Ever since I started researching homeschooling options, I’ve discovered that there are a lot of opinions in the homeschool world about preschool.
Some homeschooling families are content to do preschool at home—some with a more play-based model, some with a more structured, academic approach. Some even take an unschooling approach to preschool, choosing to emphasize life skills as the core of their curriculum.
Other homeschooling families purposefully send younger siblings to preschool in order to give older children more focused attention during school hours.
In our family, we combine these approaches, and take a mostly “life skills” approach to home education, but our older son, Xavi, also attends a bilingual, Christian, Reggio-inspired preschool for two afternoons a week.
We decided to send him to preschool because as a bilingual family, it was important to us that our son was exposed to Spanish speakers outside of our immediate family unit. We wanted him to see that people besides ourselves speak Spanish, and that by learning to speak the language well, he could expand his circle of friends and his experiences.
We also know that even with me at home, speaking Spanish to him most of the time, we will always have to devote a significant amount of time and attention to the development of his Spanish skills.
It is very common for bilingual children to resist communicating in the minority language—that is, the language that is not spoken in the dominant culture—and we found that that was the case for our son. Once, he even begged me to just let him a “niño normal”—a normal kid—which he defined as a kid who spoke only English.
And so, two months in to our preschool journey, I am happy to report that preschool is going great! It has been a very positive influence on him, and is supporting his Spanish language development in exactly the way that I hoped. Xavi is much less reticent to speak Spanish than he was in the past and comes home from school each day sharing new songs and words that he’s learned in our second family language.
His response to preschool has been so positive that I am now looking for ways to replicate this environment in the future. Besides planning for future trips to Latin America (budgets allowing…), I hope to enroll him in a Saturday Spanish School, so that he has consistent practice speaking Spanish in an environment where there are no other options.
So that’s where we are today in our education journey as “part-time homeschoolers”—learning at home, in Spanish, with some support from preschool.
I’d love to know: have you made use of preschool programs for your homeschooling family? Why did you decide to send your children to preschool?