How do pre-schoolers learn without formal school?

Children playing in street, New York

Moms have been sharing What our typical school day looks like at Simple Homeschool.

What does a young child (pre-schooler)  need to learn?

  • Moms of very young pre-schoolers pack in full homeschool mornings with their young kids.
  • Many buy full curriculums.
  • Many have workbooks, educational games and toys and computer programs.
  • Most have tightly scheduled days.
  • Most children work at desks and tables doing schoolFormally.

This is fine … but when children are so young, is it all necessary?

I read Janice Campbell’s recent post Homeschoolers: What’s the Least You Need to Teach? and she shares some valuable insights:

Your primary job as a homeschool parent is first to disciple and civilize your child, then to start them on the road to cultural literacy (the culture of Western civilization, not current pop culture). In addition to reading, writing, and arithmetic, they’ll need four fundamental skills:

    • How to find and organize reliable information
    • How to think and communicate clearly (literary analysis is a wonderful way to teach this)
    • How to discern worldview
    • How to make thoughtful, reasoned decisions”

All educationists believe that young children learn by doing.

What should young children learn?

And more importantly, how should they learn?

What if everyday we focused on allowing our children something to grow  in …




  • I believe that young children should be part of your life,
Two Children Playing Outside
  • take part in what you are busy with,
  • help in your activities,
  • let them do the real thing in a smaller, manageable way.
  • And all the while, mom talks about what they are doing or making,
  • answer the hundreds of questions,
  • show them patiently and slowly,
  • step-by-step,
  • encourage and affirm the child’s efforts …
  • Spend some time reading aloud, singing, praying and sharing God’s Word..
  • Talk about what you’ve read. (oral narrations)
  • Draw a picture or make a play dough model of the story.
  • Do a craft on the story.
  • Sing action songs.
  • Go outside to play and explore.  Share in their excitement of discovery.
  • Teach your children life skills by sharing your life.

I don’t think pre-schoolers should sit for hours doing a formal school day.

  1. They should spend a short time each day to practice numeracy, learn fine motor skills to prepare them for handwriting, make puzzles, and play educational games.
  2. Then they should play.
  3. They should exercise gross muscles and learn to balance, to climb, throw, catch, hop, skip, ride scooters …
  4. They should learn and have fun!

Enjoy these free days with your young children and don’t give in to the pressure to do it formally!