By Debbie Feely
An excerpt from Preschool At Home
As the new generation of Christian homeschooling parents, you face as great an obstacle as we who came into the movement 20 years ago. Homeschooling is more common and more accepted today, but the culture as a whole is more antagonistic to the Christian lifestyle.
Your choice to keep your little ones at home is commendable considering today’s political climate claims your child will not succeed unless you send him to a “proper” preschool. Your willingness to take a stand for righteousness is truly a blessing to those who have gone before.
The Preschool at Home booklet is designed to give you guidance for the early part of your journey in raising your child to be a successful adult. The ideas and suggestions are presented to help you think through what YOU want for YOUR child. Each section of the booklet has additional resources to help you pursue areas of interest.
Every child is uniquely equipped for God’s purpose. As we read in Exodus 31, the Lord tells Moses which men He has prepared for each job in building the tabernacle. Each child develops and learns differently to be prepared for God’s unique purpose. In the years between two and six there is often a two-year variance in abilities and readiness to learn certain tasks. This is normal. A child may be quite advanced in one area and yet not in several other areas.
We can use these years as a time to teach a love for the Lord and important character traits such as obedience, knowing the child will more easily learn the skills which require a certain degree of readiness when that readiness has been reached. Preschool is the time to build a foundation of faith, values, morals, and manners.
When Jerry and I married 30 years ago, we desired to have a God-centered, family-oriented home. After much waiting the Lord granted us two boys, Jeffrey and Robby. We kept them with us as much as possible, and from the beginning worked to disciple and teach them to follow the Lord. In the early ‘80s, as now, the trend was to encourage early intellectual training. However, we believed children learn best through real life experiences and need to have the opportunity to grow at their own rate without being pressured.
As preschoolers our boys were very different. Jeffrey was a very busy, strong-willed, friendly, and exuberant child. The damage from allergies and ear infections caused perceptual motor difficulties and serious articulation delays.
Robby, on the other hand, was a quiet, observant child. He did not like new experiences and clung closely to his family. Robby was a physical child, more interested in doing than knowing. He loved balls of all sorts and every kind of physical challenge.
Making Your Foundation Strong
There is nothing more important in the preschool years than building a strong sense of being a family in Christ. Little children require vast amounts of time and parents find themselves needing to let go of other interests for a season in order to devote time to the children. It is amazing how quickly this time will pass. While you are in the midst of dealing with demanding little ones, it can feel as if it will never end. Use these years to build the kind of family you desire.
One of the best things about having your children home with you is the gift of time. There is no need to herd everyone out the door each morning and no rush to fit the day’s needs and activities into the evening. This freedom allows plenty of time for sharing God’s Word with your children, which in today’s busy world is a rare and priceless opportunity.
Some parents read the Bible, even the King James Version, to their pre-schoolers. Children hearing the King James Version often develop beautiful vocabularies and manners of speech because they have heard them daily.
Other parents read Bible storybooks. We read both. The pictures helped Robby understand what we were reading. Similarly, for memory work, we used scripture with illustrations such as the Little Golden Book The Lord is My Shepherd. With this book, Robby memorized the 23rd Psalm the year he was four (taking most of the year to do so). Scripture Memory Fellowship1 has lovely illustrated scripture memory books for preschoolers. Some children can repeat and remember anything they hear, so be in tune with your child’s abilities and teach what you can.
It is amazing how much these little ones understand. There is great joy when a child spontaneously joins in prayer for the first time or shows some understanding of salvation.
As I taught my children about God, I sometimes forgot I really needed to focus on God. I needed to stay connected to Him in order to have the strength and grace I needed as a parent. I also found I needed to continually go to the Lord with my failings as a parent and to forgive my children for not being the perfect products of my imagination, as I learned to enjoy and appreciate them as God’s unique creations.
Building Your Child’s Foundation
Training your child to be obedient, respectful, and mannerly is not only biblical; it is so exceptional these days that others will notice. The well-behaved, mannerly child is one who stands out and earns the respect of others.
Learning Through Daily Life
Daily life offers many opportunities for teaching your child. You have already done this from the time he was born, teaching him to hold still while you change his diapers, to dress himself, to put his toys in the basket, to not touch the hot stove, and more.
Involving your child in your daily routine gives your child a sense of belonging and pride in his family and home. Children are more comfortable with routine in the home. An easy way to begin is to have Bible time after breakfast and before bedtime. Add a rest time after lunch and you have a routine.
Teaching routine household chores is an excellent way to teach obedience. Chores have immediate rewards; when you wash the dishes they are clean. A child learns the benefits of doing what needs to be done and the value of effort.
Rest time is helpful for both you and your child even if she does not nap. A quiet time of 30 minutes gives Mom a chance to rest and the child will relax and unwind as well. This time also teaches the child to focus on quiet activities, and more importantly it gives her a bit of time to think.
If you include your children in your daily routine and give them basic tools to play with, you will see them acting out what they are learning and imitating the adults around them. Consider how much more benefit children get from imitating real people and good books, rather than playing with popular TV-based toys. We looked for things that would allow our boys to use their own imagination.