Preschool and Independent LearningMarch 22, 2021
Guest post by Baby Steps Preschool
A preschool-aged child is a natural explorer. They constantly learn about the world around them, and they are always asking questions, wanting to know more. What better time to introduce them to independent learning than when they are at their most curious?
Keeping up with the daily grind of schoolwork may not be easy for you, but it’s worth the effort. A preschooler’s learning style is vastly different from that of an older child because they lack muscle coordination and have difficulty with abstract thinking skills. But the most important thing to know is that preschoolers learn best through play and exploration.
“It’s not about getting them to read or write at a certain age; it’s about teaching them to love learning,” says Elizabeth Verner, an educator and author of the Preschoolers Learning series.
What is Independent Learning?
Independent learning is when a student works on their self-directed learning curriculum, created in conjunction with the parents and their educators. The parent and teacher create a list of goals, objectives, and skills that the child expects to achieve over the next few months. The student is then given free rein to work independently, using their self-directed curriculum as a guide.
Why Independent Learning?
Independent learning is such a valuable teaching method that many top educators are adopting it in their classrooms. It allows children to decide on their own what they want to learn about, and it will enable them to explore and have fun while at it. Independent learning allows parents and teachers to give kids freedom that is often rare in today’s world. With all the online schools and programs available for homeschooling preschoolers, there has never been a better time for preschool-aged children to gain experience with independent learning methods.
Why Should You Start Independent Learning?
Independent learners can set their own goals, determine how to fulfill those goals, and even evaluate themselves. They are also better at managing time wisely and solving problems. Besides, they have a stronger sense of responsibility because they understand that what they do matters both now and in the future.
Another benefit is that independent learners can take ownership of their learning. They will be better able to develop independence, self-efficacy, and creativity through independent learning.
However, some risks and dangers come with introducing your preschooler to independent learning, so make sure you are careful. Children can quickly become bored by structured lessons if they don’t fit their personal preferences or individual interests. The same can happen if the child has difficulty mastering a skill or concept.
When Should Independent Learning Be Introduced?
Independent learning is an essential part of early childhood development. Children develop skills in reading, writing, mathematics, and science as they become independent learners. Children in preschool can learn to work independently with minimal help or guidance from a parent or teacher. They know to go about their daily activities and complete school tasks by operating independently with limited supervision. This type of structure and routine helps children develop self-discipline for future academic achievement. Most preschoolers can also work alone once they reach age four or five during the fall/winter reading and math season.
This fall, introduce independent learning to your preschooler by allowing them to complete work independently at home during the reading or math season. Children should be able to complete academically based school lessons without assistance from you or other family members. It will help them develop the same independence they will encounter in a school environment when in preschool. It will also allow them to practice the skills they will need in their academic careers. Being prepared to take on this kind of independent learning is a great way to ease any stress and anxiety your child may have in a new environment.
8 Ways to Introduce Your Preschool Homeschooler to Independent Learning
The ways you introduce learning concepts to your preschooler will depend on their ability to sit still or follow instructions. It will also depend on how much “alone time” you can give them while you focus on older siblings or run errands. We have here some suggestions to help you get started:
1. Create an atmosphere of curiosity and exploration — Have your preschooler help you sort through the recycling bins. Or ask them to classify objects in the kitchen, bedroom, or bathroom using sight, sound, and touch. Ask open-ended questions so they can tell you more about what they’ve discovered.
2. Help your preschooler notice and question the world around them — Introduce your preschooler to the concept of asking questions. You can do this by explaining how you go about making plans for activities with your daycare children or asking them questions about their favorite books or TV shows.
3. Try making a nature trail — Every time you go out or visit a friend, take your preschooler with you. Encourage her to follow along and ask her questions about how the plants and animals are different from where she’s from.
4. Immerse the family in art projects: create a draft of something by drawing on paper, paint with watercolors or journal your observations of nature — Children are imaginative and can visualize much differently than they can write. If you give your preschooler the art supplies and let them go to town, she’ll be amazed at her creations. She may even get creative with you and create a new object or transformation for an old item.
5. Have your preschooler help you plan a family picnic “trip” to the beach or park — Let them use their hands to help find wildflowers, shells, feathers, and rocks along the way. Please give them a map of the area to help them find the perfect spot for your picnic.
6. Play a guessing game with your preschooler — Ask them to count the number of plants in their bedroom or how many different types of toys they can find. Don’t be surprised if they want to play it again and again!
7. Give your preschooler a camera and let them take pictures of their world! — They can photograph their favorite pet or the little faces they see when they look in a mirror. Once they have taken pictures, ask them to label the images and provide detailed descriptions about what they photographed.
8. Start reading with your preschooler several times a week — Read books that are fun, such as interactive books that tell a story and include fun activities. Encourage your preschooler to perceive books on their own and ask them questions about the pictures.
7. Go on an art scavenger hunt — Print out pictures of art from the internet and hide them around the house. Let your preschooler go looking for them and provide some hints by naming colors or styles that you’ve mixed in a picture.
8. Make a nature journal — Let your preschooler use her imagination to draw, write and color about the animals and plants that she finds in nature.
When you put your preschooler in settings where they are comfortable, they will learn to develop the skills they need to know independently. These skills will carry them throughout life to continue to grow and sustain their independent lifestyles.
These activities are designed to introduce your preschoolers to learning concepts without making them feel like they’re doing schoolwork. The more you encourage their curiosity, the more they’ll be on the path to learning beautiful things at a young age. Remember that even if your child can’t follow directions or can’t sit still for very long, she shouldn’t miss out on these opportunities. Every time you speak, interact or read to your child, you give her a chance to practice her new skills.
The activities above are designed to introduce your preschoolers to learning concepts without making them feel like they’re doing schoolwork. The more you encourage their curiosity, the more they’ll be on the path to learning beautiful things at a young age. Remember that even if your child can’t follow directions or can’t sit still for very long, she shouldn’t miss out on these opportunities. Every time you speak, interact or read to your child, you give her a chance to practice her new skills.
About the Author
Baby Steps Preschool in New York values how your child will feel about our learning system. We do not just focus on making them learn on our terms; we also give importance to understanding and preparing them to be more ready in learning by utilizing natural learning. Your role as parents is essential to a child’s learning and something that we feel is fundamental.
We would love to hear from you as to how we can be of help to your child’s learning process! Contact us now here.