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.

affiliate links below

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?


Why I'm Not Homeschooling My Preschooler

“Bye Mommy! See you later!” And he turned toward the playdough and started smooshing. I smiled at him and smiled at his teacher and walked out the door. A few tears gathered in my eyes as I walked to the car.

Note the uncombed hair. Yeah, I'm rockin' it as a preschool Mom :)

Note the uncombed hair. Yeah, I'm rockin' it as a preschool Mom :)

About noon that same day I walked into my son’s preschool classroom to pick him up from his first day. His teacher dismissed him and he ran into my arms, screaming Mummy! I kneltdown and hugged him and he said the most beautiful words - “I had so much fun!!” As I squeezed his little body, tears threatened to spill over onto my cheeks. Joy and relief flooded my body.

This morning, when we first walked into his classroom, one of his teachers greeted him and said “Timothy, I’m so happy to see you! I’ve been praying for you this morning!” This is the first child that we’ve sent to preschool since we started homeschooling 7 years ago. Making the decision to send him to preschool was not taken lightly. Leaving my son in the care of another person that I know is praying for him is a balm to my tattered mommy heart.

Why would a homeschool blogger send one of her kids to preschool? Not only am I a homeschool blogger, but our blog is called Preschoolers And Peace, with a tagline that says “Homeschooling with littles under foot? YOU CAN DO THIS.” No, the irony is not lost on me.

This is another of those times that I will bare a little bit more of my soul to you, our readers, because I want to be sure that everyone knows what is deep on my heart – God’s plan for my family might look different than His plan for your family. Please be gracious as you read and be quick to listen and slow to speak.

Our son, Timothy, as you might remember, was born prematurely at 25 weeks gestation. He had a long journey in the NICU. He is almost four years old now and has overcome so many challenges. We are so incredibly thankful for the progress that he’s made, overcoming so many developmental delays. But I’m not going to sugar coat things either. He’s a lot of work. His behavioral issues are starting to take more and more of my time and they seem to be getting worse. I was feeling so defeated because none of my usual tricks were working and my school age children were getting the raw end of the deal.

A few weeks ago, after I was crying in my husband's arms on the side of the freeway, I was talking to my husband and said that something needed to change. I didn’t believe that putting our school age kids into a public or charter school was the answer. I brought up the idea of preschool and neither of us were opposed to the idea.

 A few days later, Timothy spent several hours with another family so that I could kinda relax. That was very revealing to me because, after I dropped him off, the van was peaceful. And it was peaceful all day, despite having the van break down in another city and dealing with that on my own with three of the other kids! The minute we picked him up later that afternoon, the chaos returned.

It was at that moment that I realized it was Timothy bringing the chaos. I am in no way saying it’s his fault.  I don't believe that he is intentionally wreaking havoc on our family. I believe that there is something happening neurologically in his little brain and we are seeking help to figure out what that is. But I knew that for my own mental well-being we needed to explore options for Timothy.

Through a number of God-ordained serendipitous moments we decided to enroll him a local, Christian preschool where he attends three mornings a week. His teachers love Jesus and they are teaching the children to love Jesus, too. During those three hours each Monday, Wednesday, and Friday that he is in preschool I am able to focus more on my school-age children and also on my little 2 year old, who has become my shadow. I no longer feel like I am fighting fires all the live long day. I don't feel like I'm walking on eggshells all day long, wondering when Timothy is going to explode again. Those nine hours a week have given my brain space to rest. And it makes me a better parent.

So, that's why I'm not homeschooling my preschooler. Did I feel guilt when I first enrolled him? Yes. I should be able to do it all, right? Uh, yeah, no.  It took me being very honest with myself and my husband about the fragile state of me so that we could make the best decision for our family. I had to remind myself that homeschooling does not save our children and that there is no magic formula.

Our God is so big. He is bigger than homeschooling and bigger than public school and bigger than all educational options. Pray. Seek God's plan for your family. And give yourself grace if the plan ends up changing. We are not defined by our educational choices. Amen and amen.

-Michele