How to Homeschool – Best Play to Learn Preschool Curriculum
Wondering if you should be doing preschool at home or sending your child to a traditional preschool? Many parents are choosing the option of homeschooling preschool full-time or as enrichment and learning activities at home.
Surprisingly, many of the skills preschoolers learn are through play. Creating a play-based preschool curriculum for your child can be fun and educational and a lot easier than you might think.
How to Homeschool Preschool
So much of the “foundation” of your child’s interests and temperament is being nurtured and awakened. They are also developing skills that they can use in school for years to come.
This is going to be lots of fun because preschool really emphasizes the importance of play with all educational activities.
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How do I begin to homeschool my child?
If you have been considering homeschool for your preschool age child, the easiest way to get started is to begin integrating simple play lessons into your daily home schedule. It is as simple as adding a 20 minute time for learning into your daily schedule or when you are actively doing something together, consider the learning opportunities and lesson extensions.
How Do I Homeschool My Preschool Child?
One of the largest misconceptions (and one of the things that often scare parents away from trying homeschooling) is the myth that homeschool will look just like regular preschool…only with less kids! The truth for most families is that preschool homeschool is simply a more intentional way to add playful learning into your daily life. Teaching isn’t a lecture or a concrete lesson plan that has to be taught a certain way, it is a conversation, a curious spirit to learn more together or a collective learning experience.
How many hours a day should I homeschool my 4 year old?
A traditional preschool may spend 3-5 hours in the classroom each day, but at home the one-on-one learning happens much faster. My recommendation is to choose a consistent time block each day for targeting preschool lessons that fits into your family and schedule and then adapt it to your child. For us, I would start with a rough outline of about an hour a day to do a learning activity or a series of activities around a theme. With one of my boys that might turn into something that we talk and laugh about most of the day while another one would breeze through everything in 15 minutes and want to do something else. Both boys went on to be great students and earn scholarships to college! I think the main thing is to foster a love of learning when kids are 3 or 4 instead of forcing information.
Which curriculum is best for preschool?
The best curriculum for preschool is a play-based curriculum that emphasizes a preschooler’s innate curiosity. Thankfully there are many to choose from or you could intentionally explore your child’s interests while exploiting learning opportunities. Keep the Kindergarten readiness checklist handy so that you know what skills need to be covered during their preschool year(s).
Should I Homeschool My 4 Year Old?
Homeschooling your four year old can provide your child with a number of advantages like an individualized learning experience, customized curriculum based on their learning needs and interests and more control over what, when and at what pace they are learning to match their level and age.
Personally, I also appreciated the flexibility with your homeschool learning schedule and environment allowing you to fit your child’s education into family activities and situation. For example, we might visit the local zoo after learning about lions (L is for Lion coloring page – Letter L Coloring Page: Free Alphabet Coloring Page) and the letter L or do an intensive learning unit about snow (make paper snowflakes –36 Simple Snowflake Patterns to Cut)surrounding the family’s trip to Colorado in the winter.
Preschool Homeschool Curriculum
Developing a preschool curriculum for home don’t have to be scary. Even though that sentence sounded scary. Think of your lessons as guided play with a goal of developing certain skills. What do you want your child to know when they start kindergarten? Those are the things you should start with.
If the whole process seems a little overwhelming, don’t worry! Because we have homeschooled preschool with our own kids and have experience as a former classroom teacher, we developed a preschool at home program that has everything you need, all in one place. Yes, we are that awesome.
<<Click here to get our Preschool at Home program.>>
What should preschoolers be learning?
Preschool Skills Checklist
What exactly does a preschooler learn in a traditional preschool program? What are the skills that a child entering Kindergarten needs to know to be at grade level? When we were setting up our Preschool at Home program, we did a lot of research alongside the teacher who created it.
In that research for the best curriculum for preschool, we established a Preschool Skills Checklist that might be helpful to you to identify what might be the most important thing your child should learn…today!
Download & print a copy of the Kindergarten Readiness Checklist:
If you’re the do-it-yourself kind of parent, we hear you! Keep reading for some of our favorite preschool at home resources you can use throughout the preschool years and beyond…
Some of our favorite preschool activities make great additions to your young learner preschool curriculum for home.
What is the best way for preschoolers to learn?
Each kid will have a unique learning style. While one child may have intense concentration for their age, another might have little interest in anything that doesn’t include running and jumping. Observe your child and when they are the happiest and most engaged and try to choose a preschool curriculum and schedule that fits joyfully into their lives.
Daily Schedule for Home Preschool
The first thing you should think about is how much time can you reasonably devote to the different activities you might want to include in a homeschool preschool day. For me, the thought of a homeschool schedule was scary and seemed counter-intuitive to the freedom that homeschooling would bring to my preschool children on a daily basis. BUT when I got into it, the daily routine a good thing. It put boundaries around the homeschool schedule and held me accountable to the things I wanted to accomplish.
