Are you thinking about doing preschool for your child at home? Let’s talk about what to cover and what materials we love and recommend!
Owen is 3 (turning 4 in May), and this semester, he has been ready for official preschool work. Since he’s the third child, he has always “done school” with us, but now he is old enough to have some of his own books and materials. Lately, I’ve had a few people ask what we use for preschool curriculum, so I thought I would share what we do.
First of all, I have to say that I don’t have a problem with going to preschool! There are so many great things that go on in preschool classrooms, and there are so many excellent preschool teachers out there. For us, preschool has never really been an option because of the cost. I don’t feel that my kids have missed out, however. Attending preschool is not necessary for academic success, in my opinion, and there are several benefits to keeping little ones at home during the preschool years. It’s nice to not have to worry about deciding if a sick child should go to school or not. And honestly, one of the big benefits is that the preschool stage is so much fun and I enjoy experiencing it with the boys!
If you’ve decided to do preschool at home, it’s very simple to get started. My planning for preschool starts with a few simple goals for ages 3-4.
Goals for the Preschool Years (Ages 3-4)
- Develop vocabulary through talking together and plenty of reading aloud.
- Expand knowledge of the community and the world through life experiences (trips to the grocery store, pet store, zoo, a farm, the fire station).
- Develop gross motor coordination through opportunities to run, play, and climb.
- Develop fine motor coordination by learning to grasp a crayon, paint, mold with playdough, cut with scissors, etc.
- Learn to recognize the letters of the alphabet and to count.
It really doesn’t take much time at all to cover what you need to cover for preschool! My boys, however, have definitely needed some structure to their day. This has been especially true for the younger ones since their older siblings are busy with schoolwork for a large part of the day. Here’s what we do at our house:
8:00 – Breakfast, get dressed, brush teeth, etc.
8:45 – Bible time together with all the kids.
9:00 – Play while I read history to the older boys.
9:30 – Workbook time at the table, cutting, coloring, etc.
10:00 – Playdough or sensory play or puzzles, etc.
10:30 – Snack
11:00 – Play
12:00 – Lunch
1:00 – Play outside
1:30 – Read aloud time
2:00 – nap
It’s pretty simple!
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There are several options out there for purchasing a full preschool curriculum, but I’ve found while there are some fabulous preschool programs out there (such as Sonlight), it’s not a big deal at all if you can’t afford one, or simply choose not to spend a lot. Much of what should be learned during the preschool years can be learned through play, life, and library books. You can supplement that with a few inexpensive workbooks and hands-on materials.
Read-Aloud Books for Preschool:
I decided that read-aloud books needed their own post, so you can view our favorite read-aloud books for preschool here. Several of these books would be great as the foundation for a homeschool preschool curriculum.
My favorite preschool workbook is My First School Book from Handwriting without Tears. This book is adorable! It has a classic preschool feel, and it is truly is a great first book for preschoolers.
My First School Book starts with basic writing skills, such as writing lines. The first few pages are dedicated to the colors – there is a page for each color with items for the child to color in. Then, it progresses to writing lines and then learning to write the capital letters.
Here’s a sample: On this page, the child draws the fence posts and draws legs on the ducks, then colors in the picture. So cute! (I love preschool!)
I have never purchased the teacher guide that goes with My First School Book, but I’m sure that it would be helpful. I am probably missing out on some instructional points and hands-on activities by not having it, and I’m planning to order it soon.
Phonics Update: This school year, I have been using Get Ready for the Code and Get Set for the Code with Owen for phonics instruction. There is also a third book – Go for the Code. I LOVE this series! We started with the first one when Owen was almost 4 1/2. The first book introduces the letters b, f, m, k, r, t, and the corresponding sounds as well as working on early writing skills. Owen thinks the books are great and loves to do his work!
I also love the ABC series preschool workbooks from Rod and Staff.
These books do not methodically introduce the alphabet the way My First School Book does, which is why we use both. However, they are fabulous books! Each book gets progressively more challenging, and each one has pictures to color, matching activities, writing activities, number activities, and things to cut and glue, and at $3.25 each they are a total bargain. The “B” book is Bible Pictures to Color, but the rest are not religious. I think that a couple of the books have one Bible story in them, but otherwise they are just basic preschool skills.
Printable Preschool Materials:
Last year, I went to a great teacher supply store in our area and planned to spend some money on new supplies for preschool. I ended up not buying anything because everything I saw could be done with items from around the house! I passed up wooden beads for lacing, plastic counters, and more.
Here are some items that I do feel have been worth the investment, plus ideas for things you can make at home.
- Items for lacing. I purchased some shoe laces at Walmart, and Owen likes to string on craft beads, pasta, and drinking straws cut into pieces.
- A large magnifying glass. Fun for exploring plants, rocks, bugs, and more! We have this magnifying glass from Learning Resources, and this set also comes with large tweezers which are great for fine motor practice. Owen likes to transfer pom pom balls etc. with them.
- Playdough. You can make your own or buy it at the store – either way, playdough is a must for preschoolers! My favorite playdough recipe is from Counting Coconuts. One of our favorite things to do with playdough is to make interesting prints in it.
- A large tub for playing with rice or dry beans. Right now, the Target dollar spot has some kids’ gardening shovels that are perfect for this.
- Puzzles. We love this firetruck puzzle and this alphabet train puzzle by Melissa & Doug. You can sometimes find them at Michael’s and use a 40% off coupon! Garage sales and thrift stores are also great ways to pick up puzzles for cheap.
- Magnetic alphabet letters. I bought a set of Melissa and Doug magnetic alphabet letters at Michael’s with a coupon, and I really like them. Owen plays with them on a cookie sheet or the fridge.
- Alphabet Stamps – Use these with washable stamp pads, or stamp letters in play dough.
- Art Supplies: Construction paper, scissors, glue, paint. It’s worth it to buy large sized art paper for drawing and painting, and decent paintbrushes are worth the investment. I don’t have a good brand to recommend, but I’ve thrown away a zillion cheap paintbrushes that have broken on the first or second use!
- Lacing cards. Yet another Melissa and Doug item – we have these wooden lacing cards, and I have been surprised at how well they have held the boys attention! Both Owen (3, close to 4) and Gresham (6) enjoy working on them. The laces seem to catch on the edges of the lacing holes and I thought they would wear out quickly, but they are still in really good shape after several uses.
For read-aloud book recommendations, check out this post. For more specific ideas for learning activities for preschoolers, you can view all of my preschool posts here. Also check out my preschool Pinterest board for ideas from many of the best kid bloggers!