Rosalie will be three in December. I frequently get asked whether she’s started pre-school yet, when she will and where she’ll go; to which I reply that no she hasn’t started, and that we don’t currently have any plans to send her. People do seem surprised by my response; perhaps because there is an expectation, with the free 15 hours, that by three your child will be in pre-school at least some of the time.
But for me, I’ve raised this amazing little person from a tiny, helpless newborn, through all her major developments so far, amidst tantrums, tears, smiles and laughter, and just when her imagination is really beginning to take off, and she is on the cusp of even greater things, I am supposed to happily ship her off to pre-school for them to have all the fun! Not a chance!
Seeing Rosalie develop, and being the one to help her develop, is one of the most amazing parts about motherhood for me. And even though Jim can’t be around to see it all, he loves getting little updates throughout the day and hearing our stories over dinner.
Over the summer, when all our groups stopped and Rosalie’s friends with older siblings had better things to do, I decided we would try out some themed activities, giving our general play a bit more focus. Rosalie really enjoyed it, and would always want more ‘activities’ than I had planned, prepared or printed!
Because she seemed to enjoy it so much, we have been doing more play based learning over the autumn; and next year, once she has turned three, I may add a little more structure too, with playful learning as my aim.
Learning through play at home
Here’s some of the wonderful playful learning we have been doing lately:
We had some fun making apples from play dough, balancing them and counting with a Ten Apples Up on Top themed activity. Making the play dough was in itself a fun thing to do together.
Mark-making in dyed, spiced, salt using a stick with letter prompts (her name) on leaves. Rosalie is of course too young to write, but she enjoyed making patterns, scooping, pouring and identifying letters.
A really simple invitation to play with water and a selection of items to investigate sinking, floating, scooping, pouring and sorting. Water play is one of Rosalie’s favourite indoor activities.
A simple toddler science experiment exploring the relationship between dish soap and fat. Really just an opportunity to make pretty patterns!
We go to the park at least once per week – we have a good choice of different parks around us, so Rosalie never gets bored, and I am enjoying taking a back seat and watching her enjoy herself and make friends with other children now that she is bigger and more confident on the equipment. The park is great for gross motor development as well as emerging social skills!
We like to get outside for a wander during the week – we are very lucky to live close to the canal, some lovely commons and a nature reserve, so we are not short of places to go for a little trip out. We do most of our big, proper days out at the weekend when Daddy is around to join in the fun!
As well as the opportunities to socialise with her peers at our weekly classes and playgroup, Rosalie gets to interact with lots of adults, and siblings of home educating friends that we see, so she is learning to communicate with a much wider range of ages than she would do if she was in a pre-school class of similar aged children. We don’t feel that Rosalie’s social skills will suffer for being at home with me.
Our decision to not send Rosalie to pre-school is in no way a judgement on anyone who does send their child to pre-school; we made the decision based on us, our family, our circumstances, and came to the conclusion it was the right thing to do for our situation. Who knows, our opinion may change when I have a baby to look after too, but for now it’s working for us.
I’ll be sharing more details about the activities we are doing at home for anyone interested in following along with our playful learning journey!
Rosalie – 34 months