Here are are a few great resources for developing your home mom schedule:
- Check out this recommended home education schedule
- Daily schedule for preschoolers at home
- School things to do at home
ABCs in the Preschool Curriculum
One of the first steps to learning to read is recognizing the letters of the alphabet. Children should be able to identify letters, sounds, and to be able to match the capital and lower case letters to each other.
- Start with toddler alphabet activities to help identify letters and sounds.
- Exercise through the alphabet with these activity ideas.
- Make an alphabet museum. Search through your house and fill the boxes with a different item each day.
- Play a lid matching game. You can even fill the jars with alphabet letters.
- Print a set of alphabet workbooks. These are perfect for kids who sit still.
At Home Preschool Curriculum – Letter of the Week Ideas
We love Letter of the Week activities! Every week pick a different letter to craft with and explore with your little learner. You can have your child hunt for the letter in sensory bins, or objects that have that letter’s sound, etc.
You can also do a weekly craft. These are cute and fun!
A is for Apple. B is for Bear. C is for Caterpillar. D is for Duck. E is for Elephant. F is for Fox. G is for Giraffe. H is for Hippo. I is for Iguana. J is for Jaguar. K is for Kite. L is for Lamp. M is for Monster. N is for Nest. O is for Octopus. P is for Parrot. Q is for Queen. R is for Road. S is for Snake. T is for Tiger. U is for Umbrella. V is for Volcano. W is for Watermelon. X is for Xylophone. Y is for Yak. Z is for Zebra.
Writing Skills for Homeschool Preschool Curriculum
Most of what the writing curriculum emphasizes in preschool is the ability to hold a pencil, draw on paper with a pencil, marker or crayon and (possibly) write his/her own name. Instead of pushing letter practice, emphasize pre-writing skills that develop the fine motor skills that will allow your child to develop good handwriting in the future. At age 3 and 4, kids don’t have the fully developed musculature in their hands to sustain prolonged letter formation.
Homeschool Preschool Writing Skills at Home
At bare minimum, during preschool, your child should be able to recognize the lower case letters – but even better, your child should learn how to form the letters – at least the ones in their name.
Here are some ideas for preschool at home that is more play than lesson…
- This is the perfect time to check out how to hold a pencil to start little kids off on the right path with fine motor skills.
- Practice writing in a salt tray. Your kids can write or “paint” their letters. Lightly shake the tray to erase and try again. Add a light under your table for more fun.
- Create a gel bag. Place worksheets underneath the bag and your kids can practice tracing. As they write they will see the letters.
- Trace letters that were written with a highlighter. They can trace it once with a pencil and the second time with a marker.
- Review sight words as your kids learn to write. Every time they trace the word they can use a different color of crayon = rainbow letters.
- Check out our list of best preschool workbooks — or order a few straight from our homeschool preschool store!
Teach My Preschooler Kit
Teach My Preschooler is designed to give preschoolers a head start, develop fine motor skills, encourage parent/child interaction and increase school readiness skills with preschool lesson plans.
It comes with 293 pieces and is a complete all-in-one learning system. Plus, there’s a step by step teaching guide for mom and dad!
Preschool Work Books
The good news is there are a bunch of readily available preschool workbooks that make it easy for teaching children in an organized way. We have picked our some of our favorite books that teach without screen time.
Age-Appropriate Fine Motor Skill Development for Preschoolers
Many of the skills kids will need in Kindergarten require fine motor control. If your child struggles to hold a pencil, practice with some of these activities to help your child develop their grasp and hand-eye coordination. These are simple play ideas that can easily be included in any preschool at home schedule…
- Fine motor skills will help your kids develop the finger “grasp” coordination that they will need as they begin writing.
- Develop hand and eye coordination with your kids as they cut shapes along lines. This activity will keep my three-year-olds engaged for a good hour!
- It’s hard for some kids to grasp the concept that there is a right way to hold a pencil or crayon. But learning the “right way” early will save them handwriting woes later.
Math Skills for Preschool Curriculum Homeschool
The math learning in a preschool curriculum is about setting up a solid foundation for numbers and math principles. Kids should learn basic sequencing and patterns and how to match two things that are alike. They should be able to sort items and count to 10. Preschoolers will learn to order numbers 1-10 and realize what pile has less or more. They explore how numbers related to items and can add and subtract items in play.
Preschool Math Skills Through Play at Home
During preschool kids should learn to recognize a written number and understand number correspondence, ex: that 3 = the amount of three items. They should learn how to tell which piles are bigger/smaller, be able to put the piles in order from smallest amount to the biggest, and learn to count.
