Academics are not your priority during the preschool years. Instilling good habits and feeding your child’s heart with good, loving, noble ideas are your top priorities. Remember that children develop at different rates. Some will be ready for A-B-C’s and 1-2-3’s at an early age; some won’t. Please don’t allow external or internal pressure to hurry your little one. Your child will learn quickly when he or she is ready. No pushing.
If your child shows an interest in letters or numbers, it’s best to gently introduce the concepts listed below a little at a time through informal play activities. Structured lessons should not begin until the child is six years old.
This blog post and the video below will walk you through the following steps:
- Learn the letter names and the sounds they make.
- Practice identifying the beginning sound of various words.
- Put together the letters to build short words.
- Learn more words and read sentences through short reading lessons (no longer than 10–15 minutes).
Our Delightful Reading Kits follow these steps and make it simple to teach reading this way.
The Delightful Handwriting teacher book will walk you through how to teach a curious child the letter strokes. You want to start with the large muscles, adding paper and pencil only after the child is comfortable with smaller-muscle skills.
- Learn the main strokes and the letters that can be made with the strokes. Trace letters with a finger in sand, rice, or air; start with uppercase, then learn lowercase.
- Write letters with a large marker on a wall chart or whiteboard.
- Once the child is comfortable with small-muscle skills and can read some words, add the Delightful Handwriting copybook so he can start to get the feel of pencil on paper and writing with guide lines. Be careful not to jump to this step too soon or pressure your child into writing before he is ready. Make sure he can read the words you are asking him to copy; otherwise it is just a drawing exercise.
Children usually start by memorizing the numbers’ names, then progress to understanding the concepts of counting and grouping. Allow your child plenty of time at each step, and remember to keep learning informal through fun, everyday activities.
- Counting by rote; simple shapes by rote (memorizing the words used).
- One-to-one correlation in counting; identify shapes in surroundings.
- Simple addition with objects in everyday life situations.
Charlotte didn’t usually start formal math lessons until the child was six years old, but you can introduce the math concepts informally using everyday objects around your house. This article about math lessons for young learners gives an overview of how Charlotte Mason approached math. Mathematics: An Instrument for Living Teaching and the 2-DVD set, Charlotte Mason’s Living Math: A Guided Journey, will explain in depth the wonderful ways that Charlotte Mason taught numbers and math concepts. You can easily take those ideas and use them with your child. If you would prefer a pre-written math curriculum, take a look at The Charlotte Mason Elementary Arithmetic Series, Book 1.