Doing Preschool for my kids was a bit of an afterthought. I knew that I was teaching the kids some basic facts throughout our days, so why would we need to make it a formal thing? After all, Kindergarten used to be preschool only a few decades ago. Well, we did it for our younger two children because the older two were doing homeschool, and my little ones wanted to be just like the big brother and sister. So I went looking for ways to keep them busy with stuff on their level.
If Kindergarten was no big deal (and it wasn’t) then Preschool was a cake walk. In a formal Preschool setting they only do it two or three mornings per week. So I figured whatever I could pull together would be fine.
I had two very simple goals in mind for my Preschoolers.
1. School Structure
Just like my goal for the Kindergarteners, I wanted to get the kids into the routine of school. School time was not going to be as flexible as other household activities. By making it a priority in our day, it showed the importance of it. It was setting a ground work for future years of homeschool. Especially as they get into the high school years, they will need to learn the discipline of getting somewhere on time and meeting deadlines. All of that starts when they’re young. It also establishes me as the teacher. This is school time, not mommy time, so to speak. I’m glad I made that a priority in Kindergarten, but I didn’t always push my Preschooler to be there with bells on. If it seemed like she was having a rough morning, I’d just give it a pass. There was no need for making school a drudgery at this point!
So for the Schrepfers, we go to our homeschool room and begin our daily opening exercises at 8:30 a.m. (9:00 a.m. on Mondays for this preacher’s family!) The kids really actually love this part. We do the pledges, complete with medium sized American Flag and Christian Flag and our Bible. Each child gets a turn holding the flags and Bible and that child gets to pray to ask God to help us through our school day. Some days we sing our “Days of the Week” song and our “12 Months in a Year” song. On Fridays we do Show and Tell, an indispensably favorite time! The kids each take a turn telling about one item, and then we ask questions about that. That’s it. No more complicated than that.
Days of the Week, 12 Months in a Year.
2. Finish the Page
It seems simple, but for a 4 year old, it is quite a goal to actually finish a page that has been started. The idea is for the child to understand that school is not a time to just do whatever she feels like doing. It’s a time to get some goals accomplished. So I would have a stack of maybe 10 workpages (super simple pages). Then I’d tell her, “OK, I want you to finish 4 pages, and then you may take a break.” Then I’d call her back after 10 minutes or so to do another 4 pages. We would take another break before finishing whatever was left then.
Now, the pages that she was given to complete were simple ideas of shapes, colors, numbers, letters, patterns, seasons, etc. Mostly it was about things she already knew, but finishing that page was the big deal. Doing a craft was an added bonus, but we didn’t always have time to do crafts.
“Curriculum” seems like such a big word for what we did. It was really not difficult at all. However, preparing for the preschool days took more time than it did for the rest of the kids, because they had books to work through and my preschooler didn’t. The Preschool stuff all had to be printed and several things cut out and ready to go. That’s not all that much to do, though. A couple of things helped me in this area.
1. Big Skills for Little Hands Series
My sister-in-law recommended a set of books geared toward Preschoolers that her girls loved, and wouldn’t you know it? My girls loved it too! These “Big Skills for Little Hands” books were awesome! They saved me so much time, too. To make the books stretch through the year, I had my daughter do one page out of each book. Here are the three that I used, but there are more that you could order.
2. Unit Study Printables
Then because three pages wasn’t really enough to keep her busy, I began printing off Preschool “printables” from homeschool websites. There is a homeschool method in which the school year divided up into units, where everything revolves around one theme at a time. So a unit about apples would have a page dealing with pattern matching with apples, a page for counting apples, a page for apple colors, a page for apple shape matching, a page for apple pre-writing, etc. Theoretically, you could do this throughout the homeschool years, but I just used this method for Preschool. I created a Pinterest board for the ones that looked interesting to me and you can browse through those by following this link. Tracing and coloring and gluing were mainly what she was busy with, and that was good for her. So be sure to get a lot of glue sticks! I did keep track of which ones I used and tried to keep the theme relevant to the season we were in. So we did a set of pages on apples and scarecrows and pumpkins around fall time. Then there was the whole Christmas season and Valentine’s Day and so on. When my son was doing Kindergarten and my first daughter was in Preschool, Matthew was so curious about those printables that I made some for him to do too.
These pages can be printed and laminated to be used over and over if you have other kids waiting in the wings. I just made them work with the resources I had. And we didn’t use all of the pages in each unit. You can be as organized as you like. While I did try to plan ahead for each week, there were some days that I just printed off something super fast and handed it to her hot off the presses!
3. Do-A-Dot Printables
A MUST for Preschoolers. Do A Dot Markers (also known as Dot Markers or Bingo Markers) were a really great tool! All of the kids love them, but it was especially perfect for my Preschooler. It takes some control but not too much control to use them. Get as many colors as you can. There are so many neat pages they can do with them. Most of the unit study printables include some Dot Marker pages, but there are some other resources for Dot Markers besides those. See my Dot Marker Printables Pinterest Board for those resources.
School Supply List
In order to accomplish the above, there are some items you will need. For the classroom (and I use that term loosely), you will need:
1. Table or desk for your Preschooler
2. A good color printer and computer with online access. We purchased this one (Link) which is pretty expensive, but we really do a LOT of printing between homeschool and church stuff.
3. Good scissors or a paper guillotine like this one (link). This saved me a TON of time and frustration while cutting out all of the pages and craft items for all our kids.
4. Paper clips. You’ll need some way to keep the pieces for their unit studies together with the corresponding page.
5. Construction paper. I used this for the number puzzles. I’d have her just glue the pieces onto a piece of construction paper.
Your Preschooler will need:
1. Pencils & Crayons
2. Dot Markers
3. Blunt tip scissors
4. Glue sticks
6. Pencil Box
And away you go! Whatever you do, don’t stress about Preschool. There is plenty of time to really get into the nitty gritty of learning, but this is not that year. I know there are very awesome ways to teach Preschool and Kindergarten, but this way worked for us. I hope it is a help to you if you don’t even know where to begin. Have fun!
Coming soon: “Low Stress Kindergarten” and “Low Stress Classroom.”