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What About Homeschooling Preschoolers?

What About Homeschooling Preschoolers

I have been formally homeschooling my 8 children for 13+ years, so I’ve seen my share of homeschool curriculum designed for preschoolers.

I frequently see curriculum for sale with sensory bins and water play and balancing activities, worksheets for cutting practice with special safety scissors, special manipulatives for fine motor skills and gross motor skills. The list goes on.

I get emails and messages asking for my recommendations for curriculum for preschoolers, so I am going to address that today.

I don’t use any preschool curriculum. 

Or checklists for that matter.

Homeschooling Preschoolers

I let my preschoolers play.

Homeschooling Preschoolers

And climb. And dig.

Homeschooling Preschoolers

I read books to them. We have conversations.

Homeschooling Preschoolers

They help in the kitchen.

Homeschooling Preschoolers

We have tea parties.

That’s it.

I don’t buy any curriculum at all. I don’t buy little colorful plastic teddy bears for counting. We count the apples in the fruit basket or coins in my purse.

I don’t have worksheets for cutting practice. I leave scissors around and let them cut things.

Preschool cutting practice

Just today my 3 year old asked me if she could cut up an empty egg carton. “Sure,” I said. “Go for it.”

It wasn’t on the schedule. It wasn’t part of a curriculum or checklist. I didn’t have a lesson with her. She initiated the activity herself, gathered the materials she needed, and got busy.

Yes, the scissors were sharp. Yes, she made a mess. But she learned.

  • She learned that she is imaginative enough to create “baby doll tea cups” from an egg carton.
  • She learned that she can come up with a good idea and present it to an adult in a way that is persuasive.
  • She learned about manipulating scissors.

All without a lesson plan or curriculum.

Now, if you have the money and the inclination to spend hundreds of dollars on a preschool curriculum, I would say “more power to you” and “whatever floats your boat.”

But if you don’t have the money or the inclination to buy a preschool curriculum, I would say it isn’t necessary. Optional, yes. Necessary, no.

It might give you peace to know that someone has come up with ideas to keep your preschooler busy, but here’s a little secret. (Looks around and lowers voice to a whisper) Your preschooler will come up with those ideas herself if you let her. 

If you enjoy using a curriculum, fine. If you feel burdened by it, set yourself free, Mama.

Preschoolers don’t need homeschooling.

They just need home.

*Note: Each of my children is creative, imaginative, witty, and on or above grade level having used this “no preschool curriculum” approach.

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Comments

  1. Preach! I’ve learned this the hard way, but I have learned it! Preschool is freedom to learn and create. I almost never have to give my youngest ideas to occupy her time.

  2. I agree totally! I would live to hear your thoughts on curriculum for other grades. This is my first year homeschool. I have a 5th grader who is doing 7th grade math and can read at a high school level or pretty darn close, a 4th grader whose a little advanced in math and a 5 year old and 3 year old who work in kindergarten stuff together and play, play, play. And than I have a 10 month old. Want to homeschool for all of them so love any insight from a veteran! Love reading your blogs! God bless and shalom to you and your family!

  3. Wonderful advice! I have been torn about buying a curriculum, and maybe sort of guilty for not getting one. But this is exactly what I do around the house. And I think my kids are pretty smart, myself :)

  4. Amy Sparks says:

    I love the last bit. We do use a few things because our children have enjoyed them, but you are absolutely right. They do come up w/ our own ideas, or if they are really blessed, they have older sibling who’ll help them cook up some. ;) from a mom of 9 (3-22yo) and grandma of 1 (soon to be 2)

  5. I feel the same way. And I’m sure for me, trying to keep a preschooler on task with “curriculum” would be an extra burden. I have 6 children and have handled preschoo the same way. I’m a big believer that life teaches a lot.

  6. Amen! I use curriculum (and I use that term loosely) with my little ones. Letter of the Week for little bitty ones, and Horizons for when they hit the 4 yr mark. Here is the beauty of it all….big brother (currently 2nd grade) is doing school, so they want to “do school” too. They WANT to sit in on the lessons. Yes they wiggle, yes they run around during all of it, but they soak up a LOT. I have had more people comment on how advanced my 2 year old daughter is. She’s not THAT advanced…I don’t think. She’s just able to repeat what she’s been hearing since the womb LOL. If they want to sit down and play with the bright colored games from LOTW I let them, they are in a bin and they can have at it. If my oldest daughter (who is 4) wants to do a “school paper” I let her, but it is very much a no pressure thing. I don’t stress about much until they are 6 and that’s when I work with them more on starting to read. I’m not in a competition to see who has the most book smart kid….I just want my kids to be happy and healthy. I trust they will learn along the way.

  7. No curriculum in the world can ever be as good as Mama reading books aloud and talking to her children like people. It works. I’ve done it 10 times now and it works.

