Structure Sunday: The Structure of Education- Preschool

Education has been of foremost importance to our family. Most of my life has included  receiving education or supervising the education of my children. After all of this I have some definite ideas about education and I would like to share them with you.

I've been thinking about education because it is, of course, back to school time. As you know from my last post on school related matters, I'm a parent who believes that parents should be involved in their children's education. 

To me a child's education involves not only their scholastic pursuits. It also involves their sports, extracurricular activities and even the home schedule and enrichment activities the parents plan with family. This particular blog post will focus on a child's education before the school years even start. 

In the years before school there is a lot you can do for your child to enrich them. First and foremost, have a loving and orderly household. For example, try to have a peaceful sit down family dinner every night. 

Make sure your child is included in as many of the family activities as possible according to their stage of development. Once you reconcile yourself with the fact that doing things with the child takes more time and preparation, you will simply be more relaxed and so will the child. 

Here is a controversial and challenging recommendation: get rid of your TV. Those who know me well know that I am a big fan of certain forms of media such as music, internet and film. However, I believe in mindful consumption. TV decides your content for you, whereas if you have a screen connected to some sort of input device and parental controls you decide. I think it is critically important for children that mainstream commercial television not become their default activity or God forbid, their default reality. Where video content for children is concerned, I am a big fan of high-quality nature and science oriented programming. It doesn't matter if kids understand every scientific word; they learn very quickly to put it all together. 

When you have no TV, it behooves you to put many wonderful things in its place. Children before the age of school have a limitless sense of wonder and can be enthusiastic about anything good. Make plans to expose them safely and comfortably to all aspects of the natural environment, such as mountains, lakes, rivers and ponds. This may mean something as simple as going to the neighborhood park.

Get them involved in sports and other athletic pursuits. Before you do however, make sure you know what the sporting lifestyle entails. Getting young children involved in soccer, ballet, martial arts, equestrian pursuits, or skiing are all very different undertakings. In an ideal world, we would simply cater to the tastes and talents of our children. For the time being, we have to simply say, "where there's a will there's a way." I am a particular fan of ballet and a martial arts since they are available in most towns and are relatively reasonable in cost as sports go; Plus they give children great physical poise for the rest of their lives.

The great indoors also holds many fascinations. Teach children to play board games with other.  Give them access to all kinds of art and science materials. Absolutely every child should have a box of paints and a bug jar.

Consult with your local music teachers to find out what age their music education should begin. Consider taking lessons alongside them. 

Key among my recommendation is this: read to your child until he or she can read. Then, keep reading to them until they are absolutely fluent. Try using your fingers or their finger to track the words. All along the way provide them with a wealth of reading material. Take them with you when you go to the library or to the bookstore and consult with the staff about the best in children's literature.

Young children should be exposed to live theater, live music, museums and outdoor festivals such as county fairs, horse shows, farmers markets, and Renaissance fairs. 

All of these activities for children will stand them in good stead socially, intellectually and physically for the future. Each of these activities, if done in an appropriate and supportive way, will enhance your child's skills and confidence. These traits will transfer over into all the other areas of his or her life.