My husband and I enrolled our daughter in preschool last summer.

I was *sure* it was the perfect thing for her, and I was not interested in doing home education with her, even though I’m a stay at home mom. Audra is 3 and is outgoing, funny, social, and very interested in reading and learning. She was only going two mornings a week. It seemed perfect and simple. The preschool we chose was amazing. I loved their philosophy and style. The teachers and director were caring and smart. Something seemed off for my daughter, however. She started seeming anxious and extra clingy at home. Nothing obvious, and nothing I’m sure she wouldn’t have worked through. My mama instinct was telling me that she wasn’t as ready as I thought, and I started second guessing our decision.

Another issue that I didn’t forsee being an issue is that it took us 25+ minutes to get to the school from our home. It quickly became a daunting challenge that I dreaded. It didn’t fit well into our day, and it was a source of stress  hovering in the background,

When my friend, Brooke, shared with me that she was doing home education with her two girls (roughly the same ages as my kids) and her reasons for doing so, I started thinking about doing the same. What started as a “no way” became “maybe” because after all, I do have two teaching degrees. Eventually, my husband and I decided that home education with Audra and Wade- at least through preschool- was the best for our family.

We gave up Audra’s spot at the preschool to someone else on their long waitlist and I became “teacher-mommy.”

I researched curriculums, made a plan, made a schedule, and jumped in with both feet. She loved it, I loved it, and her brother loved it. However, all too quickly, the weight of unmet expectations (my own) and the burden of comparison with others began to weigh on me. Maybe our activities and days weren’t elaborate enough, or long enough, or whatever enough…

And yet, I strongly believe that kids should learn through play and fun.

I don’t want to force either one of my kids to learn or do something they aren’t interested in, and fortunately both of my kids love to read. Reading quickly became the foundation for our days.  I ditched the preschool curriculum I had purchased and started coming up with my own reading based lessons and activities. It’s really simple. We read as many books as we can throughout the day. Each week is based on a letter and it’s sounds. I pick several books and projects to support learning the letter. In addition, I take every opportunity I can to discuss, spot, sound out, and practice writing the letter we are working on.  We do fun, simple crafts and projects, a lot of coloring and decorating, and have fun together, playing and discovering.

I feel less pressure.

The only requirement of myself is that we read together each day. Sometimes that means we read one book at bedtime. Sometimes that means we sit down with a stack of books.  I view the rest of the activities as a bonus. My kids are learning their letters and their sounds, and they are only getting more fascinated by books and learning. I answer endless questions throughout the day and that tells me my kids are happy, engaged, and eager to learn.

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