Text Books for Preschoolers, Are You Kidding?

Text Books and Life Skills

A few years ago, the Home School Magazine contacted me and asked me what my thoughts were on textbooks for preschoolers and character. This made me think for a bit, I mean after all, I grew up in the 1950’s and character development or character education was not familiar to me in daily language, nor was preschool very popular at that time.

My parents drove one car, my mom stayed home with us kids, and we even got to walk home from school for lunch! So many things have changed today, yet, there are many variables that should always stay in place, to me, that is teaching character or life skills to our children. Textbooks are a valuable resource, no doubt, but, again, to me, there is nothing like hands on or role modeling to teach a child so that they will remember and internalize the meaning of what you’re teaching.

What is the old cliché’, “Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn.” – Benjamin Franklin, I feel these words are powerful and so very true to form.

After thinking about the two, textbooks and life skills/character, I wrote back and they published it. Before you read what I wrote, think about how you would have answered teaching a preschooler with textbooks plus teaching  children life skills/character traits. And, let me add this, would you expect your child’s school to teach these traits, or should they be taught at home? I know what my answer is. What is yours?

Can you honestly say that a textbook is going to teach your preschooler age-appropriate and life lessons or character strengths? Personally, this is one of my favorite ages. They are so interested in learning and can be taught right from wrong, and what good choices are.  When I taught preschool, one of the words that was very visible in my classroom was ‘choices’ and this made the children think twice before making a decision, all the while knowing that there are consequences to be had, good or bad.

First, we teach them good behavior, how to be respectful of themselves and others as well as how to use polite words and portray good manners. Not to mention healthy habits, perseverance, responsibility, kindness, self-esteem, how to be a friend, and basic character traits. All the while they are learning this, we teach them about the five senses: touch, sight, smell, hearing and taste.

At this young age especially, children are tactile. They use their sensory skills to learn and explore the world around them. As a parent, you get to enjoy their reactions while learning different subject matters. Take for example baking; you can teach measurements, math, and basic chemistry by baking and introduce them to new tastes, textures, smells and even new sights. How about baking some yummy chocolate chip oatmeal cookies? Show them how to measure the ingredients with the measuring tools needed. Share the feel of the ingredients, the roughness of raw oats, the stickiness of a raisin, the soft feel of flour and the chocolate chips hard texture in the beginning and then their gooeyness after they melt into the cookie. Point out the smell of the ingredients prior to baking and then while they are baking.

Finally, taste the cookie, and enjoy your preschoolers pride in what they helped you to bake and their reaction when they bite into that delicious warm, tasty cookie.There are some things that just need to be experienced!

Children learn from example, they listen to what we say, they look at what we do and they model what they observe and notice us doing.  At the preschool age most parents are teaching their child about good characteristics, teaching them to love who they are and all the special qualities about them. Each child is unique in their own way and should feel proud of who they are. Can you teach feelings from a textbook, or do you need to experience these feelings?

Feelings can’t be taught from a textbook, they are heartfelt. At such an early age, children will become familiar with the good feelings they acquire for having good behaviors, making good choices, helping others, and feeling good about themselves. Hopefully, this will continue to become a part of who they are. Can this be taught in a textbook? I use the phrase daily in my classroom, – Is that a good choice? The children understand that what they are doing or saying isn’t the best choice in the situation and will change it. I emphasized  on a daily basis to my preschoolers that when they made good choices, my heart did the ‘happy dance’ . this  is how I captured their attention when they would use kind words or helped each other and were making good choices. These are the good feelings children remember and focus upon rather than being a bully. Again, feelings are something that needs to be experienced.

Preschoolers are explorers, they want to learn, they want to touch, see, feel listen and taste the beauty that surrounds them. While a textbook is a wonderful resource in teaching, can it fully allow your child to express  different experiences? You can show them a picture of water, but, how do you explain to them that it is wet, cold, hot, rough, or smooth? Let them touch the water, splash the wter, float, or run in the water because they need to touch it and have with it to truly understand it.

What is the old cliché’, “Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn.” – Benjamin Franklin,

These my friends, are words to live by.


Joni Downey,
Creator & Owner