This may sound silly but we began homeschooling by accident. I had no intention of ever homeschooling and to be honest the thought used to terrify me (and I’m a credentialed teacher).
We started homeschooling with picture books & the need for some extra support. He noticed that things came easier to other kids & even his cousins. He started saying things like “I can’t do it” I can’t draw” “I can’t color!”
How to Homeschool Preschool
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.
For me reading books that talk about what we are learning (or what we want to learn) is invaluable. Kids notice the character’s problems & can make connections if it’s something that they have experienced in their life. It may be a boost that a reluctant kid needs in order to overcome an obstacle or simply learn that practice is part of the learning process.
In the early years academics is far more about building vocabulary, exploring and enjoying your time together than reciting ABC’s and learning how to count. Don’t get me wrong, those are important too and will come in time. One of the best FREE things you can do for your preschooler at home is start going to the library regularly.
Most public libraries have early literacy programs and some counties let homeschoolers check out more books. Join one of their programs. Pick out books together and talk for a few minutes about what you read. Being read to is 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.
Other fun ideas is to 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).
Besides reading, what else can we do to support learning at home?
Play games, draw, count EVERYTHING & indulge their interests by exploring thematic units.
Preschool with Intention
We started out really small. Maybe 30 minutes a day. We’d read some books & do an activity together and spend the rest of the day playing outside or getting our sillies out.
Gradually I started to see academic growth spurts & adjusted our schedule to a new flow that included me planning and prepare our activities (not just throwing together what materials I had on hand into a preschool activity).
I really like the scholastic easy science readers & had some books about plants. He was enjoying the books so much that I wanted to extend them with a play-based learning activity. Our first big extension project was starting a small garden.
Preschool Activity Calendars
Starting one big project like a garden was fun but I wanted to work on other skills as well. I also wanted to be organized so I started making monthly activity calendars. I plan for one activity per day (in case we’re stuck indoors due to weather) but only actually do about 2-3 per week. This system works well for me.
- Pick a Theme
- Pick Books, Plan activities, Write it down
If you want activity calendars but don’t have time to create your own you can purchase my activity calendar bundle for $5. It is an instant PDF & includes over a years worth of kids activities for kids ages 18 months- 6 years.
The 13 activity calendars are; Arctic & Antarctic, Dinosaurs, Farm, Fall, Spring, Winter, Summer & Summer Camp @ Home, Preschool, Ocean, Science, Gardening & No Cost Preschool Activities @ Home.
If you want to try out an activity calendar here are our free ones:
Creating a Homeschool 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.
Homeschooling Routine (sample)
- Wake up & snuggle or Morning Basket
- Get dressed, brush teeth, etc.
- Learning activity
- Clean up
- Outside Play/ Errands
- Outdoor play/ Learning activity
- Bedtime routine
Homeschooling Schedule (sample)
8:00 Wake up, Morning Basket/ Learning activity
9:00 Get ready for the day (dressed brush teeth, etc.)
9:30 Outdoor Play M,W,F Run Errands & Clean T,TH
2:00 PM Activity
2:30 Outdoor Play
6:30 Bedtime Routine
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. They will build stamina & focus as they get older so make adjustments as necessary.
Play time is learning time or at least it should be!
Make a snack necklace
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.
Other ways to learn a lot & have fun is reading, spending time together playing, singing, laughing & talking about what you’re doing. and just having good old-fashioned family fun. We make mud pies, jump in puddles on rainy days, build forts and do what I consider normal kid things.
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
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.
Homeschooling Supplies & Preparation
You don’t have to spend a ton of money on supplies or a ton of time on preparation. Using the activity calendar you already know what activities you’ll be doing for the week so it should only take a hour or two to pull all of the stuff together for that week’s activities. I buy all of my supplies in bulk, ahead of time. It saves time & money.
Essential homeschooling supplies:
Super fun Extras:
Ideas for cutting homeschooling costs:
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.
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.”
Should I use a Preschool Curriculum?
First, if your child is 3 and under you do not need a curriculum, unless you like knowing what and how you’re learning. For kids 2 and under I highly recommend picking up a Montessori Book. We used Montessori from the Start by Paula Polk Lillard and Lynn Lillard Jessen.
Your curriculum should be play based and I highly recommend themed activity calendars. When you use a theme kids get the repetition they need and begin to make awesome discoveries!
Where can I find preschool curriculum?
Need specific examples of what to look for? You can search the interweb for play-based learning curriculum or activities. Start with play-based learning activities and look for FREE items to try out. If you’re looking to buy preschool curriculum you can also check out the themes in my shop.
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!
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!
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