  8. I am so relieved to hear you say this :) I saw your question last night on FB and refrained from reading the comments; when I saw the link to your post (and its title) I thought, “Well, I’d better go see what she suggests although I don’t really want to use one.” Shoulda known better than that! ;) Hooray! I’ve got 3 or 4 more years of my oldest learning by playing before I have to try to get organized enough to do homeschooling! He’s already learned so much that way I have no doubt he’ll continue :)

  9. “They just need home.”

    I love that last line and think so many are lacking it….

  10. Thank you! I feel set free since all I’ve felt is guilt for not starting my 3 yr old on some formal curriculum. I have TONS of preschool curriculum and worksheets on my desktop. Do I use them? Nope! And then I get frustrated and angry at myself. Argh! So, thank you once again for giving me freedom to just let her be.

  11. I applaud your comments. As a preschool teacher for many years I taught through books and play. Imagination is a powerful tool! Yes, I wrote the required lesson plans: today’s goals, how to achieve them, how to assess them. Then the day went as the class led. A pet spider for show and tell might inspire reading, painting, cut and pasting, along with wonderful role playing. Having a variety of supplies on hand (spider books and pipe cleaners…) made it easy for my students to respond. My classroom invited serendipitous learning. I was also mindful, at the end of the day, of teaching parents the benefits of play. Currently, my grandchildren are homeschooled. That idea took some time for this “teacher” to get use to but now I see the wisdom of my children’s decision.

  12. Love this. Totally agree. So easy to do with a house full of kids. I feel no guilt. :) I would LOVE to hear about some of your homeschooling in high school experiences. I have my first of seven in the 10th grade right now. Working hard but shaking in my boots some days. Encouragement?

  13. I have been blessed to have a mother who is a retired school teacher. From the first days of homeschooling to today (my 12 year) I have had various manipulatives, games, and activities at my disposal.

    That being said – I rarely use them for preschool. I, like you, prefer to have them lead their own interest. My 3 year old likes to come in, grab a bucket or folder game, and do her own thing. She often comes to me and says she wants to do school. I usually tell her to find something to do. She’s usually right beside my 5 year old watching and waiting to do something similar.

    I really don’t do “preschool” because I feel it’s just a glorified addition to kindergarten. I think the things children learn in kinder are the very same things learned in preschool. The preschool topics are the very same topics that moms and dads “teach” their kids on a daily basis just by living and interacting. It can’t get much easier than that.

  14. Damico Starnes says:

    Thank you very much for this post. I really needed to read this.I’m homeschooling a 7th grader and Kindergartner this yr along with a preschooler.

  15. I admire all of your efforts here. As you can see from this http://nucleusoflife-ordainedpraise.blogspot.com/2011/05/transfiguration.html, I took a bit of a different approach. I taught letter sounds and shapes at age 3. There is a great book for this called “Animal Alphabet” by Gill Davies. I know you must read books at times to your preschoolers. This book is so awesome. Big illustrations of animals and their rhymes with the appropriate beginning letter for their name. We read it over and over and over. Each time we turned it into something fun. It was never “Oh no, not that book again!” Reading this book enabled me to do the things on this blog of mine. If you would like the coloring book of the mysteries shown on my blog, let me know. Anyway, this type of early learning has helped me be more relaxed in the kids later years as they are more independent. It also depends how many children you have and how much time you have available to work with each child. There is nothing wrong with free play and having fun too. But I wanted to tell you about this book because it is like free play and loads of fun!

  16. Awesome post and so encouraging!

  17. Been reading your blog for many years and just have to say I really enjoy it! I just wanted to drop a quick comment to let you know that I linked to this post in an eBook I just released about doing preschool at home. I love your perspective and think it is a good mindset to have even if you still want to do something a little more structured with your preschooler. You can check out the eBook here – http://www.simplelifemessylife.com/free-downloads-2/

    Thanks again for the work you put into this blog!
    -Liz

  18. WOOT!! I could not agree with this more. #playmatters

  19. Jennifer H says:

    I think for a first time mom, checklists and curriculum at the least can be helpful. For instance, just to know to count the apples or the coins with them. I did use preschool curriculum, but only as a guide to good books to read and activities to try. My son never knew we were doing anything other than playing and reading together – I never called it school. All he knew was that we were reading and playing together, which I think is your point. And if he wasn’t taking to something I pulled from a checklist, I never forced it on him.

    If I had had more kids, I probably wouldn’t have needed that crutch, but for me it was helpful.

  20. Katena Dyser says:

    I am the mom of 6 all my boys went to regular school but up until they were ready for school this is how I taught them as well. We had no curriculum. For my autistic school since he was a visual learner we took what his favorite cartoon and printed them out for his alphabet. When we taught math we headed to the grocery store, science outside, and cooking we headed to the kitchen. I think children learn best by hands on experience. This is what people now call un schooling. Thanks for sharing. Oh and my little loves to cut up anything and we let him.

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