Beginners Guide to Homeschooling Preschool

We began homeshooling by accident. I had no intention of homeschooling and to be honest the thought used to terrify me (and I’m a credentialed teacher).

We started at the lowest point of entry, books.

Reading lots and lots of books, spending time together playing, singing, laughing & learning and just having good old-fashioned family fun. We made mud pies, jumped in puddles, built forts and just did normal kid things. We were having so much fun I didn’t think much about how much we were learning until one very interesting conversation.

“Mama, I want to play with chickens”.

“You can play after you have your snack.”

“I’m not hungry”.

(of course not) “You can play after you try 2 bites”.

(Eats one bite and realizes how hungry he is, begins eating bite after bite.)

“I’m Done, can I play now?”

“Did you eat 2 bites?”

“No, 8.”

“What do you mean? How do you know it was 8?”

” I ate 2 bites, 4.”

Wholy moley, my 3 year old just multiplied!

How to Homeschool Preschool

Start small.

Play

Carve out some time together and play. Make make mudpies, playdough or a good old fashioned mess. Pick one thing and make playing together a part of your daily routine.

Preschool Academics

Start going to the library every week. Join one of their weekly programs. Pick out books together and talk for a few minutes about what you read. This is free and the backbone of any quality early childhood education program. I like to choose my books based on learning a life skill, behavior or concept that would be of interest or immediate benefit to the child. Check out my book lists if you need help getting started.

Reading books is something we do all the time, what else can we do to support learning at home?

If you’re reading a lot already that’s wonderful! Do you have a focus or theme when you are reading to just reading for pleasure? Both are beneficial but before you move on to enriching your reading with learning experiences make sure you’ve included some focused reading sessions with discussion. Read I-Spy books to develop vocabulary and language, counting books to help with beginning math skills and science books (using your favorite animals or other topics of interest to your child). Try my book lists for dinosaurs, ocean or arctic animals if you need help getting started.

Are you an accidental homeschooler?

Do you read a ton of books? Do you plan activities for your kids? Are you mostly at home with your child (ages 2-6)? If you answered yes to two or more of the questions you may be an accidental homeschooler, for preschool anyway. Preschool is not mandatory and not all kids need to go so if you’re skipping a formal preschool experience and your child is at home with you until you register them for TK or Kindergarten YOU are your child’s preschool expererience!

Preschool with Intention

Interested in homeschooling preschool more intentionally? Gradually you’ll create or adjust your schedule to a new flow. The time you spend learning should be play based and should hold their attention and focus for a period of time that is natural to them. If you’re enjoying the books you read you can extend them with a play-based learning activity or extension of what you’re learning. Our first big extension project was starting a small garden.

Homeschooling Preschool is as easy as 1, 2, 3,(4)

I like to organize a monthly activity calendar. I plan for one activity per day (in case it rains) but only actually do about 2-3 per week. This system works well for me.

  1. Read Books
  2. Plan activities
  3. Play
  4. Repeat

Creating a Routine or Schedule

Consistency and repetition are the MOST important things for any child. You can create a detailed schedule or a simple routine that supports your family.

A schedule is more detailed or with specific time frames and a routine is something that may not happen exactly at the same time every day but happens in the same order. See sample below.

Routine

  • Wake up & snuggle or Morning Basket
  • Breakfast
  • Get dressed, brush teeth, etc.
  • Learning activity
  • Clean up
  • Outside Play/ Errands
  • Lunch
  • Nap
  • Outdoor play/ Learning activity
  • Dinner
  • Bedtime routine

Schedule

8:00 Wake up, Morning Basket/ Learning activity

8:30 Breakfast

9:00 Get ready for the day (dressed brush teeth, etc.)

9:30 Outdoor Play M,W,F Run Errands T,TH

11:00 Lunch

12:00 Nap

2:00 PM Activity

2:30 Outdoor Play

5:00 Dinner

6:30 Bedtime Routine

preschool at home

Daily things like breakfast, brushing teeth, getting dressed , household chores still need to happen and so does learning time. If you prefer a schedule or need a plan set your focus on observing the amount of minutes your child can focus or sustain an enjoyable learning activity. Play time is learning time or at least it should be!

Make a snack necklace and just have fun.

For my homeschool I focus on a quality routine and we work on one learning activity at a time. I rotate different types of play each day but it can be fun to have a week dedicated to STEM activities or art. We have been play-based learning since my son was 2 so he knows what he likes to play now and I set up several options on our Montessori style shelves(at the beginning of the month) that he can choose from. It doesn’t matter how long we work on (play) it when he’s done we move on.

Why do families decide to homeschool preschool?

