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Don't Panic over Preschool!

     My mother used to tell me many times during my childhood, “Alyson, don’t be in such a rush to grow up . . . once you are an adult, you will be an adult for a long time!”

     How those words ring in my ears today as I daily delight in my “little ones,” embracing their child-like hearts while at the same time plowing head first in the emotions of puberty with my older ones and . . . nursing my precious newborn! Yes, motherhood is a full-time job!

     Back to my “preschoolers” . . . I believe well-intentioned mothers are feeling forced and pressured to start school at earlier and earlier ages so they will learn “how to share” or “stand in a straight line,” “learn their colors and shapes,” or “listen to someone else’s instruction besides their sweet, God-ordained mommy.” I drive by churches and day care centers with signs out advertising that they now accept two-year-olds for preschool! What is next . . . child care centers already set up at the end of the maternity wards in hospitals, ready to train your gift from God so they will be “ahead of the game” and better prepared for Harvard? Yes, I know this scenario sounds a bit absurd, but is it really?

When I was a child, preschool was non-existent. When I finally attended Kindergarten at age five, it was for only a half-day, so until age six I was primarily with my mother during the day. James Dobson, founder of Focus on the Family, states that whoever the child spends the majority of their time with until age seven will no doubt develop that person’s value system for life! Whoa! Dear friend, even if you choose not to home school, at least keep those precious souls with you until that time.

     As a former public school educator, I always taught my students according to their “readiness levels,” knowing that if I pushed a concept before they could handle it, we both would be completely frustrated. (The same is true with potty training!)

     Of course, learning colors, shapes, and counting a few numbers at ages three and four can be fun . . . just don’t turn this into “do-or-die” lessons. If your little one shows an interest in learning, great! Don’t ruin their love for learning by forcing them to do “official school.” Learning through play is best at this age.

     Carol Orff, a German musician and educator, stated, “You can teach a child to do anything . . . if you will only just play with them.” Even modern-day Montessori schools are trying to create more home-like environments, with kitchens and cozy reading nooks. Why do these schools try to create a home-like environment? Even they instinctively know that home is the most natural place for children to learn!

    In the comfort and safety of our homes, we can teach our “preschoolers” much about the most important aspects of life—obedience, cooperation, serving others, preferring their siblings, sharing, healthy habits, the Word of God way beyond John 3:16, and most importantly, our complete depravity and need for Jesus as our Savior.

     So . . . this upcoming school year, as you are contemplating sending your little one off to preschool, may I encourage you . . . wait!! Create a nurturing environment in your own home that promotes curiosity, messiness, room to explore and create, and lots of mother’s love and hugs . . . and you have everything it takes to enjoy your “preschooler”! What’s more . . . they will most likely develop your value system!

Copyright © 2008-2015 Alyson Shedd

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