Is a preschool curriculum necessary?

Once upon a time I had toddlers and preschoolers. Crafts littered the floor nearly every day, we went to the library each week, we visited the farm, went to the playground and took nature walks.

The rhythm of my days was governed by working in the kitchen and parenting small children. I pursued my interests - reading, sewing, gardening, playing guitar, scrapbooking, and more - in every spare minute and in those precious hours alone when Daddy was available.

This was an intense period of my life. I was teaching and training appropriate boundaries and behaviors to small children while laying a foundation, through everyday family interactions, for a lifetime of loving and learning. They were building years.

As I've shared before, I was quite tired till our youngest turned five. I have thought, looking back, how wonderful it would have been to have shared some of the intense parenting work with Damien during this time. But that would have meant him sharing the income earning with me and I had no grid for that at the time, nor any career or working aspirations. So full time (tired) mama and homemaker I was.

Around the time Brienne turned five, a subtle shift happened - the hard, hard work of parenting through the pre-school years (the core years of child development) was done and then it was time to turn my full attention to the next stage, the love of learning years.

Now we're in the last years of the love of learning stage with Brienne, transitioning with Laurent into more scholarship, and fully engaged in scholarship with Celine.

I've defined these stages in leadership education parlance with the following rough correlations: core = preschool, love of learning = elementary, transition to scholar = roughly late middle school/junior high school, scholar = high school. (Apologies to any TJED purists who see things differently.)

My days as a mother of preschool children were full but the schedule was light.

I sought to build a home-based routine to our lives and our outings were nature, farm, friends, and library based.

Our days now seem fairly packed with activity and bustle (compared to our preschool years which were very low-key) - each member of the house setting a track for their days, coming together around exercise and meals, lessons, projects and, of course, funny YouTube videos.

At this stage of parenting, with the significant increase of media influence with the onset of the teenage years, the late nights (are you sure you're getting enough sleep?), and the overall growing independence from my influence, those pre-school days seem halcyon and simple in the rose-colored rearview mirror.

Even so, I wouldn't go back. I love my life, right now.

I love large chunks of time for personal projects in my days. I love working at home with Damien. I love the channeled energy of big kids.

I don't cook as much as I used to, for which I am very grateful. In fact I don't show a significant presence in the kitchen till supper prep. (I'm not as hands-on as I once was, but I'm definitely the kitchen manager, a role I enjoy a lot.)

I taught my kids to cook and now they are quite independent of me in this regard. That started in preschool.

I don't clean as much as I used to either. I have my jobs, the kids have theirs. All working together, we manage to keep the house clean and tidy with just a couple hours of work, each, per week. That was training I started when my kids were tots.

I don't have to bundle my kids up to go outdoors (or nag or cajole). They manage to dress themselves just fine (smile) and each morning, when either Damien or I head out the door for a walk, our kids want to join.

They are old enough to decide for themselves to come or stay at home, they nearly always come along though.

There are so many things about my life that are different now than when my kids were little. But the foundation and values are the same - love, respect, trust, togetherness, outdoors, freedom, joy, interest-based pursuits and learning, etc.

My big kids are engaged in, passionate, and excited about learning. They conceive projects and even follow through on a few. They read and write. They make their own schedules (with some help from an uber-organized mom) for getting everything done in the day that they want to do.

And in the course of the day, week and month, their individual interests and the few lessons I teach cover all the "subjects" traditionally taught in school.

We are on a trajectory of life learning, all of us.

And it started in preschool, not with a curriculum or homeschool check-lists hanging over my head, but with just living life - with a bit of purpose and as much passion as I could muster in those days (smile).

A preschool curriculum that builds a foundation for a lifetime of learning is not complicated. And you don't even have to be organized to pull it off.

I didn't explicitly teach my kiddos their abcs, but we read together nearly every day. I didn't enroll my kids in tot programs, but we went for walks, to the farm, and the library. I didn't even consider teaching math but we cooked together and legos ruled the roost.

I like remembering those years, and sometimes I long for those early bedtimes and yes, even the floor littered with crafts, but I love living these present years.

These years are the fruit of my intense labors when my children were young. And this fruit is sweet.

Because of all the questions I've received over the years about our preschool years I did an online teaching on the subject last fall. I recorded that teaching and it's available as a download in our store.

This week my preschool teaching Learning in Love ~ The Preschool Years is included in the ebook Bundle of the Week., 5 eBooks for $7.40!

I haven't read the ebooks included in this bundle, but in reading about them I can say that this bundle has you covered from both ends of the teaching spectrum.

You may enjoy an overall interest-led, life learning approach but appreciate having some activities to draw on and craft ideas, etc. for when you're own inspiration is low. (I know I did!) This bundle provides those resources for you.

If you've considered buying my preschool teaching now is the time because the complete bundle, of 5 resources, is cheaper than my purchasing my audio recording on its own. That's a great deal for you!

Also, I've decided to add a pdf supplement to that audio teaching. (If you previously purchased Learning in Love you can login at Cafe to access that bonus feature.), 5 eBooks for $7.40!

If you decide to forgo purchasing the bundle but want the summary of my teaching, here it is: chill out on the academics, love being with your kids (which I translate to mean: do things you love together and do the stuff that fills your mama well as much as possible), lay the foundation of your family values, and everything in good time. I just saved you seven bucks (smile).

What about Kindergarten?

One more thing to mention. If you're starting kindergarten and have a Waldorf persuasion you'll want to check out Lavender's Blue Kindergarten curriculum.

Kelly supplies you the whole works of what you'll need for a year of Waldorf-inspired goodness, seriously reducing your prep and planning time. Circle time, audio recording of the circle time, story, painting story, beeswax modeling suggestion, and a craft project including detailed step-by-step instructions, supply list, and color photo - it's all supplied for each week of the season.

