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If you have a child over the age of 1, you have probably been asked about preschool. You were most likely asked not if your child was going, but how often and to which school. It has become expected instead of optional in many circles, but I’m here to let you know that whether you can’t afford it or prefer to opt out for other reasons, there are other options.
First things first…. let go the guilt (if you have any). There are a million things parents feel guilty over, but don’t let not sending your child to preschool make you feel like less of a great parent. You are your child’s first teacher and all the resources you need to make sure he or she flourishes are right at your fingertips.
Next: If you want to send your child to preschool and can afford to do so, go for it. I am not anti-preschool but the reality is that not everyone can (or wants to) afford it so this list is simply meant to help those parents.
Learning Through Play
Children learn best through play. Play house, play dress-up, do puzzles, color, and do art projects. Let them explore outside. If they are playing, they are learning.
Here are a few of my favorite educational toys:
Read Read Read
You cannot read too much to your child. Head to your local library and help them pick out books based on things that they are interested in. Ask them questions as you read. Point out different colors, shapes, and name things.
Free Printable Resources
There are so many FREE resources online. There are entire high-quality themed units that you can print completely free. One of my favorite preschool curriculums is ABC Jesus Loves Me. It is free if you plan to only use it with your own children.
We use ABC Mouse with my kids to help them learn letters, numbers, colors, and more. You can use it with up to three kids at the same time. It will track them all separately so you can see how they are doing, what they need to work on more, and offer age appropriate lessons for each one.
Find or Start A Co-Op
Find a few other families who want to participate and start your own co-op. You can meet weekly and rotate who teaches or one mom can teach every week. You can invite community members (police, firemen, etc.), go on field trips together, have musicians come in and more.
This great kit includes the materials, instructions, and mini lessons needed to help give your child a solid foundation for kindergarten. It is designed to be used with children ages 2-6 and covers reading, writing, and math skills. It is incredibly well laid out and makes teaching your child so easy. The best part: it’s $54! I was expecting it to be more.
CDs and DVDs
Make the most of time in the car and screen time. There are really great educational music and videos, many of which are even on YouTube. You can find some that even teach foreign languages.
Some of my favorites:
Mother’s Morning Out Programs
These programs are usually one morning a week and are usually very cheap or free. It gives you a break and gives your child playtime with their peers. Everyone wins.
Most libraries have a preschool story time. This gives children the opportunity to learn to sit quietly, listen to another adult, and play with other children. It’s also a great place to meet other moms and get new ideas.
Museums are educational no matter what, but many have programs one day a week designed for toddlers and preschoolers. Buy an annual pass and go weekly. You can also check out new exhibits and it’s another great opportunity for social interaction with other kids.
When you home school (no matter what age) pretty much anything can be a field trip. Heading to Target? Pop in the pet store nearby and look at all the different animals. When you run errands explain how things work, talk about jobs, and let them participate as much as possible.
Go to the park and have a race, play with bugs, and name the different types of animals and trees. Go to a National Park and talk about how the National Park system came to be and why it’s important. You can discuss weather and seasons and why the leaves change color.
Counting, addition, following directions, reading, and more. Cooking has a wealth of educational benefits. They also get to learn the value of working.
Find Others To Follow In Your Journey
It can be so easy to get burnt out when you are trying to do it alone! Find some other moms locally or join a Facebook group for support. I also highly recommend following a few bloggers who focus on homeschool preschool education. I find this is to be a very helpful but easy way to get new ideas and encouragement.
Here are a few:
Preschool can easily become over complicated but children are natural learners. Share any additional ideas and resources in the comments below!