What kind of things do kids usually learn in preschool?
Check out this preschool course of study from World Book Encyclopedia to find out what a typical preschool program usually includes.
Grade by Grade Learning: Preschool from PBS Parents is another helpful article about the characteristics of preschoolers, what to expect developmentally at this age, and what is generally taught in preschool.
How do I even begin to plan to homeschool my preschooler?
There are as many different ways to homeschool for preschool as there are homeschoolers. Don’t worry, you potty trained this child and that is a lot more difficult than figuring out preschool! Or maybe you’re still working on that one? No matter! You can do this!
Look over the preschool course of study from World Book. Scroll down the page to find out what skills your child can be expected to learn over the course of the next year or two. It’s a good idea to keep in mind the developmental characteristics of the typical preschooler when you are planning your days, though of course your own child will have his or her unique strengths and challenges.
Get yourself a composition notebook (if you are a pencil and paper person) or create a folder in your documents area of your computer (if you are more of a computer person) and either jot down or cut and paste some goals to work on from the various areas listed. Don’t choose too many to start with, or you might get overwhelmed in the beginning! Pick two or three goals from each area.
Match your goals to ideas for activities to help your child meet those goals you’ve chosen to work on. For example, one goal in the math section is “Understand that a number represents a quantity”. So, an activity you might plan to help work on that goal could mean doing a lot of counting. Count the animals in her storybook, count the steps to climb up on the porch, count the plates on the dinner table. When your child masters a goal, check it off and try a new one. Keeping up with your notebook, either online or on paper, gives you both a planning document and serves as a record of what you’ve done.
Don’t try to plan too far in advance. I always envied homeschoolers who could plan a whole year in advance, but I have never been able to pull that off. I usually just plan a couple of weeks at a time, which allows me to change course or adjust quickly if I need to.
Preschool usually involves establishing some kind of routine, which could be as simple as curling up for a read aloud after breakfast followed by singing alphabet songs or practicing drawing or coloring. Some families have a routine of going for a walk right after breakfast, and talking about the changes in the weather and the local plants and animals as the seasons change. As much as possible, support your child’s own interests in the world around him and encourage his curiosity.
It’s a great age to get into a regular habit of visiting the library and checking out books, or dropping in on a popular playground and hopefully meeting other parents and children. Don’t forget about local community organizations that might offer classes or groups for this age group.
Preschool sites with themed worksheets, printables, and educational materials
How do I use these sites?
I tend to plan only one or two weeks in advance as I have mentioned, mainly because my kids are weird and like to learn things in spurts. I open to a blank page in my composition book (or create a file folder in the computer and open a blank document in it, then insert a table with the number of days you are planning for) and make five boxes for a five-day plan.
I like to have the goals I am working on listed on the left-hand page of the notebook (or the top of the page if you are creating a document on your computer) so I can refer to them easily, and the box I made for my week’s plans on the right-hand page.
Next, I pencil in the planning boxes with the things I want to include in my plans. Note the word “pencil”. It’s a lot easier to change things around if you wrote the original in pencil, and if you are anything like the average homeschool parent you are going to be erasing things here and there.
Pencil in a library visit, pencil in the titles of the stories you plan to read, pencil in some playground time. Then, click around on the sites below and mix and match ideas, themes, printables, or anything else that catches your eye and pencil those in the box for the day you’d like to do it. If you are planning on the computer it’s easy to cut and paste the link directly into the plan, or you could just print out any printables or instructions as you are planning and keep those in a folder for the week. Make note of any supplies you may need to have available for craft projects or science experiments.
You’ll notice in the links below that preschool teachers are fond of “themes”, which are resources and ideas that are coordinated around a central idea, like “Apples” or “Transportation”. It’s not necessary to incorporate themes in your preschool, but it can be fun. I used to plan around one theme per week with my kids and the preschool sites below are helpfully organized into themes to make that kind of thing easy on you. Don’t forget to pick up some library books that go along with your theme.
I tend to plan on the weekend for the week ahead. I also tend to over plan, so I always end up with more activities and things planned then we actually end up with time to complete. Don’t be afraid to call it a day and skip or drop some of your plans if everyone is exhausted or distracted. Just cross those out.
First School Preschool
I love First School. I spent a lot of time on this site picking out ideas for activities for my youngest son. From the website “First-School features free fun preschool lesson plans, educational early childhood activities, printable crafts, worksheets, calendar of events and other resources for children of preschool age. The preschool crafts, lesson plans and activities are appropriate and adaptable for toddlers, preschoolers and kindergarten level (ages 2 to 6).”
