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Preschool can be so stressful for new homeschool parents. Even if you have a conviction to homeschool, this is the first time you’re really going against the system. Your friends, the people at church, and everyone in your peer group is starting to send their kids off to preschool and you are keeping your kids at home.

It can be tough to buck the system for the first time. You may feel pressure to prove what you’re doing is right. I can remember those days quite clearly. We knew we were going to homeschool. My oldest turned three (which is too early for preschool, by the way) and I decided that it was time to start. Preschool probably would have been better served to wait, but here’s the deal – it’s totally okay to figure things out on your own. I’m going to give you advice and then I encourage you to take from it it what you will. You’ll learn as you go along.

That’s the wonderful thing about homeschooling. We’re always learning.

Do I Need A Curriculum To Homeschool Preschool?

When we were first starting out, I did feel a lot of pressure. I bought a box curriculum, with lots of little worksheets and pages, and it was totally overkill. My daughter didn’t care anything for it. I ended up giving it to a friend whose older daughter really, really enjoyed it.  Funny thing now about those two girls (one’s a senior and one’s a junior in high school) is they still exhibit those same tendencies!  My daughter still doesn’t like worksheets. The other young lady is very academic.

Do you need a curriculum to begin to homeschool in the preschool years? The answer is no, you really don’t need a curriculum to homeschool preschool.

The Basics For Homeschooling Preschool

Much of what you already do with your child together each day is almost all of the preschool experience they need.

You’re going to be talking about numbers, talking about colors, about what day of the week it is, what month it is, what season it is and how to tie your shoes. Add in the fact that you should be brushing your teeth, turning off the light and being kind to the dog.

All of this is preschool appropriate material. Your child is going to learn their colors, but not by sitting down and matching up color cards. They will learn by having conversations with you about the world around them and what colors they see. This is one of the basics for homeschooling preschool.

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Reading Picture Books In Your Homeschool Preschool

Another thing that begins in these years is building  linguistically correct and sophisticated language patterns, like what  Andrew Pudewa at IEW teaches. You start doing this in preschool, not by reading your four-year-old Shakespeare, but instead by reading them lots and lots of wonderful picture books. Picture books employ finely crafted language and create rich language experiences for your preschooler. Even the little rhyming ones that have a sing-song pattern.

A well-done picture book is a joy and a delight, not just to the three-year-old and four-year-old, but to the mom and dad as well! So read those books and yes, read them over and over again! As much as we sometimes get a little tired of the same book over and over again, it’s actually beneficial for your child to have those language patterns repeated.

If you’re taking your child to the library and they are drawn to less language rich character books that you don’t want to read (Trust me, I totally get this. I declared that I would not read Barbie books in my house. If you wanted to read Barbie books, you had to learn to read and read them yourself.) there are a couple of things you can do. First of all, have an overwhelming selection of great quality books for preschoolers, or just do the library pickup if you want to.  I loved taking my preschooler to the library and having them do library story time.

My tactic was always, I’m going to have a lot of great books. They can bring their one book and I’ll read Dora the Explorer, but then I’m going to read a lot of great picture books as well. That was how I handled it. You choose the vast majority of the books and there’s some wonderful book lists out there. We have some  wonderful book lists HERE on our site, and you can also find some fabulous ones at Read Aloud Revival. 

Nursery Rhymes And Homeschooling Preschool

In addition to picture books, I would add nursery rhymes. Memorize nursery rhymes together. When I say memorize, I’m not talking about sitting your child down and drill and drill, but simply say the nursery rhymes yourself . Repeat the nursery rhymes and little poems together over and over and over again. Your child will begin to pick them up, learn them and internalize those linguistically correct and sophisticated language patterns.

Play In Your Preschool

Other than language patterns, the next thing that’s a basic of homeschooling preschool is play – lots and lots of imaginative play with your preschooler.

Set up those costume areas! We had dress up in our house for years and it was always one of my kids’ favorites. Tell stories with their stuffies and have the stuffies do all the things. It’s so much fun and it’s part of early learning and development.

Playing outside and large gross motor body movements are a huge part of the preschool years The fine motor movements that come later are based on gross motor body movements. Skills like writing start with strengthening the core of your body. So get the kids moving, climbing, running, and playing outside. This is all a huge part of any preschool program and is an important part of your homeschool!

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Nature Study In Your Preschool

Informal nature walks and observing the world around you, are a wonderful part of the preschool years. Study nature in that you simply pick up a colored leaf off the ground and talk about it. You don’t even have to talk about the science of why leaves change color, but just the fact that they do so in the fall. They fall off the trees, the trees go dormant. The green leaves will be back next spring. These are the kinds of conversations to have with your preschooler.

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Preschool Field Trips

Explore the world around you. Preschool is a wonderful time to take the field trips to the police station and the fire station, the airport, the grocery store and the post office. We did all of those things and it’s a really fun time to get your preschooler out and get them just interacting with their own little world (because the firemen they see on the firetruck is their entire world right now!).

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A Sample Homeschool Schedule For The Preschool Years

What does your day look like when you are doing preschool in your homeschool?

Maybe two 20 to 30 minute sessions of school each day. I could even say three because you’re probably going to read aloud, sing some songs and have some giggly snuggles at bedtime. If you want to, lay out a snack in the morning and then read a couple of books, talk about a piece of art that you see and listen to a wonderful piece of music. Then again, do that right before or after nap time.

Short sessions are better than long sessions. What you don’t want to do is say, “From 10 to 1, we’re going to do preschool today,” because that’s likely going to be way too long. Keep the lessons short, and keep building their attention span by stopping before they’re bored.

This is one of the great ways to build the habit of attention is to keep the lesson super short.  Sometimes those conversations are only two to three minutes long. Beyond that,  just live your life.

Let your preschooler play! Play inside, and outside as much as possible.

Have your preschooler help with the chores, unload the dishwasher, sort the silverware into the silverware tray, and pick up all the laundry from the floor. Count as you throw them into the laundry basket, and sort the laundry into the washing machine. All of these skills are wonderful preschool skills, and you do them just by living your life every day – not by setting aside two or three hours to do preschool.

Little Explorers For Homeschooling Preschool

If you are interested in some help in choosing the right poems, choosing the great picture books and having more fun play ideas for you and your preschooler, we’ve just launched our new Little Explorers program. It provides support and encouragement to  mentor you through this season. It is sometimes a little bit scary to begin to homeschool your preschooler. This is a  delightful way to add a little bit of pre-school activities to your day for your littlest one, without you having to come up with everything. Little Explorers provides help and encouragement, all along the way.

Learn more about Little Explorers HERE.