This post is part of my Homeschool Preschool 101 Series, where I share everything you need to know to make homeschool preschool work for you and your child! In this series, you’ll learn…
- How We do Super-Relaxed Homeschool Preschool
- 10 Tips to Limit Screen-Time for Good!
- Kindergarten Readiness: What does my Preschooler Really Need to Know?
- Must-Read Advice from Expert Homeschool Preschool Mamas
Are you overwhelmed by the thought of homeschooling your preschooler? Does the thought of a worksheet make your eyes cross?
Yeah, me too, mama…until I discovered a simple routine for relaxed homeschool preschool that is all about fun, exploration, and real learning. Want in?
Psst… This post is a doozy! Be sure to pin for later so you’ll have time to read it all!
Disclaimer: This post contains some affiliate links. I only recommend products I know and love!
Here’s all the background info you need to know..
- We’ve been following this routine since a few months before his 2nd birthday.
- I have a degree in teaching, and I specialized in teaching gifted and talented students (Read in between the lines… I know how to write a great lesson plan, but I also know when to throw it out!)
- I get to stay home with my children. I’ve got a preschool age son and a baby girl.
When I first started teaching my son at home I took it way, way too seriously. Don’t get me wrong, structure and consistent expectations are fantastic. But I focused too much on “Kindergarten prep” and not enough on educating the whole child.
His interests, unique personality, and his spiritual development: all those things came second fiddle to the “academic” stuff.
It just wasn’t working! Learning was stressful.
Over the past few years, however, I’ve come to rely on a more relaxed, but still rich and engaging way of doing homeschool preschool. At this time, we don’t use any particular curriculum (besides my own early learning Bible packs!). Our relaxed homeschool preschool is just what the doctor ordered for now. We’re planning on sending him to Kindergarten in public school since we have a fantastic local school district. But I’m convinced that a love of learning starts at home!
Do we still learn academic subjects, ABCs, 123s, and all that good stuff? Absolutely!
But here’s the secret… It doesn’t look a whole lot like “school.”
It looks like life.
We spend just a few minutes after breakfast doing “table time” or “morning basket time.” We practice more focused academic tasks like writing the letters in his name or numbers during this time. The rest of the day is free for more learning, exploring, and playing with purpose!
So, without further ado, here are my best tips, tricks, and routines for you to steal. Homeschool preschool isn’t as intimidating as it sounds, mama! I promise you can do this 🙂
Stay tuned till the end…I’ll give you a full list of resources and tools we use for homeschool preschool at the end of this post!
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Our Homeschool Preschool Plan:
- Bible memory: We do this every morning as we eat breakfast. I keep a small index card book of the verses he learns. We typically start a new verse every week, but if we need more time to dedicate to memorization that’s ok, too! Every day I let him choose a few of our previous verses to recite as well. I like to make songs and motions as we learn these to help with retaining the words. We also recite our memory verses while on the swing outside, in the car, and pretty much wherever else it applies during the day! Trust me, your toddler or preschooler can memorize Scripture, too.
- Hands on learning: This is where I teach math skills, practice letters and pre-reading, encourage scientific thinking, and support fine motor skills. For examples of the types of activities we do, check out this Hot Wheels number graph activity or these fun games you can play with MegaBloks to teach colors. Guess what? We don’t do an activity every single day. It’s really more like two or three times per week. Our favorite activities feel more like games and playtime. We generally steer clear of worksheets. The closest we get to worksheets are the cute coloring pages from my early learning packs or this fun dry erase workbook for preschoolers. Most of our activities I just make up on the spot or do a quick Pinterest search for the concept I want to teach.
- Quality books: If you have to choose only one area to pour energy into, make it this one. Creating a culture of books is the single most important part of our homeschool preschool. And guess what? It’s the easiest too! We go to the library every Tuesday and check out loads of books. I also love finding pre-loved classics at local thrift shops. We generally have reading time at breakfast, after lunch and before naps, after nap time, after dinner, before bed, and if you get where I’m going with this basically every minute we can. Great books also help me work in introducing my son to astronomy, geography, and pretty much any other subject under the sun. Some of our favorites are these powerful living books that can be read over and over again.
- Outdoor play: Getting outside is an absolute must-have for our homeschool preschool. Outside play is proven to increase attention span, encourage problem solving and critical thinking, and obviously keep our little ones healthy. Geez, I wrote a whole post about why we love outdoor play! We seriously can’t get enough sunshine! When we are outside, we also learn about nature study. I love teaching about letters, shapes, and numbers with natural objects, too! Leah from MyLittleRobins.com has some great tips for teaching the alphabet when you’re outdoors.
