I was reading a post in a homeschool forum regarding preschoolers. The poster did not understand why anyone would have structure in their daily routine and why they would have any type of preschool schedule or curricula. This individual purported that allowing the preschooler to have “free play” during each day was much more beneficial and would be the better option. I had to think about this for a little while. I then concluded that I think this person is crazy…….then I read the bio and realized that this individual did not yet have kids. Oh, they aren’t crazy, just totally ignorant. Just wait until you have kids………..
Doesn’t allowing your children to have unstructured, free play all day sound great? They would be able to follow their interests and let their creativity flow. What imagination! What freedom! What……
No, let’s enter reality now. In a day of free play, this is reality:
I would hear “I’m bored” and “Come play with me” and “What can I do” about a million times.
Every room of the house would be a complete and utter disaster.
But best of all, the kids would fight, and argue, and complain, and fight, and whine, and pester, and annoy, and scream, and fight, and………
Doesn’t allowing the cute little preschoolers to have unstructured free play sound great?
Right……..What you need is a plan, and you must plan ahead, and you must be one step ahead of the little people at all times or they will take over and you will have mutiny, and you will voluntarily want to walk to plank just to escape them, because tyrannical preschoolers are scary!
Therefore, I think allowing the children to have lives of no structure is dangerous to my health (mental and physical). Enter the routine or the schedule or the plan or whatever you want to call it. While I agree some take their planning too far, you have to start with something, or you will end in jumping ship.
My plan is the 30-minute switch. I’ve learned that after about 30 minutes of one activity, things start to go downhill-the fighting begins, boredom sets in, the complaining starts, or the crew becomes disinterested and everyone wanders off to destroy a separate room. Therefore, I watch the clock and after 30 minutes of doing anything, I step in and change the activity, even if the little people aren’t getting too cranky yet. I’ve learned that it’s only a matter of time and I have to beat them to it.
Our day might look a little like this:
30 minutes of breakfast while I read Bible stories
30 minutes of praise and worship
30 minutes of “free play” in the living room while I do dishes
30 minutes of playing a game together
30 minutes of snack and clean up
30 minutes of playing outside
30 minutes of reading outside
30 minutes of free play while I make lunch
30 minutes of lunch
30 minutes of clean up
30 minutes of getting Bee ready for nap and brushing teeth
30 minutes of art time
30 minutes of preschool reading and projects
30 minutes of clean up and violin practice
30 minutes of kindergarten time
30 minutes of reading
30 minutes of snack
30 minutes of playing outside watching for Daddy
I keep a few activities in mind for each day such as playdoh, an art project, a new game, or other activity and I’m always ready with an idea to fill a 30 minute time slot. The kids do get some free play thrown in but I don’t let it outlast their interest and I don’t expect their days to be filled with free play without some direction and involvement from me.
So I hope the poor individual who thinks that the homeschool preschool moms are crazy and rigid and structured will learn very quickly that preschoolers can be treacherous if not handled properly. But I think the only real teacher is experience, and I can say from personal experience that if we operated without a plan I would want to give my preschoolers away-for free.