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Do you want to homeschool preschool? But you are not sure how? Let me help you create the best at-home preschool experience for your child!
None of the United States require preschool. But there are some things that all of the best preschools include in their day.
Here are 10 things to include in your homeschool preschool!
1. Plan a homeschool preschool routine.
For many children, attending preschool is the first time they have had to follow a routine. You will not have to worry about drop-off and pick-up times in your homeschool preschool. But you can still set a schedule for your day with these simple steps.
Choose a planner.
I used The Happy Planner this year, and it worked just fine for me. It does not have time slots, so I just wrote things in in the order I wanted them to happen. But if you are looking for something different, here are some options that other homeschool mamas have wholeheartedly recommended.
- Bullet Journal: Pam Barnhill has a post on how she adapts bullet journaling as a homeschool mom
- Well Planned Day: A planner designed for homeschool mamas to have everything in one place. From lesson plans to chore charts to grocery lists
- Erin Condren 12-Month Teacher Lesson Planner: Tons of pretty bells and whistles (And stickers!) Technically designed for teachers. But many homeschool mamas use and love this one.
- Living Well Planner: If you want a planner that comes with an entire community, including a course on how to use it, this is for you. That is not my personal style. But since the company’s owner, Ruth Soukup, has built a business empire, she may know a thing or too about staying organized.
Fill in all of the non-negotiable parts of your day.
What are the parts of your day that must happen, and when do they happen? Figure out what they are, and plus them into your schedule at the correct times. These are the things that you either do not have the ability to change, or that you REALLY do not want to change, like the following.
- Bed time
- Wake-up time
- Extracurricular classes
- Sports practice (Here is how homeschooled kids can play sports!)
- Dinner time
- Work obligations
- Homeschool co-ops
- Bible study, small group, youth group, or other church-related activities
Plug the rest of your homeschool preschool day into your schedule.
Decide what you want to incorporate into your homeschool day, and how often. If you love crafts, but do not love cold weather, it is okay to plan crafts every day and outside play less often during the winter.
Then consider what might be the best time for each activity, based on what works for you and your children. And fill these items into your schedule at those times.
If your child likes to snuggle for awhile after he or she wakes up, schedule storytime first thing. Or if your child usually has a ton of extra energy right before dinner, play outside at that time.
Work with your child’s (and your) natural rhythm. But remember that you can change things once you see how your schedule looks in action.
2. Time with Peers in Homeschool Preschool
A big part of preschool is playing with other kids. If you have more than one child, this may not be as important to you. But if you would like your little one to spend some time with peers each week, you are not alone!
Schedule a weekly playdate with another homeschool family. We have close friends who we schedule one afternoon a week with, and our kids all look forward to this each week.
Plan an activity or two for each playdate if you would like to add some structure to your playdates. But more often than not we simply let the kids loose to use their imaginations. While we mamas enjoy some fellowship of our own.
If you do not already have another family to play with each week, try reaching out in any of the following ways.
- Post in your local homeschool Facebook group with the ages of your children, and ask if any other mamas want to plan regular playdates.
- Notice who your little one gravitates toward in children’s church. And ask that mama about scheduling a playdate.
- Strike up a conversation with the mama of a sports teammate your little one likes.
- Do not forget cousins! Even if they do not homeschool, ask your siblings if their little ones might enjoy a weekly playdate. Cousins can become lifelong friends!
- Get to know your neighbors who have young children. These playdates can be the best because they do not require any travel!
3. Free Play in Homeschool Preschool
Your children process and make sense of what they learn through open-ended play. Because of this, playtime is essential, and we include free play time every day for our children of every age.
But before you can give your child the freedom to play, stock his play area with high quality toys that will invite imaginative play. And not a ton of battery-operated toys that can only be used in one specific way.
Need some help deciding what to keep, or what you might want to purchase. Here is our time-tested list of playroom essentials!
Wooden blocks are great. But any toy that your child can construct with works well. We love
- Wooden train tracks
- Lego Duplo
- Picasso tiles
- Marble run
- Cardboard bricks
Even the most rough-and-tumble boys will need figures to play with. And girly options have expanded beyond Barbie. We enjoy
- Superhero action figures (Hulk and Barbie often hang together in our home 🙂 )
- Lottie dolls
You can often find deals on high-quality dress-up from Melissa & Doug around the holidays. Or check the clearance racks of costumes after Halloween.