- Arts and crafts: Arts and crafts are super important for preschoolers, but how can we steer clear of the mess and stress that usually accompanies making art with a tot or preschooler? The answer for us is to focus on process art. We explore color theory, cause and effect, patterns, and more when we create. For a few of our favorite art activities, check out this easy pom pom painting activity or this invitation to paint with toys and paint sticks. We also love learning about artists with books like Lily Brown’s paintings, and I show my little guy selected artworks from The Big Book of Art.
- Independent Free Play: What homeschool preschool would be complete without imaginative and creative free play? My strategy for free play is simple. One, provide passive toys that let my little dude use his brains and imagination. And two, develop a habit of independent play. Trust me, it takes time to teach your child how to play independently without looking to you for help every few minutes. But it can be done! Just start with a small block of time, set out a few toys that would make interesting combinations (my son loves magnet blocks and race cars!) and tell your kiddo you’ll be back in 5 minutes to see what they made. Extend the time as your child is ready.
Wondering how to encourage free play and limit screen time? You’ll love my eBook for mamas just like you. Learn more about the Unplug + Unlock eBook and unlock your tot or preschoolers imagination!
- Real life experiences: Life is the greatest teacher for a preschooler. Real life entices a child to be curious and builds upon the bank of knowledge in his head. Along with morning and evening chores and responsibilities, everyday experiences serve as building blocks for learning. For example, we help out with a gardening group from our church every week. This experience has opened up conversations about how plants grow, different types of food, carnivores and herbivores, seasons, weather, cloud-watching, bugs and insects, and a whole host of other lessons. If I notice my son has an appetite for questions about a particular subject, I’ll try to find a library book about it on our next trip. If you’ll help your preschooler keep his eyes and ears open, you’ll find that there are virtual lesson plans waiting everywhere!
Of course, all kids develop at their own pace. The key idea here is that real learning doesn’t happen in a vacuum. Relaxed homeschool preschool is more about creating an environment for curiosity and successful education of the whole child!
Most importantly, I think my son has a real appetite for learning. This immersive and holistic method of homeschool preschool has built up in him a deep curiosity, imagination, and a genuine love for life! It’s also helped him begin to develop positive habits such as attention, responsibility, and self-reliance.
We’re certainly far from perfect, but I think we’re on the right track with our relaxed brand of homeschool preschool.
Our Favorite Homeschool Preschool Tools and Toys
So, as promised, here are our favorite resources, tools, and toys that help us in our homeschool preschool journey!
- Magnet Tiles– These are great for problem solving, shape sorting, color mixing, and more! My little guy will spend hours building and re-building with these.
- Mega Bloks– We make patterns, practice counting and colors, and build all sorts of imaginary worlds.
- PlayDoh– Is there anything you can’t teach with PlayDoh? Make numbers, letters and shapes. Teach color theory. The ideas are endless.
- ABC wooden easel- Our ABC easel chart was passed down from my hubby’s mom, but you can find a similar one here!
- Large colored beads – We use beads for counting, patterns, fine motor practice, and art.
- Paint markers– My son loves using his paint markers for some of our open ended art projects!
(We don’t use much planned out curriculum, but these are my favorite sources for activity ideas.)
- My own monthly learning packs: Early Learning Bible Curriculum
- Activities from Slow and Steady Get Me Ready
Our Go-To Books:
- The Bible in Pictures for Little Eyes
- The Jesus Storybook Bible
- Richard Scarry’s What Do People Do All Day and the Great Big Schoolhouse Book
- The Complete Tales of Beatrix Potter
- The Children’s Book of Virtues My son loves the story of brave St. George and the Dragon! So many good reads in here.
Random Favorite Stuff we Use Every Single Day 🙂
- Hammock chair: We spend tons of time reading, telling stories, and observing nature from our favorite cozy hammock chair. It’s seriously the best $50 I’ve ever spent!
- Easy Grow Raised Planter Box: Interacting with nature is one of the staples of our homeschool preschool. We use a raised planter bed to grow fresh herbs!
- Train Table: We got a train table for our son a few Christmases ago. It’s been a hit ever since! I love that he can play for extended amounts of time with this setup and never get bored.
Whew! That was quite a read, right? I truly hope you feel equipped to teach your preschooler at home. Remember, homeschool preschool doesn’t have to be overwhelming, and it definitely doesn’t have to look like “school” to be successful!
Share below! What are your favorite tips for creating a relaxed homeschool preschool environment? Or, what do you struggle with most when it comes to teaching your preschooler at home?