|Celebrating Catholic Motherhood|
Catholic Kids *
with Maureen Wittmann
Past Columns by Maureen Wittmann:
Ready for more Homeschooling Inspiration?
Wittmann's website at
or her blog at
Some homeschoolers prefer a structured curriculum for preschool and kindergarten. Me? I prefer to hold off on formal academics until first grade. This is what works best for our family structure.
Every family is different and so every homeschool is different. In our homeschool, I do not feel that my children are left behind by putting off formal academics. Little children are so curious that learning comes quite naturally.
In fact, they learn simply through their play.
That doesn't mean to ignore wee ones and their learning. Instead take joy in playing with them and learning beside them. Look for those teachable moments.
Here are some ideas on teaching math and science skills without an expensive homeschool program.
Look for connect-the-dot and maze books at the grocery store. They are inexpensive and kids love them. Connecting the dots teach sequencing. Solving mazes teaches children to look several steps ahead - an important concept in higher mathematics.
Simple blocks and wooden puzzles will help with shape recognition. Don't be afraid to get on the floor with your child and a mess of blocks. As you build together, point out the names of shapes. Search your house for shapes – the round pie pan, the rectangular aquarium, the square computer monitor, etc.
Cooking with little ones offers many opportunities for building math skills. I might say, "I need to divide this bread dough into 2 parts," or "We have to roll this pastry out to nine inches." Let them measure out ingredients or help double a recipe.
Give them a tape measure and let them measure everything in the house.
Read picture books that have a math theme. Ask your librarian for help if need be (or see The Catholic Homeschool Companion for a short list).
Play LEGOs or dominoes.
Young children love memorizing facts and so teaching them science facts such as the order of the planets, would be both fun and useful. But I encourage you to do more than that. Teach them observation skills.
There are four parts to observation:
Science involves trial and error, it is a way of thinking. Children learn science best if they are encouraged to investigate and experiment. Young children love to see, to touch, to manipulate. They like to see how things change.
When babies throw their plate off the highchair and onto the floor, they are not being bad, they are observing. They wonder what will happen if the plate goes over the edge. They may even be making a prediction. They test the prediction and then try to makes sense of the results. You might say that they are testing the theory of gravity.
In cooking, let children observe how the butter melts, how the texture of the bread dough is different from the finished loaf, or how vinegar curdles milk. Ask her why she thinks these things happen.
Take walks outdoors and observe the night sky. How does it change from day to night? From night to night? From season to season? Ask why he thinks these changes take place.
More important than anything, give your child lots of time to play. Children naturally explore and create. Play gives them opportunities to solve problems, learn about physics, shapes, and building foundations.
Maureen welcomes you to join her at http://groups.yahoo.com/group/ThriftyHomeschooler/ where you will find even more ideas on how to save on your grocery purchases.
2037 W. Bullard #247
Fresno, CA 93711