Family & Parenting Homeschooling Preschoolers

How I Currently “Teach” Caroline

How I Currently “Teach” Caroline 2

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Several days ago Kat left a comment asking if I would share how I organize Caroline’s day, what we are doing with her learning, etc.  So, for what it is worth, here is where we are right now with Caroline as a three year old.  And this is honesty at its finest.

I am motivated. Caroline is not ready.

I feel guilty for not doing more structured things with her.  Caroline is not ready.

I am tempted to feel angst over the “lost” months this summer when I was too sick to do much of anything with her except watch Pride and Prejudice (A&E) more times than I will ever publicly admit.  (She was obsessed with it for quite awhile and it worked for me.) Caroline hasn’t really suffered for it except in my overly conscientious mind.

The truth of the matter is that we are very unstructured right now. Part of it is that we are just getting somewhat back to normal after me being anything but normal physically since late February.  Part of it is simply that Caroline is not ready.

I read these blogs of women who do all these amazing, planned things with their children who are a similar age and am tempted to feel guilty.  But Caroline is just not ready.  She isn’t ready for structured learning.

This is one of those areas where I just have to trust my gut.  And I also have to trust my convictions.  I’ve believed for a long time that children are too over structured too early.  I believe strongly in the importance of open-ended play.  I really appreciate the teachings of Charlotte Mason

We don’t read nearly as much as I would like to.  For some reason, she just doesn’t respond to the idea right now.  I’m not going to fight her on this so we don’t read as much as I thought we would.

So that is a little bit about what we aren’t doing.  There is no structured learning going on in our house.  That isn’t to say that there isn’t learning.  We learn all the time.  But it is much more situational and arises spur of the moment far more often than me planning that Caroline is going to work on “X” skill.

Truth be told, I am still trying to figure Caroline out.  She is a mystery to me in many ways and it has been a challenge.  In many ways I cannot figure out what makes her tick.  It is hard for me as her mother to feel that way, especially since I am a very insightful person.  But she has a complicated little personality and it has been one of the big challenges of parenting so far.

So what do we do?

We go places – Meijer Gardens, the zoo, Children’s Museum, stores, Starbucks, apple orchards, drives in the country… We have to literally drag her out of Starbucks.  How great is it that she loves hanging out in a coffee shop?  :mrgreen:

We work together – loading laundry into dryer, putting things in shopping cart, cleaning the bathroom, putting laundry away, dusting, cleaning mirrors, working in the garden…

We read books and printed materials. She’s fascinated by catalogs.

We watch grown up DVDs – the exception is Baby Einstein and home DVDs.  She has learned so much from Baby Einstein DVDs. We started watching those right before her second birthday and they have been wonderful. I plan on doing a post on that.

We listen to a lot of classical and instrumental music.  When she hears something on the stereo that was in one of her Baby Einstein videos she will say, “That’s like Cow” or “That’s like on Horse!”  or “That’s on Instruments!”  (She identifies most of the BE videos by the animal on the cover.)

We dance.

We talk about things all the time.

A little bit of “school” stuff – When I find something online that I think she will like, we do it.  Totbooks, cutting and pasting activities, etc.  If a teachable moment arises related to letters or words, I use it.

We use Bing video searches – This started kind of by accident, but we look up videos on Bing and she loves it.  (I think she is a highly visual learner.)  Daddy actually does most of this with her and they’ve learned about windmills, waterfalls, trumpets, Celtic Women Christmas, Christmas trees, dogs… Lots of things.  Here are her two favorites that she has watched over and over and over again…

Here is the first favorite – Wynton Marsalis playing a Haydn Trumpet Concerto.  (No, I am not making this up.) She has probably watched it several dozen times over the recent months. That is saying something considering the picture quality is not all that great. But she loves the music on the trumpet.

