My 3-and-a-half year-old just started doing homeschool preschool. One day a couple weeks ago, he just said to me out of the blue, “Want to do school?”
It was then that I started to review: he’s been memorizing the kid stories that we read to him, he has become incredibly observant and communicative over the last six months, and he seems to be hungry for information and stimulation all the time.
I guess he’s ready to do daily homeschool with me!
I had to let him grow a little…
In the end of the summer, I bought a stack of pre-kindergarten prep books and school materials like markers, paper, and a dry-erase board. But even though that was only six months ago, he wasn’t ready to focus for any period of time. I was excited to start developing a routine for homeschool preschool, but his lack of attention span was very frustrating for me. So, I just put everything on hold.
Since then, I’ve backed off and just let him grow a little. What a difference six months makes! His little brain is growing and expanding every minute! He often really impresses me with what he knows and how much he’s listening.
I’ve been warned of the dangers of starting homeschool preschool too early, and I am aware that you can mess up the process of learning by teaching the wrong things or too much too soon. So I’m trying to keep it pretty flexible and keep what we go over as care-free and fun as possible while still keeping a record of what he’s learning and what I’m teaching him (mostly for my own sanity).
This routine is constantly changing and will probably change over the next several months because Grey is growing so fast, so I will update this article when needed!
Here are the 9 ways we currently do homeschool preschool:
1. Learning the Phonetic Sounds of Letters
We’ve spent the last few weeks going over the first five letters of the alphabet and using only the phonetic sounds to name them (after my mom, who homeschooled my brothers and me, reminded me).
My mom learned in her many years as a homeschooling mother that it’s much more useful to teach a child the phonetic sounds of letters rather than their proper names in the beginning. The reason for that is this: when a child is learning to read, he or she has to “sound out” the words. And if he or she doesn’t know how the letters sound phonetically, it will be very confusing and much harder to learn to read.
So, we go through the letters by pointing at the “A” and saying, “a- a- apple.” Then, for the letter “B,” we say “b- b- ball” and so on.
I will admit that he was beginning to learn the letters as A, B, C and so forth from watching learning videos and things like that… and I totally forgot that the phonetic sounds have to come first. So I was teaching him the letter names until my mom reminded me! Totally helps to have a career homeschooling mom as a grandmother to my children, right?!
2. Finger Counting and Naming Numbers
We also count on our fingers and name numbers as we see them. I have a stack of flash cards that we try to go through a few times per week. I don’t expect him to know the numbers by heart or anything, I just want to get his eyes on the numbers often enough that they’re familiar to him.
3. Memorizing Bible Verses
We’ve also been memorizing a handful of Bible verses and going through his Bible story book, one story at a time.
When I say “memorizing,” I mean that we read the verse and repeat it several times. I don’t expect him to repeat entire verses to me at this age, but I know that he is a sponge and the more I expose him to Scripture, the more locked into his mind it will be.
This is important to me because I want our children to know God’s Word very well and be familiar with important verses from Genesis all the way to Revelation. I want them to personally know God’s character from a very early age.
4. Creating Animals with PlayDoh
When we sit and do creative play, I usually make him a few animals and shapes and he sits there and makes them talk to each other and creates stories and scenarios to go along with them. It’s super cute and fun to watch! It’s also fun for me because I get to create things while holding an infant and interacting with my toddler. We all have fun and it uses up a lot of time – without screens or devices!
I’m always looking for ways to engage Grey without resorting to technology, and PlayDoh is one of the best tools for that!
5. Fun with the Rice Bin!
So I finally tried the rice bin idea and let me tell you, it is as great as they say! My son LOVES to play with trucks and measuring spoons in the rice bin.
You just have to train your kid to keep the rice in the Tupperware bin — or else it’s a nightmare! Lol! But I saw somewhere online the idea of putting little plastic or wood letters in the rice and asking your preschooler to find the letters you ask for.
Grey isn’t super into that just yet. But we still have fun looking for small toys and even just pouring rice into a funnel and watching it come out the other end! Toddlers love the simplest things!
6. Helping with Housework and Chores
I’ve heard that one of the best ways to teach your kids about life is to involve them in what you’re doing throughout the day. It’s often tempting to just sit them in front of the TV so you can get stuff done in peace (and sometimes that’s necessary). But if you’re willing to be patient, you can ask them to help you with things like carrying the laundry downstairs, watering plants (Grey loves doing that), rinsing the dishes or scrubbing the dishes with the brush. They can also help with cleaning the toilet (another favorite around here), mopping, making breakfast, and wiping off the counter.
It won’t all get done terribly well or very quickly, but it will be worth it. You’re not only doing the tasks on your list; you’re also engaging with your kids, and they thrive on that!
7. Dipping into French Vocabulary
I’ve wanted to teach my children to speak French since I was a teenager, so we have a pack of French vocabulary cards made for kids that have pictures on them and everything. Sometimes he enjoys repeating the French words, and other times he just hands me the cards and I just say them out loud for him to hear.
Either way, my biggest goal is to expose him to the French language so it’s familiar to him.
8. Looking at Maps and Learning about Places
I usually get out a United States map at least once or twice during the week and point out where we live. I’ll say a little something about the surrounding states or states where some of our family members live.
Today, we got out the map and I had Grey choose a state. Then, we watched a 2-minute YouTube video about that state. Of course, after only two states, he wanted to watch videos about sharks and trains! But that’s okay because we got exposed to something we don’t know a lot about and that’s the purpose. Plus, watching shark videos from National Geographic’s YouTube channel definitely qualifies as his science/biology for the day!
In the future, I’d like to do the map exploring with the whole world map (or a globe) so he will learn a little bit about everywhere.
9. Zoo/Aquarium Trips
Sometimes we just have to get out! On those days, we will make a trip to the zoo or the aquarium to see animals in real life. In the future, I plan on really focusing on a ha full of animals and learning about them while we’re there. But for now, a trip to one of those places is the perfect homeschool preschool field trip. It gets him out and keeps him moving. Plus, he’s usually tired enough to nap all the way home, which is a great bonus for me!
I hope this helps!
So that’s about it, for now! I’m not quizzing him or grading him on anything, just trying to go over a list of things each day… because if I don’t have a list that I stick to, I won’t do anything. It honestly is more for my own sanity! I want to make sure I’m being faithful in keeping him engaged instead of putting learning off.
I hope this helps some of you mamas who are trying to figure out a starting point for how to homeschool preschool your toddlers! You should know that I definitely don’t have it all together and there are definitely some days that we don’t get around to doing any school at all! Keep in mind that you’re both learning together – you’re learning to be a good mom as your kid is growing and changing, so don’t be too hard on yourself.
And if there’s part of you that wonders if your child will ever be well-behaved or patient enough to do this with you, consider reading up on books by James Dobson! No parent is alike, no child is alike, and we’re all still learning… but some training principles hold true in every situation.
There are lots of mothers out there who know way more than I do about this subject. Hats off to them and I appreciate the ideas they share! You help me out a lot!