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    What do I Teach a 3-Year-Old?

    January 31, 2006 by Brandy Vencel

    There was a time, not too many decades ago, where preschool was the exception to the rule. In fact, 100 years ago, most 3-year-olds still slept in cribs!

    Preschoolers are an odd mix because they are half-baby and half-child. The child half is ready and willing to learn and be trained, while the baby half wants Mommy to rock them and sing to them. The child half asks good questions and engages in interesting conversation, while the baby half manages to actually enjoy {at a peer level} chasing a ball on hands-and-knees with their 11-month-old sister.

    To me, the fact that they are still half-baby is reason enough to keep them home. Babies need their mommies, not a specialist. Or, the way I prefer to look at it is that I specialize in my child in a way a teacher never could. While a preschool teacher may specialize in teaching 3- and 4-year-olds, I specialize in teaching E.

    So what do we do? For starters, we have our Average Day chart to guide us. We read out loud {usually Milne, Potter, Stevenson, or the book of Proverbs}, memorize one little verse a week, do copy work {he traces letters}, phonics lessons, learn to read Bob Books, and recently we’ve started beginning math {it’s fancy counting, really}.

    And then we play and play and play. Lessons are 30 minutes, or an hour if he’s begging me to read story after story. I’m not sure half-babies really need life to be all that academic.

    I’m not very creative, but I did find this book in my church’s homeschool library. It’s very Darwinian in its view of the child, but it has great teaching ideas, explains how children think and why they make the “mistakes” they do, and the lesson style works very well for E.’s personality. More than anything, it reminds me of all E. doesn’t know!

    I remember one time a friend introduced himself to E. and offered his hand to shake, and E. just stared because neither Si nor I had never taught him to shake hands! It is always strange to remember that they really don’t know what they haven’t been taught.

    Last week, we drew stick figures on our white board and discussed family relationships because I realized he wasn’t certain about what the terms husband, wife, sister, brother, etc. meant. And he was truly shocked to discover that I thought his aunt was my sister!

    So what do I teach a 3-year-old? Everything. If I haven’t taught it to him, he likely doesn’t know it, so I just teach him anything that comes to mind.

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