can make sure your child is getting the social interaction she needs.

Remember, group activities should not be an occasional event. There should be a few times each week that your little one is socializing with a group of her peers. When given the opportunity to be a part of a group, your child will learn how to work and get along with others – and that is a life skill!

In addition to scheduling learning activities into your day, you can also teach your little one as you go about your daily tasks. For instance, as you fold laundry you can have your little one match the right wash cloth with the towel it goes with; just like that you have had a lesson on matching similar patterns! When you are working in the kitchen, you can fill the sink up with water and give your child different size containers to pour water in and out of; you have created a lesson on capacity! As you can see, learning doesn’t always require a well thought out lesson plan. You can teach your child valuable skills while you go about your daily routine.

Young children have a great capacity for learning. By simply providing the right set of circumstances, you can make sure your little one is prepared for elementary school. We would like to know how you incorporate learning into your preschooler’s daily routine. Leave a comment below sharing your teaching secrets with us!