I feel like this post should have some deep philosophical or religious or moral basis as to why we chose to do home preschooling for our 3-4 year old boy, Luke, but it doesn’t. I never went to preschool as a child – straight to Kinder – so it was never really a big deal to get him signed up or registered. Also, as a SAHM, I really only wanted him to attend a preschool for the social interaction and “school” atmosphere. So, when my sister signed my niece up for one, it made me start looking into the available preschools in my area.
And I was overwhelmed.
Not in a bad way! I am often overwhelmed by big decisions because I research every possible opportunity, time, cost, distance from home, and what my schedule might look like with each one. A few were highly recommended by friends but I didn’t love the location or the cost or the times. Some only had a 2-3 hour lesson, two or three times a week, which sounded to me like I’d be driving him to preschool only to turn around and pick him up a little bit later – and they weren’t just up the road.
So with that, I put him on a wait list for the one my niece attends (an affordable in-home preschool with a “school room” atmosphere and a bunch of children he doesn’t know – hence the socialization I was wanting) and decided to do PRESCHOOL AT HOME!! He won’t start at that preschool until next August, so for this year we are having a lot of fun learning and teaching and schooling at home!
Truly, it has been one of the best decisions I’ve made as he is learning so fast, able to explore and discover things that he loves, go as fast or as slow as he needs, and we do it on our schedule – sometimes on-the-go even! Plus, I have always loved to learn and to teach (I actually started my post-secondary education in a high school teaching program), so it is very rewarding for me as well!
Here’s the very informal and relaxed preschooling we do:
I think this is the one parents would be most interested in! Again, I am very relaxed and don’t have a set program. I like to have a pattern we follow each time so he gets used to it and knows what’s the first thing we focus on. Plus the pattern allows for repetition on things like letters and numbers! He has ACED his uppercase/lowercase letters and 1-30 numbers because we do them each lesson.
I write down what we do each time so I know what’s been covered and where he’s improving. It’s the school-lover in me! But you don’t have to write anything down if you don’t want to. I also have Luke place a sticker next to each subject after we have completed it. It’s a good visual for him!
These “lesson plans” help you get an idea of our pattern each day:
How do I come up with content?
This is the fun part! Take the natural world, the basics, and whatever your child is interested in and create fun projects, activities, workbooks, lessons, stories, etc. around that! We do letters and numbers each lesson but what we do with them may be different. Luke loves STEM, robots, learning about how processes work, engines, building, using his hands, LEGOs, music, and sports. If that week he was really into talking about the ocean, I will make the lesson about an ocean animal in each subject. If I notice he is struggling to help around the house, the lessons that day might center around what it means to be a big brother, a helper, and taking care of the earth.
Choose literally anything and make a few fun activities around it! Or if you’re drawing a blank that day, use worksheets or art or objects around you for the lessons! It is so fun because the possibilities are endlesssssss!
For me, I want Luke to learn how to read and to do adding/subtracting so we have been incorporating the little baby steps in each day to get there. I also know that his brain is wired to excel at science and math so I make sure to have an art/music/story lesson in each time. I want him to appreciate things that are not measurable and logic based and to experience the freedom that art provides.
Anywhere. We do most of our lessons at the kitchen table or the kitchen island. I’ve gone to work at my parent’s business and guided a lesson at the desk with him (workbooks, art, Youtube videos are good for this). We had a lesson in the tire shop while the oil was getting changed – I just put the materials we used in a backpack knowing Preschool would take up the wait time. We’ve done a lesson at the library and when we were done he got to play and check out books about what we learned. We did a lesson in the backyard because we were learning about plants – then he planted his own pothos for his room. We did a lesson at the park and incorporated a lot of play/sports.
The freedom and endless possibilities is so fun!!
We don’t actually have a set time. It seems that I do the most on Tuesdays for whatever reason, but we mostly do it during any downtime in the week. If on Monday we don’t have plans, we will preschool on Monday. If that week, Friday is a slow day, we will do it on Friday. If Luke asks to do preschool, we jump right into it. Having a flexible schedule is one of my favorite parts because it doesn’t restrict learning to a specific time frame.
–> If you’re a planner, look at the week ahead and plan out time in your schedule. Our lessons are usually about 45 minutes long.
