Help! Is it ever okay to start CM with a 5 year old? Let me explain!

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  • Txcountrygal

    We have three Daughters. Our oldest is a sophomore in High School and we have Home schooled her since 1st grade. Our style has been mostly CM. Our two youngest daughters came to our family through foster care when they were 4 months old and 17 months old. They are now almost 4 years and 5 years old. We are in a very strange foster scenario and are actually in the middle of a second case which was set to go to trial this month. Last week we found out that there was a conflict and our trial had to be moved to June 24th, which means adoption won’t take place until sometime in the fall.

    We had to get permission from our state to homeschool (preschool) our oldest foster daughter last year and this Summer I will have to secure permission to homeschool both of our youngest daughters. I will have to report what ‘curriculum’ I plan to use with each of them as well as show some sort of ‘proof’ that we are doing ‘school’ on a regular basis. I must admit that this past summer/fall had me ready to toss out homeschooling and put my girls in the local school district. But in the last few weeks, God has poured out His grace in so many ways and helped me to understand that I would only be trading temporary struggles for a slough of difficulties.

    All that being said…

    I am currently trying to figure out a way to educate my youngest two with CM principles at 4 and 5 years and have ‘evidence’ to show.  I am not as concerned with my daughter who will be K4 next year because I have lots of PreK evidence in my house. I mainly need advice for my daughter going into K5.

    My daughter (4) who will be K5 next year is very bright. She learned the alphabet on her own by 2 years old and has since taught herself the letter sounds, the difference between upper lower, counts objects, has just discovered addition on her fingers, can make intricate patterns, loves to help with chores, etc. Most of her learning has been her asking us questions, us demonstrating an answer, and her teaching herself.

    While I have no intention of pushing her in formal education, I am wondering if it is ever appropriate to start formal CM with a child who is a voracious learner/self teacher. Considering that I will have to have a plan to present to the educational coordinator for K5, this seems a better option to buying a ‘curriculum’ just to have proof.

    If anyone has been in a similar situation or if anyone has advice on how to have ‘evidence’ while sticking to the CM way at this age, please help!

    Thank You! Wendy Doster


    Tamara Bell

    Hi Wendy,

    You are in a tough spot for sure.  If you have not already, I encourage you to look at our preschool-kindergarten guide.  It is full of suggestions for these earlier years.  While Charlotte believed children should be at least 6 years old for formal education, she did not believe that they should spend their days without guidance.  She encouraged teaching children to read (it looks more organic than formal sit down lessons), working with numbers, books, habit training, etc.  Our suggestions will give your foster daughter a well rounded kindergarten year that some states look for.


    A lot may depend on what type of evidence or documentation of schooling is required of you.

    A lot of learning can be done in a less “formal” way that can be noted. If you read bedtimes stories before bed, jot down what you read to them (or if you need a set curriculum for books you can say, “Mom picks one book, you pick one”). Maybe your whole family sings a folk song at dinner. There are a lot of ways to “squeeze” lessons in without a formal sit down time. The trick is how you might be required to report your work.

    I hope those thoughts are helpful.

    But also keep in mind, nobody has the ideal life. If you are in a situation that requires a “formal sit down learning” a year younger than you’d hoped, you haven’t ‘damaged’ a child. Perhaps it is not ideal, but lots of wonderful, well adjusted people started lessons at a younger age.

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