Homeschooling Your Preschooler: Tips and Tricks for a Successful Start

I’m sure you’ve heard it before: the number one way that young children learn is through play! But that doesn’t stop us parents from wondering when to introduce them to the wonderful world of academia. 

While preschool is not mandatory in the United States, many parents choose to enroll their child in a preschool program to lay the foundation for early learning and socialization. But what does this look like if you decide to homeschool?

In this post, we’ll cover everything you need to know about homeschooling a preschooler, including curricula and resources to help get you started.

How Do I Start Homeschooling a Preschooler?

Depending on where you live, formal education is not required until age five, or even age six or seven in some states. 

However, preschool can be highly beneficial to your child’s development. By teaching the fundamentals early on, you are giving your child an invaluable gift as you introduce foundational skills like early literacy and critical thinking.

Disclaimer: not every child is ready for preschool! You’ll want to assess your child’s readiness before beginning your journey. Keep in mind that while there are milestones at every age, each child is unique and develops at their own pace. 

So, what kinds of things do you focus on when homeschooling a preschooler?

The biggest focus should be on having fun and learning naturally! In fact, if you do lessons at all, they should be no more than ten to fifteen minutes a day.

This could be as simple as flipping through ABC flash cards, doodling and working on pre-writing skills, or sorting and counting toys as you clean up the playroom

Really, the bulk of your work this year should be done through crafts and other hands-on activities that feel a lot more like fun than school work. Trust me, crafts are not just fluff! While your child is hard at work gluing a thousand mini pom poms onto a piece of copy paper, they are also working on motor skills, sensory development, and creativity. Win win! 

And don’t forget how invaluable exploration is! Try to let your preschooler explore the world around them as much as possible, through things like nature walks to the park, field trips to the zoo, or even tagging along to the grocery store. 

Another thing to keep in mind when homeschooling a preschooler is the importance of routine. Children crave structure, and while homeschool allows you the amazing flexibility to go with the flow, there should be some sort of routine your little one can count on. 

Start to include them more in your daily activities, like sorting the laundry, setting the table, or watering the garden. Not only do they learn so much just by watching us and helping where they can, but you’ll build their confidence and plant a seed in their quest for independence (which will come in handy when it comes time for chores!).

A child making a tower of legos

What Skills Should A 4-Year-Old Have?

Of course, when homeschooling a preschooler, remember that every child develops and meets milestones at their own pace. However, there are certain skills that your 4-year-old child should have a grasp on, and continue to work on through these early years.

Social-Emotional Skills

If you type in “skills a four year old should have”, you probably wouldn’t expect this to top the list. But, social-emotional skills are so very important, and oftentimes not given the attention they need when it comes to early education. 

In fact, I’ve heard from many a Kindergarten teacher that the biggest obstacle they face is social-emotional immaturity. This leads to much more of a babysitting atmosphere than a learning environment, and can take months to overcome in the classroom.

A child with a strong social-emotional footing will be well socialized, able to share with others, take turns, cooperate, and follow directions. 

And don’t forget the importance of crisis management skills. It is so important when homeschooling a preschooler to teach the child how to manage those big emotions, especially anger, and talk through their feelings, so they don’t melt into a puddle at every bump in the road.

Language

At this age, you’ve probably also noticed a rapid growth in your preschooler’s ability to learn new words. I remember this stage distinctly. Once my daughter found the words to articulate what she wanted, I realized she was going to be a master negotiator! 

But really, with an ever-growing vocabulary and the ability to use more complex sentences, your preschooler should be able to carry on a simple conversation while speaking clearly.

Most preschoolers do not know how to read yet, but often have a grasp on some basic literacy skills. For example, a four-year-old should understand that each letter makes a sound and when put together, these sounds form words. They will also recognize that words on a page have meaning and that some words rhyme with others. 

With this enhanced stage of language development you should also start to see a rise in memorization skills and recall. Your child might remember songs and poems, and should be able to recite basic information like their full name, address, age, parents’ names, and phone number.

