Kindergarten ‘Un-Curriculum’ (and what we are doing instead)
Our children, aged five, three, and one, spend the majority of their days in self-directed play. Often I play together with them, attempting to engage in what their imaginations are creating before me. Other times I work in the next room, listening to their inspired stories, monitoring arguments, and mostly delighting in their amazing ability to create entire worlds and “movies” out of cars, blocks, animals, and loose parts.
At the start of our homeschooling journey I spent countless hours pouring over curriculum options and considering what might be the “best choice” for our Kindergarten journey.
I pondered that word over and over again in my mind. For years I have studied the advantages and disadvantages of various philosophies of teaching. I battled an internal struggle of wanting to sit my oldest down with paperwork to “teach” him all that he needed to know. All that I thought he needed to know.
Countless times my curriculum list has been filled with workbooks that encourage children as young as two to trace lines from Point A to Point B, to match objects that belong with one another, and to circle items that begin with the “Letter A.” This is how I remember learning – paperwork. This is what I have known. And this is what I often saw in my teaching placements, in fellow Kindergarten teacher’s classrooms, and what I had even promoted to my own students during my years as a classroom teacher.
Yet no matter how often I considered these curriculums, no matter how I tried to talk myself into the benefits of tracing letters and lines on paper, no matter how important my past experiences seemed to be, I could not find sound reason to invest in these programs.
As a child myself, I thrived on finding the correct answer. I thrived on sticker rewards, verbal praise, and 100%. And these are all most easily achieved through paperwork. This is my history; however, I do not want this to be my future. My own education created in me an intrinsic desire to achieve perfection. Is this what I want for my children?
Do I want them to achieve great things, to learn great things, and to explore great things? Yes! Do I want them to fall into a fit when perfection is not achieved (much like I did)? Absolutely not. Those moments may happen, and that is okay since we all grow and mature in our own way; however, I want to also develop in them something more. My goal is to recognize their interests and to help them to grow in their learning naturally, organically. I also desire for my children to recognize their own interests and to embrace learning with open arms. I aspire to see my children self-motivated in their learning and persevering through struggles they might encounter.
The imagination that my children possess today, and their intrinsic need to create, build, and discover is what is most important to me. I want to gently guide their learning, rather than to dictate it. I want our entire day to encompass “learning,” rather than dedicating a certain portion of my day to “doing school.”
My philosophy of teaching and learning is shifting and growing each day as I observe my children in the serious work of their play. It is definitely a journey that we are travelling together, and one that I welcome eagerly!
Thank you for joining us as we discover the road to learning that is best suited for our family. In time, ‘paperwork’ may find a suitable place in our days as we welcome various interests and adventures. Until then I will wholeheartedly enjoy the simple joys of open-ended play for my Kindergartener and Preschooler.
What about you? Have you made any changes to your style of teaching as your children have grown? Or do your children perhaps experience great success through workbooks and planned curriculum? I would love to hear from you!