- Practice counting to 20 and recognize groups of items up to 10 (i.e. a pile of 5 items). Your child should also practice telling the difference between amounts (ex: more v. less).
- Expose your kids to color theory and time at the same time with a colorful DIY clock. Explain how clocks move in the same direction every minute/hour.
- Make large geometric shapes as you count and trace from number to number with chalk. Discover math patterns.
- Whenever you come up to a red light, count backward from ten to zero. This will help your child with subtraction later.
- Create a paper tube counting game with this genius DIY preschool math idea.
- Break out the bag of jelly beans. Your kids will look forward to counting time with a tasty treat in jelly bean math.
- Practice number correspondence and counting with monster math. Add the eye balls on the creature with googly eyes.
- Demonstrate counting with your fingers with a fun Math hand. Try to think of all the combinations to get to ten.
- Make a math station with lots of little items for your kids to count.
Have you noticed that the general theme of an effective preschool at home program is hands-on play? It really is!
Intentionally leading your child through simple activities to make sure they have mastered each skill is both easier than it sounds…and fun.
Don’t overthink a preschool math curriculum! It really is fun and games.
Play to Learn Preschool at Home Curriculum Ideas – Learning Shapes, Colors, & Vocabulary
The homeschool preschool curriculum for learning shapes, colors and preschool appropriate curriculum is just this…
Play, play and play some more! This will help kids learn in a creative way and become a well-rounded student. A sense of curiosity in learning is the most effective preschool student strategy…even if you are preschooling at home.
A well-rounded student of play!
And while you are playing, talk to your child about what they see. Your kids are learning their shapes, the colors, their body parts, the animals in the world (and the sounds they make) all through play.
- Get a set of stones out. Paint them, adding shapes. In play, sort the colored rocks by size, their shapes, etc.
- Play street, print up road shape cards. Your child can drive cars along the shapes.
- Build with shapes. You can use a pack of straws and pipe cleaners if you don’t have anything else.
- Explore shapes with a flip book – make a visual kaleidoscope.
- Use dried out playdough or salt dough to create shapes and craft with them to make a mosaic.
- Print colorful patterns onto transparency pages and layer them with your child to explore shapes and colors.
What are the play activities for preschoolers?
Nearly every single play activity in a preschool age child can be part of a learning experience! Many preschool activities are themed to prompt additional learning but preschool concepts can be taught a million different ways. For instance, if you are working on what the number 5 looks like and means, you might look for 5 things in a book, make piles of 5 items in the playroom or bake cookies in groups of 5. The play ideas are endless!
How do you teach preschoolers to play?
Preschoolers are born with play abilities! Adults need to be conscious of placing too much structure and pressure for play to look a certain way. Preschoolers learn by exploring and playing in their own way and that doesn’t always look like play to those around them. Think about these preschool activities as play prompts. They are a way to start the play with your preschooler without a certain destination in mind!
What is an example of learning through play?
Play is a hands-on learning experience. Think of how we all just KNOW about the concept of gravity because we have dropped a toy, thrown a ball or jumped up in the air. Preschoolers may not know that it is called gravity or what that means to the universe, but they have experienced gravity, predict gravity and played with gravity.
You see this when kids start counting too. They might start counting their cars, stuffed animals or number of items in the shopping cart.
Get 3 & 4 Year Olds Ready to Read as Part of Homeschooling Preschool
I absolutely love that quote! It is sooooo true:
Children are made readers on the laps of their parents. -Emilie Buchwald
Here are some strategies for incorporating the love of reading into your preschool at home curriculum…
- Read Aloud to your kids daily. Work up to 20 minutes a day.
- Teach your kiddo to hold books the “right way” and point to the words so they learn to follow or track words from left to right.
- Time and order concepts by reviewing the story: What happened first, next, last?
- Have your child comprehend a story be able to re-tell it to another person.
- Beginning sounds. Find the letter that makes the sound at the beginning of a word.
- Encourage your kids to speak in full sentences, clearly, differentiating between fiction and reality as you are reading.
More Reading Curriculum Resources from Kids Activities Blog
Kids Activities Blog runs a FB group all about reading and encouraging the emerging readers in your house. We chat about books, ways to inspire the love of reading in kids, we have giveaways and so much more. All you need to do is click here to join our Kids Book FB Group!
What Kids Need to Know Before Entering Kindergarten
There is a list of preschool skills that kids need to have mastered to make the most of those early days of Kindergarten. The cool thing is most everything on this list is easily (and organically) added into a homeschool preschool curriculum. It is what we based our own Preschool at Home Curriculum that is packaged into weekly themes that covers all these things:
- Your child should practice describing and expressing their feelings – ex: “I am sad” or “I am sorry”.
