If you have talked to any homeschooling families you probably have noticed that there is not ONE tried-and-true way to homeschool. You can ask the same question to a dozen families and get a dozen different answers. Each family has the flexibility to do what works best for them and their kids. That includes everything from curriculum, schedules, and teaching styles. Another thing that fits under this is how to do preschool. Since I’ve started my journey as a homeschooling mom (my oldest is starting kindergarten in the fall) I’ve gotten a lot of different advice on the topic of preschool. I’ve also gotten a lot of questions from friends wondering how we do everything or how much do we really do, and so one.
I’m by no means claiming to be a pro because I’m still a newbie at this homeschool thing. Some of the things that work for our family might not work for yours, but that’s okay! I thought I’d share some practical tips on how we have made preschool at home work for our family.
1. Don’t over schedule
At first I was tempted to just fill our days with fun activities. I had so many good ideas and got even more great ideas from Instagram or Pinterest. But I quickly realized that over-planning and filling every single hour of our days with something scheduled was not going to work. So instead I started limiting myself to putting 3 things on the schedule for the day. Some of those things were activities, crafts, or something hands-on or it could also be something like a play date, library time, or grocery store trip. There are some things my kids do every day that I never need to include in our schedule like: chores, reading time, play time, and rest/quiet time.
It can feel a bit overwhelming at first to think “I have so many things to teach my kid!” that the simplest solution may seem to be cramming in more things. But kids are learning all day long, not just in the times we make for intentional learning. Find those moments throughout your normal day to teach your kids and then supplement with a hand full of intentional things and you can find a good balance. I typically have a better day when I keep my expectations more reasonable rather than aiming to overachieve and do it all.
2. Learning through play
Preschool-aged kids are still so young, and they still need to play! We do a lot of playing in our house, because I realize that’s valuable learning time too. Kids can problem solve, use their imagination, even work on vocabulary and language skills all while playing. I try to help keep playing fresh and exciting for my kids too.
There are so many skills that kids this age are learning. From tying shoes, to letter recognition, hand eye coordination, and much more. As you are learning and playing and just doing life you will be teaching so many skills. There is nothing wrong with worksheets or workbooks, we use them. But I’ve realized how my daughter is learning the rest of the day too, not just while she is writing her letters or doing another workbook page.
3. Simple is best
I have seen some homeschool rooms or curriculum that are elaborate and impressive. We don’t have a fancy homeschool space and I didn’t spend a fortune on a curriculum. If you are thinking of doing preschool at home there are tons of options for curriculum. I chose something pretty basic that fit with my play-based philosophy. One thing I enjoy about this curriculum is that it gives you a simple theme to focus on for two weeks at time. Nothing elaborate, but something to focus on in your play and other learning activities and also reading time. This type of curriculum has also allowed me to adapt to include my younger daughters in most of the fun as well.
A simple and helpful curriculum was the best fit for us for this year, and I’m glad I found it. For this stage of our homeschooling journey, simple is perfect. It keeps things affordable and doable for me and honestly my kids don’t care either.
4. Plan to be flexible
I’ve got 3 kids at home, all 5 and under. So while we are learning and doing our normal routine sometimes unexpected things happen. That’s motherhood! Part of the beauty of everything I listed above is that is allows for flexibility, which is necessary in my life right now with littles. I set weekly goals and plans, but ultimately each day might look different because things change or come up. I’ve had days where I just get frustrated about that, but honestly that doesn’t help or change anything. Instead I have to roll with it and when I do it usually ends up being just fine.
Hopefully some of these tips were helpful to you if you are currently doing preschool at home or considering it. I’d love to hear any tips you have for homeschooling with little ones too!