The Worst Preschool Curriculum:
Too Much Stuff, Too Many Activities, & Too Little Time
Have you had enough of the back-to-school-sales frenzy? Are you tired of hearing companies blast their siren songs alerting you to buy stylish school clothes, backpacks, notebooks and Sharpies?
Parents who do not send their little ones to preschool can get caught up in the back-to-school spending spree, too. Stockpiling preschool curricula and educational toys and games will not guarantee that your child will have a head start on kindergarten or first grade. There aren't any guarantees. Learning is a process, and no purchase is required.
Scheduling too many activities can provide a false sense of control, too. It supports the illusion that you can cover it all. You can drag your preschooler to field trips, music lessons, and gymnastic classes from dawn to dusk. But when you fill their days with structured activities — it steals the time they need to just play.
Play is a child's work and great educational benefit comes from it. A child uses their imagination when playing. They often make things in the course of play, like building forts or structures where they learn about form, shape, and size. They learn to use tools like crayons, scissors, hammers, staplers, paintbrushes, and rulers.
Children exercise when they play by running, crawling, and jumping. They discover the limitations of their bodies and figure out what they can safely do. They learn small muscle coordination when they doodle or draw, and when they take things apart and put them back together. They practice hand-eye coordination when they throw a ball, pick up jacks, or dress a doll.
If a child is playing with others, he or she learns how to listen, communicate, cooperate, and share. They also learn about power and competition that is so prevalent in many board games and sports activities.
If a child plays alone, he or she learns how to enjoy solitude and keep themselves occupied. When kids role-play they figure out what it feels like and means to be a mother or father, a police officer, a pilot, a doctor, or an entertainer. Kids use playtime to explore new concepts and practice acquiring new skills. A child's play may include life skills like cooking, sewing, cleaning, gardening, and taking care of pets.
Play requires a full range of intellectual and physical skills along with creative expression. Play is the primary way in which children learn how to learn – by figuring out how to gain knowledge of the world around them.
Perhaps it's a shame that play is called "play," because it makes something of such tremendous educational value, that is critical to human development and productivity, sound so frivolous.
Don't be afraid to step outside of the curriculum buying spree and activity hoo-hah that accompanies each new school year. Slow down a little. The act of not sending your child to preschool provides you with an opportunity to transcend materialism and busywork to experience that which is soul-satisfying.
It doesn't come from buying more stuff like curriculum or planning structured activities that steal precious time. It comes from spending time together doing simple things like helping people, doing meaningful work, making useful things, and just playing.
Give your little one a hug for me,
Diane Flynn Keith