Teaching preschoolers is great fun! This curriculum is designed for use with a three to five year old. Set aside an hour each morning for his “school”. You can teach him yourself, or you can assign an older child to take charge some of the time. If you are teaching other older siblings, you can just have your preschooler join in for some of the time that you sing, read aloud, do art, etc. and preschoolers will beg for their own school time with workbooks and assignments. But if you are teaching just preschoolers, here is how I do it.
No day is complete when it comes to learning unless it includes scripture study. My children love to hear My First Bible In Pictures for read-aloud and discussion. To help motivate my little ones during this time, I have used Bible Sticker Stories as an incentive chart. I let my child choose an sticker to put on the scene if they listen quietly through devotional time. More advanced preschoolers could earn the privilege of sticking on a sticker when they accomplish memorizing short Bible verses. I like to have Bible study time just before bed, or before school starts in the morning. If Daddy does it, it is even better!
Louisa Rides Her Scooter!
We begin homeschool with a flag salute. Even a 2 year old can say some of the Pledge of Allegiance. Then we have a prayer, and sing some songs together. If you start singing with your children at a young age, they will grow up singing, and it becomes a source of enjoyment rather than self-consciousness. I often teach my little ones new songs based on the upcoming holidays. Before Easter, we learned the song, “Jesus is Risen”. It is amazing how well a 3 to 5 year old can learn the words!
Next, I teach and discuss a principle or skill with my child that would help him develop. Basic life skills for a preschooler are knowing his parent’s names as well as his address and phone number, how to use the telephone, dial 911, cross the street (although I still require that someone walks them across), how to practice good safety habits, how to greet another person, and all the many other important skills for learning to function independently. I use library books on courtesy, manners, proper hygiene, and safety whenever I can find them. I raise my children on the Standin’ Tall book/CD sets. They teach virtues such as honesty, obedience, service, cleanliness, and a host of others.
My favorite book for teaching little ones how to act is The 21 Rules of This House. It includes small posters that you can color and tack up to memorize and discuss. I like to teach one rule at a time and post it. We work on that rule until we have learned it well. When we finish the entire 21 Rules, which takes months, we put each poster page into a page protector in a 3 ring binder and make a special book out of it to review at the beginning of home school. One way I use this book is to quiz my children by stating the rule and letting them finish saying it. I also help them notice good behavior times during the day when they are keeping the 21 Rules!
Remember that training in good habits is essential at this age. Discipline is imperative to the home school! Nothing can sabotage teaching your children faster than a child’s unwillingness to do what you say. If you have not taught your child to obey you the first time you talk to him, then that is the lesson he needs first. I practice with my little ones, even role play giving them a command, having them reply, “Yes, Mother” and move quickly to action. Teaching your children this pattern of “listen-respond-act” will serve them well their whole life and keep your homeschool happy and productive.
Next comes one of the parts of homeschool that I enjoy the very most: read-aloud time. It is incredible how much children learn this way. The best book I have ever found for giving reading recommendations at each level is Honey for a Child’s Heart. It describes wonderful books for read-aloud that promote Christian values. It has been an essential help in my homeschool and will provide you with many excellent book titles to find in your public library.
My homeschooled son Daniel reading to his daughters Rebekah and Abigail.
Children’s picture books make a great springboard to learning about the world! Library books can be wonderful for reading aloud too, but use caution as many of them contain magic, monsters, disrespect to parents and God, globalism, rights of the child, etc. Whenever I don’t screen the books at the library before my children check them out, I regret it. One incident I remember well: my little son asked me if I wanted a drink of vampire’s blood? (Shock!) I suspected where he got that idea, and hunted it down to a library book/tape set, that I had not screened carefully enough. It is up to us as parents to make sure that our vulnerable little ones get only the best!
Next in our homeschool, it is time for phonics. Start preparing your preschooler for reading by introducing the Lauri Perception Puzzles. The slight differences will train your child’s eye for future discrimination of letters.
For very young ones, I absolutely love the Kumon workbooks which are excellent for tracing, cut-and-paste, and learning to control a writing implement. Then progress to the book Adventures with Books (one of the Early Learning Workbooks series). Little ones will learn how to identify colors, count, color, write letters, and more from these fun workbooks.
When your little student is ready to learn his ABC’s and you want to start phonics, please try Happy Phonics. I guarantee that your children will love to do phonics lessons and that they will quickly learn to read by playing this collection of tried and true games that teach reading, step-by-step. I think the Explode the Code Primers are the best way to teach the handwriting of each letter, as well as reinforcing and practicing the phonics sounds taught in Happy Phonics. The workbooks give lots of practice and are varied and fun. Using the Explode the Code primers and Happy Phonics, you will be able to give your child the gift of reading in a fun and happy game format.