Are you looking to spend even less? Then just forage in your family’s own closets for old ties, hats and accessories.
Melissa & Doug produce high quality fake food. And some even fits together with Velcro so that kids can even practice “cutting”.
But you can also find a bag at Dollar Tree that works just fine. Kids will use these to act out cooking, play store, set up a diner and host picnics.
Your kids don’t need access to every type of glitter and ribbon out there to get creative. So just set out what you are comfortable letting them use on a regular basis. Even if it’s just paper, scissors, crayons and glue.
And store them in a way that is easy for your kids to put away. Because even if you have a craft time scheduled each day, children also benefit from unguided time to create.
A Table (Not your kitchen or dining table. A table just for your child.)
A table should be the appropriate size for your kids. And sturdy enough to stand up to their play.
Keep the top free of clutter when they aren’t using it. And watch it transform into a house, a tent, a train table, a crafting station, a store, a puppet theater and a lemonade stand!
Planes, Trains, and…
Just pack a few cars, trucks, trains and flying machines into a small basket. And watch dolls ride to school in the fire truck, and the helicopter drop Lego rations off to green army men. A small area rug printed with a road scene is a great add-on!
Anything safe for indoors and the ages of your kids works. But a toy that has the highest rider weight capacity will provide the most value. Toy designers have become especially creative on this front. So you can find everything from ride-on pirate ships to motorcycles!
These take up so much room. And if your kids are like mine they will move this thing all around the house. But it is so worth it.
Because one tent will transform into a
- rocket ship
- library (and on and on and…)
4. Crafts (No homeschool preschool is complete without scissors and glue 😉 )
Are you a super crafty mama? Then you may not need guidance in this area. But in case you are more like me, here are some suggestions for where to find craft ideas for your homeschool preschool.
- Subscription boxes: Subscription boxes are awesome, because they come to your door with everything you need and instructions or lesson plans. We especially love Ivy Kids for the preschool age group. Each monthly kit comes with crafts, games and other activities based on an included book.
- Online classes: Would you rather be a passenger than the driver on your little one’s craft journey? Then Outschool is a great place to find a variety of online classes in one place. If you can not find a class that appeals to you you can even request that one of their teachers create it!
- Pinterest: Type the topic that you are interested in, along with the phrase “preschool crafts” into the search bar. And you will find more ideas than you know what to do with. Consider searching for an upcoming seasons, holiday, or anything else that your little one is learning about at the time.
5. Academic Basics for Your Homeschool Preschool
During the preschool years, most mamas focus on teaching
- Letter recognition (Meet the Letters)
- Number recognition (Meet the Numbers)
- Shape recognition (Meet the Shapes)
- Color recognition (Meet the Colors)
We do not allow a ton of “screen time” (I still hate that phrase. It sounds so pretentious to me. Kind of like “playdate” did before I had kids.)
But we did use some tech to help teach these basics. Because we found some DVDs that did the job really well. I have linked to them next to each skill in the bulleted list above.
We played at least one of the DVDs for our preschool-aged kids each day. And they learned their letters, numbers, shapes, and colors quickly.
If you are ambitious, you may also want to try teaching
We used some tech to drill these skills too. I linked to the resources we used in the bulleted list above. I wholeheartedly and unreservedly recommend them, and would use them again in a heartbeat.
My kids learned the basics of letter formation from an app. It was not free, but it was very low-cost. The company makes an entire system, which I have heard great things about, but we just used the app.
I introduced my children to letter sounds with a DVD that they watched daily for about two weeks. There are other DVDs in the series. But we did not think they were as great as the original.
6. Storytime in Homeschool Preschool
Reading aloud to your children is one of the best ways to build your relationship. And to help ensure his or her future academic success.
To read more about the research behind those claims, read Jim Trelease’s The Read-Aloud Handbook. Need ideas about what reading aloud looks like in practice with children, as well as some incredible book recommendation lists? Then Sarah Mackenzie’s book, The Real-Aloud Family, and her website, Read-Aloud Revival, are essential.
Need some quick ideas for storytime? Try choosing books based on
- Upcoming holidays
- Mom and Dad’s favorite childhood books
- Your child’s current interests
- Favorite movies
- Subjects your child is currently learning about
- News or current events
7. Songs and Music for Your Homeschool Preschool
Do you remember the songs you learned and sang as a preschooler? So will your children, so take care to make the songs you teach your child worth remembering.
