In this post, I want to comment on the 4 R's of Homepreschooling as described by Susan. These are described in details in the links below (so I will not describe them anymore but provide a brief summary about them):
Susan encourages parents to help their children "grow strong, loving relationships—first with our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, and next within our families." I totally agree with this!
In our Catholic community, we encourage families to be rooted in Christ. I firmly believe in the concept that every home should be a domestic Church, and so we parents have a very important role to play. Especially the fathers, they become the "pastors" of the family. The mothers become the "light of the home" (among many other things!) I have my imperfections, believe me, TOO MANY for me to share here for now (count impatience, impulsiveness among them!), but I can say that I do my best to be the "light" in our home. It is a daily, sometimes seemingly losing, struggle, but with God and Mama Mary at my side, I know that I am doing the best that I can.
Susan recommends that every preschooler should have a regular daily routine to follow. She says: "A regular routine gives preschoolers security, and keeps them on an even keel emotionally." Being the mother of two young children, our preschooler Kuya (Tagalog for Big Brother) Tim and turning-one-year-old-next-month Rysse, I can testify to the fact that ESTABLISHING A ROUTINE is one of the keys to happier, healthier, and yes, even HOLIER, children. :) Of course, there are days when the routine isn't followed, and that is perfectly okay. (Though I do confess that I obsess about this sometimes! OC OC OC!) But overall, we are able to stick to a fairly routine daily life. (Though I don't know if this will still apply after next week, when we finally leave Timor Leste for a new mission in our beloved Philippines!)
Quoting from Susan's quote:
“When we instruct children in academic subject, or in swimming, or gymnastics, or ballet, at too early an age, we miseducate them; we put them at risk for short term stress and long term personality damage for no useful purpose. There is no evidence that such early instruction has lasting benefits and considerable evidence that it can do lasting harm.”This is a great reminder to all parents everywhere, especially those with young children. Let us let our kids BE kids. Because before we know it, they will already be off to high school, hanging out with friends, preparing for college, looking for a job, getting married, having children of their own... LIFE IS SHORT. So let us enjoy it with our kids and let's let our kids enjoy themselves as well! They'll figure out this learning thing on their own and sometimes even shock us with how quickly they pick things up!
-David Elkind, Mis education: Preschoolers at Risk
(Check out my photos here to see how Kuya Tim shocked the life out of me when he started writing his name, after I had asked one of his playmates to write her name. I knew she could because she'd been attending preschool/playgroup. Tim said "I can do that too!" Then I said, "No you can't. Mama hasn't taught you how yet." BUT then lo and behold, he starts writing the letter T all by himself! My mouth dropped open in disbelief and amazement! Thank You GOD!)
Here is what Susan Lemons has to say about this:
"One of the most important things you can do to help your preschooler learn is reading aloud to him. When you read aloud to your child, you are teaching language, vocabulary, speech, pre-reading skills, pre-writing skills, and more. Reading aloud also builds your child’s attention span, and of course, teaches him about the world." (More on Reading Aloud here.)
I myself grew up in a home where reading was encouraged. And I am deeply grateful to my parents for that. Although we were not read aloud to that much, the love of reading books, comics, magazines was instilled in us at a young age. Even before I read Susan's post about Reading Aloud, hubby and I had already been in the habit of reading aloud to the kids. It's always a fun, relaxing time for us all. Even 11-month old Rysse has her favorite books, one of which is "Baby's Peek-a-boo Book" from Sassy. She breaks out in smiles even before we turn the first page to read it.
Based on Susan's 4 R's, I'd say that overall, we're doing pretty okay with homepreschooling. Although it's been a long time since Tim has actually wanted to have some formal "learning" time, hubby and I can be assured that he (and Rysse too!) is learning through our everyday encounters (waking up time, prayertime, mealtimes, storytime, playtime, DVD time, helping with some of the chores time, etc etc).
Indeed it is a HUGE blessing to be a missionary family because our mission office is also our mission house. So we can have more time for the kids than most parents do. However, we will be leaving Timor Leste for home soon, and it will be a whole different situation. We will have to commute to and from the mission office in Manila. We will have less time for the kids. More traffic to deal with. Etc etc. I only pray that our desire to homepreschool the kids will become a reality somehow despite the new challenges. After all, with God all things are possible right?!
In the meantime, hubby and I will make the most of our remaining days on mission to spend time with the kids, our co-missionaries and our community members, whom we have come to call "family away from family." It will be a challenge to take the next step God is calling us to, but with faith in His plans for us and our family (claiming Jeremiah 1: 29-31 here!) we know His love will see us through! :)
With our CFC Timor Leste Missionary Family :)
We will miss you Timor Leste! Ami sei hanoin loos imi!