Homeschool Preschool: How Much Time?

Parents have widely varying ideas about how much time preschool should take each day - or even if preschool is necessary at all.

Let's knock out that second thought right now. Schools now expect kindergarten students to be able to name and write letters (and probably have some facility with basic phonic sounds), know and write numbers, be able to count to at least 10, and know colors and shapes. (All these things, incidentally, used to be taught in first grade...but I digress.) 

Yet just because schools are expecting much of little people these days, doesn't mean preschool has to be formal. If your child is curious and you are good about interjecting learning into everyday activities, there is no reason your child has to sit in a formal classroom setting for preschool. (Or even, in most states, for kindergarten.)

But let's assume you decide you want to do a more formal homeschool preschool. Your child may love doing worksheets, for example, or may show a real interest in writing, or simply seems ready to sit for a little bit and learn. The question then becomes: How long should formal preschool last?

Without question, any formal school time (i.e., sitting down with books or paper) should be short. The average preschooler won't be able to sit for more than 15 minutes - and many won't make it that long. Sure, you can interrupt sitting time with fun learning songs that you stand up and do movements to. And yes, you can have breaks where you allow your child to run around. But even so, it's completely unnecessary to do formal preschool for more than 15 minutes. In rare instances, a child may ask to do more than 15 minutes worth of work, but as a general rule, 15 minutes should be the ultimate amount of time spent in formal preschooling.

What if your child can't sit for 15 minutes? You can:

* Break up sitting time, as mentioned above.
* Start with just a few minutes, and gradually work your way up.

Or simply don't panic; know that as your child matures, he or she will be able to sit for longer periods of time and do schoolwork.

More Articles in the Homeschool Preschool Series:

Why Homeschool Preschool? 
Thoughts on Readiness
Scissor Skills
Colors & Shapes
The Balance Beam Game

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