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This is post #9 in a blog series entitled At-home preschool resources for the very tired, non-creative, really busy mom. You can view all of the posts in the series here.
I wish I could finish this series by wrapping it up with a nice tidy list of ways to succeed as a homeschool preschool mom. That post would be pretty and it would be pinnable. But instead, in this final post, I’m going to delve into some preschool philosophy and some things I have learned the hard way.
I just knew I was meant to be a mom from the time I was a child. And by the time I was a teenager I just knew that homeschooling was absolutely the best way to teach a child. There was no question in my mind that I would homeschool my kids and be good at it.
And so when my 18-month-old became the human sponge that toddlers are, I pounced on the opportunity to teach him. He would be smart. He would be ahead. So I tried sensory play and messy play and it failed. I turned my efforts toward vocabulary expansion, where he excelled. I was proud. At one point I made an excel spreadsheet of all of the words he knew to see how he matched up with whatever word count the internet said you could expect from a child his age. And he was ahead.
We tried him in a cradle school program, and it didn’t work out because he was too wild. But it gave me ideas of what I could do with him and I ran with it – so convinced that my child was so smart, so special, and I would foster that greatness within him.
And he’s smart, so smart, that he sucked it all up.
Sometimes I felt alone when my friends starting sending their kids off to preschool, but I was still so proud because I thought I was doing the best thing.
There’s only one problem: there is far more to life than book smarts. And there’s far more to becoming a successful little boy than knowing the difference between a trapezoid and a triangle or being able to say all of the letter sounds.
This year, I’ve watched with heartbreak as my smart, above-average intelligence, high IQ child struggle and struggle and struggle. Because the part of his brain that understands consequences, controls impulses, processes stress and anxiety, and deals with day-to-day frustration seems stuck in the terrible twos.
And yes, my son can sound out three and four letter words because I taught him how to do that, but he can’t seem to get through the day without hitting someone or screaming.
I felt like a failure when I put him in preschool. In that decision I had to admit that I was not enough for him.
But even preschool wasn’t the magic answer. He starts back next week – and I’m unsure if he will even make it, if they will be able to handle him, if he won’t get kicked out.
I sit in the principal’s office during a hard day of summer daycare for an hour, crying… We don’t know what else to do. We’ve tried everything. We are doing everything right. But it doesn’t work. It doesn’t work. It just isn’t working.
And two weeks later I sit in a doctor’s office telling a developmental behavioral pediatrician the same thing. We’re lost. We don’t know what else to do.
He offers comfort, hope, understanding, options, resources, and referrals. (For now, I’m keeping these things to myself because I don’t yet know where they will lead.)
I share all of this to end my series because I want to be honest, transparent. I can give you great resources to teach your child the ABCs and 123s. There are great preschool curriculums out there that will give your child a baseline of education that would dazzle your friends.
It may look like I have done so much with this child. You might even be amazed. But the truth is that I scrawled out these books, DVDs, flash cards, apps, workbooks, totpacks, and Youtube playlists onto scraps of paper and put them in a shoebox and once or twice a week he picks something out to do. Because it’s about all I can handle.
I can’t tell you how to succeed as a preschool mom. I can give you some great resources, but this life isn’t tidy and pretty and easy. Your preschooler has his own path to walk, just like mine has. You are going to have to dig in and find out what works and what doesn’t. You are going to have to put up with the failures when you try my suggestions and they don’t work. You’re going to have to watch that child struggle with growing up.
There’s no amount of at-home preschool resources that will make the preschool years easier. Because I’m pretty sure that the transition from baby to child is by far the hardest part of human development. And being the coach, the teacher, the mom – that’s the hardest thing you will probably ever do too.
So take my advice, my resources, my words – try them out on your kids. I’d love to hear back from you and know what they loved and what they hated.
But please remember…
The preschool years are hard. And taking your child to the park or a playdate or on a walk through the neighborhood as just as educational as teaching them the ABCs – because social skills and gross motor skills are just as important as the book smarts.
Don’t miss out on seeing your child as a whole developing person because you are too obsessed with just seeing the spongy-brain that you can fill with knowledge.