As for the preschool bundle, you have till next Monday to purchase and then it's gone.

Renee Tougas participates in affiliate marketing, including the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program. Whenever you buy something on Amazon from a link you clicked here, I get a (very) small percentage of that sale. See disclosure for further explanation.

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  • Sarah m

    Sarah m on Sept. 10, 2013, 2:26 p.m.

    Although they aren't every day like they used to be, our days are still full of 'field trips' (i.e. places mom wants to explore and let the kids roam free!), a weekly library day that my kids NOTICE if it's not happening, and many seasonal activities--our farm trip is usually in the fall. :) I even took our kids on their first trail run last night and they loved it! 

    I loved listening to your audio last year, and that and the 5-8 yo one I listen to perhaps every 6 months or so for a refresher. It just lets me exhale and not take myself too seriously, which my kids appreciate!

    On another note- everyone says kids will eat if you cook with them, but this hasn't been my experience. My daughter is the pickiest person in our family, but the one who loves to get in the kitchen the most! 

    Sarah M



  • Kelly Ehrman

    Kelly Ehrman on Sept. 11, 2013, 11:32 a.m.

    Oh Renee, you are so sweet!  I LOVED this post and it was such a nice surprise to see my work mentioned at the end.  My oldest just crossed that line into Love of Learning and my youngest is still in Core (and Waldorf lines up well with TJED in that way) and even just straddling that line, I felt nostalgic reading your post!  :)  


  • kelsey

    kelsey on Sept. 14, 2013, 3:27 p.m.

    Great words right in time for me! I have a 2 and 4 year old and I feel so much pressure to be putting the 4 year old in preschool. In BC we have "strong start" gov't funded parent participating "preschool" which fills the gap occasionally. I had another question though, and wasnt sure if its something youve written about. Did any of your children ever ask to go to school and what did you say or do? My 4yr old has had "real school" talked up by family members and sees friends going and thus thinks it must be so wonderful (not that it isnt) but its not what we planned for our family. Just wondering if you experienced this because now it seems your family is fully committed to schooling at home all the way through. We just moved from the coast of BC to the kootenays and so have few friends and maybe the lack of friends is making school sound really good to my girl! I apologize if its something youve written or dont wish to write on!!

    many thanks for all the helpful advice over the years. I think ill have a listen to your preschool lecture again tonight!





    • renee

      renee on Sept. 14, 2013, 4:01 p.m.

      Have our kids ever wanted to go to school? If they have, they've never mentioned it to us. None of our children has ever said to us "I want to go to regular school", and we're a pretty open family so I don't think they're hiding their true desires. 

      Of course they've asked what school is like and they get ideas from media, and very funny.. they play doll school often, lining up their dolls in rows and teaching them lessons.

      Since other people bring this up as an issue in their home, I've wondered why our kids have never expressed an interest. I think in part it's because we've never discussed regular school as an option even. It's simply not a part of our world. We've never told them they have a choice the matter either. We didn't say 'you're homeschooling whether you like it or not' but we've never discussed any other options. 

      Our family has done our own thing in several areas for many years and being our own family is just part of our family culture. 

      Also, in the early years we had other friends who homeschooled. It wasn't lots, you don't need many, but there were enough. Now, we have less than a handful of homeschooled friends in our entire region and all our kids local friends go to school and still, no interest from our kids for that path. And I think that's in part because we have worked very hard at building a very positive home learning environment. At home you get to do a lot of what you love, there's no tedious lessons, we make sure to have fun with our kids, we are constantly supporting their interests and helping them reach their goals, and we honestly love being together. 

      Also, we have built up homeschooling in our words. Our words have power and we have talked a lot over the years how wonderful it is that our kids have the freedom to learn what they want. We watch, read and listen to the success stories of other homeschoolers. We often point out to our kids the advantages they gain in being homeschooled (mostly their freedom). A bit of indoctrination on our parts? Perhaps, but we believe that homeschooling is the best fit for our family and our children, and we have no problems passing that message onto our kids. 

      Now that our kids really value their freedom they have no interest in giving that up to sit in classes that have no relevance or interest to their lives. Anything they've wanted to study or learn we've been able to access other ways. The only thing they might want in a school environment are the social opportunities (I think that's the main reason kids like school, it's social and we're social beings) so we work hard to provide those for them in other ways. Not for "socialization" but for friendships. 

      The short answer is that school is not a part of our family culture. And our family culture is what steers our family ship, not society's values or our extended family's advice, or whatever. Our goal has been to build a very strong family culture that our children feel rooted in.I don't know how else to explain it. 

      As for having just moved to the Kootenays - you're living in my dream location! I think once you get settled and connected to your local homeschool community (I'm sure they're around!) your daughter might feel differently.


      • kelsey

        kelsey on Sept. 23, 2013, 8:40 p.m.

        thank you renee for your response. It mostly resonates with what we have been doing. Talking up the homeschool advantages (and at 4 thats different than at 14 im sure!!!) we have met a few homeschoolers and my there are SO MANY here that soon im sure we will know more. We left a place with no family to live here and now we are surrounded. Its taking me some time to get rooted and feel justified in what we are doing with this sudden surge of family closeness and advice. Its welcome on one hand to have our kids have grandparents etc. to bond with but challenging for me to feel strong enough to say "this is how we do it!" I just need more practice I guess. when my husband finally sells our old place, runs out of work on the coast and gets to move up here im sure that will help with working on that strong family culture once again!

        Thank you for taking the time to reply

        (and if you are ever passing through we have a big yard and a small home and are always happy to share it and meet new people!!)




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