This was not always the case, in fact, our oldest was doing seat work and learning to read at age 4. However, I learned with him that pushing seat work, and writing/penmanship specifically, was actually harmful to his education. He was burnt out by 2nd grade, stressed out, and dreaded his seat work, so I made a radical choice and didn’t have him write anything for an entire year (grade 2 – age 7/8 ), except his name and numbers in math.
We continued with our language arts program but did everything verbally. He still learned, but he was able to focus on the concepts rather than the physical part of writing. In grade 3 he mastered manuscript and now in grade 4, he is writing exclusively in cursive with excellent penmanship. He writes multiple paragraphs daily with little complaint. Penmanship is just not his favorite thing.
How We Do Preschool + Lower Elementary Grades Now
We don’t use a preschool curriculum. Instead, I have several educational toys that are only taken out during school time for the toddlers to play with.
We also have plenty of coloring supplies available for the 3-year-old (the almost 2-year-old still eats the crayons). My 3-year-old loves “doing school”. I take a few minutes every day to talk to her about numbers, colors, etc.
I have to be intentional about spending time counting and singing the alphabet song with my toddlers, otherwise it doesn’t happen. With 7 children 10 and under, and 1 of them severely developmentally delayed with severe medical needs, I simply don’t have the time I did when my oldest was little.
Toys in our home must be purposeful (though we have always felt this way, we are strictly embracing this concept now), therefore “educational toys” are the only toys we buy.
“Educational”, meaning toys that require imagination, teach meaningful skills, and are sturdy. We like wood toys/games, baby dolls, & Legos (the only plastic toys I think are worth buying). It can be a struggle to keep unnecessary toys from getting into our home, so I am constantly purging the kids’ toys and giving them away. In addition to not wanting the kids’ to be overwhelmed with too many toys, we simply do not have the room for them in our 1000sqft home as a family of 9.
For K and grade 1, we are quite relaxed. The only structure we have is for arithmetic and phonics. We do math 2 days a week from textbooks and phonics 2 days a week, about 15-30 minutes each day.
My 6-year-old in grade 1 and 5-year-old in K practice writing letters sometimes, but we are focusing on learning the letter sounds right now. We also sound out words together verbally. My 6-year-old is learning advanced phonics, such as vowel/consonant teams and special sounds. Both of them do a lot of writing on their own for “fun”.
They are both artistic and spend a lot of time drawing, coloring, and writing in their free time while I work with my oldest. Depending on their maturity, I will start seat work for language arts and penmanship at 7 or 8-years-old, when their muscles and coordination skills have developed more.
All of the children join me for Bible reading every morning, often accompanied by coloring pages or worksheets I have printed from our current Bible lessons.
This is working well for us, though we are often tweaking and changing things depending on the child’s personality and learning style.