Alternative title: How to Homeschool a Preschooler When You’re Not a Teacher
Hello to who I assume is a stressed-out parent,
Let me start this off by saying that this is written during the pandemic. Someday, we will return to school. In the meantime, we are homeschooling, and while I am not a teacher by trade, I am a concerned mother who is doing the best she can in an unprecedented time. With zero offense to homeschooling (in fact, mad respect to homeschoolers!), I just never, ever thought I’d be in this boat, but I’ve learned things along the way that I’d like to share if it would benefit your family.
So, if you find this situation to be relatable, or maybe you’re in the future (btw, what’s it like??) and you are trying homeschooling on for size, then I hope these tips will help you.
I will provide information on what we’ve done/do, and suggestions I’ve been given from preschool teachers, elementary school teachers, and homeschooling parents who have been doing this for years.
I would say these tips can apply to kids ages 2-5.
A sample day for us goes like this:
- Activities or Activity Books
- Work in some other learning activities/exercise by making it a game throughout the day
BEFORE this sounds overwhelming, the first three parts of this process don’t take more than 30 minutes on most days. Sometimes it’s longer if my child’s interest permits, and if it doesn’t, we just work things in throughout the day. More on that soon.
We begin with our magnetic calendar. It’s very cute and we sing the days of the week to the tune of “The Addams Family” and the months of the year to the tune of “One Little, Two Little, Three Little ___.”
Here’s an example: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o6PJPHJJGL0
The first thing I did was purchase a curriculum. Because this was March of 2020, I didn’t know how long we’d be doing this, or what to expect from homeschooling, so I got one from busytoddler.com because I was familiar with her creative and educational activities from Instagram. With a coupon code, it was $29 for 38 weeks of school. I see that the HOME25 discount code is still active!
I didn’t have everything I needed to follow each lesson perfectly, and I think that was okay.
I improvise in the following ways:
- If a lesson wanted a bunch of puffballs to glue to something, I either skipped that activity, or made-do with something else. One of my children would likely try to eat some of the recommended craft supplies, so we have to keep choking hazards in mind. If there are any supplies that we use that are too small, I put them in a cabinet where the baby can’t get to them and we’ll use them when the baby is asleep.
- I look up the children’s books she recommends on YouTube. You could use the library, too. Before each week of school, I’d put the links to the stories in my iPhone notes, which syncs with my computer. I’d have my son watch the stories on my laptop while I familiarized myself with what activity came next, or made a cup of coffee.
Speaking of familiarizing myself, I’d also look through the week’s curriculum calendar to make sure I knew what we’d be doing. A toddler’s attention span only lasts so long, so I didn’t want to be like, “ok hold on….let me read this” while his attention drifted away.
Other Curriculum Idea:
Someone close to me who also used to be a teacher used The Learning Box for her children and this sounds amazing because it comes with pre-sorted craft bags EVERY DAY! It sort of sounds like a Hello Fresh box, but for school.
Resources for the Rest of the Day:
Throughout the day, we work learning activities into the day but in a “hey, look, we’re doing something fun and we’re playing!” sort of way.
We’ll choose some of the following, but we don’t do all of the following in a given day!
For example, rather than “it’s time for PE!”, which I really just don’t expect him to respond to, I’ll say “it’s time to work out!” or “time to exercise!” There’s a fabulous channel on YouTube called Cosmic Kids Yoga where the instructor tells stories while doing yoga. Additionally, I am a nationally certified personal trainer and my kids are used to seeing me exercise and often join me. My son loves to flex his muscles and show me how strong he is. This chunk of time doesn’t take too long, either. It’s some stretching, some playing, maybe some jumping jacks, squats, and in my son’s case, burpees.
Yes, you read that right. He thinks it’s just fun to jump, so…yay him. He’s the only person I’ve ever trained who enjoys them.
I also love playing basketball with him and would love to try these stepping stones!
These are subscription boxes with fun, educational activities inside, and they are based on the child’s age. I LOVE these! I will be asking for boxes for my kids’ birthdays.
Use this code for a 30% discount: kiwi-crate.7eer.net/fitstyled
Preschool Workbooks / Dry-Erase Workbooks
I like this book and you may have seen other friends post about it, too. It’s a good one! I also enjoy this math book for preschoolers. Dry-erase books are fabulous because they’re reusable.
Similar to the dry-erase books, I use these on worksheets or coloring pages that I print online.
Here are some places to get printables:
– These free worksheets
– abcdeelearning.com (more free worksheets!)
I use these washable markers with them.
*TIP*: If you write on laminated surfaces with a Sharpie, you can remove the Sharpie by going over it with a dry-erase marker and then wiping it clean.
Melissa & Doug School Time Box
I got this for my son for Christmas. I love it! There are a lot of ways to use it, it all packs away in one box, and there are activity ideas that come with it in their “teacher’s guide.”
Breakfast Books / Easel
I keep a few books by the kitchen table and read to them then because they’re seated anyway. Sometimes the easel stays by the table, too, because I might write letters or do very simple math equations.
Yes, it’s screen time. Some of my favorite learning channels on YouTube are Miss Monica’s Circle Time, Cosmic Kids Yoga, and Songs for Littles. Additionally, I love LeapFrog Letter Factory for learning and it can be found on both YouTube and Netflix.
Alphabet and Numbers
There are so many educational posters you could put on the wall wherever your “classroom” is. We have an alphabet banner that we taped together to make a poster and hung it with this adjustable “frame” on a 3M hook.
Educational activities. Many preschools actually have ABCMouse in their curriculum, so we gave it a shot and we enjoy it!
FaceTime Story Time:
My mother-in-law happens to have a lot of children’s books at her house. She FaceTimes us every week to read stories!
The Classroom Setup
We use our playroom as a classroom. The layout hasn’t changed too much from when it was just a playroom. We just moved some of the bulkier toys out of the way and added the alphabet poster and a three-tiered cart to hold the workbooks and supplies.
Some things I’ve kept in mind during this time:
- Keep fewer toys out than we normally do
- Keep the alphabet and numbers visible
- Have school supplies corralled in one place
- Hang the curriculum where I can see it (or use a clipboard)
- Hang the calendar
- Keep the easel and some books in the kitchen to read/work on letters while I know they’ll be seated
I hope this helps you come up with ideas and resources to pick and choose from to create a learning environment for your child or children! I raise my glass to you and all teachers. I’m sure I speak for a lot of us when I say we’d love to hear your tips!