Overview: Wondering why a preschool curriculum is important? Where to buy one? Wondering what a preschool curriculum should include and how to plan your own? Here are the answers!
Need a fun, interesting preschool curriculum? Are you interested in teaching your preschool-aged child at home? Or, have you thought about homeschooling but aren’t sure you have what it takes to persevere? Whether you plan to homeschool your child or simply want to teach him or her during the preschool years, there are some things you should keep in mind.
Preschool-aged children are young so some parents argue that it isn’t necessary to do formal lessons with their children at that age. And they’re right! However, teaching preschool-aged kids has many benefits as well:
- It gives you something constructive to do during those long daytime hours while your husband is at work.
- It helps you bond with your children in a way that nothing else will. Watching your preschooler learn and grow is a wonderful experience and one that you and your child will both enjoy.
- It’s just plain fun for you and your child if you do it in the right way.
In this post, I will cover the following:
- Why is Using a Preschool Curriculum Important?
- What Preschool Curriculum Is Best?
- Where to Buy a Quality Preschool Curriculum
- How to Plan Your Own Homeschool Preschool Curriculum
- Suggestions for Preschool Fine Motor Skills
- Suggestions for Preschool Math Ideas
- Suggestions for Preschool Reading Ideas
- Suggestions for Preschool Exploration Ideas
- Suggestions for Preschool Gross Motor Ideas
Why Is Using a Preschool Curriculum Important?
If you’d like to work with your preschooler, having an actual preschool curriculum isn’t always necessary. Some people choose to spend plenty of time playing with their children and reading books to them. And that’s great! Our kids need that time with us and the benefit from our undivided attention. A preschool curriculum becomes important when we decide we want to become a bit more intentional and start showing our children how fun learning should be.
Having a preschool curriculum to follow is important for the following reasons:
- Saves countless hours from having to search Pinterest or Google for fun learning ideas
- Gives parents confidence by providing step-by-step instructions they can easily follow
- Provides book suggestions for each subject, which takes the guesswork out of trying to choose family-friendly books that will help your child fall in love with reading
- Suggests activities which are multi-sensory so that parents can find activities their child will enjoy without yet knowing which learning style is most effective for him or her
What Preschool Curriculum Is Best?
If you check out the shelves of any bookstore or grocery stores, for that matter, you will find all sorts of workbooks for every grade from preschool through middle school. However, this may not be the best approach to take with young learners. Sitting your young child down and expecting him or her to fill out a stack of worksheets isn’t always the best way to teach kids that learning is fun.
Sure, some children enjoy sitting quietly and reading books for hours or filling our worksheets. But if you have a child who enjoys using his hands or who likes to be on the move, requiring him to sit still with a pencil in his hand is a sure-fire way to teach him that learning is torture. And we certainly don’t want to give that message to our young children. Our job is to help them WANT to learn. To discover that learning is fun and exciting!
This is why I think the best preschool curriculum is one which allows our kids to experience the world with all of their senses. One that lets them move and engage with the material by using their whole bodies rather than just having to sit still and listen. Or even worse to sit at a desk and fill out stacks of worksheets.
Where to Buy a Quality Preschool Curriculum
If you’re short on time or would like to follow ready-made lesson plans that are full of fun, multi-sensory lessons, you can purchase a great homeschool preschool curriculum that is all ready to go. There are lots of options to choose from.
Remember to choose wisely. As I said before, some people purchase workbooks for young kids to work through and this isn’t always the best option. Young children usually learn better with fun, hands-on activities than they do sitting at a desk with a pencil in their hand.
If you’d like to purchase a program which is filled with hands-on activities, book suggestions, and ways to allow kids to run, jump and skip while learning, I have created a fun, program called Learn & Grow: Hands-on Lessons for Active Preschoolers. The lesson plans in this book are based on the activities I used to do with my own boys and I spent hours and hours coming up with them.