That means they can totally understand and remember those two and three-part commands, like “go potty and wash your hands, then you can get a snack”.

Movement and Motor Skills

It is hard to keep a four year old still, amiright? But did you know that all of that moving is actually part of a crucial developmental stage? 

In fact, studies have shown that learning is a triangular relationship, dependent not only on auditory and visual input, but also vestibular (or motor) skills as well. If one of these skills is not up to par, learning can prove to be very difficult for your child. 

Work on motor skills is also important since the stronger your child’s motor skills are, the easier it will be for them to master those fine motor skills like pencil grasp. 

At this age, your child should be able to hold a pencil, using it to trace shapes and letters with some level of control. They should also have the ability to cut along a straight line and do other fine motor activities like lacing beads and legos.

The internet is full of ideas to test your child’s vestibular strength and really put those motor skills to work! 

Cognitive Milestones

Your child’s cognitive skills affect the way they see the world and process information. 

Some cognitive milestones for age four include recognition of colors and numbers and basic counting skills. Your child should be able to count a set of 10 objects with ease, and understand that each number correlates to one object. 

When homeschooling a preschooler, the child should also begin to compare common objects, using their characteristics of shape, size, and color to sort them into different groups. 

Lastly, a major cognitive milestone at this age is a growing understanding of time as it relates to your child’s day to day life, such as distinguishing between morning, afternoon, and evening. 

Best Homeschool Curriculums For Preschool

Now that we have gone over what your preschooler should know, let’s dive in to some of my favorite picks when it comes to homeschool preschool curriculua!

Keep in mind, homeschooling a preschooler is absolutely possible without purchasing a curriculum, too! The internet and local library are full of free resources and ideas!

Five In A Row

The Five Below curriculum series offers some of my most favorite early learning programs for children ages 2-12. Each curriculum takes you on a journey through a set of amazing classic children’s books, boasting carefully crafted lessons to pull from each page.

Before Five In A Row is a great option for the tiniest learners or those who are just starting out and want a more subtle approach to learning. That said, More Before Five In A Row is my pick for most preschoolers, offering a subtle approach with a bit more substance than is offered in the previous series.

Two kids with five bowls of paint in different colors

The curriculum itself is incredible, but what I really love is the hundreds of simple, fun activities that are available online through sites like Pinterest and Teachers Pay Teachers. Seriously, the internet is an amazing thing!

A Year Of Playing Skillfully

A Year Of Playing Skillfully is a play-based curriculum designed for children aged three to seven. You can purchase it in either a physical or digital version.

The book is divided by the months of the year, with each month donning its own unique theme (which I love!). Activities focus on:

  • Homelife and social-emotional skills
  • Language and literacy
  • Art and music
  • Math and manipulative concepts
  • Science and sensory
  • Outdoor and gross motor skills

What I love about this curriculum is that it really allows children to dive in and explore the world around them in a natural, hands-on way. Which is how your little one learns best!

And, (bonus!), as you go through the lessons with your preschooler, you will undoubtedly create new memories and foster a love of learning from an early age!

Mother Goose Time

Mother Goose Time’s Preschool Curriculum Kit is a subscription-based curriculum designed for children around three to five years old.

I actually didn’t try this one with my littles, but I have been drooling over it and you better believe it is saved in my memory bank if I ever have another child!

Everything you need for your learning journey is literally at your doorstep with Mother Goose Time, with a themed box arriving every month. Each box is organized into weekly sub-themes and daily supply packets, taking the guesswork out of planning (lucky you!). 

I mean, what child wouldn’t love getting a new box of crafts and activities in the mail every month? They probably won’t even realize they are learning!

Favorite Pinterest Blogs To Follow For Preschoolers

Okay, I know superman isn’t real, but supermom? The jury is out! These mamas have it down.

Below are some of my favorite Pinterest blogs to follow for incredible learning resources that are fun, fresh, and sometimes even free!

The Measured Mom

The Measured Mom blog offers such a variety of resources and activities, whether your child is learning letter sounds, working on their handwriting, or working with numbers and math concepts. And she doesn’t stop there – her blog features book studies, science activities, and more for your old kiddos too!

