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Whether school closures and the pandemic have you exploring preschool at home, or this was your plan all along, preschool at home is totally do-able. If you are feeling overwhelmed with where to start, we can help with an easy-to-follow Preschool at Home Setup Checklist.

 

Preschool is geared towards three and four-year-old children and is meant to prepare them to begin formal schooling in kindergarten. Most of what kids learn in preschool is through play. If you plan to do preschool at home, directing play activities, reading books, and singing songs will cover it. In fact, you are probably doing most of these things without even trying.

 

Skills to Focus on Before Kindergarten

  • Numbers 1-10. Children should be able to recognize and write basic numerals 1-10.
  • Counting 1 - 99 (expected by the end of kindergarten, but it fits naturally with many preschool activities)
  • Alphabet: Recognize all upper and lower case letters.
  • Phonics: Recognize the sounds all 26 letters make.
  • Rhyming simple words by sound.
  • Shapes: Recognize and draw basic shapes.
  • Colors: Recognize and call by name basic colors. Should be able to trace shapes.
  • Calendar: Name days of the week, months of the year, and seasons.
  • Dexterity: holding a pencil correctly, glue and paper, scissor work.
  • Writing: How to write/spell their name.

 

Choosing a Curriculum

If you enter any homeschool group and you will quickly be bombarded with suggestions on purchasing a curriculum package. There are many to choose from and probably all do a terrific job if you are looking for a box kit to do preschool. At the preschool level, a rigid curriculum and daily worksheets are less important than in higher grades.

 

Preschoolers mostly learn through play and structured projects like arts and crafts. Many preschool-aged children actively resist worksheets and other structured learning because they simply don’t have the attention span for it.

 

Use our list of skills to focus on picking out activities for each day. Keep the mood fun and light and encourage plenty of creativity.

 

Preschool at Home Supply List

While you can find plenty of activities to do with common household supplies, it makes it a lot easier if you stock some essential craft supplies for preschool at-home activities.

 

  • Crayons
  • Markers
  • Blank Computer Paper
  • Colored Construction Paper
  • Play-Doh or similar modeling dough
  • Craft Popsicle Sticks
  • Elmer's Glue
  • Glue Sticks
  • Pony Beads
  • Multi-colored Pipe Cleaners
  • Googly Eyes
  • Safety Scissors
  • Washable Acrylic Paints or Watercolors
  • Dot Markers

 

Set up a School Space

Make your space work for you, but choose a dedicated space where you will keep your supplies and do your preschool activities. This can be a supply cart and a dining room table or you can transform a spare bedroom into a whole classroom if you have space.

 

Keeping supplies well organized and handy is more important than how much space you have to work with. Choose a system that works for you. Put up a bulletin board or whiteboard to serve as a visual for your themes and display your child’s projects. A whiteboard with a cork strip around the edges is perfect for this.

 

Structure your Day

The wonderful thing about preschool at home is that you do not have to do it all at once. If you have fifteen minutes after breakfast for one activity and ten minutes mid-afternoon for another, you can make it work.

 

The biggest mistake that parents make is trying to model preschool at home after institutional preschools outside of the home. You don’t need to spend four hours every day doing preschool. Even at a public or private preschool, the kids do not spend the entire three or four hours learning. They spend much of that time playing and socializing.

 

15 Minutes for a Hands-on Activity

Your preschooler will need to spend some time on activities that build dexterity so that they can build up the hand strength to hold a pencil.

 

  • Play-Doh
  • Drawing or Coloring
  • Craft Project
  • Sidewalk Chalk
  • Building Blocks
  • Baking
  • Sensory Play with Sand, Beans, or Rice
  • Scissor work cutting scrap paper

 

Field Trip or Community Activity

Schooling at home doesn’t mean being shut-in. It does mean that you will have to be more intentional about socializing your child and offering new and exciting learning activities. At a minimum, try for an activity outside of the home at least once per week.

 

  • Neighborhood scavenger hunt
  • Walk to the park
  • Storytime at the library
  • Workshop at a science center or zoo
  • Meet up with a playgroup or homeschool group at a trampoline park or YMCA

 

15 Minutes for Reading

Make a habit of reading with your preschooler every single day. Reading to your child aids language development skills and helps them begin to recognize letters, sounds, and sight words.

 

30 Minutes for Social or Free Play

Just in case you have missed out on other opportunities to be more relaxed and allow your child to explore imaginative play, plan for at least thirty minutes of play dates per week. Meet a friend at a park or invite them over to your home to play. Bring out a special toy or encourage your child to play with an old toy like a kitchen set in a new and creative way.

 

15 Minutes of Structured Learning

While preschoolers learn most of what they need from everyday play, there are some gaps to fill in. A set of flashcards or a preschool level workbook can be used in moderation for structured learning for the alphabet, phonics, numbers, shapes, and counting.

 

  • Alphabet Flashcards
  • Shape and Color Matching Manipulatives
  • Personal Dry Erase Board
  • Preschool Level Basic Skills Workbook (or Printable Worksheets)
  • Large Format Calendar (for learning days, months, seasons, and weather)

 

Preschooling at home is a flexible way to work learning some basic skills with letters, shapes, and numbers in preparation for formal schooling. The biggest mistake that parents make when attempting preschool at home is to do too much school. Most of the preschool is playing or learning through play. As long as you are spending time dedicated to these activities, it doesn’t take a lot of time, money, or energy to preschool at home.