Updated: Feb 10, 2021
What should a homeschooling day with a preschooler look like?
It should look nothing like school! It should look like directed play and free play with snacks and a nap (if your child takes naps—if so, lucky you. If not, bless your heart, we know the feeling!).
Of course you can work on numbers and letters and other things, but almost incidentally in very short (did we mention short?), fun periods, preferably in conjunction with another activity (for example, mom makes the letter A when mom and child are playing with clay and says "Hey! Your name starts with A! Want to try to make one?").
It is so tempting, especially if you are a very diligent, very eager mom, to think you need to push and schedule and flash card and be “official”.
As moms of grown children, let us beg, PLEAD with you: “No, you really don’t! In fact, PLEASE don’t. We tried it. It doesn’t end well! It makes things worse down the road!”.
Thankfully we learned our lessons pretty early and the more confident we got, the more we took the pressure off ourselves and our children. We realized if we made the first couple of years of school fun, the child continued to love learning.
Again, you can teach numbers and letters and things. We aren't saying don't educate :) We are saying don't make things regimented and pressured and tightly scheduled. Don't make "school at home" for preschoolers.
If teaching numbers or letters is causing a great deal of stress in you or your child, that’s your cue that something isn’t working. Please don’t try to push through it! It means stop! Stop and think. See if your eagerness is surpassing your child’s ability (It’s ok if you have, though, we all have done it from time to time.).
All children can learn, but all children can’t learn all things all at the same time. His mind might not be ready to learn how to read or add. His mind is trying to learn more new skills that we can imagine, and there is only so much concentration in a young child. Not only that, but certain developments have to take place in the brain before a child can read or add or other tasks, and your child might need a little more time.
And really, isn’t that one reason why you are homeschooling? To give your child time to be who THEY are meant to be, not who someone else thinks they should be? :) (You are such a good mom!)
Ok, so we have established what not to do. Let’s talk about what to do!
First of all, let’s identify what the child needs to learn in the next few years. This is a time of skill building, not particularly knowledge building. From age 3 to age 6 they need to learn skills such as:
Obedience to parents quickly and without sassiness or tantrums
Learning to get along with others and treat people and animals well
Controlling their impulses and waiting for what they want
Learn how to explore their surroundings using their senses
Learn how to link concepts together such as cause and effect
Learn how to use the tools of their trade—crayons, scissors, imagination, glue, etc.
Get into a regular routine of sleeping, eating, learning, playing
Learn to be safe, practice good hygiene, and help around the house
Learn that learning takes place at all times, not just at “school time” and that it is fun!
Work on these skills, especially the ones that involve learning to be helpful, self-controlled, and kind. That will make your homeschool years so much easier!