When I was at the grocery store I noticed some summer, school workbooks were on sale! There was a Kindergarten workbook created by Scholastic and I wasn’t too impressed – it seemed really boring. But I picked up a First Grade workbook by Highlights and LOVED it! It had all sorts of interactive lessons that were fun and colorful and would hold Luke’s attention better. Does he know everything in the First Grade workbook? Nope! But I can water down the lesson to fit his level if I need to – he can’t read the instructions to know I changed them anyway. hehe But this workbook gives me a lot of inspiration as well! Luke loved doing mazes for a few weeks so I’d incorporate a maze into the lesson – not only to stretch those brain muscles but also to have it correlate into what we were learning that day.
*Random stuff in your home –
For his birthday, Luke got some paints and craft things. We use these for free art time or to make pictures to go along with stories. Hand-eye coordination with cutting and gluing. Chalk for hop scotch (gets his body moving and involves numbers). LEGOs are an amazing tool for school! He loves to build so we will use LEGOs for different purposes – the most recent was to make boats to send down the curbs when it was raining.
The opportunities are endless!! Seriously! Walk around your house, pick up a random object (child’s toy or not) and make a lesson out of it! Voila – PRESCHOOL!
*On-the-go / small items –
We are frequent Chick-fil-a customers – if you follow me on IG, you know this – and at one point they were giving out Highlights mini workbooks in their kid’s meals. We have like 6 of these and I love to take them places (restaurants, the tire shop, grocery store, anywhere that requires a wait) and work on them with him. I write this in our Preschool lessons too. You can use hot wheels cars, sticker books, mini plastic toys, mini dry-erase workbooks that fit in your purse, as learning tools wherever you go!
This sounds like a weird learning material but we all know kids love snacks! Luke will do math equations with grapes, goldfish, m&m’s, fruit snacks way better than he will do them without it. LOL The incentive is also built in! If he completes the equation, he gets to eat the snack – of course, m&m’s worked the best because chocolate..and the colors allow you to do color sorting, sight recognition, patterns, counting…
*Target/Hobby Lobby/Walmart –
The Target dollar section has given us a TON of materials and resources. Hobby Lobby also has fun projects and I’m sure Walmart has learning tools as well!
What do you do if you feel stuck?
Ask your child a question. Their inquisitiveness and curiosity can guide a ton of lessons and you barely have to do anything except provide the materials!
When in doubt do art or music or sports – moving their body is so important and an easy way to cross off a bunch of objectives.
Write down what you want them to accomplish and create a few lessons around that expectation. I want Luke to be a good reader and have strong reading comprehension skills because that is my area of expertise. I already know he will excel at math and science so I incorporate a lot of story reading, story writing, imagination, and phonics (letter sounds mostly) into the lessons. If you want your child to learn about farming or how to help with house stuff or being kind – make lessons about those things!
Teach a faith lesson. It’s easy and feeds their soul and establishes the importance in your home.
Teach a life skills lesson. Bake something together, do the laundry, pull weeds, whatever you want!
What if they don’t sit still?
That’s fine! Know their cues. Have proper expectations. When we first started I got frustrated with Luke because his attention span was short. And then I quickly changed my own attitude towards it and got creative by using the sandwich method! I will do a lesson that he LOVES and is excited about followed by one that is more mundane and repetitive, followed up with another fun/exciting one. I will continue to remind him the fun one is coming after the mundane one and he powers through the boring one! I think the less exciting lessons (like tracing all his letters) are important too because it teaches him to focus. And I always have the next thing ready – there isn’t time for him to get antsy because the 45 minutes is full of activities! At first our preschool lessons were only about 30 minutes – now they are 45 minutes to an hour and he begs to keep going!
I quiz him:
It’s so funny because I quiz him on his letters and numbers every single lesson. I’ve taught him, “Ok, it’s quiz time. Let’s see what you know. Close your eyes and take a deep breath. Are you focused? Are you ready? Ok, let’s do this!” And he knows the quiz is only seeing what he has memorized and I write down the letters and numbers he doesn’t know or can’t answer quickly. Using these short quizzes every time has really helped him focus on the end goal – memorizing letters, numbers, letter sounds, number groups. He will say “Awww man!” when he misses one and “I’m crushing this!” when he gets a few right in a row! I love it!
These are from Target in the dollar section:
If you have any questions, PLEASE SEND THEM MY WAY! I love this type of thing!