This is the more recent favorite. She heard Celtic Women Christmas Celebration at my parents’ house a few months ago and absolutely fell in love with their version of Ding Dong Merrily On High. We found the video online and she loves it. When she hears it on CD, whatever she is doing immediately stops and she starts dancing around the room.

I’m sure there are other things that will come to mind, but this is a bit about where we are right now. I am guessing maybe this winter we will get into a little more structure.  Maybe.  Maybe not.  I know there is no way she would be ready for preschool right now.  We’ll just continue to do things here as they seem appropriate and have fun in the process.

How I Currently “Teach” Caroline


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  • Hi Sallie,

    I’m not a parent, so this may not mean much, but I think you are very wise for moving forward with “school” on Caroline’s timetable, not what others say or do. Caroline is blessed to have you and David as parents.

  • I allowed my girls to all have an unstructured pre-school time, and they have all thrived. They spent a lot of time playing with each other and with me, we read books together, and they learned about things through daily living. As they grew older, we have had to introduce more structure, but they and I will always be thankful for those wonderful preschool years of learning through play.

    (And I don’t think waiting to introduce more structured learning has hindered them intellectually. If anything, it has helped prevent school burnout.)

  • How old is she? Three if I remember correctly? People are doing structured things with their kids at 3? Wow! I could never do anything structured before age 4 or 4.5. My little girl is 3 and we don’t do anything. I leave out art supplies that she does on her own, she plays at the park, she watches some TV, follows me around, go through books at her pace. Nothing much.

    Enjoy the time you have with her now. School and structured learning is stressful. Go out, do things, enjoy your coffee.

  • Jen C – Thank you for your encouraging words. 😀

    April – I agree about the danger of school burnout. I think it is too much for little ones to already have three years of school under their belts by the time they reach first grade. And yet it is more and more common.

    Ann – It is amazing the push for academic daycare/preschool going on right now. Three year olds are still babies in some ways. If you read books from the early 1900’s, people would write about children of five barely being out of their babyhood. Now a child’s chances of academic advancement are ruined by age five if his or her parents didn’t put him on the right preschool waiting list as soon as they found out they were pregnant. What a weird culture we live in today. 😯

  • Sallie,

    Thank you so much! I greatly enjoyed hearing what you are doing with Caroline, and it was such an encouragement to me. 🙂 Your words helped me to take the pressure off of myself to do a lot of structured activities, which I don’t feel our son is ready for as well. I am encouraged just to build a natural relationship with him and with learning, and I thank you so much for taking the time to share this with me :).

    As always, Sallie, you are an encouragement.

    Thank you and Blessings to you,

  • I came across this completely by chance and I wanted to say THANK YOU as it has much uplifted my spirits about my way of teaching my daughter. She’s only 18 months old and I always feel the pressure (from others and sometimes myself just because it seems normal) to structure her education more (yes, already!!!). I enjoy doing dishes and laundry and shopping together. I enjoy pointing out the animals and colors and letters during play as opposed to flashcard teaching. I worry she’ll be behind, because sometimes in the moment she can’t name as many shapes, etc. as another child her age, but it’s reassuring to hear I’m not alone and that it really is all for the better!

    Congrats to you for staying unstructured for so long and not giving in to the pressure! I hope we can keep our arrangement for so long as well!

  • […] From two years to four years we pretty much did the same thing. Lots and lots of books, lots of conversation, lots of play, and some selected DVDs. We primarily used the Baby Einstein DVDs and we used them as a discussion tool. She LOVED them. We tied them in with books in the house, drives that we took, places we visited, etc. When she was about two and a half, we even used sticker books as learning tools which worked wonderfully well! I wrote extensively about what we did (and didn’t do) when she had just turned three in How I currently “teach” Caroline. […]


Sallie-Schaaf-Borrink-060313-B-250x250I'm Sallie, teacher by training and now homeschooling mom of Caroline. My passion is to provide products, encouragement, and information that helps others discover and do what works with their children. I also write about living a cozy life as a highly introverted person. Welcome! ♥

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