Homepreschool and Beyond

Homepreschool and Beyond

I generally limit my reviews to curriculum, but Homepreschool and Beyond might be more useful to parents of preschoolers than a preschool curriculum. Too often, parents of preschoolers who worry excessively about kindergarten readiness push their children into heavily academic preschool curriculum.  For most preschoolers, this is developmentally inappropriate. In Homepreschool and Beyond, author Susan Lemons addresses both the why and the how of developmentally-appropriate homeschooling for preschoolers from a Christian point of view. While this book is primarily about preschool, it also addresses kindergarten and beyond in two chapters toward the end of the book.

The first part of the book on “The Basics” is both philosophical and practical. There Lemons promotes a more natural approach to early education, advocating an eclectic approach that is close to Charlotte Mason’s methodology. She devotes attention to parenting, discipline, and the importance of establishing routines. She avoids extremes positions such as being too permissive or exceedingly harsh, but she does stress the importance of consistency. Lemons’ approach is both biblical and relational—stressing the importance of godly relationships, character building, and good example from parents.  Her chapter on “The Importance of Readiness” within this section sets the tone for the entire book as far as homeschooling itself. Lemons encourages parents to begin with more informal learning saying, “Ideally, the emphasis during the preschool years should be on learning through exploration, play, art, music, and reading aloud” (p.52).  

In Part II: All About Books, she stresses the importance of reading aloud and choosing good books. She includes extensive lists of books she recommends for preschoolers as well as older children.  She offers a list of her favorite authors and illustrators (with titles of their books) and a list of general favorites. In addition, she has lists for many other categories such as “goodnight books,” devotionals, Bible stories, each of the seasons, Easter, Thanksgiving, historical/cultural/geographical focus, science, and first chapter books. In this section as well as for other sections of the book, Lemons lists suggested resources for the chapter that include books (such as Books Children Love: A Guide to the Best Children’s Literature), websites, and curriculum catalogs.

Some parents might view the third section, “Skills,” as the heart of this book. Lemons begins this section with a reminder that children develop differently and there are no set lists of skills that apply to all children.  She also stresses the importance of developing skills in non-academic areas such as family and life skills, spiritual development, speech and listening, and arts and crafts. There are more than just lists in this section. Lemons adds “How Do We Do This?” sections for each skill set plus other explanatory information and suggestions.

There’s an entire section with three chapters on games and play. Lemons stresses the importance of play for both development and learning.  There are even instructions for a number of do-it-yourself games and games that use playing cards.

In the fifth section of the book, there’s a brief chapter on kindergarten with specific suggestions for a developmentally-appropriate approach that doesn’t necessarily require textbooks or a program. However, some developmentally-appropriate programs are listed for those who want to go that route. Two other chapters in this section discuss choosing and using curriculum for first grade and up, various homeschooling approaches, and publishers or suppliers that reflect those approaches. The final chapter addresses the challenge of keeping preschoolers occupied while you’re trying to teach older children.

Homepreschool and Beyond is a refreshing reminder that pushing young children into formal academics can often create more problems than progress. Following Lemons’ advice, parents can instead use preschool and kindergarten to lay the groundwork for future academic efforts in ways that are likely to be much more enjoyable and productive.

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Homepreschool and Beyond

Homepreschool and Beyond
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Instant Key

  • Suitable For: parent resource
  • Audience: grades PreK-2
  • Educational Approach: Charlotte Mason
  • Religious Perspective: Christian

Publisher's Info

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