Lots of homeschool families out there didn’t start out homeschooling and probably never dreamed of doing it. But what if you’re one of those, like we were, looking at your toddler and wondering if homeschool is right for you? What then?
Can you teach ABC and 123 and lay that all-important foundation for your child’s future? No pressure there, right? Where on earth do you even start if you want to homeschool your littlest littles?
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After a year of prayer, my husband and I decided I would quit my job and we pulled our son out of daycare when he turned three years-old. We’ve been homeschooling ever since that day. As I’ve stated before, I was embarking on this homeschool journey without other people to guide me. While I was honestly doing the best I knew how at the time, my thoughts on preschool have changed dramatically. I can’t give you a detailed to-do list on this one, but I can tell you what I’ve done and what I’m doing now.
You see, when The Boy was starting “preschool” at three years-old, I felt like I needed to prove myself as a homeschooler to the homeschool haters. There was a time when I thought homeschool was just school at home – I think lots of us go through that silly stage. I thought people would only approve of our homeschooling if it looked like a miniature version of “school.”[clickToTweet tweet=”I once thought homeschool was just school at home. I think lots of us go through that silly stage. #homeschool” quote=”There was a time when I thought homeschool was just school at home – I think lots of us go through that silly stage.”]
I bought age appropriate workbooks and worked through them with him, we did crafts, we watched lots of PBS, and played. After all, that’s basically what would happen if we were paying to send him to preschool, right? All in all, it wasn’t a bad thing, but I’ve learned a lot along the way and my methods of teaching have changed quite a bit too. It also helps that I no longer feel like I have to lead my homeschool the same way a paid teacher would lead his/her class.
I’m now approaching this stage with our daughter and I can honestly tell you that I have no immediate plans to start working with her. She’ll be three next month, but I’m going to follow her lead. I’m going to continue letting her play and observe life and nature. I’m going to continue having tea parties with her, reading books, coloring, and doing puzzles.
The formal stuff will happen on its own. She already likes to “do her school” so I’ll continue with that until more consistent planning is needed. Currently, I give her a small workbook or two (usually one that covers shapes, colors, etc. from Dollar Tree) and she literally does a page or two a week. Occasionally I’ll snag an idea from my Preschool Pinterest Board for her, but the point here is that I’m not nearly as insistent upon “school” with her at this point.
When she’s ready for more, here’s what we’ll work through:
Baby U – This is a great site for toddlers and preschoolers from BabyFirst TV that introduces basic concepts. Prissy loves it… also worth noting, most BabyFirst TV apps are available for free on devices and phones. Especially nice is that they are among the handful of great developers who are sure to always include us Windows Phone folks and that makes my heart happy.
As far as curriculum is concerned, here’s what’s on the list for her.
- God’s Little Explorers – I have the paid version, but there is a free version available. The differences between the two are listed on the Motherhood on a Dime site. I’ve looked through this and am really happy with it. I love how Bible stories, letters & numbers, and life skills are all mixed together.
- This isn’t so much a curriculum, but I love the idea of Letter of the Week. There are several good approaches to this and it could be used with the billions of free printable packs I’ve been hoarding for the last year. I could just use the letter crafts when we’re discussing the letters in God’s Little Explorers, but I like the idea of saving Letter of the Week and building my own plans around it later in our preschool time.
Once we’re done with God’s Little Explorers, I’ll use my trusty copy of Rebecca Rupp’s Home Learning Year by Year to remind me of anything that might have been lacking in my original plans and try to rectify that through my massive printable stockpile. Other than that, I really do plan to just let her be a kid.
As you can see, I don’t necessarily have a ton of concrete suggestions for you when it comes to preschool. I just know what I’ve done, and although it worked well, I know what I’m doing differently this time. So many of the concepts taught in preschool are things that kids learn on their own; savor these tea parties and block towers! It’s fine to weave in some curriculum, but don’t focus so much on the curriculum and schedule that you lose the art of playtime.