How to Homeschool Preschool- And Is It Even Necessary?

Being a parent is an exciting thing. There’s just something about watching the little wonders we’ve doted on, fed, and nurtured grow up to be little explorers that just can’t seem to stop getting into things.

Once these little scientists-and that is what they are- reach the age of 3 or 4, we often begin to think about school. The current groupthink of the educational establishment is getting kids started in school as quickly as possible. Hearing the terms “early childhood education” and “early literacy” has become almost as common as hearing the sound of our own names.

Because of this, the use of preschools and pre-kindergarten classes is soaring. But for those of us who have chosen to homeschool, we often begin to think about how we should start homeschooling these little bundles of energy. 

In homeschool group after homeschool group lately, I’ve seen so many requests for advice on preschool curriculums and how to get young children to sit still for their lessons. What I’m going to tell you today is probably very different from what you expected to read here:

3 and 4 yr. olds do not need to be formally homeschooled.

At least not in the way most people imagine, which is the drill and kill method favored by the schools.

Furthermore, 3 and 4 yr. olds do not need to be in any sort of school, period. Believe me, they will have many, many years of sit down learning (if that is what you choose), but for right now, let your kids be just that…kids.

Children this young are perfectly equipped to learn through exploration, play, and what I like to call “supervised freedom.” Not only are they perfectly equipped for this, but play is how they learn best.

It is oftentimes the introduction of formal schooling that quashes the imaginative drive that young children are best known for. They begin to get so used to others telling them what to do and how to do it that they forget how to be spontaneous. It’s not the age of a child that causes their innate curiosity to end…it is the introduction of textbooks, curriculums, worksheets, and lesson plans.

I know that- especially for brand spanking new homeschoolers- the lure of all the wonderful preschool resources available, thanks to the worldwide web, is almost too much to pass up. Who wouldn’t want to order those colorful cutesie-wootsie counting books with teddy bears, or the fabulous preschool value packs complete with manipulatives, flash cards, and miniature whiteboards? I get it.

And I’m certainly not telling you not to get these things because a great many little ones do enjoy doing things like this from time to time. So this is where I’m going to finally tell you:

How to Homeschool Preschool

1. Let them play.

Simple enough, right? There are things you can do to enrich this playtime by offering them toys that inspire creativity, such as:

One very important thing about their playtime is to let them make it their own. Don’t tell them how to play or what to play. If you see them using a toy incorrectly, wait and see if they can figure it out themselves. Perhaps they’re using it that way because they choose to. Helicopter parenting is not a friend of learning through play.

2. Read to them.

Read, read, and read some more. You simply cannot read too much to children who want to be read to. Did you get that insinuation there? You will not do your child any good by forcing them to sit for book after book if they’re fighting tooth and nail against it. Let them find their joy in it- do not force it upon them.

One more thing about reading…do not worry about teaching your child how to read just yet, unless they show a genuine interest in learning. Early literacy is just a ploy for the government to get kids in school earlier. Don’t believe for one second that it actually makes a difference when they’re older.

3. Let them help you with daily chores and errands.

Cook with them. Bake with them. Show them how to fold laundry and start the dryer. Let them accompany you to the bank and the grocery store. Show them how to wiegh your produce there and explain why you do it. Help them count out their money for their own purchases. Day to day living provides in-context abundant learning opportunities that even the most expensive and detailed preschool curriculums just can’t compete with.

4. Let them get messy.

When we worry too much about them getting dirt on their knees or paint in their hair, we inhibit their learning by not allowing them the liberty to go all out with their creations. Messes can get cleaned up anytime. Our children are only young once.

5. Employ the use of workbooks and preschool activities when the children are interested.

You might have gotten the impression before that I am against all preschool activities. This just isn’t the case. Preschool workbooks, printables, and crafts are fabulous ways for kids to learn when they show an interest. If your lttle one asks for a counting book, by all means get them one, but do not get upset if they don’t want to do it religiously everyday. Remember that they are children, and they just aren’t designed to sit for hours everyday doing coloring sheets and tracing letters. I suspect this is the reason for such a high number of kids diagnosed with ADHD these days. Adults are placing inappropriate expectations on their ability to remain still at such a young age.

6. Try not to think too much about homeschooling them.

When we place too much emphasis on the fact that we are homeschooling our children, especially our little ones, we run the risk of going overboard with fulfilling society’s expectations of what education is supposed to look like.

Although my 3 yr. old often chooses to participate in activities with her older siblings, I usually don’t consider her one of my homeschooled children. Not yet. This allows me the freedom to give her the opportunity to choose whether or not she wants to be included, and it prevents me from becoming too rigid in my expectations of what this rambunctious 3 yr. old can do.

Does she have workbooks? Yes.

Does she do them everyday? Not even close.

And that’s okay. She’s three. Some days she may jump into doing a lapbooking project with us, while other days she prefers to play upstairs in her room.

Whatever she chooses to do, though, my heart is at peace because I know she is learning, and that has been my ultimate goal all along.

 

I’ve collected some amazing preschool activities for you to use with your little ones. What I love about these is that they are far removed from the dull form of learning dominating our school system. These websites are filled with wonderful advice, suggestions, and hands-on experiences for your little learners to enjoy. Your children will undoubtedly cherish these moments of learning with you! 

