That isn’t to say we avoid learning. Preschool isn’t a four letter word to be avoided. Preschool means before school. Preschool for my kids began at birth. I named the object that they saw. I let them play and explore. I talked to them and read to them.
Now my son is three I answer questions constantly. “Where did the sun go?” or “Why can’t I eat a cookie for dinner?”
Play is an essential part of learning at this stage. Pretending and building towers or castles out of Legos is more valuable that piles of worksheets. My son is learning to work with others, to share, and discovering the world around him. After crashing innumerable towers, He knows to build a wide base for a taller tower. After trying to build a tower on my dog, he knows that flat surfaces are better too.
Just because he doesn’t do a math worksheet doesn’t mean he can’t count. We count everything: the steps on the stairs, the scoops of flour for the pancakes, the petals on a flower, the wheels on the bus and the dinosaur toys on his shelf. He learned to count down when he turned a box into a shape ship to blast off in.
I still read to him constantly, I use a great picture book reading list and load up at the library. He shows and interest in helicopters, fire trucks, or the rain forest I check out a book on the subject. Now, he knows about rotors, CRVs and sloths.
I don’t force him to write his letters. However, he does have his little notebook he carries around pretending to take notes. He uses crayons and he has proper grip of the crayon. That will help him transition to pencil later.
He paints with tempera paints that he can mix together to know that two colors can mix together and make another color. He has learned the colors because as I pour the paints, I call out their names and when I give him a choice of shirts, I ask if he would like to wear the green one or the red one.
Preschool doesn’t have to be high pressure and stressful. It is as hard or efficient as you make it. The most important part of preschool should be developing the love of learning in a natural unforced way. It doesn’t have to happen at a desk or in a circle. It can happen in the grocery store, the kitchen table, or a mother’s lap.