This site is a great find. There are even more themes and teaching ideas here than you could ever use. From the website: “At Everything Preschool our philosophy revolves around the concept that Children learn through Doing. Our site contains Over 30,000 Preschool Education Activities Separated into over 100 Themes, 26 Alphabet Areas, & Lesson Plans. Whether you are a parent or teacher we encourage you to adapt these activities to your specific challenges and challenge you to never Stop Learning. ”
Sparkle Box is a primary school site in the United Kingdom that offers free colorful printables. These printables are suitable for preschool, kindergarten, and elementary level students in a variety of topics. This site does not have themes, but I like the printables so much that I decided to include it here.
Confessions of a Homeschooler
Confessions of a Homeschooler is a blog written by a homeschooling mom of four who seems to enjoy creating lovely printables for preschool, kindergarten, and early elementary age students. You can download most of the printables for free, but if you want to download an entire batch at a time or get a cd with the material on it there is a store on the site where you can do that for a small charge.
The Measured Mom
Lots of printables and ideas for early learning including phonics, math, writing, and more
This is a nice site that I’ve found fairly recently. It has themes organized by season and by month. It also has some useful information on the growth and development of preschoolers.
Does your little one have the wiggles? Check out Go Noodle on Youtube. It’s a channel of three to five-minute silly dancing videos designed for kids to get up and jump around a little to work off some of that extra energy. It’s designed to be used in schools, so you don’t need much room. Check it out.
Preschool online activities and games
Screens for educational purposes can be a useful addition to your homeschool program, if only to buy you some time to work with another child while one plays online learning games. There are a lot of educational apps that you can have on a tablet or a smart phone, but the links below are to sites that need to be accessed on a desktop or laptop computer.
I used some of the learning games below to help familiarize my preschoolers with how to use a computer, what a mouse was and how it works, and that sort of thing.
Little Animals Activity Center
Preschool level online activities and games for your child from the BBC. The music is very catchy! Okay, the music tends to stay with you after you listen to it. Ever hear of an earworm? Well, the music on this site is a major earworm for me.
Online learning games for your preschooler. There is a nice selection here to check out.
Let’s prepare for addition and Let’s prepare for subtraction
These sequential math programs are offered for free and include lessons and games. Scroll down the page to find them. You could use these as a gentle introduction to a structured math program for your older preschooler.
Peep and the Big Wide World (Preschool and Kindergarten)
From the website of Peep and the Big Wide World you can find some family resources that include fun math and science activities for preschoolers.
Soft Schools Preschool Math
Soft Schools offers free preschool math games and worksheets.
Rader’s Number Nut
Rader’s Number Nut offers shapes, colors, and counting activities for preschoolers.
Sheppard Software Preschool
Sheppard Software Preschool is one of my personal favorite sites for preschoolers. The preschool section is very colorful and a lot of fun.
Starfall is a well-known and loved phonics site and a big favorite in our family. There is a paid subscription option if you are interested in that.
Internet 4 Classrooms
The Internet 4 Classrooms is a favorite teacher resource organized by grade levels. There are a number of preschool math resources located here.
BBC Early Learning
Audio clips and resources for early learning in a variety of subjects.
Websites with audio or video songs and stories for preschool students
Harry Kindergarten is the name of a Youtube channel with some (okay, 221) fun educational music videos of interest to the younger student. Video topics include music videos about counting, colors, days of the week, and more.
A Youtube playlist of songs for preschool age students
Little Story Bug
Little Story Bug offers 254 children’s videos on youtube, ranging from read-aloud stories to holiday songs, activities, and crafts.
The Learning Station
The Learning Station is another youtube video producer with 103 music videos for children.
Have Fun Teaching
My son loves the letter songs. Every time he mixes up the short vowel sound of ‘i’ or ‘e’, we play the letter song for ‘i’ or ‘e’ and dance around the living room like maniacs. It’s great fun! This channel also has counting songs for skip counting and songs for sight words.
You can find more free audio stories for children at Story Nory. Story Nory has a large collection of children’s stories read aloud, including classics, myths, fairy tales, and original stories. Story Nory publishes a new story every week. You can also find her podcasts on Tunein.
Books Should Be Free
Books Should be Free is a website that has public domain audio books and ebooks. You can find some children’s favorites there including a great selection of classics as well as shorter stories by well-loved writers like Thornton Burgess. The “Great Big Treasury of Beatrix Potter” is a favorite in my house…
The Story Home
The Story Home has a large collection of classic and original children’s stories read aloud and recorded.
Kids Learn Out Loud
Kids Learn Out Loud has a free section. Click on the free section, then on Short Stories to find favorites such as Aesop’s Fables, Just So Stories by Rudyard Kipling, and fairy tales by Hans Christian Andersen, and more.
Storyline Online is sponsored by the Screen Actors Guild and features video recordings of children’s stories read aloud by SAG members.
Light Up Your Brain
Light Up Your Brain has free audio stories for kids, with a mix of classic stories and originals.
This is a popular United Kingdom children’s radio show for preschoolers. CBeebies has stories, songs, and games for the younger set.