You and your child can sing along, dance, keep the rhythm with sticks and shakers, or just sit back and listen. Whatever your Here are some types of music to consider including in this time of your homeschool preschool day.
Put on a classical album and let your child dance as he or she feels inspired. Or try one of these two great options to dive a little deeper!
- Classical Kids: These CDs each set a child-friendly portion of a composer’s life story to the background of that composer’s own music. We love these! If you visit the organization’s website, you can even purchase teacher scripts and other educational materials.
- Music Study with the Masters Portfolios: These composer studies include CDs and information for your child about each composer. They include instructions explaining hoe to use them to introduce your child to three composers each year.
Music time is a great way to build worship into your homeschool preschool day. There are so many types of worship music, and as many ways to incorporate them. We have enjoyed these.
- Seeds Family Worship: This group makes it simple for your children to memorize scripture. Because it sets Bible verses to music. And it is catchy! You can even listen on YouTube.
- Hymns: We like to use an old school Baptist hymnal (because I’m square like that 😉 ). But you can also find nearly any hymn you like, with lyrics, on YouTube. If you want a more “official” lesson plan, Simply Charlotte Mason offers a lovely hymn study.
Did you sing patriotic songs in school as a child like I did? It is out of fashion to be a patriotic American in public schools today. Which is, in no small part, why so many of us decided to homeschool in the first place.
Do you want your children to know what the fireworks and day off are all about this July? Then join me in making patriotic song a part of your family’s homeschool day! Try this collection to get started.
Music from Other Countries
Will you include stories and crafts from other countries in your homeshool preschool? We do, and when we come across a new country or region, my children like to listen to songs from that area.
For us, it is as simple as a quick YouTube search. The more specific you can get the better. For example, a recent Little Global Citizens lesson about Peru was a great opportunity to listen to Peruvian pan flute music.
You probably do not listen exclusively to edifying music, like worship and classical. And your kids will not want to either. For days when your family needs to decompress, get the wiggles out, or just plain have fun, try these old and new clean kids’ artists (No Kidz Bop here, thank you 😉 )
8. Outdoor Time at Homeschool Preschool
If you have more than one child, or if a playdate is in session, your child may not need much more than supervision from you during time outdoors. But if you would like to add some structure to this time, however, here are two of my favorite ways.
- Nature study: For a full year-long nature curriculum, check out Raising Little Shoots’ Exploring Nature With Children, or The Thinking Tree’s Nature Study & Outdoor Science Journal. For a less structured approach, take a walk with some field guides and try to identify as much as you can. Or blend art and outdoor time and learn to nature journal.
- Classic playground games: Classic playground games are an excellent tool to include in the arsenal against “I’m bored.” Teach him or her some of these now, and you will reap the benefits (of him being able to entertain himself) for years to come. I love this book for reminding mamas of old favorites and introducing new ones.
9. Nap Time
Every preschool day needs a time for rest. For your students. And for you!
Even if no one sleeps, try instituting a quiet time in his or her room to sit in bed, color, or look at a book. You will both benefit from this time to recharge.
10. Send Something Home
Most good preschools will send two things home. A summary of your child’s day, with any noteworthy events. And artifacts from your child’s day.
You will want these things too. Perhaps not now. But one day.
Choose a pretty notebook. Or just use your planner.
And jot down some highlights of your child’s homeschool preschool day, including anything he mastered, something funny he said, or what he liked best. This can be as simple as, “Finally memorized “The Star-Spangled Banner, and blind-tasted apples (liked red delicious because it ‘…felt crispy in my teeth and didn’t taste like lemons.'”)
Then choose any work that you want to save. And not just the beautiful stuff. You will enjoy seeing the progress he has made later in the year.
Are you ready to plan your homeschool preschool?!
Mama, you are perfectly equipped to run your homeschool preschool. Just take it step by step.
- Choose a planner.
- Schedule your non-negotiables.
- Look at the options, and decide what you want to include in your preschool.
- Schedule each subject at the times and days best for your family. (Remember that you can change this as you see what works in practice.”
- Choose and gather your materials for each subject that you will include.
- Plan specific activities for your first two weeks.
- Take a few hours to look over your plans and adjust as needed after two weeks.
Do not let overwhelm or self-doubt stop you. I am here to help you get started and keep going, so leave any questions or worries in the comments.
Ready? Set? Preschool!