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Homeschooling Your Preschooler

If you are beginning homeschooling and have a toddler in the house, you might have begun to think about preschooling and what that curriculum should look like. For those of us who have never worked in a preschool, it may seem like a bit of a mystery as to what exactly the little ones need to learn at that age. Is it necessary to start teaching your preschooler in a structured manner? Should you begin with letters and numbers? When should she start reading and doing simple arithmetic?

Without first-hand experience or a degree in education, the task of educating your little one can seem very daunting. We are often told that the early years are the most crucial to a child’s development, both academic and intellectual, as well as social and emotional. If you read the experiences of other homeschooling moms who have done this before you, whether through books or blogs, a theme begins to emerge. Many homeschoolers begin with a structured curriculum for their preschoolers and rigid instructional techniques and then throw it all out the window.

Preschoolers do not need very much structured learning. They only need their curiosity and the freedom to explore books, toys, art supplies, and the great outdoors (with your supervision of course), and they will blossom and soak up knowledge like little sponges. Naturally, there are many schools of thought, philosophies, and instructional methods when it comes to education, even for toddlers. However, if you provide your little one with the right resources and guide her to explore to her heart’s content, you will end up with a child who is ready for the more structured world of kindergarten.

What Do Preschoolers Learn?

A good place to start is at the beginning. Having a general idea of what preschoolers are expected to learn in formal schools can help to give you an idea and a direction. Understanding these basic expectations can give you a point at which to start. Of course, what the educational experts say a preschooler should learn is based on the fact that the preschooler will go next into a kindergarten classroom. If you will continue to homeschool your child beyond preschool, you can work towards the learning goals, but feel free to move at your own pace and one that works best for your child. Children learn at different rates.

Is A Curriculum Necessary?

The short answer is no, but it certainly can’t hurt to have an overall plan to which you loosely adhere. For instance, maybe you make a plan for a week that includes practicing matching sounds and letters and identifying shapes. It is reasonable to be able to fit those two things into a week while still allowing your little one to explore and have fun with self-directed learning.

If you attempt to create or purchase a curriculum for preschool that includes daily plans and goals and with direct instruction from you on things like letters, numbers, and counting, you may be hampering your child’s will to learn. The early years of learning are when your children are exploring and having fun while doing it. There is no evidence that suggests a rigid structure and a strict curriculum will advance your child any more than one who has more freedom. In fact, by making preschool too much like “school,” you may end up stifling your child’s creativity and joy in learning.

Learn from the experiences of others when it comes to curriculum buying or creating for preschoolers. If you read the blogs of homeschoolers who have been at it for a while, you will hear the same thing over and over again: don’t bother! For instance, at Feels Like Home [1], a homeschooling mom describes how she spent tons of money on preschool curricula and none of it worked for her daughter. Instead of intensive planning and spending too much money, use the resources you have on hand and let your little ones explore. Here are some ideas for preschool activities and resources:

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