I fancy myself a “seasoned” homeschool mom. I’m now on my fourth child beginning his homeschooling journey, which gives me one in preschool, one first-grader, one fifth-grader, and one sixth-grader. My oldest is always my guinea pig, whether we like it or not. I most often see what works with him, then try to replicate that with my younger boys. It doesn’t always work, but I often at least learn what NOT to do.
So allow me to begin with some words of caution: kids are born to learn. It is most often our fault when they begin to push back, saying they “hate school.”
Ever so eager to enter the world of homeschooling, I started “school” with my oldest son when he was an infant. Flashcards, alphabet quizzes, reading lessons — you name it. I remember a sweet friend of mine cautioning me against “hothousing” my kid.
I didn’t listen.
My oldest is certainly very smart, and I don’t think I did any permanent damage to his education, but I feel certain we both would’ve enjoyed his early years with far fewer tears if I’d just chilled the heck out and let him learn on his own.
Mamas, don’t push. Don’t stress.
Remember that if you are even considering homeschooling, you are likely working education into your day-to-day without even realizing it. Conversation, reading, spending time together, reading, pointing out things in the world, reading…did I mention reading? All these things are teaching your child every single day and neither of you has to sit at a desk to do it. If you want learning to be lifelong, make it a part of your life.
That being said, if you and your child (but mostly your child) are ready for more formal lessons, there are some great FREE programs out there to guide you.
Especially during the early years, I am a huge fan of Charlotte Mason. I highly recommend her book, Home Education (The Original Homeschooling Series Book 1). Mason describes how to teach your young ones not only to make learning a life-long joy, but also how to make children an integral and helpful part of the home. From routines and chores to reading living books, Mason is my go-to for what really matters during the preschool years.
For Pre-K, I used curriculum (and I use that term loosely!) from Hubbard’s Cupboard. The Joyful Heart Character program is fantastic and I have used it with all my boys. It is a free, online printable that I printed out when my now-6th-grader was three and have reused it with each child after. Hubbard’s Cupboard also has resources for toddlers, preschool, kindergarten, and general homeschool. It is an invaluable resource!
Simple learning centers are an absolute must for any homeschooling family, whether you are working with your first or tenth preschooler! Children learn best through play, so I tend to favor games over worksheets. A good friend of mine is a retired Montessori teacher and she has provided several activities for my younger boys over the last several months. These are easily printed off and tucked away in a file folder to pull out whenever you and your preschooler have a moment. Everything from color matching, letters, community helpers, and types of nouns (no kidding!) are fair game.
If you do nothing else with your preschooler, learn these songs and sing them together every day. The songs cover the basics that will prep your little one for more formal schooling! These songs are included with the Joyful Heart Character curriculum, but I’m attaching links so you can print them out and use them asap!