Homeschooling your toddler, preschooler or kindergartner can be SO MUCH FUN. Generally speaking, a lot of times it will be you doing the same things you normally do together, but with a little more intention. Super simple, right? Until you start researching and then subsequently freaking out. Let’s take a breath, and streamline this process for you a little bit, mama.
Think About Where You Can Meet Your Child
There’s a big difference between a 2 1/2 year old and a four year old in terms of what they are ready and able to (and interested in) learning about! You’ll also want to consider what your goals are for homeschooling at this age – is it kindergarten readiness or just more educational fun stuff? Ask yourself these questions and go from there:
- Can your little one say or sing the ABCs?
- How high can your little one count, if at all?
- Can they use scissors?
- Can they hold a pencil or crayon to draw?
- How long is their attention span? Will your little one sit for up to ten minutes to listen to a story?
- How are the gross motor skills? Can your child run for a few minutes at a time? Kick a ball? Catch a ball?
- How are the fine motor skills? Does your child struggle peeling a sticker still or have they already papered your walls with them? Do they hold a pencil in their fist or between a few fingers?
These are just a few questions to consider but will get you started thinking about your goals. Once you have an idea of where you land, you can consider exactly what you want to put on your to do list for school.
Things Not To Stress About Yet
When you first start googling “preschool homeschool” you’ll be overwhelmed by the terminology, the styles, the philosophies. It’s okay to go through and read about those and understand what they are, but I would strongly encourage you to take more of a “we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it” approach. Certainly there are some styles of homeschooling that you will find inspirational for how you envision your homeschool. Practically however, you may find you’ll benefit most from several different approaches, especially in the early years.
The vast majority of the homeschoolers I know (especially secular ones) take what is called an “eclectic” approach – this just means that they pull from two or more different styles to set the tone depending on the context of what is being learned. You may very well find that some days your preschooler needs a little more rigidity to the schedule and others, you need more of a playing-is-learning day. Perhaps your little learner needs to be moving around while listening to a story? Perhaps they enjoy sitting for some time working on a drawing or worksheet? The best thing about homeschooling is that you get to decide what that means as you go… and you can change it around as often as you feel like it!
What Resources Will You Need?
Now that you have some vague concept of the types of things you and little one will be learning, you’ll want to decide if you want to plan this out on your own or have someone else do it for you. If you’re here, my guess is you’d like to get everything (or most things?) laid out for you, so you can focus the rest of your time on being with kiddo. Explore the different curriculum options out there and see if you can find one to fit your style.
One thing is for sure, regardless of what approach you plan to take or which curriculum (if any) you choose to follow, the supplies are always pretty much the same…
It’s Time to Go Shopping! – Setting Up Your “Classroom”
That’s right! You didn’t think you’d be off the hook for school supply shopping did you? The good news is, a lot of great early years classroom supplies are things you already have. At this age, play is the absolute most important thing to do for school and there are a ton of fun play items to include as you start to become more intentional with your little one. A close second is having access to an absolute ton of books – now is the time to sign up for the library card, mama!
Here are my top six, definitely-pick-these-up needs for your homeschool classroom:
- Beginner’s Pencils – These pencils are fatter and therefore easier to hold than a regular pencil. I highly recommend Ticonderoga because they last forever and these ones even come pre-sharpened.
- Training Scissors – This is the exact pair that we have and it is soooo helpful for when they are first learning what to do with scissors. It’s a complicated action to open and close and also watch where you’re cutting, so these spring-assisted scissors cut back on a lot of stress for both of you!
- Instruction Cubes – These are big dice with clear pockets on them so you can literally make this into any type of game you like. We have put in different shapes, colors and even different movements to get in some fun gross motor practice.
- Fine Motor Set – This is an awesome set for all different types of sand table, water table, sensory bin and STEM play. We absolutely love everything we’ve ever gotten from Learning Resources and this set is so handy (ha get it, handy?) because it covers all sorts of different bases – from pincer grips to grasping and more!
- MathLink Cubes – You’ll definitely want to have some type of small objects to practice counting, sorting, grouping and lining up, so these cubes cover all the bases. Plus they are interlocking so you can build fun contraptions with them as well! The set linked here even comes with a ton of fun activities and mats to do with them.
- Letter Magnets – Inventive spelling is awesome, and it’s made so much easier when they don’t have to worry about how to form a letter. This set is color coded so little one can begin to learn to look for the red vowels and blue consonants in those first consonant-vowel-consonant words.
So there you have it! Those are my big six, but there is so, so much more we constantly have on hand and so many things I regularly reach for. Want to see the rest? Make sure to download the full list, which is linked to the exact products I use, or print it out and bring it with you to the store!