Curriculum for Preschool
I’m doing a short series on looking back to our early days – days when I had little children.You can read
part 2: Tools to Make our Day Work
Let me recap the ages of our children in the first few years of homeschooling.
Year 1: 1998 – Josh was 4.5, Jess 3, Nomi 1
Year 2: 1999 – Daniel was born
Year 3: 2000 – Josh 6.5, Jess 5, Nomi 3 and Daniel 1
And so on it goes. There is roughly two years between each of my children.
When I had young children the temptation was very strong to provide a preschool/kindy experience for them at home. Joshua had gone to Kindy as a 4year old though when we started homeschooling it was clear he was ready to learn to read. And because Jess wanted to do everything he was doing I didn’t pause to think that she really should be doing what he had done the previous year. But when it came to my other kids the thought was constantly in my mind – should I be doing preschool or I’m not doing a good job because I’m not doing preschool.
You can find any number of required skills for preschoolers listed online. They list things like the need to know their sounds and numbers, fine and gross motor skills, social skills. As with all scope and sequences there is no consistency (there is no one world-recognised, across the board, definite and confirmed right list – each list looks slightly different) – this actually works in our favour as it alludes to the variety of ages where children can learn these skills. The thing that I find concerning with scope and sequences is that there is no consideration for the individual child. Each child has to keep up with his peers regardless of being ready or not. This is one of the benefits of homeschooling – we can teach our children at their own pace, we can teach them at a completely different age than their peers get taught. Yes, eventually every one needs to know their colours, shapes and how to use scissors. But it doesn’t have to happen all in one year. Governments seem to be setting the age for formal education earlier and earlier. We can step aside from this mindset just as we have stepped aside from the mindset of grade levels for our primary school students. Our young children do not need preschool.
What they do need is interaction and stimulation; they need to be kept busy and creative. For this to happen they do need certain skills. They need to listen and follow instruction, show respect for property, have self control. They need to be able to hold a pencil, paint brush, glue stick, scissors. They need to be able to clean up their mess. They need to consider other people’s work. And the list goes on. I have seen many people teach their toddlers and pre-schoolers these things and yet baulk at doing homeschooling. This is homeschooling. Homeschooling the toddler and pre-schooler means giving them the opportunities to learn these skills.
Here are some resources that I used and found helpful as I looked for intentional and purposeful activities for my pre-schoolers to do during our focus time in the mornings.
- Before Five in a Row is a great resource as it gives you lots of activities to do with your young child and at the same time be learning. Also lots of great picture book recommendations.
- 365 TV Free Activities – I drew from this book a lot – physical activities like throwing beanbags, creative projects like fingerpuppets and doing different things with paint, family activities like watching clouds and seeing pictures there (this continues to be a family favourite). We didn’t get anywhere near doing all 365 but I wish we did!
- Making the Most of the Preschool years by Valerie Bendt is also an excellent resource Valerie helps you see how to make the most of real life situations to teach, train and occupy your young child.
- Playschool (ABC TV kids show) has weekly themes with a downloadable lesson plan giving you extra ideas and instructions for making things with your children.
When you have an intentional family life it isn’t very hard to fill in your preschooler’s days. Here are some family life activities that will give you plenty of opportunity to train your children’s hearts, hands and minds before formal instruction begins to fill their focus time.
- Family worship – It is amazing how much children of this age absorb. Don’t leave them just sitting there when you and your family talk about the things of God, involve all your children. This is a good time to teach self control and respect as well.
- Life skills – ages 3-4 is a good age to really be consistent in your chores and personal responsibilities training.
- Reading – as soon as your child can respect a book (and not tear it) make sure they have time every day with books – by themselves and with you reading aloud to them. I also made sure they saw me reading, and learnt to respect my time when I had a book.
- Talking and Listening – though it is incredibly exhausting listening to this age’s continual chatter it is also important. Answer their questions and teach them to ask curious questions not repetitive questions. Teach them to listen too. No point asking questions if they are not going to listen to the answers!
- Making things – often we baulk at this because it appears to be so messy but our children need to have a creative outlet. Making things teaches them so many of the skills that are the foundations for reading, writing and math.
- Play time – I made sure our children had a balance of playing by themselves, with each other, with me and with others. I also tried to help them see the different toys in their cupboard though they certainly had their favourites. Play time gives an opportunity for their imagination to develop as well as a time for them to live out how they understand their world.
- Enjoy the outdoors – There are many benefits of being outdoors for little kids. There is the fresh air, and plenty of space to run around which gets rid of excess energy and develops gross motor skills. The change in scenery also provokes the imagination to play differently than they would indoors. Then there are the bugs, flowers, the stars, dirt and animals: so much to see, so much to touch and explore.
I’ve blogged about homeschooling preschool years before – read Homeschooling a 2 year old: yes or no?
On my website you can read more about relationship building activities (for all ages).