The Ultimate Guide to Doing Preschool at Home (Everything you need to get started!)

Feeling overwhelmed with the thought of homeschooling your preschooler?

This ultimate guide to doing preschool at home will give you everything you need to get started!





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It’s that time of year again.

You know, when it seems like every entry you scroll past on social media is a “first day of” photo or description of little Johnny or Jane’s first day and how everyone just knows it’s going to be the best year ever!

If you’re a homeschool mom, you’ve probably already adjusted to this coming-at-you-from-all-sides media storm. Either you’ve posted your own “first day” photos with the kids lounging around in pajamas or you’ve participated in a fun, “not back to school” first day event, or you’ve been doing this homeschool thing for so long, you just don’t care.

We took a picture...


But if you still just have little ones at home or your oldest is of preschool age, then it’s a different story, bringing different pressures.

That's why I'm over at Pam Barnhill's site today, with Swimming Against the Current: When You’re Not Sending Your Child Off to Preschool.

You'll want to click on over and read that post, but leave this window open so you can come back and find everything you need to get set up for doing preschool at home.

Are you back? 

Do you feel better now? 

I'm pretty sure I heard a little sigh of relief when you read that formal preschool plans are not at all necessary in order for your kids to be ready for Kindergarten.

But then I also hear your brain whirring -- I know you're also itching to get started in your new "teacher" role and wanting to just jump right in with all things school.

I hear you, mama -- trust me when I say that it is really hard to turn off the teacher brain sometimes. We have to remember that the most important thing we can do for our preschoolers is to provide them with plenty of unstructured time to play and explore and discover and create, all on their own.

But it's also okay to spend small chunks of time each day exposing our little learners to new things and here are some great ways to do that:

Find a Focus


As I said in my Introduction to Latticed Learning, it can be helpful to have some sort of focus or loose plan to follow. Our kids have no problem bouncing from one idea to another all day long (Those questions! They just never stop!), but my linear brain needs some sort of path to follow, just to remain (somewhat) sane.


Organize by Week


One way to do this is to follow a set sequence of items for each week of the year. If that sounds like it's right up your alley, then you can pop on over to my Latticed Learning page and find a schedule for Latticed Learning by Week.

Each week shines the spotlight on a different Bible lesson, memory verse, saint, letter of the alphabet, shape, number, and weekly theme to explore, with plenty of books, music, videos and activities to go along with each one.

Don't try to cover everything listed. Just choose which items you'd like to focus on and cover those.

Organize by Bible Story


In the Healy House, we felt it was important to lay a strong faith foundation for Gv early on, so we spent last year centering all our learning around Bible stories. If that sparks your interest, you can jump over to the main Latticed Learning page and find links to learning by Bible Story, which includes loads of books, songs, videos and activities to go along with each one.

Here are a few of our favorite tools we use to do this:

Organize by Theme


This year, I'll be adding weekly posts which focus on different, fun themes to explore. They'll be added to the "by theme" section of the Latticed Learning page, although you can find these already listed on the weekly schedule posts that I mentioned above.


Organize by Season


Another great focus for your preschool time is to explore the different seasons and holidays throughout the year. This is probably the most flexible idea of all, since you'd be exploring fewer topics over longer expanses of time. The "holiday" section of the Latticed Learning page will give you some ideas for following that theme.


Organize by Something Else


Maybe you can think of another focus to organize your thoughts around -- like colors, or a historical timeline, or works of art, or music, or field trip locations, or something else.

No one person or program has the "right" plan to follow. What's most important is that you find the focus that's right for your family and personalities.

Most importantly, don't just jump into the deep end of the homeschool pool and go whole-hog with "school." Take the time during these preschool years to research methods and get to know your child, since they will be the ones to truly direct your homeschooling path (although you still need to consider your own needs, as well!)


Philosophies


Need some direction on researching all the different homeschooling methods and styles that are out there? Check these out:

Read, Read, & Read Some More

Regardless of whether you want to "do something schooly" with your preschooler or not, please, please, please at least read to them.

Research has shown that reading aloud to kids is has the greatest effect on how well they'll do in school later on and I have to say that in all my years in the classroom, I have never seen an instance where this didn't turn out to be true!

If you haven't read The Read-Aloud Handbook by Jim Trelease yet, then I implore you to put it at the top of your list. Even if you already know how important it is to read to your kids, this book is worth your time!


And if you're interested in reading more on this subject, Reading Magic by Mem Fox is another great book to check out!



But just what should you read to your preschooler? Anything and everything!

You might find books that follow your focus, or read on a theme, or spend time with nursery rhymes or fairy tales or poems or other anthologies and collections -- or all of the above! Maybe your child most enjoys choosing his own books off the library shelves during each visit -- it might be random, but it's all good.

Check out these posts to help you find the best resources for books to read to your preschooler:


Gently Introduce Academics

There's really no need to introduce some sort of formal curriculum now, but it can't hurt to play around with learning a bit, just for fun.

Check out this list of wonderful tools and resources, including a few overall "curriculum" plans that are appropriate for these early years:



Take Advantage of Your Non-School Schedule

Our "Not Back to School Day" photo (photo by H.Martin)

This means you can get out there in the real world during the day and have places all to yourself!

Spots to consider visiting:

  • Libraries: Take advantage of story times and other free programs.
  • Parks: These have playgrounds and trails - providing physical activity and time spent in nature.
  • Museums: These cover a multitude of subjects, like science, history, culture & art.
  • Field Trips: Gather a group of friends for something more organized like touring the post office, a fast food joint, or the grocery store. Or, just head out alone with your child to look at a familiar place in a new way (hunt for colors, numbers, or letters at the grocery store, see how many planes you can count at the airport, etc.)

Read More:

Play with Your Kids


I actually don't care for playing very much. I don't like tea parties, dress up, or dolls. There are some moms (or Grammies -- thank goodness we have Grammies!) who do enjoy these activities, but I am not one of them.

So I don't do "play."

Oh, I'll watch and encourage and enjoy whatever wild idea Gv's cooked up, but it's a rare day when I can be cajoled into joining in.

However, I do enjoy playing games, putting together puzzles and things like crafting and cooking and dancing -- and luckily, all of those things are considered play by a preschooler!

So we might play one of the games from my 31 Days of Games Even a 3-Yr-Old Can Play series, or dive into one of these amazing Preschool Art Resources, or we might have a dance party while listening to fun tunes or maybe I'll just "play" with her by letting her help me do my housework (or having her do her own, ever since I hung this little gem on her wall!)

Regardless of what you choose to do, pretty much anything can be turned into child's play by your preschooler. Here are a few other ideas for you to consider:


Relax (and read some more!)


Even if you feel like you didn't do anything "schooly" with your preschooler all day, I bet if you take a moment to relax and consider things, you'll realize that there were learning opportunities for your child, all day long!

And if it's one of those days when your last nerve runs out already by the time breakfast is over, there are some great online options (technology can be okay, sometimes!) that will give you a bit of a break and allow your little one to learn at the same time:

Technology




Also, don't discount bedtime for learning opportunities, either. Reading doesn't have to be done during the daytime for it to count!

Finally, sometimes we need to recharge our own batteries, as well. These books will help you do that and gain perspective on life with a preschooler in the house:

What do you think of this list of resources for doing preschool at home?  I'd love to hear!  Either leave a comment below or email me at lisahealy (at) outlook (dot) com.

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