- While active play is needed, preschoolers should also have a daily quiet time of independent play for up to 20 minutes at a time.
- Encourage your kids to be able to tell directions. Ex: left v. right.
- Encourage independence. Your kids should be learning to put their own clothes on, including jackets and shoes.
- Even at home, your kids need to practice cleaning up their space when they are finished with an activity.
- Practice waiting and taking turns, and following basic rules (board games are a great way to practice if not in a group).
- Follow multi-step instructions (ex: Wash your hands, get your lunch box and sit down to eat). Take turns playing “Simon says” with each other.
- Help your child recognize basic cause and effect relationships (drop this it breaks).
- For safety: Your kids need to know their phone number and be able to say their street address.
Our kids love using ABCMouse.com, too because the learning just looks like FUN! They have a full online preschool and you can try the first month totally free.
How to Start Homeschooling:
1. Research your state laws and regulations for homeschooling. A really good resource for this is the Home School Legal Defense Association website – Homeschool Laws By State.
2. Find and reach out to your local homeschooling community. You will find all sorts of resources that may help you make some of the following decisions easier. There are several resources online to help you locate local homeschooling groups and one of them is homeschool.com (United States Homeschool Groups | Homeschool .com).
3. Decide on a basic curriculum. You don’t need to make all the decisions about the whole year of homeschooling right now, but figure out what philosophy and resources you may use. Check out 10 Things Every New Homeschool Parent Should Know (10 Things Every New Homeschool Parent Should Know)here at Kids Activities Blog.
4. Create a space for learning at home. This doesn’t have to be a full room, but needs to be a place for studying, storing supplies and getting away from the chaos in the home. Check out our homeschool closet (homeschool room: closet)and homeschool room ideas (A School Room Built for Learning).
5. Decide on a homeschool schedule or blocks of time you will devote to learning during your homeschool days. The good news about homeschooling preschool is that the amount of time you need to devote specifically to education is much less than in older grades. Check out a sample homeschool schedule that we like (This is a Homeschool Schedule Recommendation We Can Agree With). Also, look at creating a visual schedule indicator for your preschooler like our kids routine clock (This Kids Clock for After School Routine will Keep Kids on Schedule!).
6. Get started with SOMETHING and don’t be afraid to make changes and pivots that fit your life and your child’s needs along the way.
More Preschool Activities We Love
We have homeschooled all of our kids for preschool – including our youngest kids who are still learning and playing at home.
This list includes what we have done to instill a love of learning with our kids. We would love to hear what homeschooling looks like for your preschoolers!
- Get creative with this easy preschool craft – let’s make an egg carton caterpillar!
- This big list of preschool activities will keep the kids entertained for hours!
- Make use of Cheerios in another way with this yummy bracelet activity – it is the perfect preschool bracelet craft, ever!
- This Cinnamon Roll French Toast is so easy that even preschoolers can make it! Yum! Let’s make some french toast for kids together.
- Grab free preschool worksheets here for playful learning fun!
- Here are some fun preschool crafts that little fingers will get creative with!
- And last, but NOT least, grab some free preschool coloring pages here at Kids Activities Blog…we have literally 100s to choose from!
More Fun Activities
- Games for Kindergartners
- Slime recipes for endless fun
- Crazy hair ideas
- Who doesn’t love 3 ingredient cookies
- Chore chart for kids
- Have you ever tried traditional Irish soda bread
- 5 coffee recipes to get you going Monday through Friday
- A homemade butterfly feeder is super easy to make
- Inexpensive floor lounger for kids
- Fun things to do in the fall
- Self watering dinosaur planters
- Car BINGO printable cards for road trips
- Newborn baby items you must have
- Easy camp desserts
- Solar system project for small kids
- Stocking stuffers for kids
- How to make Rotel Dip
- Finding Waldo games online
- Fun science experiments to do at home
- Good April Fools pranks
You can do this! You can educate your child at home. You can create or use a preschool curriculum at home.
You can homeschool preschool!
Please please please do not teach your child to write their name in all capital letters. It drives teachers crazy and it is so hard to break.
How to hole a pencil is very important! I’m glad you included that in your essay. Do not teach kids to write their names in all capitals. When teaching them how to write their letters make sure you write the letters in the proper direction and write them in the air before you write them on paper. Have them trace the letters in a large size, make them huge and exaggerated, this gets the entire arm moving as well.
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How to sit still for 20 minutes is definitely something that needs to be taught. Most kids can’t do this and parents don’t do a good job teaching it. I’m glad this is a part of the curriculum.
Great advice! I am homeschooling my preschoolers now will we RV fulltime.
A very relevant blog! Really helpful in growing children’s mental and physical skills. Amazing content and pics! Thank a lot to the writer:)
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