If you have a preschooler, you may be wondering if you should be starting a formal schooling program with your child. At what age should he learn to write, read, or count? Are you already behind with his lessons? How greatly will your decisions now impact his education in the future?
If you want to homeschool your preschooler, just take a deep breath — there is good news, and then there is good news. The good news is; you’re not behind. While you may be tempted to compare your child’s progress with another’s, remember that young children learn and develop at very different rates. The other good news is that homeschooling a preschooler is so much fun! You don’t need organized lessons, and everything involves hands-on learning (for both you and your child). Here are a few ideas to get you started:
Join a moms and preschoolers’ class at your library, place of worship, or a local homeschool co-op
Your child will have the opportunity to learn to play with others while you connect with other stay-at-home moms. If you can’t find a group like that in your area, start your own. Ask moms with young children that you meet if they would like to come. You can get together at a park, playground, or in someone’s home. Try meeting for a couple of hours in the morning; many moms with preschoolers want to get them home before naptime.
Plan field trips with other families with young children
Children love animals; visit a zoo, a nature center, or a farm. It’s even better if they can pat the animals. Science centers often have rooms set up for young children to visit and explore. Some restaurants and stores offer field trips for children; call around to local bakeries, pizza places, pet stores, and grocery stores, and ask if they give tours.
Create a unit study about something your child is interested in
Make sure your activities are age-appropriate; keep them simple and hands-on. For example, if your child likes fire trucks then find picture books at the library about fire trucks. Make crafts about fire trucks, draw fire trucks, and talk about fire trucks. If you know of other children interested in that topic, you can even schedule a field trip to the fire station. Or you might choose to learn about the birds you see in your backyard by reading books about them and watching them at the bird feeder.
Preschoolers love making crafts!
Find some good craft ideas online or at the library and do them together with your child. You might even get a group of children and parents together for a craft day. Ask the other moms to bring craft ideas and supplies with them, too.
Don’t forget about art!
Preschoolers also love to paint and draw. Fill a box with your child’s favorite art supplies, such as crayons, markers, glue sticks, and paper. You can even include a watercolor set, ruler, and stencils. Show him how to use everything in his box, then step back and watch him create!
Introduce your child to different types of music by dancing together
Show him how to recognize the tempo and the style. For slow songs, have him move slowly and deliberately; on fast songs, let him dance all over the place. He’ll find dancing even more fun when you join him!
Play games with your child
There are many educational games for young children available. If you have a teacher supply store in your area, stop by and see what they have. You can also check with bookstores and specialty toy stores for alphabet, reading, and math games. And don’t forget — you can create a game yourself! Look online and in activity books for ideas for making inexpensive games for your preschooler.
Make supper together
Decide on a recipe and help your child find the ingredients in the cupboard or refrigerator. Show him how to measure and pour the ingredients as you cook, explaining each step as you go along.
Take nature walks together
A walk through the woods, in a field, or in your backyard can lead to a lot of learning time. Walk slowly and look carefully; you’ll find insects, birds, and flowers you may not have noticed before. Write down the things that you find then go to the library to find a book about it. Did you see a caterpillar on your walk? What kind was it? What does it like to eat? What type of butterfly will it change into?
Preschool children are always learning, even as they play. By offering them new things to try and experience, you’re not only schooling your child, but you’re encouraging that love of learning — a gift that will last a lifetime.
Guest Blogger: Samantha Bell
Photo by whgrad