Homeschooling with preschoolers 

Homeschooling with preschoolers  

We often get questions about how to homeschool preschoolers or how to homeschool with preschoolers and toddlers around while trying to teach the older children. As much as the enthusiasm for teaching your preschoolers is appreciated, you don’t need to worry quite so much just yet. Preschool is just that… pre-school.  It is about readiness for academics, making sure a child is ready to receive the information that is about to come next. Here are some tips for homeschooling preschoolers.

Preschool isn’t the time for heavy academics – there are more important things to learn at this age. Children this young are still learning to coordinate their bodies and develop social skills, so the purpose of this stage is to prepare them for academics and curriculum. Pushing curriculum on them too early can cause them to miss out on some of the wonder and spontaneity of the preschool years.  It could also cause educational gaps if important readiness steps are skipped.

But the most important thing for your very young children is to have access to YOU. Your attention, eye contact, cuddles – building that relationship that gives them security and confidence. While it’s important to not leave them to themselves, there is absolutely no need to stress during this time. 

Tips for homeschooling preschoolers

Besides the physical coordination skills a preschooler should build, here are some things that are important to cover during the preschool years:

  • Speaking clearly using complex sentences. By the end of the year, your child should be able to carry on a conversation with their parents, peers and other adults without the need for interpretation. They will annunciate, age appropriately, and be able to communicate what they need with words as well as have a casual, polite conversation.
  • Counting 10 or more objects. Gather small objects, like blocks or toys and have them count them. They should be able to count at least to 10 by the end of the preschool year.
  • Correctly naming at least four colours and three shapes. Plastic toy shapes that fit into holes is a great way to teach this skill. They come in basic colours and basic shapes such as circle, triangle  and squares (and a few others as well). This is a great maths-readiness skill.
  • Recognizing letters and writing their name. Your preschool child should start recognizing letters and also their own name in writing. Have alphabet cards displayed and have them practice identifying letters for a few minutes a day. After this step is done, you can get them to start tracing their name on paper, and later writing it independently.
  • Understand the concept of time and the order of daily activities.  It helps to have an analogue clock on the wall (one with hands and standard numbers). At specific times during the day, you can discuss what time it is and what activity it is time for(8:00 am- breakfast, 12:pm lunch, 2pm nap time, etc). There are also workbooks and toy clocks that will help you teach this concept.
  • Understand the difference between past, present and future tense. This may seem like a difficult concept but it is not. You can teach this through everyday activities, for example: We will be going to the supermarket later; We are going to the supermarket now; We are at the supermarket; We went to the supermarket, and so on. 
  • Increasing their attention span. Over the course of the year, your preschooler needs to be able to sit still and pay attention for an increasing length of time. Story time with all your children is a great time for this, as it teaches them them the need to be considerate of others. For Christian families, family devotions and sitting in church are good opportunities for teaching this as well.
  • Follow two- to three-part commands. Your child should be able to complete three-part instructions like “Grab your red T-shirt out of the drawer, put it on, and put your dirty T-shirt in the laundry basket.”
  • Recognize familiar word signs. Your child should recognize and respond to universal signs such as stop signs, crosswalk signals and caution signs.
  • Knowing their parents’ names, address and phone number. Children should know their parents’ legal names, not just mum and dad. They should be able to recite their home address and know at least one phone number by heart.

Teaching these skills is not especially difficult, and will happen naturally most of the time. Be conscious of how you speak and how your child mimics your speech – and your attitude. Reading aloud is a good way to give an example of good speech.

One of the best things you can do when homeschooling your preschool child is to get them out of the house and into the world, studying nature and giving them opportunities to satisfy their natural curiosity.

  •  Read loud to them or take them to the library for story time. This will teach them to sit through a presentation and increase their attention span.
  • Take them with you where ever you go. This will teach them social skills and what the real world is like.
  • Visit children’s science and history museums in your area as they often have interactive exhibits for children where they can learn kinaesthetically.
  • Go to the zoo so they can learn about animals and see them in person instead of on TV or in a book. Preschoolers absolutely love the zoo!
  •  Spend time in nature, start a nature journal and rock, feather, shell and you-name-it collections that will teach them about the environment.
  • Take them to shows and performances especially for children. These will often have educational components.

Homeschooling with preschoolers is a wonderful time, so make the most of it, leaning towards relaxed and natural learning opportunities. It’s not a time to be feeling stressed; enjoy the short amount of time you have with your little one.

If you think your preschooler is ready for some more formal teaching, check our homeschool planning guide for preschool and prep.

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