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Many parents are opting out of preschool programs this year… but they also realize they need to teach their child. It can be overwhelming to know where to start and how to entertain this little person (or people) all day. Thankfully there are a ton of affordable resources you can use to make teaching your child quick and easy and they will be fully ready for Kindergarten.
Have a younger kiddo? See ideas for toddlers here.
I think the day functions best when you have a daily rhythm and flow that is expected for everyone. A great tip I got from another mom is to make sure to do the mandatory things first. For example, the child must clean up their room before rest time is over or read books before going outside. My kids love reading but aren’t going to be as happy about it if they have to stop playing outside to go read.
Here is a great example of a daily routine if you want ideas to get started. Definitely do whatever works for your family!
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:
These are also great to set up for your child while teaching siblings. If you want more ideas for occupying preschoolers while teaching siblings, I highly recommend looking into Montessori activities.
Read Read Read
You cannot read too much to your child. Place a pick-up order for your local library if they offer it and 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.
Three great questions to ask after reading a book:
- What would you have done if you were in the story?
- What was the main problem in the story?
- What could be another ending for the story?
Our goal is at least 20 minutes per day.
Free Printable Resources
There are so many FREE resources online. There are entire high-quality themed units that you can print completely free. You can also search Teachers & Teachers and sort by free. The Measured Mom & This Reading Mama are also fantastic resources.
Some people will quickly get upset at the idea of using a curriculum with a preschooler but the ones I have picked are really just a tool to lighten your planning load. We aren’t trying to teach a 3 year old algebra or have them do school work for 6 hours a day. These activities are learning through play at it’s best and can be done in 10-40 minutes per day and broken up throughout the day.
Keep in mind, we want to teach letter sounds not letter names. We can teach the names later, but when it comes to learning to read we want them to think “ah” when they see the letter A. Teaching letter sounds first builds a solid foundation for later learning to read.
Letter of The Week (we used this and loved it)
Playing Preschool (use code HOME25 for 25% off)
ABC Jesus Loves Me
Reading The Alphabet
Blossom & Root
Handwriting Without Tears
Math in preschool is mostly colors, counting, and shapes. If you want to get crazy, you can throw in some basic addition with a 4 year old. We really want to focus more on building number sense than moving on to more advanced concepts. A good way to work on colors is to send the kid on a scavenger hunt. Show them something red and then ask them to bring you 4 red things for example.
You can work on counting all day long. Count how many Goldfish, Paw Patrol characters, etc. they have using one to one correspondence. This is one of my favorite books for working on numbers.
Coloring, cutting and pasting, playdough, painting, etc it all counts as fine motor! We want to build up those hand muscles that they will later need for writing. Here are a lot of other great ideas. I will also write my child’s name in highlighter and have them trace it with a broken crayon. Broken crayons force them to use a correct grasp so it’s one of the best tools for teaching them to write.
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.
We also love Reading Eggs. This App is for ages 2+ and follows a fantastic phonics curriculum. You can start at the beginning or have your child take an assessment to see where they are. It has quizzes to keep track of progress and make sure they are truly learning. You can get a free trial here.
Find or Start A Co-Op
Depending on the state of things where you are and your comfort level, you can 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.
Music & Screen Time
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.
Leapfrog Letter Factory (now on Netflix) is how my kiddos learned their letter sounds.
Some of my other favorites:
My playlist for preschoolers:
Count to 100 by 1’s (Jack Hartman)
Alphardy (Dr. Jean)
Days of The Week (Dr. Jean)
Numeral Song (Dr. Jean)
Weather Song (Dr. Jean)
Vowel Sound Sambra (Jack Hartman)
Who Let The Letters Out? (Dr. Jean)
Continents (Dr. Jean)
Macarena Months (Dr. Jean)
Oceans (Dr. Jean)
We use Amazon Music but you could also make a Youtube Playlist.
Mother’s Morning Out Programs
This option will also vary greatly based on your location and comfort level, but 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. If your library is closed right now, be sure to look for options on Facebook or Youtube!
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. Some Zoos have really cool Facebook live content right now too!
We also like to look for numbers on walks and say what shapes we see (thank you street signs). Another favorite is to say I spy something that starts with “ah” and they’ll say apple!
Counting, addition, following directions, reading, and more. Cooking has a wealth of educational benefits. They also get to learn the value of working.
Preschool can easily become over complicated but children are natural learners. Share any additional ideas and resources in the comments below!