How to Plan an Easy-Going Preschool Year at Home

I originally wrote this post in 2007, when our 6th of 8 was a preschooler. She definitely had the benefit of birth order, getting a solid but realistic preschool year that fully prepared her to start kindergarten in our homeschool. Today she is a 6th grader, a strong math student, and a lover of Nancy Drew books.

And that 9th grader? He's 22. It goes ridiculously fast.

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I'm a bit late on the preschool planning this year. The 9th grader is taking the bulk of my planning time, but the beauty is that once I've planned his, the others will be easier to plan as they hit the grades he's already finished because the skeleton will have been built. I tweak each year to fit the child, so things change a bit; still, the framework tends to remain the same.

Our preschooler this year will be four in December. She's our Beach Babe.

Beach Babe.jpg

She knows her basic phonics sounds, thanks to Leap Frog Letter Factory, but as I prefer the vertical approach to teaching and learning phonics, we still have phonics to learn. What's a vertical approach to phonics? In a nutshell, it means that all the phonics sounds are taught for each letter as you go, as opposed to a horizontal approach wherein the child learns just the short vowel sounds and one sound per letter, going back to learn a letter's other sounds later. If you want to know more, you can read about it at VerticalPhonics.com.

By way of example, though, the child using the vertical phonics method would learn that the sounds the letter "A" makes are "a" as in "cat", "ay" as in "plate", and "ah" as in "talk".

Our current preschooler is a girl, which tailors some of our choices. Dolls come to mind - my boys weren't much interested in those. 

Here are our choices for this year, and in a future post I'll share our daily routine, as well:

Preschool Workbooks

Craft bags, made for her by her big brother

Nursery Rhyme Pockets

DK Children's Illustrated Bible

Lauri Puzzles

Arts and crafts and table activities get rotated every two weeks or little ones get easily bored:

Monday - Clay

Tuesday - Fingerpaints

Wednesday - Wikki Stix

Thursday - Stamps

Friday - Coloring pages or Paper Craft

Monday - Trains

Tuesday - Wedgits

Wednesday - Dolls

Thursday - Duplo

Friday - Preschooler's choice: weaving loom, pegs, or lacing cards

What's going on in your preschool this year?


Transitioning from Preschool to "Real" School

Jennifer asked last week on Facebook:

"How about something regarding the transition from preschool to grade school? My kids will be 1st & 2nd grade (as well as 1-year-old who will be a preschooler before we know it), and this past year I was a bit bummed with how much less "fun" time they get with mom.

With board and card games, coloring, exploring, reading, and library storytime, preschool stuff was only play. Now I'm feeling like I have to find some magical space to fit it in between baby care, "real" schoolwork, food (why do they have to eat 3x/day? Ha), and the ever present housework. They've become much closer and spend lots of time playing games together, and if they were "out schooling" we certainly wouldn't be playing together much so I know it's a normal transition. Perhaps I've got my question answered in the asking, but surely I'm not the only mom feeling guilty about not spending our days chock full-o fun in the traditional sense (I mean, school "work" is not all blood sweat & tears!)."

 

Mighty Joe loves preschool apps

 

Jennifer, I think that some of the answer to your question really has to do with your educational philosophy. Perhaps it's in your make-up to be relaxed, and there will come a time when you and your children will just have to bite the bullet, so to speak. That time isn't necessarily now, though. The best way to go about homeschooling, regardless of your style or theory, is to start slow in the elementary years, progress as they can take on more abstract thought and skill, and finish heavy in the high school years. 

I've never been an unschooler, but at the same time I do think that life and experiences are often a far better teacher than a workbook, so we balance the two as best we can. Still, we try to focus on what really matters in the early years and let go of the rest. This is the time to learn to read, but learning to read can be done on your lap or snuggled in next to you on the couch. Counting, adding, measuring can all be done as you go about your day. You do want to introduce some serious work at some point, because the reality is that all of our children will have to function in the real world someday, and the real world measures knowledge based upon tests, scores, grades, and degrees. It stinks, but it's true.

Keep the games, the art, the nature walks, the good videos, the reading, the library, and the 3 meals. Add some practice worksheets and some history lessons (read aloud? listen to some recordings?) during the little one's naptime, and just see how much you can accomplish! I know my younger elementary level students aren't grasping the full scope of our history studies, but they like to listen in and do the coloring sheet, and that's worth it for me.

Workbooks my kids have loved:

 

We've used a lot of the Evan Moor products and many more of the Kumon workbooks, and we like them all!