Fine motor coordination usually develops faster in girls than boys. You can aid it by using tracing to help your student learn to control a pencil. Paper clip a piece of tracing paper to a coloring book page and have your child trace over each line using a fat crayon or jumbo pencil. As he practices tracing, he will learn control and be ready to start writing. Using maze books is another great way to gain fine motor control of that pencil!
An important first writing lesson for a preschooler is his own name. Write your child’s name (capital first letter, small letters for the rest of their name) on the top of a piece of lined handwriting paper in yellow felt pen and let him trace over your writing. When your student is learning to form letters, it is important to really supervise and watch carefully that you are not allowing mistakes to become firmly cemented habits. Show him that you start most round letters ( such as a, c, d, f, g, etc.) on the right side and then go “up over the mountain and around”. Eventually advance to have him try writing his name without tracing your pattern. Explode the Code has good instructions and practice pages. Holding a pencil incorrectly can be the beginning of writing problems, so pay attention early and help him get into a good habit. Get a handwriting tablet with wide spaced lines so that he can practice writing the letters he learns, and practice writing his name. Using the chalkboard is great for little ones working on their letter formations.
Doing a little math daily helps form a habit that will last through your child’s school years. Even 5 minutes helps. You can easily teach your child to count 0-10, which is the main skill for preschoolers. I make up flashcards (0-10) to play with. Have your child put them in order, or count out beans or pennies to match each card’s numeral. You can teach them to write the numbers as soon as they are ready. If you want a good program, I recommend Singapore Math (Earlybird Textbooks) which is filled with colorful write-in pages that prepare your child to enjoy math.
If I am teaching an older child, my preschooler joins in for our Subject of the Day and picks up as much as he can. If you are teaching just a preschooler, you can use a unit study which integrates all subjects daily or you can focus on one subject such as History or Science or Art per day.
For American History study, I do part of a unit from I Love America (part 1). Using the song tape Songs and Music from I Love America makes it especially fun. My little ones love to sing the “Pocahontas” song. We study, look at, and discuss the states using a USA map or placemat (we eat on it, too). This is a good way to start state recognition. My 4 year old can locate our state plus both states where his grandparents live which is exciting to me!
For science, you couldn’t ask for better resources than the great outdoors. Grow a garden, care for pets, look at trees and leaves, take a nature walk—nature is the best teacher at this age! If you want some help, I would invest in equipment such as a bug viewer, magnets, binoculars or a magnifying glass, and the like.
Doing experiments has lots of appeal too: The Big Book of Play and Find Out has creative and fun hands-on experiments to help your little one get a first taste into chemistry, physics, biology, and more. Library books with drawings, photographs and information on animals and nature are a great addition.
Training your child to appreciate good music is a matter of exposure. Play fine music, such as the 25 Children’s Classics, during times when your little one is drawing or playing with Legos, so that your child learns early to love excellent music and hears a wide variety. As the child becomes familiar to music, introduce the Beginner Band in a Box and teach him how to keep time with the music.
Art seems to be the favorite subject of most preschoolers. At our house, we love to model clay and paint with watercolors on scrap paper! Preschoolers can’t seem to get enough Arts and Crafts time. I choose an art project to do from Scribble Art. (This is a good assignment for an older child in the family to teach and they enjoy it as much as your preschooler will.) By the way, it is an excellent investment to buy good art supplies as they can really make a difference in enjoying art time and producing a lovely work of art. I recommend purchasing the Jumbo Beeswax Crayons.
Dramatic play is exciting for preschool children. I browse yard sales and thrift shops for unique dress-up clothes. One pair of metallic gold elbow length evening gloves has been in our family for 20 years and every child has played with them, boys and girls alike. They have been robot arms, Cinderella’s costume, and part of many other imaginative creations. Hand puppets are also good for dramatic play.
Dance is a natural to little ones. You just have to provide a few twirly costumes and some good music. My little ones enjoy dancing along to All Time Favorite Dances.
Teaching preschoolers is so much fun! This is when the basic habits are being formed and you have tremendous influence on their future values. Whether you have a very eager little one, who is anxious to read, or a happy-go-lucky type that is content to move along at a slower pace, there is plenty you can do to make these very formative years productive. I hope you enjoy teaching your little ones.
Rebekah and Aunt Louisa