Anna Geiger is a teacher turned homeschooling guru, so she knows a thing or two when it comes to early education!

This site really helped me as I was first beginning my homeschool preschool journey, and I have been a regular ever since!

Teaching Mama

As a former teacher and now homeschool mom of three boys, the Teaching Mama is another one of my go-to blogs for crafts and other preschool-level activities.

Two kids drawing in notebooks

Browse her blog and you’ll find ideas galore as well as printables, worksheets, and topics like organizing your school room and how to create a homeschool schedule.

And I just LOVE her extras on all things motherhood, like keeping the faith, how to get your kids to eat their veggies, and filling your child’s love tank! 

Favorite Learning Apps for Preschoolers

Teach Your Monster to Read

Teach Your Monster to Read is the perfect app for encouraging early literacy skills and fostering a love of reading in your little learner. 

The program begins with letter recognition and letter sounds, with lessons slowly progressing as your child learns. Before you know it, your child is blending sounds, using phonetics to decode words, and reading complete sentences with pride!

Best of all, the interface is so engaging with fun characters and gameplay that your child will be motivated to keep learning.

Reading Eggs

Reading Eggs is another great app for budding bookworms and new readers alike. It is so great that many public schools are using it as an integral part of their reading program as well.

This highly interactive, subscription-based app is set up as a series of online reading games and activities, with built-in rewards and bonus games for completing different challenges and levels. 

Once you make a profile, a placement test will help get your child determine their specific learning level. All of your child’s progress is visible through the parent dashboard, with detailed reports of what your child is learning and how well they are doing with every lesson.

The membership also gives you thousands of online books at your disposal, which is great for on-the-go learning and read alouds!

If your child is not quite ready for Reading Eggs, try Reading Eggs Junior, which is geared toward children ages two through four.

Epic!

Epic! is the leading digital library for kids of all ages, offering thousands of read-alouds, audiobooks, videos, and leveled readers that will keep your child coming back for more!

There’s even a whole collection of online board books for preschool-level learners who are just learning their ABCs and 123s! 

For just under $6.00/month, you’ll have access to a library of over 40,000 books, with selections hand-picked for your child based on their unique interests and skill level. And, the platform is chock full of awesome tools that let you see what your child is reading and for how long.

Khan Academy Kids

Khan Academy is well-known in the education industry as an online resource for older homeschool children. 

But did you know that Khan Academy also has a program for little learners, too? Khan Academy Kids is a wonderful introduction to all things reading, writing, and math for children pre-K through 1st grade. And better yet, it is completely free!

While the learning platform boasts interactive activities, videos, and games, you can also find many invaluable resources on their website. Online resources include things like teacher tools and free printables, weekly planners, and video recordings to bring your circle time to life.

ABCya Games

ABCya Games is a popular gaming program created by teachers and praised by The New York Times, USA Today, and Scholastic.

Whether on your computer, smartphone, or tablet, ABCya offers a variety of exciting games based on all the key subjects. The Pre-K platform will help your child master their letters, phonics and rhymes, numbers and counting, and really stretch their brain through skill and strategy games.

Full access to ABCya is available for free on your desktop. However, the free version of the ABCya app is more limited, featuring only six free games per week. If you want full access to the library of over 300 games on your smartphone or tablet, you’ll have to pay for a subscription. It’s a small price to pay for an investment in your child’s future, I’d say! 

Final Thoughts on Homeschool Preschool

In my opinion, homeschooling a preschooler is pretty hard to beat. After all, they are some of the best and most formative years in your child’s life. Your little one is a little sponge of curiosity, just soaking up details and enthusiasm about the world around them.

As a parent, it’s exciting (and a little bittersweet) to watch this process unfold, as they achieve new milestones and grow into tiny people with big ideas about the world!

You are uniquely equipped to teach your child and learn alongside them as you set up your own homeschool preschool. So, stock up on glue sticks, paint, and baby wipes and get ready to have some fun!

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