The ABCs of Home Preschooling
Your preschooler has an active mind and is eager to learn, but are you ready to turn your child's education over to someone else? These days, an increasing number of parents are opting to teach their children at home for the earliest years of school.
Perhaps the most striking difference between just having a young child at home and preschooling at home is the desire to make your day-to-day activities into opportunities for learning. Even if home preschooling isn't your goal, you can incorporate some of these activities into your day.
Although there are no specific figures on the numbers of preschoolers learning at home, the National Home Education Research Institute states that it may be the fastest-growing form of education in the United States (at 7 percent to 12 percent per year). The Institute estimates that 1.9 to 2.4 million children (in grades K to 12) were home educated in the United States during 2005-2006.
Kelly Golden Ochoa, of Little Rock, Arkansas, spent six years teaching elementary and kindergarten classes at a private school. Yet she devotes the bulk of her time these days to homeschooling with her preschool-aged daughter, Rosemarie. The two spend their days doing arts and crafts, tactile play, and, above all, reading. As part of this minor revolution of families choosing to educate their children at home, Ochoa feels that "there's a misconception that once your kids are ready for school—even preschool—that they don't need as much nurturing. They do need just as much nurturing; it just takes a different shape. And I'm glad I'm there to provide that for my daughter."
Deciding to homeschool Rosemarie was a fairly straightforward decision for Ochoa and her husband, a pediatrician. "I had seen the kinds of things that went on even in very good private schools and didn't want my child to be part of those things, at least not at such a young age," she says. Ochoa points to the "little things" such as being able to work with Rosemarie on having good manners, encouraging high self-esteem, and even eating healthy, nutritious food as being important in her homeschooling.