Back To Basics With Betsy

6 Dec


My two older daughters and I love reading the Betsy series by Carolyn Haywood. Some of you may have read it when you were little, but I would be willing to bet if your mothers were born and raised in this country they read the series when they were little. B is For Betsy was first published in 1939.

I devoured the series when I was little, and began to read it to my girls a couple of years ago. In the first book, Betsy started school. As my kids noticed right away, Betsy began her school career in First Grade.

Until then, Betsy and her friends were in playschool. My oldest asked me: “What on earth is PLAYSCHOOL? Sounds so fun!! They just played until first grade? They called it school?”

What could I answer? Yes, they did. And they grew into industrious, productive older students and eventually successful adults. If anything, they were happier, less stressed, and more independent than many students are today when they enter first grade. Back then, educators knew the true meaning of preschool: teach children to play and explore the world around them. When children understand how to be social beings, they can concentrate on the academic part of their schooling.

These days, we are so busy as adults that we tend to make sure our children are busy. We don’t want them to be “bored” or “under stimulated.”

All of these activities our children attend can have negative effects such as overstimulation and overtired children. We want to squeeze it all in, but is this lifestyle best for our children? Best for our family? Not necessarily…

My girls only have one extracurricular per week and I hold firm to that. I feel they need the time to play, relax, and have fun on their own. Luckily, my three kids are close enough in age to play with one another happily. I find that their peers are so busy that spontaneous playdates are near impossible–even on weekends.

I believe that we as parents can get “back to the basics” of parenting and give our children the childhood Betsy and her friends had in the 40’s, or that we had in the 70’s and 80’s. We can create children who are confident learners, happy, relaxed, well-rested, and well-prepared for the social world in which they live.

I believe there are 5 steps we need to take with our preschoolers to set them on the path to being “kindergarten ready.”

  1. UN-Schedule your child
  2. Talk to your child
  3. Read with your child
  4.  Count with your child
  5.  Write notes to your child

You may be surprised at what I will send your way, or rather what I won’t be sending you way. Throw away the math workbooks and phonics sheets they sell and display at Barnes and Nobles every August. Put away your wallet. Cancel the tutor.

All you need is a little time, a sense of fun, and maybe a trip to the public library. I will explore these steps in depth in future blogs, give you ideas and resources you can use as a parent or share with your child’s caregivers. If you walk away with one new idea, I have done my job.


One Response to “Back To Basics With Betsy”


  1. Fight for their right…TO PLAY! « You can take the teacher out of the classroom… - December 30, 2012

    […] video games, or computer. Just let them play. This is tip number one from my list of tips from a couple of blog entries ago: UN-schedule your […]

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