There are plenty of good preschool programs available. Here are my favorite places to buy a preschool curriculum (and all homeschool curriculum, for that matter):
- eBay – This is my favorite place to buy and sell used homeschool curriculum
- Amazon – This is a close second favorite for purchasing a homeschool curriculum. Amazon is convenient and if you have Amazon Prime, you don’t have to pay any shipping. That’s a huge perk! Plus, they often carry brand new books as well as used ones, which is definitely nice!
- ChristianBook.com – They have great prices if they carry what you’re looking for. Their selection won’t be quite as broad as the first two options, unfortunately. For instance, they don’t carry any of my books. 🙂
How to Plan Your Own Homeschool Preschool Curriculum
If you have the time, it can be rewarding to come up with preschool activities and lesson plans on your own. When I first started doing homeschool preschool activities with my boys, I came up with ideas for them by searching Pinterest and Google. While it can be enjoyable to find these activities on our own, be prepared for it to take a lot of extra planning time.
If you do decide to go that route, your preschool curriculum should include the following types of activities:
- Alphabet recognition and other pre-reading skills
- Number recognition, color recognition, and counting skills
- Fine motor skills which will help with handwriting
- Gross motor skills to help your child improve his balance and body awareness
- Plenty of book suggestions as reading to our children is important
- Fun, outdoor activities
- Ideas which help our children to make sense of the world around them
Below is a list of fun preschool activities for you to try with your child.
Preschool Fine Motor Skills:
1 – Pattern Blocks
Let your child play with pattern blocks. See what kinds of patterns they can come up with on their own. And you make a pattern and let them try to copy it. This is lots of fun for little ones.
2 – Use Kitchen Tongs
Have two bowls, one empty and one filled with cotton balls. Give your child a pair of kitchen tongs. Let your child use the tongs to pick up the cotton balls and transfer them from one bowl to the other. Depending on the age of your child, they may need to use two hands to operate the tongs at first. It takes more coordination than you may realize to grip and release the tongs.
3 – Frost Crackers
Give your child some animal crackers, a can of frosting, and a plastic knife. Let them frost their crackers and eat them. This is a huge hit with children of all ages. For a healthier alternative, let your child spread peanut butter on a piece of toast.
4 – Write on a Whiteboard
Buy a large whiteboard and some dry erase markers for your child and let them go to town.
5 – Fingerpainting
Let your child finger paint with whipped cream and construction paper. This is another huge hit with kids and it won’t hurt them if they’re still at the age where they put things in their mouth. You can even use food coloring to give them different colors of “paint”. It’s easier to clean up, though, if you leave the whipped cream white and let them paint snow pictures.
6 – Drawing
Give your child markers, crayons, pencils, etc. and let them scribble to their heart’s content. This really helps with their hand-eye coordination. You can make rudimentary dot-to-dot pictures for them to follow if you’d like. When your child is really young and first starts working with paper and writing utensils, I’d recommend taping their paper to the table. They will have enough things to concentrate on without having to try to hold down their paper at the same time.
7 – Lace-Up Cards
Give your child lace-up cards to play with. This activity is excellent at developing fine motor skills.
8 – Blocks
Give your child different types of blocks to play with. Let them stack them, make roads for their car with them or however, they’d like to play with them. Kids have more active imaginations than we do so follow their lead.
9 – Lincoln Logs
Lincoln logs are another fun activity especially when dad can also be involved. Children will be delighted to see the wonderful creations that they can make together with their fathers.
10 – Puzzles
Puzzles are a great way to help preschoolers develop their fine motor skills. Have a variety of puzzles on hand because that will be more visually interesting to your child.
11 – Cutting with Scissors
Give your child a piece of scrap paper and a pair of scissors and let them fringe the paper. This is the first step in helping them learn to cut. After they master this skill, draw a thick outline of a square or circle on a piece of paper and have them practice cutting on the lines.
12 – Paper Dolls
Paper dolls are a fun activity for more advanced preschoolers.
13 – Lace Up Beads
Give your child a set of beads that they can practice putting on the string.
14 – Play-Doh
Give your child some playdoh, a rolling pin, and some cookie cutters and let him play.
