The early years of a child are hard to keep up with. The child learns not just language, math, science, good habits and values, but also learns about the world around. The child even discovers capabilities in the form of motor, sensory, cognitive, social and emotional skills.
Many parents choose to send their child to preschool, trusting a professional to help their child meet developmental milestones and be primary school ready.
But now that schools are shut will learning stop?
In this unusual stay-at-home year, young children are learning much more than academics.
It’s not really a gap year. It’s the year we can fill in the gap that traditional schools leave; even older children can hone their skills beyond academics.
As for preschoolers, the learning continues every day, every moment. Some may take longer; some may be better prepared for primary school. But it’s important to let every child follow their unique developmental curve and realise their potential.
However, learning in the early years is not about being ‘future-ready’. It’s about being present in the moment and growing organically every single day. As parents and educators, we owe it to our children to help them explore, discover, encourage them to think outside the box and sow the seeds for a lifelong love for learning.
In the times of Corona, where governments are discouraging online learning for young children given the detrimental effects of screen time, homeschooling may be a good fit especially for really young children whose development depends on holistic learning, beyond traditional classrooms.
Homeschooling Your Preschooler
Your child is already homeschooled, in a manner of speaking. You teach our child many skills beyond the few hours spent at school. Homeschooling is a more refined way of nurturing your child, providing meaningful opportunities to learn throughout the day, through different experiences.
The single greatest advantage of homeschooling is your understanding of your child. Whether your child needs to slow down or learn the next new thing, you are there to cater to curiosities and guide mindfully.
With the world as your classroom, a walk in the park can replace a science lesson, a baking session counts the ingredients and learns to whisk, or any simple child-centric activity can create many learning opportunities.
Not to mention the many extra-curricular activities and experiences you can expose your child to, so as to enrich their social spirit, which may not be possible in a traditional classroom.
You can channel excitement, energy and curiosity towards motor skills development, vocabulary and numerical understanding through a host of different techniques.
What does Pre-Schooler Homeschooling Look Like in India?
Homeschoolers in India constitute a small number of the entire population, but the idea of alternate learning seems to be gaining interest and momentum. Although there is no formal board which regulates homeschoolers, there are a number of large groups and communities across India which support homeschooling parents.
Amongst the many approaches available for homeschooling preschoolers, popular techniques include the Montessori and the Waldorf methodologies.
The Montessori method focuses on learning through planned activities and specific materials to aid teaching while the Waldorf approach lays greater emphasis on learning through play and real work in the early years, and mindfully nurtures a child’s imagination.
What are the Advantages of Homeschooling a Young Child?
Homeschooling strikes a balance between school and structured learning
Preschools and kindergartens accept children at earlier ages (around 2.5 years). The intent is to influence learning at critical ages of development. However, preschool is not compulsory for toddlers as many may not be ready, and homeschooling could allow them to get the best of both worlds, learning while they are at home.
Helps a child learn and thrive in a familiar setting
A child begins to explore new concepts in an environment they are most comfortable in, at a pace that best compliments his / her developmental curve and most importantly with people he/ she is most familiar with.
A stable learning environment
A young preschooler is developing rapidly, cognitively and physically at this phase. Covid has encouraged many parents to seek alternate routes to keep learning ongoing for their young child.
Creates opportunities for family bonding
Homeschooling helps nurture the bond between grandparents and grandchild, parents and their child or even between siblings. The quality time spent during planned activities forges deeper relationships between family members. In addition, familiar interactions lay the foundation for the development of values and faith.
Learning occurs in a real environment
Unlike a school which limits a child’s interaction to a simulated environment, homeschooling provides opportunities for learning in the real world. A trip to the animal shelter, supermarket, beach, park, etc. present great opportunities for learning different subjects. Even the process of planning, prepping and going on a holiday can be informative and educative.
Real-world social interactions
Traditional classrooms put children of the same age together, and this doesn’t allow for a child’s social capabilities to truly bloom. Homeschool parents, on the other hand, may provide their child with social options where they interact with children of different ages, as well as adults.
Try it Yourself
A young child does not need books, screens and even activity sheets. His / her learning happens in a real environment, learning new skills and concepts, each day. Mindfully providing the right cues across the day can help you channel explorations into everyday learning.
Try these simple exercises with your child. In all of these situations, a child learns, engages and discovers new concepts and skills:
Ask them to help you share (divide) the number of grapes between themselves and another sibling.
Allow them to help you stir sugar into tea or whisk eggs to develop fine motor skills.
Cook or bake together. An older child can even help double or half the recipes.
Take your child grocery shopping and have them help identify items from the list and fill up the grocery basket for you.
Enjoy learning pre-math skills (fractions) when cutting up pies, pizzas and such.
If you wish to know more, you can also consider taking up specialised courses for parents homeschooling for the first time.
About the Author: Pooja Marshall from InBloom Waldorf Kindergarten, takes a closer look at homeschooling a young child and how to go about it.
InBloom is a Waldorf kindergarten at Diamond District Apartments, Bengaluru. To know more about the InBloom Homeschool Program visit www.inbloom.in/homeschool.
(Edited by Vinayak Hegde)