  • Save money
  • Special needs
  • Freedom and Flexibility ( you choose what & how your child learns, your child will be parented not disciplined)
  • Spend more time together
  • Play-based learning, let “kids be kids” longer
  • No (respectable) public preschool options where you live

When did you know you wanted to Homeschool Preschool?

Full-time preschool is expensive and I wan’t going to pay someone else to do something I could easily do at home.

I did have had a hard time wrapping my brain around the idea of homeschooling. I didn’t want to homeschool but I realized I was already (unintentionally) homeschooling. That day the value of personalizing your child’s education and personally taking the time to do it hit me like a ton of bricks! I’m a credentialed teacher and I already know how much work teaching is, homeschooling preschool is so much fun! These years are absolutley precious and the benefits and rewards of having this time together are absolutley amazing.

What are the benefits to homeschooling?

The greatest benefit to me is the value of learning with your family. Spending your days with the people who love you the most learning and growing together. As a homeschooling family this can add up to a much more effective education.

I am a classically trained public school teacher and the first thing I think about is the student-to-teacher ratio. Let’s say you have 6 kids. You have a 6:1 child/adult ratio for the entire day. You are planning out 6 different grade levels are so busy everyday and feel like you’re not spending enough time with each of them. I promise, you are. The average public school is at a 24:1 ratio. On average they will get about 40 minutes of small group time/ day (that 6:1 ratio) and maybe an hour month (at best) of 1:1 teacher time. The rest of the time they are in the whole group 24:1.

Personalized education is another inherent benefit of homeschooling. You are able to easily customize your child’s education to their needs and interests. This creates life long learners and a healthy attitude for learning.

Freedom and flexibility in setting your schedule, choosing your own learning materials and setting the pacing your child will be using.

Disadvantages of Homeschooling

No, you won’t be the weird homeschooling family and your child won’t be “unsocialized” . I was the weird kid and I was painfully shy which made it challenging to make new friends. I went to public school and grew up to be a school teacher to help the painfully shy weirdo’s, like myself. The only real disadvantages to homeschooling is time and money it takes time to get your homeschool flow going. Putting effort into learning how to get that homeschool flow going (even if you’re a credentialed teacher) cannot be avoided but don’t worry you control how much time and money you put into it.

Homeschooling Costs & Preparation

You don’t have to spend $100’s of dollars or spend all of your free time planning lessons and making sure things are set up and ready to go and cut costs where you can and spend money only when you need to. Use the local library, accept hand-me-downs for open ended, muti-age toys (toys kids will happily play with for years) . One easy way is to ask for homeschooling materials for birthdays and Christmas. That jr microscope would really help make a backyard science unit amazing or letting the family know you’re child is really into art and ask for some miscellaneous supplies.

homeschooling preschool

But what if I’m not a teacher?

You are you child’s first teacher, period. You will make mistakes and learn what to do and how to do it. Everyone has their own learning curve. I have a few inspiring homeschool quotes posted on my vision board for my hard days, and there will be hard days. My favorite is this…

“There is no school equal to a decent home and no teacher equal to a virtuous parent.” 
― 
Gandhi

Should I use a Preschool Curriculum?

Yes and no. First, if your child is 3 and under you do not need a curriculum unless you like knowing what and how you’re learning. If you already know you don’t want to spend a bunch of time planing everything out choose a theme like farm, ocean or dinsoaurs and look for premade preshool activities. Your curriculum should be play based. I have free activity ideas and printable activity calendars availabe if you’re ready to get started (but not yet ready to spend money).

Where can I find preschool curriculum?

Need specific examples of what to look for? I get it I like to be organized too. You can search the interweb for play-based learning curriculum or activities. Start with play-based learning activities and look for FREE items to get you started.

Want free curriculum?

preschool activity calendars

Sign up for my kids activity challenge & learn how to do play-based learning activities at home and get a free eBook!

When should I start working on preschool activities?

Start as early as you can. Some parents are intimidated about doing preschool activities at home or think they need to wait until their child is old enough for a formal preschool. In reality this is a basic parental responsibility and the whole point of this post is that if you can’t put your kid in a formal preschool program, do it yourself! Kids are born curious and have an innate love of learning (through play). The nature of the human being is use-it or lose-it! If naturally curious children and not being indulged then you are missing out on So much of the child’s academic future is developed during the first 5 years through their life experiences (developmentally appropriate skills like speech, language, math(counting, matching, sorting), how they organize and process information, how they view themselves as a learner) is ALREADY determined by the time they are enrolled in Kindergarten. Start small like reading a bedtime story or making a sensory bin or starting a garden together.

I want to hear from you!

What simple activities do you do at home with your preschooler? Post ideas to help other parents out!

Need help getting started, just ask! Scroll down and leave a comment.

I’m here for you.

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