I apologize for the quality of these pictures, it's easier to snap a picture with my phone during school than to haul out the nice camera. Plus, most of these pictures are about 4-5 years old, and that was 3 phones ago.
I started to homeschool when my third child was preschool age, and my youngest was one. The two older children still attended a charter school. We felt my preschooler could receive more attention and help with speech therapy in our home than in a preschool where she would shut down in a busy room and possibly be misunderstood.
By the time my youngest was preschool age all of my children were homeschooled. At that point preschool became a way to entertain the toddler while the older kids worked.
|Putting pom poms into a plastic bottle|
Toddlers:For the toddlers I love "busy bags". You can search Pinterest for a wealth of ideas and printables! I would prepare these and store them in plastic container sets from Ikea. Many of these were so fun that they were used until my youngest started K. We also like sensory bins and have used rice, wheat, and water marbles in ours.
I am very lucky to have a mother who teaches early elementary and shares resources that she no longer needs. Plus, she purchases educational toys and games as gifts for her grandchildren!
We have a few shelves full of games and manipulatives available to play with. Early on I teach that the school room is a quiet room because older kids are working too, and that we clean up what we're finished with.
Fundanoodle products are great for this age. Their I Can Pound set, Muscle Mover cards, and the I Can Build letter sets can be used for many years.
Children love to sort and early elementary manipulatives make great toys for playing and learning.
At some point your little one will notice letters and try to start making sense of them. That's a great time to introduce letters and their sounds, as well as counting and visually recognizing numbers.
My youngest wanted to do copywork all of a sudden. She told me what to write on her paper and then she attempted to copy it. Little did I know that she knew binary code!
As soon as your child wants to try, let them use scissors and glue! (This one was using scissors when she was 2. There was only one hair mishap!)
When they are interested in letters and numbers is when I begin preschool type work. I start the year by outlining what to cover each week. I pick an alphabet letter, a number, a shape, color, and a theme to correspond with the letter. I often find a book to fit the theme. There are many bloggers who have letter of the week packs of curriculum to download or purchase. Our favorites came from Confessions of a Homeschooler, The Measured Mom, and 1 Plus 1 Plus 1 Equals 1. Some others I recall using are Life over Cs, School Sparks, SlackerMom, This Reading Mama.
I always start the preschool year with The Very Hungry Caterpillar. This introduces the days of the week and allows the child to be responsible for the wall calendar each day. That's an important job for a 4 year old and they'll love doing it!
I have a rainbow drawer set that I labeled with the days of the week (from The Very Hungry Caterpillar book) and fill with pages for the child to use. All of the daily activities come from the preschool packs I've downloaded. There is a letter activity each day, a number activity, games throughout the week, and other fun random things thrown into the drawers.
|Form letters with licorice or Wikki Stix|
Some 4 year olds are ready to write, and they can do tracing and their name. But don't push it, many kids aren't ready to start writing yet. You can use stamps too!
Painting with a qtip was a favorite, and I think magnets are some of the most entertaining items for preschoolers (please make sure they're not tiny and are always used next to an adult).
Keep it fun but don't require a preschooler to "do school" for longer than they are comfortable. In fact, you can't require many preschoolers to sit still for any amount of time! If the drawer of activities gets finished, great. If not, no big deal. My kids think the drawer is fun because it has their own school stuff... just like the big kids get! But they have days that they just want to play, and days that they just want to sit with me. It's okay.
Kindergarten:Once your child knows the first 26 letter sounds you can start teaching them to read! With my 3rd child I used The Ordinary Parent's Guide to Teaching Reading. The book is great, but it is boring. My daughter began to dread reading. We also used some sight word activities (because that's what the older kids did at school, so it must be the right way to teach reading!). If you prefer sight words the You Can Read! sets are wonderful.
After putting aside that first reading method and switching to All About Reading my whole perspective changed. My daughter's did too.. suddenly reading was FUN and she couldn't get enough of it.
Even if your child isn't ready to read, read to them daily. It's so beneficial from a very early age.
Most 5 year olds can also focus on writing more. We do a little bit of penmanship each day. We also do copywork. You can have your child copy directly from what they are reading.
We begin using Saxon K for math. It starts out very easy, like a preschool level. But that allows us to do math in 5-15 minutes each day. That's perfect for this age. The book suggests 3 lessons a week but I found that if we do a lesson each day we can finish Saxon K-3 as well as the Saxon 3 transitional book by the end of third grade. It's my perfect way to prepare them for the upper elementary Saxon texts. That sounds like I'm rushing but it's been perfect for my kids. Don't push to go through books quickly if your child isn't comfortable!
Whew. I'm overwhelmed at this post so I imagine you are too. Take it one little bit at a time and find what works for your family. The most important thing to remember at this age is that play is learning. We prefer laid out plans but if you don't function that way that's okay! The best part about homeschooling is doing it your own way. Soon you'll find your groove!