1. Simple list of preschool goals
Get started with a simple list of preschool goals, based on skills your child will need for kindergarten. Add library materials, study books, craft supplies and educational toys, suitable to your child’s developmental level. If you wish to have a more academic program, concentrate on a few basic subjects. For instance, based on your child’s needs, you might prioritize specific categories for language arts (communication and reading readiness–associate sounds with letters), writing (crayon/pencil grip, lacing and tracing), mathematics (meaningful counting through 10, concepts of size and time). Focus on basic skills needed for success in kindergarten such as how to speak clearly in sentences, use the toilet independently, follow directions, recognize letters and numbers, match objects, recognize shapes, string beads, and use safety scissors.
If you don’t want to create goals from scratch, pick and choose elements from a variety of ready-made resources. World Book offers a free, downloadable “Typical Course of Study,” at worldbook.com/learning-resources. For a Christian perspective, also consider ABeka’s Scope & Sequence: Preschool Through High School, abeka.com/Resources/PDFs/ScopeAndSequence.pdf.
2. Rewrite the information
Specifically for your unique child. You are the world’s greatest expert on your own child. Begin at your child’s current level, and list the skills your child will need to develop next. Gently guide your child to the next developmental step, and celebrate each success, no matter how small. Add social, spiritual and emotional goals (such as developing a concept of God as a Heavenly Father), according to your family standards. Easy Peasy–All in One Homeschool, allinonehomeschool.com/grades/getting-ready-1, provides free online lesson plans for preschool through high school, written from a Christian perspective. The site includes suggested reading materials, which you could adapt to meet your child’s needs.
3. “Test drive”
“Test drive” various homeschool philosophies: accelerated education, character-based education, Charlotte Mason, literature-based, cottage schooling, classical, homeschool cooperatives, Lapbook/Notebook Method, Maloney Method, Montessori Method, Robinson Method, traditional homeschool, unit studies, unschooling, and Waldorf education, to name a few. Research some of these terms in your favorite internet search engine, to get a broad view of what is available.
4. Try out ideas from books.
Such as Rebecca Rupp’s Home Learning Year by Year: How to Design a Homeschool Curriculum from Preschool Through High School and Better Late than Early, by Raymond and Dorothy Moore. Other inexpensive resources include Slow and Steady Get Me Ready by June Oberlander and M. Jean Soyke’s Early Education at Home: A Curriculum Guide for Parents of Preschoolers and Kindergarteners. Also check out Mary Pride’s The Big Book of Home Learning: Getting Started. It introduces all major homeschooling methods and answers your most frequently asked questions. See what works best in your family.
Your homeschool philosophy may evolve over the years, necessitating changes in your curriculum, so try to stay flexible. Remember, your plan is not set in stone. Periodically review your list and reevaluate your curriculum, checking off mastered skills and adjusting as necessary. If you have concerns about your child’s growth, discuss them with your pediatrician.
Preschoolers naturally think in literal terms, and are concrete, active learners. Please don’t sit your little one at a desk, unless you both really want to “play school.” Instead, find hands-on activities using all the senses, including touch, to learn. For instance, count with building blocks, increase visual perception (needed for reading) by working puzzles together, and prepare for writing by tracing in dot-to-dot wipe-off books.
7. A desire for repetition is one reason young kids love to hear the same books read over and over.
Classical educators describe this as the beginning of the Grammar stage in education, which continues up through Grade 6. Develop your child’s ability to learn by rote with nursery rhymes, finger plays, memory games and songs (such as the ABCs). Cultivate a relationship with your local librarian, to find fun books to fit your child’s interests and abilities. Find a book list for preschool and beginning reading at classical-homeschooling.org/ celoop/1000primary.html.
8. For many families, character education and spiritual development are paramount.
Whatever homeschool method you choose, your child will need to develop self-control as well as communication skills. Preschool is prime time to include Bible memory verse activities in your plan. Find out more from Gail Martin’s book, What Every Child Should Know Along the Way: Teaching Practical Life Skills in Every Stage of Life, and 52 Ways to Teach Memory Verses: Easy-to-Do Activities for Ages 2-12 by Nancy S. Williamson.
9. Share your preschool curriculum and goals
In spiritual, social, and academic training, don’t forget to enlist the help of willing grandparents, aunts, uncles, or other relatives. Share your preschool curriculum and goals; you might be pleasantly surprised at their ideas and even receive donations!
If you don’t have an older, more experienced relative available, prayerfully consider picking a godparent–perhaps an experienced homeschooler. A godparent is a serious responsibility, so choose wisely!
Plan a time, at least once a week, for a visit with your child’s grandparent or godparent (in person or through a virtual resource such as Skype). Consider providing a resource, such as Grandma, Tell Me a Story: 52 Bible Stories for Children, to help grandparents teach biblical truths to their grandchildren using contemporary stories. If Grandma or Grandpa can visit personally, your child can spend time with them coloring a picture to illustrate Bible truths.
10. Of course, much as you love your preschooler, an occasional break from routine can be a welcome break for both of you. In your preschool plan, include field trips, play dates, and activities with like minded homeschool families, as well as through your local church.
11. If you think you might enroll your child in a public or private school at some point, coordinate your preschool curriculum to prepare your child for your local (and state) kindergarten standards. Check your state’s current standards at correlation.edgate.com/resource-center/education-news.html. Look ahead at your homeschool journey, with resources such as Robin Sampson’s What Your Child Needs to Know When: According to the Bible, According to the State: with Evaluation Check Lists for Grades K–8. You can also find information in E.D. Hirsch Jr.’s book, What Your Preschooler Needs to Know: Get Ready for Kindergarten. However, try to resist burdening your child with too much academic education before he or she is developmentally ready.
Planning your homeschool curriculum is the beginning of a great adventure, for you and your family. Whether your youngster is developing typically, or presenting with challenging special needs, God is faithful.