For about the past year, I have done a lot of preschool homeschooling. It took hours and hours to find different programs and then going through what worked and what didn’t work for my family. Last month, my 3 year old started official preschool and now I’m starting the process all over with my almost 2 year old!
Things to Think About
1. The preschoolers temperament
There is a reason why preschool teachers are saints! When it comes to teaching your child, you will start to see a whole new range of emotions. Sometimes they will become angry and frustrated when something is too difficult, sometimes they are happy and having fun, other times they will not want to focus or do anything regarding your lesson.
2. Your temperament
How do you handle your kid when they are difficult and really don’t want to learn? Are you a super strict teacher, perfectly patient or do you go with the flow? Teaching preschool ideas that are so basic and simple can be *ahem* boring, but these are things baby needs to know. Sometimes I would get frustrated with Thing 1 when the concepts were so easy and he wasn’t getting it. I was switching from working on grad work to teaching the concept of up and down. Some days it was hard for me to connect and other times I just wanted him to correctly count those darn airplanes.
My best advice it to start slow, go with the kids flow and don’t get worked up. When you feel frustrated on both sides, take a play break and pick it back up tomorrow or later in the day.
3. Time, Time, Time, and Scheduling
When it comes to preschool, you need to figure out when is the best time for learning for your kid. If you want to make it as schoolish as possible, I suggest that you keep the same schedule everyday and teach at the same time. For our school, we would wake up, have breakfast, do a lesson and worksheets, watch a video, then it was nap time. The rest of the day was me doing whatever was on the calendar or just hanging out and playing. Kids kinda have to learn a lot and learning does take time. Some days will be easier than others, but set time aside each day for learning. If you are a type A, then go on ahead and make a schedule like a teacher and stick too it!
4. Materials and costs
What is your curriculum budget? There are many free resources you can find online. However, printing a full year curriculum will take a lot of paper and ink. If you want to go for traditional work sheets, you can find some at your local book stores for under $10. They usually have many different activities that have target objectives for each age. If you are doing arts and crafts, look into how much daily activities will cost as well. Or you can order a full curriculum set from different homeschool sites and catalogs/
How creative are you? Be honest with yourself! If you love crafts and doing cool science activities, this will be a blast! If you hate glitter and goo and your home is not a place to have finger painting, that is ok too! You are the teacher so you decide. Teaching should be fun for the most part, so never try to overwork and exhaust yourself doing crazy things that you aren’t creative enough to do. Stick to the basics. I promise your kid is too young to say I’m bored. They will instead enjoy the attention and want your praise!
Now that that is out of the way, here are some of the top things I have used (in no particular order) while pre schooling my son.
1. Abc Mouse
*My son did enjoy this for the most part.
*I found out what he likes – He loved to do the puzzles and dance to the letter videos. I bought him a large selection of jigsaw puzzles after seeing how much he liked doing them on ABC mouse
*Easy to sit down and go through the activites
*Site is easy to navigate
*Site has a pet (Whoohoo. No real gerbil poo for me!!)
*Some of the activities are hard. The tracing is hard for me to do and I’m an adult!
*When doing the learning path, you have to go through each item and my son doesn’t like the books aloud so he can’t progress to the next level
*Everything isn’t laptop friendly
2. Monarca (Bilingual for Spanish)
*This has to be one of my favorites. The content is amazing and I can teach it in English or Spanish
*The worksheets were challenging enough and my son loved doing them
*If you aren’t the best at Spanish, it is easy to go over
*The website is easy to navigate
*The content is great for 2-5
*There are lesson plans you can use or do your own thing
*You will use a toner to print all the papers and you probably should have a ream of paper on hand
*You may have to take the extra step in looking up pronunciation
*It doesn’t teach grammar, just words, but you have to start somewhere right?
3. Hooked on Phonics
*Videos are cute, catchy, and multicultural
*Each day has a lesson and ideas of additional activities you can do
*You can work through the lessons quickly, and the books are fun for the kids
*Flashcards are always great to have
*The online activities are too easy. For example, the popcorn game will ask for the same letter when you are doing the letter. My son got bored with that very quickly
*More expensive than other methods
*Level 1 is very basic, so you might have to skip ahead to Level 2 and it seems like you wasted money
*While the dvd’s are cute, they are very repetitive and it is like they have 6 song templates and then alternated them. If you sit and play the disk all at once, you will hear the same song repeated just with different letters.
4. School Zone workbooks
*Plenty of activities for kids to do
*Very helpful with tracing, mazes, colors numbers and shapes
*Perfect to use for a break (for you) and the kid can color/trace/do the worksheet
*Easy to tear out sheets
*Some sheets leave little to color or space for kids to be creative (not a huge deal, but fyi)
5. Letter of the Week
*Completely free lesson ideas/curriculum!
*Very age appropriate lessons and many ideas for the non creative moms
*Shows you how to set up a teaching area
*Gives you so many resource ideas it is amazing!
*Can’t think of any!
6. Sesame Street
While this isn’t a curriculum, the songs are very catchy and most kids can’t get enough of Cookie and Elmo. I would use the sesame street songs and DVD’s in conjunction with the lessons. For Alphabet week, we watched the Alphabet Jungle game. For Letter B week, we looked at the songs for the letter B. Sesame Street has been on for just shy of a million years, so there are plenty of episodes that you can incorporate into your lesson.
That is what I have used so far.