I’ve had several young Mommas (so young I could be their Momma!) ask me about homeschooling preschool and kindergarten recently. The biggest challenge of littles is keeping them engaged. Most still have a relatively short attention span, are quickly tired, and need to be fed and watered at regular intervals. Habit is key- routine is your safest bet.
(Still considering homeschooling? Check out our post on three reasons we love homeschooling.)
So what are my tips for homeschooling preschoolers and kindergartners?
Tip #1 – Morning Baskets
I would recommend developing a morning basket for littles. This method means they get your attention first thing, right after breakfast. This basket is a great way to think about what you want your littles to learn and how to organize it. Morning Baskets for littles can include card matching games, Kumon workbooks, Memory CD’s, Poetry, Simple Bible Stories, Phonics, and math games if they are ready for them.
After years of doing this, I recommend over-planning before you get started and then going with the flow once you start. With littles, like with anything else, you don’t get what you want, you get what you plan for. With littles, you often get lots of surprises, too, right?!
Tip #2 – Add in age-appropriate chores.
Kids do what you inspect, not what you expect, BUT, they do need to know what you expect, too! One of the greatest lessons I’ve learned from Andrew Pudewa is that if your child keeps asking for help, they need help. This seems simple- well, it is, really, but it might not come naturally! Life skills are a big part of homeschooling preschoolers and kindergartners.
Tip #3 – Add in Some Books
If you live with books and magazines, your kids will think having them around is normal. My kids love books on tape. We use Sonlight, Bethlehem Books, Memoria Press, and Veritas Press catalogs as reading lists. Ranger Rick, National Geographic for Kids, Ladybug, Boys Life have all been favorite magazines around here.
Pre- Reading: Read aloud 15 min a day. There are so many adorable books on everything under the sun; don’t limit your read-alouds to baby books.
Curriculum Suggestions for Homeschooling Preschoolers and Kindergartners
I think some table time is good at this age because it helps kids get acclimated to regular study. Art or History Cards are great to look at, even for pre-readers. Usborne, Memoria Press, and Veritas Press all have beautiful ones.
Christian Studies- Arch books are a fabulous way for your littles to get a great introduction to basic Bible stories with pictures that they’ll remember for a lifetime. We also have loved and read out loud to our kids a couple of different Children’s Bibles, including the Golden Children’s Bible.
We had tons of felts, and teaching Bible stories through felts is always an attention grabber.
IEW Language Acquisition through poetry memorization– this is a fantastic program and easily accessible for littles, especially with the CD. There are four sections of 20 poems each, starting with simple, short poems and ending with epic dramatic re-tellings. Andrew Pudewa (who put the program together and recites the poems) has incredible diction, so your kids will hear fantastic vocabulary and superb story-telling.
Letter and Number recognition– we used Kumon and Usborne workbooks, colorful, easily accessible, and fun. There are tons of complete programs available.
Phonics- We always used Alpha-Phonics in conjunction with Explode the Code. There are other great products out there. We took the low cost, no bells, and whistles, a practical approach.
Bible Study– Arch books, Bible Memory, reading a good quality Children’s Bible, Veggie Tales, Veritas Press, or Bible Study for All Ages Bible cards.
Memory Work – When our youngest was four, she learned 160 VP history cards that year (even though she was a pre-reader), along with 24 history sentences, several others hundred facts related to grammar, geography, Latin, poems and more because we regularly and diligently used CDs and table time to review. She also learned the letter sounds and started on a notebook-sized time-line. I say all of this so that you realize your littles are capable of learning a LOT.
This is NOT to say that you should set them at the table and force information down their throats. Kids this age, however, can learn a ton through CD’s, good DVD’s, books and great visual aids such as flashcards. Also, if you have older kids, why not include your younger kids? They are sponges. If you start early “training their brains to retain,” you’ll be amazed at how much they really can and do retain as they grow older.
More Fun Ways to Learn while Homeschooling Preschool and Kindergarten
Outside play, exploration, and nature walks – Nature journaling and nature tables are an excellent way for kids to display the cool things they’ve found as they explore the great outdoors! Homeschooling your preschooler and kindergartener should always be fun!
Read-alouds – At least 15 minutes a day; more is better ; )
Crafts and Art – There are so many fun art books, but in any case, an easel, paper, and paint is always appropriate. Colored shaving cream is excellent for bath/shower painting. And hey, how about a shower tile wall- works great as a whiteboard and for painting- easily wipes off- all for $15 bucks.
Gardening – This can be in the yard, with containers, or how about a Fairy Garden?
Open-Ended toys – Brio Trains, Playmobile, Duplos/Legos, Stuffed Animals. Pinterest has some adorable pins of old entertainment centers rehabbed as play kitchens. Add some felt food; and old pots, pans, and measuring cups.
Art Supplies – Easels, paint, glitter, glue, pipe cleaners, colored paper, stickers, colored rice bins, colored shaving cream to “Paint” in the bathtub, Whiteboards around the house (make a whiteboard wall with shower tile or several smaller lapboards), chalkboards and magnet boards (easily made with some chalkboard or magnet paint).
Unstructured Outside Play – Trampoline, playhouses, daily walks, parks, swimming, Gardening, Sandboxes, Swings,
“Sound exploration” – Musical makers. Kids loving making sounds.
Cooking- My kids have all loved to help cook in the kitchen. Usborne’s First Cookbook is full of fun and simple recipes.
Gross motor skill development– For years, we had a “Step 2” playscape, complete with ladder and slide, IN our house.
Sandbox or table– a friend built a sandbox in their basement for their kids, and we had a sand table on our front porch for years.
Fine motor skill development – Have plenty of pens, pencils, markers around for the kids to play with, sewing cards, small toys (once they are past the “everything in their mouth” stage- legos, of course.
Travel/ field trips – What better way to learn about the mail than actually visiting the Post Office? These types of learning experiences make learning fun AND educational.
Singing – the Wee Sing series, with books and CD’s are full of old favorites.
Daily Prayer – Family evening prayers, with everyone snuggled in a bed together, is a gentle way to teach your littles about what’s important to you. We have each child pray, youngest to oldest, ending with Daddy blessing each child. If your kiddo doesn’t know what to pray for, just help them along following ACTS (Adoration, Confessions, Thanksgiving, Supplication). We would have them repeat a simple sentence or two, such as, “Thank you, God, for this day.” This year, we made an Easter garden.
Finally, as a word of caution…..Limit screen time.
There are so many apps, computer games, DVD’s, etc., and they are all fascinating. We use some but in limited quantity. You want your pre-Ker neurology to be hard-wired to people and words, not electronics. Studies have shown that kids learn language skills by interacting with people-NOT screens.
For littles, almost everything they encounter is new and amazing. It’s so fun to explore the world together and to see it through fresh eyes. You don’t have to be super planned, but some planning does help and kids, again, thrive on routines. So what are you waiting for, take the leap to homeschooling preschool and kindergarten today!
Like what you see here but need more? Check out our post on Homeschooling Basics.