Make Your Own Homeschool Preschool Curriculum

Stormtrooper Preschooler Handwriting Pack

Frog Craft

Are You My Mother? Unit Study

Make Read Alouds Fun for You and Your Preschooler

Round Up of Winter Printables from 3 Dinosaurs

Faith Filled Parenting- Preschool Freebies

The Ultimate Guide to Planning a Charlotte Mason Preschool Curriculum

Homeschool Preschool

Early Science Fun- Hands-On!

Best Preschool Books

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Author: Shelly Sangrey

I'm Shelly, a Christ-following, homeschooling Mom of eleven children ( okay, not ALL children. My oldest is 23.) I met my husband right after graduation, and we've been together ever since. Though my life can be hectic at times... okay, ALL the time, I wouldn't change it for anything.

40 thoughts on “How to Homeschool Preschool- And Is It Even Necessary?”

  1. Yay! I love that you are just so balanced in this post. It seems like everyone else in the world is either “you need to start teaching your 3-month-old and here’s some curriculum to do it” or “you’re ruining your kid’s childhood if you even do anything remotely school-like before age 7.” I think the biggest thing for parents to keep in mind is to follow each child’s tendencies and make sure whatever activities they’re doing with them are something that, to the child, feels like play and fun!

    Liked by 2 people

      1. It’s taking all my self-control to not choose this post as my feature for the week, but I am trying really hard to spread the love around and give someone else a chance for once. 😀 Loved this post – even reading it a second time! #FridayFrivolity

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Agreed!
    2. We’ve had two kids who were more interested in turning the pages than hearing the story when they were little. Our third likes the story, but also enjoys sitting quietly looking through the book modeling her sibs behavior with their books.

    3. Yup! We’ve always got them in tow! They get to meet everyone, and learn how the world works. A few weekends ago they even got to work at our local coffee shop for a bit! The owner had all her ‘adopted’ (her customers’) kids working that day!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I would love to have a coffee shop with such awesome owners arounds here! What a great experience for your kids! As for turning pages, that’s what my 3 yr. old is most interested in now, too. I just shorten the story so she can continue turning the pages. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  3. This reminds me of an email I received from a mother looking to homeschool her 3 year old. She sent me a huge list of questions from curriculum, co ops, electives and so forth. I told her right from the start, I’m probably not the best person to answer your questions since I don’t follow any “rules” to homeschooling. I don’t buy expensive curriculum. In fact I rent a lot of books from the library. I don’t do co ops. If we can afford electives we’ll do it. Plus I’ve been in school myself the entire time of me homeschooling. We make it work. But I told her at 3 years old I wouldn’t worry too much about all of this!!! Her questions remind me of the pressure we put on children at a very early age.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Yes, and it’s so sad. Even when I do tell people they don;t need to go all in right away with their little ones, I don;t think most of them listen. They’re so eager to homeschool that it’s hard to wait, and I remember feeling like that, too. It’s taken me 8 years to realize that jumping in too early often leads to burnout for mom and child!

      Liked by 2 people

  4. Amen. We had our daughter enrolled in a Christian Pre School last year because they offered it free while doing CC at the church, but this year I am taking it super easy and doing hands on. Some days we do the BrainQuest but I still have to school my two older ones so she has gotten to play a lot this year (turns 5 in Jan.)…thanks for sharing this!

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Shelly, you are always right on! I so agree with you on all your points. When my kids were young, my toddlers would play close by. Once everyone was picking a historical figure to do a project on. My four year old looked up from her toy dog collection and said, “I’m going to do Marie Antoinette.” Just like that. I stared at her. Then I said, “Okay”. She loved it. we read about her and she told me what to write on her report. She added all the drawings. We got to the part where Marie Antoinette was killed and her eyes were as big as saucers. She didn’t say a word. Later when I asked if she was putting that part in, she calmly informed me that she was leaving that part out. An amazing moment! Kids never cease to amaze. Great job, Shelly. You need to write homeschool education books when you get to a calmer place in life! I will buy a copy.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. I teach preschool, we never expect the kids to sit still doing concentrated learning more than 20 minutes 2x in one day (this includes arts and crafts). Our goal, at the end of three years of preschool, is that they know the alphabet, numbers 1-20, shapes and colors, how to write their first name, how to hold a pen/crayon/pencil, how to use scissors, how to wait their turn, visit the bathroom down the hall and how to play well with others. That’s what preschool should be about, whether at home or in a school environment. Nothing in that list includes reading, math, fancy writing, etc. and we’re not trying to accomplish all that in 1 year, but in three, with plenty of time for play, play and more play.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I love that your preschool includes lots of play. Sometimes it’s the parents who expect a more schoolish environment for their little ones. I once talked to a pre-kindergarten teacher who used play-based learning, and she said she used to have to explain to the parents over and over again that although it may look like the kids in her class aren’t learning, that’s how children that age learn best. She said that sometimes it was like talking to a wall. Adults have these notions of what learning is “supposed” to look like, and they’re often unable to see it as happening any other way than what they grew up with.

      Like

  7. love this! My answer to moms who are looking for preschool curriculum is very similar to yours – I say, “Let them explore! discover! live! Let them work and play alongside you and you’ll both learn extraordinary things!”

    thanks for sharing this terrific advice with us.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I think that the biggest benefit that my daughter for from pre school was the social stuff, sharing and such. She’s not an only child but her sister is 17, so it was good for her to be around other kids and learning to listen to somebody other than us #fridayfriviolity

    Like

  9. I completely agree with your thoughts. I must say that when the children age between 3-5 year, they love playing, exploring and observing new things. We should not think about their naughty activities and you can also involve with them with your suggestions so don’t think too much and let them do the activity what they want to do.

    Like

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