3 Reasons Homeschoolers Need to Slow Down Their Young Children’s Education

Here are 3 reasons homeschoolers need to slow down their young children’s education.

3 Reasons Homeschoolers Need to Slow Down Their Young Children's Education 7SistersHomeschool.com

3 Reasons Homeschoolers Need to Slow Down Their Young Children’s Education

It is easy for American parents (even homeschooling parents) to feel pressure to over-perform, to over-achieve, in order to validate our homeschool success.

It’s an easy pitfall homeschool parents can fall into, especially in the early years. I have met parents who feel pressure to show that their 4-year-olds are reading and 5 year-olds writing basic equations.

I have to admit, sometimes this is appropriate (of my 5 kids, one of them taught himself to read at age 4). HOWEVER, I don’t think we are doing our children any favors by shoving them into academics they are not developmentally ready for.

Let me explain:

Children under the age of 5 have neural structure that is significantly different than ours. For instance, an infant’s brain cells (neurons) have little myelination. Myelin is an oily substance that coats the neurons, making them work more effeciently. The myelin sheath does not completely form until a child is in his teens. At pre-school age his lack of myelin effects:

1) The preschooler’s visual efficiency 

Children under age 5 are often effectively very slightly far-sighted. The result of this is that their eyes tire easily when moving across small objects- like rows of words in a reading book.

2) The preschooler’s fine motor abilities

Along with the fact that their fingers tend to be short, chubby and have undeveloped muscle tone, lack of myelin effects the ability to work on small things like cutting with scissors, putting together puzzles with small pieces, and writing with pencils.

3) The preschooler’s cognitive abilities

Preschoolers think concretely– not abstractly. (While they can understand, “Give the toy to your brother”, they don’t understand fully the abstract concept of sharing or “be nice”, or patriotism, or algebra.)

Precious homeschool buddies

They think by centration. (One thing at a time- test this: have your 4 year-old sort beads. They sort by size or color, but not both.) The ability to think of things in more than one manner at the same time and abstractly, is necessary to reading comprehension and math equations.

They do not have reversibility. (Can’t think backwards- as in subtraction is backwards from addition.)

When a young child is pushed educationally beyond what his myelination is able to handle well, he gets frustrated and uncooperative. He learns that learning is a chore, or worse- a torment.

Homeschool parents, why not slow down?

The best thing a preschooler or kindergartener needs is play. Play with toys, with shapes, with puzzles. He needs climbing and jumping and singing and pounding and coloring. This will help get his brain ready to learn. So, relax (meet your state’s goals for kindergarten) but relax about it!

I’m not just spouting off unexperienced book knowledge- with my 5 kids, I took ages 3-5 to develop readiness, wonder, and love of learning. We concentrated on development.

All of my kids have hit adulthood. One has a PhD and teaches, another is nearly through with his PhD and is teaching, one teaches middle school, one has a BA in photography and works in that field, one is in college. They did not need to rush through early childhood to have career success as adults!

We’ve put together a little booklet to help you organize a developmentally appropriate education for your pre-school/kindergartener. A quick read, it has lots of thoughts about developing an inexpensive and fun educational program for your child. A Developmental Approach to Teaching Kindergarten is how I “did” kindergarten.


Also if you’ve never done so, our Human Development curriculum teaches lots about development and is good for parents, as well as teens, to work through. It helps explain to your competitive homeschool friends why you SLOW DOWN with your kids.

Human Development

The material in this post is also covered in our elective etext for high schoolers (and parents who might want to have some educational fun themselves): Early Childhood Education.

Early Childhood education

3 Reasons Homeschoolers Need to Slow Down Their Young Children’s Education

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Vicki Tillman

Blogger, curriculum developer at 7SistersHomeschool.com, counselor, life and career coach, SYMBIS guide, speaker, prayer person. 20+year veteran homeschool mom.

4 Replies to “3 Reasons Homeschoolers Need to Slow Down Their Young Children’s Education”

  1. Check up on perception of abilities. My youngest believed she could read as soon as she knew that C A T spelled cat, even if she couldn’t always recognize or remember what those letters look like. My youngest son, however, would tell people that he couldn’t read even after he really could. He could not yet read the KJV Bible aloud with his siblings, so he translated that into, “I can’t read.”
    Kids are so fun and funny.

  2. The trap of “I have to prove I’m a good homeschooler by showing that my student is better than others” is unhealthy at any age. We could all learn from this – not all children are the same and they need to fulfill their God-given ability, not our desire to have them do more or better work than everyone else.

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