Homeschool preschool, this was a term my mentor used when my daughter had just turned 2. Apparently 2-3 is the popular time to start sending your little one off to get their education. 2-3 years old! My little one had just learned to talk, and we were really just getting to know each other. I wanted to be the one to begin teaching the foundations for her world–who God is and what we are here for.
Ages birth to 6 are the time of moral development, I wanted to be her teacher for this important foundational time. To me, preschool wasn’t just the time we spent doing formal education, it was every part of the day. Preschool was learning life skills, learning about God, learning about family, and finally, learning academics. My time with my children is limited, I want to make sure that every day I teach them something. Before I get to the “formal education” part of our homeschool preschool, I want to talk about the rest, which is maybe even more important than counting and writing.
The Real Homeschool Preschool
Every day is a day of learning for children. They learn how to get dressed, how to care for themselves, they learn how to cut their food how to help with responsibilities, they learn how to share and be kind to others, they learn about their creator, and they begin to learn their purpose in life. I try to view every moment of my children’s day through their eyes. Many things they do every day, they are still learning to do, and I am here to guide them.
It may be important for a doctor to understand the anatomy of the body, but don’t they also need to know how to communicate with others? It may also be important for a musician to know how to read symbols and terms written on their music, but don’t they also need to know what their purpose in life is?
How do we focus on learning in these life skills?
- We start by setting an example. My husband and I try to set an example of strong moral character in all we do. We try to model what we want our children to be, kind, generous, loving, wise, forgiving, etc. Everyone who has children knows they watch us, they are little mirrors. We also want to show our children that we are not perfect (because we are not), we make mistakes, we are sad sometimes, mad other times, and in these moments of emotions we may sin or handle a situation badly. This becomes a learning experience for our children. In these moments do we demonstrate how to admit our sin and ask for forgiveness?
- We integrate God’s teachings into our day. Deuteronomy 6:7 & Deuteronomy 11:19 both express the importance of teaching God’s word to our children in everything we do. I am not a talker, so this one can be hard for me. I don’t see a bug and get down with my children and talk about how God created it, blah blah blah. However, this is easier when I am spending time in God’s word myself. When I am spending time reading my bible and praying to my creator he brings his words to my mind throughout the day to communicate to my children. Some other ideas on how we do this:
- Memorize and discuss scriptures at meal times (ages 3+)
- Read inspiring stories at meal time (ages 4+)
- Do a baby/toddler devotional at meal time (ages 0+), try “high chair devotions” by Marilyn J. Woody“
- Pick a verse to work on during the week that relates to one of your child’s struggles (like patience or kindness), post it around the house
- Pray to God for help and guidance with your child during times of discipline
- My children are part of the “Team”. Our family is a team, and teams do things together, working together to get things done. We do responsibilities together, we play together, we explore together, we dance together. As a team we learn team skills, we build vocabulary, we learn life skills, and we learn social skills.
- We encourage independence. Teaching your children to care for themselves teaches them independence. Some examples are: putting away their own laundry, picking up their toys, getting their own dishes, picking out their clothes etc. They also need to learn things like how to clean up their food when they spill it or mop up a cup of spilled milk.
Homeschool Preschool Academics
So this is what everyone is worried about. Will my child know how to count, write, read, and do higher math before kindergarten??? Generally if you are doing the important part of homeschool preschool, this will come too, just because you are spending time together. Things like counting and sorting and matching and reading all come up in every day life.
Following society, when my oldest turned 2 I began to think about academics more seriously. I decided to incorporate a more ‘focused’ academic time into our daily schedule. Both my daughter and I loved this time. We called it “School”. School was a time for us to spend doing activities we didn’t normally do. To her school was fun, to me it was the start of her formal academic learning.
Homeschool preschool will look different for everyone. Here is what it looked like for us. When my daughter turned 2 we spent 15 minutes every day doing a couple of activities and a mini-worksheet. The activities were basic and built basic academic skills and developed important muscles for writing. A book that started many of my ideas for these activities was “Small Beginnings : First Steps to Prepare Your Toddler for Lifelong Learning by Barbara Curtis.” The principles and activities presented in this book are a great start to any homeschool preschool program.
In addition to reading “Small Beginnings” I set aside a small budget every month to buy tools and resources for homeschool preschool. You can find a list of my favorite resources here. You can also find ideas for how to use some of these resources or others you have at home in this idea post.
As you begin to incorporate homeschool preschool into your schedule you will find that there are more ideas and resources available than you know what to do with, you will most likely have too many ideas rather than not enough. In addition to my resources page, some other places to find ideas are your local education stores, Pinterest (toddler activities or busy bags), homeschool blogs, Lauri Toys, Melissa and Doug Toys, Hape Toys and more.
The key is to start small and easy, don’t get fancy and complicated. It takes very little money and time to begin.
Here is a worksheet to help you get started planning: homeschoolpreschoolplanningsheet