Preschool Math Ideas:
1 – Color Recognition
Draw a rainbow on a large piece of paper. Give your child a bowl of Fruit Loops cereal and let them match the cereal pieces to the right colors of the rainbow.
2 – More Color Recognition
Walk around the house with a lunch bag and have your child collect any items he sees that are a specific color.
3 – Counting
Give your child a pile of cheerios or another snack of your choice and have him count each one before he eats it.
Preschool Reading Ideas:
1 – Read Aloud to your Child
When they are very little, they might not want to sit still through an entire picture book. But the more you read to them, the longer they will want you to read to them. This is a wonderful way for them to develop a longer attention span, to develop their speech and grammar skills, and many other valuable skills.
2 – Act Out the Story
Have old clothes in a box let your child play dress-up. Try having them act out stories or nursery rhymes as you read them, such as The Three Little Bears or Little Miss Muffet.
3 – Sequencing
Print off pictures of events from a story and let your child put the pictures in the right order.
4 – Sight Words
Label common objects around your house to help your child become familiar with some words.
5 – Make Costumes
Let your child make crowns, Indian hats, etc and dance around the house. Try making costumes which match characters in books that you are reading (i.e., make rabbit ears when reading Peter Rabbit.)
6 – Narration
Let your child dictate stories to you and you can write them down in a book or journal for them. Also, let your child illustrate the stories.
Preschool Exploration Ideas:
1 – Empty Boxes
Give your children empty boxes and let them climb in them, store toys in them, draw on them, make teepees out of them, do whatever they’d like to them. As your child gets older, you can also let them cut up the boxes to make other creations from their own imaginations.
2 – Taste Test
Let your child sample different types of fruits and vegetables than the ones you normally buy. Make it a special event where they are thrilled to try an exotic fruit or vegetable. Be sure to let your child help prepare the food as there is so much learning that can be done in the kitchen helping Mommy.
3 – Sign Language
Teach your child sign language. Check out this great website for more information on teaching sign language to your preschooler.
4 – Smell Spices
Pull a variety of spices out of your spice cupboard, have your child close their eyes and let them smell them. You will be amazed at how this simple activity will thrill your child. See if they can identify the spices the third or fourth time around.
5 – Science Experiments
You can find all sorts of easy and fun science experiments on the internet. One fun activity is to fill a small glass with water and another glass with milk. Put a straw in both glasses. Let your child blow into each glass and see what happens. Be sure to have towels handy for this one!
6 – Take a Walk
Take a walk with your child. The object with this one isn’t to see how far and how fast you can go. Slow down, observe objects around you, listen to what your child has to say. Let your child carry a bag with them to collect rocks, leaves, and whatever else catches their eye.
7 – Field Trips
Take field trips with your child. Take them to the zoo, to a children’s museum, to plays and concerts which are geared for younger children, etc. Let them experience the world around them.
Preschool Gross Motor Ideas:
1 – Balance Beam
Put a 2×4 on the floor and let your child try to walk across it without falling off. This is a really great activity for developing their gross motor skills.
2 – Keep a Rhythm
Clap or slap a rhythm on your legs and let your child try to copy the same rhythm.
3 – Sidewalk Chalk
Give your child sidewalk chalk and let him doodle all over the driveway.
This is just a sampling of some of the fun activities that you can do as part of a homeschool preschool curriculum. The more time you spend with your child, the more you will get to know where their individual interests and talents lie and you can explore those in more depth with them. At this age, the main thing is for your child to enjoy learning and to build your relationship with him.
Relax, have fun with your child, and watch him or her blossom.
If you’d like to see even more fun homeschool preschool activities, please click here for more information about my Learn & Grow: Hands-on Lessons for Active Preschoolers.
Question: What preschool activities have your children enjoyed? Are there any homeschool preschool activities you would add to this list? Please leave a comment below.
And be sure to check out the other great posts about How to Teach Without a Curriculum from other iHN bloggers at iHomeschool Network.