(Last Updated on March 11, 2023)
If you’re just tuning in to this How to Homeschool Preschool series, first check out Part 1 here.
In Part 1, I shared how important playing is in your at-home preschool. In fact, some would say preschool should be all play since kids can learn so much so easily while they’re playing.
But just because they’re playing and having a fun time learning doesn’t mean we allow them to act like crazy hooligans. A balanced homeschool needs to focus on character building, too.
Homeschooling Preschool: Focus on Character Building
Have you ever noticed that the best parenting tips – the tried and true advice passed down through the generations – aren’t about which math curriculum to buy? I’ve never heard anyone say, “As my ol’ grand-mammy used to say, ‘Make sure you’ve tried Math-U-See Primer before starting Saxon Math!’”
The advice I have heard from seasoned parents always relates to building positive character traits in our kids. Some of the best suggestions I’ve heard about raising young kids are to:
- Remember that you’re raising a future adult. If your four-year-old throws a tantrum whenever he doesn’t get his way, picture him as an adult pitching the same fit when it’s his wife’s turn to pick the movie.
- Don’t do something for your kids that they can do for themselves. Once they learn to put on their own shirt, then don’t regress by doing it for them.
- Don’t do anything for your kids that you don’t want to do for them again tomorrow. Don’t want to pick up their dirty socks for them tomorrow? Then don’t do it today!
All of these nuggets of advice center around character building: patience, responsibility, good manners, self-control.
When I started homeschooling, I wanted to jump immediately into finding curricula, planning our field trips, and joining a co-op. Those can all be great things, but none of them is as important as instilling good character in our young children.
And, while getting a character training curriculum or starting a responsibility chart can be helpful tools, they aren’t necessary. If you take the time to train as you go during everyday moments, “character building” doesn’t need to be separated out as a “school subject.”
Remember, more is caught than taught. Like it or not, what you say just won’t have as much impact as what you do! No pressure, right?
Don’t worry, it’s not as bad as it sounds. You don’t have to be perfect! We’re all growing and improving our own character every day! Looking back, it’s often been my mistakes that have helped provide the best “character training teachable moments.”
When I have to apologize to my kids for being crabby mommy, that has a much bigger impact than me insisting they say sorry when they push their friend. Or, when they point out that I talked with my mouth full or that dad forgot to clear his plate after dinner, they’re really learning to be aware of manners and use them themselves.
One of the biggest reasons homeschooling is successful – for preschool or any other age – is because you have the time to have conversations throughout the day. In your home with your preschooler, there are infinite ways to focus on character training in the natural course of your day. You can…
- Point out a friend’s generosity and model a friendly response.
- Take time to inspect the job they do on their chores.
- Praise them when you notice positive character traits (like sharing a toy without being told to or waiting patiently at the doctor’s office).
- Let them overhear you talking about their character strengths with others.
- Talk about the good or bad character traits shown in their favorite books or TV shows. (As I described in this post, Daniel Tiger has life lessons for preschoolers as well as adults!)
- Notice the small improvements especially in their areas of weakness. For example, if they tend to give up easily, try to notice and praise even their smallest improvement in persevering toward a goal.
If it helps, print out a list of positive character traits (like this one) and skim it from time to time to remind yourself of goals to work on with your kids.
Keep your eyes open for teachable moments and be as consistent as you can with building strong character into your kids. Any positive character qualities you can help build into a young child will absolutely be worth the effort! The positive qualities you ingrain in them now will bless them (and anyone who interacts with them) for a lifetime!
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If you’re new to homeschooling, Think About Homeschooling: What It Is, What It Isn’t, & Why It Works, is the book for you! This guide will help you unwrap all that it means to homeschool your kids. The pros, the cons, the role of homeschooling parent, the misconceptions, the true benefits… it’s all there to help your homeschool reach its fullest potential! Click here to learn more.