How to Homeschool Your Preschooler

Posted on Jul 31 2013 - 6:00am by Markell

This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Homeschool Blogging Carnival hosted by Lisa at The Squishable Baby and Keisha at Unschooling Momma. This month our participants are talking about their favorite homeschool project or experience. There are a few affiliate links scattered throughout this article. 




homeschoolpreschoolerI decided to take a break this week from the home maintenance binder (don’t worry, I’ll post another section on it next week!) to join The Squishable Baby’s Homeschool Blog Carnival. The theme for this month’s carnival is my favorite homeschool project. However, since I haven’t actually STARTED homeschooling yet (planning on starting in September!) I am going to share a little about MY project of getting started with homeschooling. 

My son is going to be two and a half in September. I know a lot of people think that’s too young to start any kind of schooling, but I disagree. I took a lot of teaching classes in college. We learned about a lot of different methods of teaching. One of them, the Montessori Method, puts an emphasis on the early years. That school of thought teaches that the early years are a time of great growth. In fact, if you enroll your child in a Montessori School, chances are they will take them as soon as they are potty trained. 

I personally don’t like the idea of sending my barely two and a half year old son off to school for five hours a day. I believe that I have all the skills necessary to teach him every thing he needs to know right here at home. I also believe that preschooling him will be much different than what many people have in mind when they hear the word “school”.

So many people today put a huge emphasis on teaching their children numbers and letters and shapes and colors at a super early age. For what? Then you have a kid that has all these things memorized but can’t do anything with them. I’m not saying to not teach your children these things, or that I’m not going to teach my son these things, but they won’t be the emphasis. 

My plan is to incorporate letters, shapes, colors and numbers into other activities. I am using the curriculum from Confessions of a Homeschooler to give me a basis of a lot of activities to do that are based around learning letters, but don’t directly teach them. I dont’ want to sit down with my child and say, “look, this is a letter A! What does A say?” Instead I want him to pick up letters, shapes, colors and numbers from every day activities that we do. I want him to learn colors when we are playing with blocks or cars or some other toy. I want him to learn numbers when we are cooking or sorting objects, etc. 

I am only planning on doing about a half an hour a day on structured activity. I believe that children need unstructured time to play and explore on their own and with an adult. I don’t want to overwhelm him with sit-down-now-and-do-your-work kind of stuff. I want him to love learning. 

I plan on utilizing the library. I hope to go there with him once a week to pick out new books. 

I have invited another boy to join us in our preschool. I think one of the things that a public preschool gives to children is social time. I want my son to have the chance to be social. The boy that will be joining us is a little older than my son, and I believe that will be a benefit to my son as well. I am also getting paid to watch him, and plan on using that money for supplies. 

Speaking of money, I don’t plan on spending a lot. There are a lot of free resources out there and I don’t believe that kids need a lot of stuff to learn. That being said, I did spend a little money on a Laminator because I want the pages I use to last. Any time I create something that I think will be used over and over again (tracing pages for example), I laminate and have my son use a dry erase markerpencil or crayon.

I plan on having realistic expectations. I don’t expect my two year old to read. I don’t expect him to be cooking food by himself. I don’t really want him to be some kind of genius. I want him to learn and grow and explore. I want him to develop a love of learning. I want to use the homeschooling activities as a way to spend time with him while the baby is sleeping. I want to give him one on one attention. I want him to have something to do other than pushing cars around and stacking legos (although I think those things are good!) 

I have found a few really good resources for homeschooling preschoolers. The one I mentioned earlier, Confessions of a Homeschooler, is great. She has a lot of free stuff, or you can buy it for easier downloading. 

Another one I like is Confessions of a Slacker Mom. She has a curriculum that is LDS based (think A is for Adam). It’s completely free. 

In Lieu of Preschool is another great blog. It has tons of crafts and activities to do that promote learning without actually lecturing your poor two year old. 

There’s a few things to get you started. One thing to remember is that you are already homeschooling your child, whether you call it that or not. The home is where SO much learning takes place. If you take just a little time to make it more purposeful learning, your child will benefit SO much. 

As a quick recap, here are the things I’m planning:

  • incorporate learning letters, shapes, numbers, and colors into every day activities
  • only doing about half an hour a day on structured activity
  • utilize the library
  • have another child join us
  • not spend a lot of money
  • have realistic expectations 

Thanks for joining me for this long winded post! If any of you are currently homeschooling a preschooler, I would love your advice! Please leave me a comment and tell me what you do to homeschool your little one. 




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20 Comments so far. Feel free to join this conversation.

  1. allmoms4jesus July 31, 2013 at 7:26 am - Reply

    It seems as though you've got your ducks in a row. I say this because when I was considering homeschooling years ago, I had no idea that there was an abundance of free resources out there.

    My girls (2,4 and 6) have been putting lapbooks together from particular stories that I read. They enjoy coloring, cutting, gluing (all things messy).

    Be careful, they say you're never really a homeschooler until you've racked up enough library fees, haha.

    Thank you for sharing your homeschool project.

    • amouseinmykitchen August 1, 2013 at 8:30 am - Reply

      haha I'll have to watch out for those library fees! Luckily our library is like a block away so I've got NO excuse!

  2. lisarenee25 July 31, 2013 at 12:54 pm - Reply

    This is awesome Markell, and right on topic. Starting your homeschool and finding your style is one of the largest projects of them all. I think you have found your philosophy and style very well. I think the 30 minutes per day of structured activity is right on.

    Also, these are excellent resources that you presented. I'm actually going to check out that LDS based curriculum! Awesome find. Thanks for sharing!

    I really love that you mentioned 2 key items – you don't need to spend a ton of money and you need to have realistic expectations. Those two things are very very important. I have a good friend that spent 1200 on history DVD's for their kids. It's a nice DVD set – but wow. I found some great history DVD's in our library totally free. We view them once and take them back.

    Homeschooling doesn't have to be – nor should it be a fortune. You don't need fancy curricula in order to help your kids learn and develop.

    Thanks so much for participating in the carnival this month. I look forward to promoting this excellent post!

    • amouseinmykitchen August 1, 2013 at 8:30 am - Reply

      Thank you. I'm really excited to get started with this homeschooling. I think that it will set me up for homeschooling through the elementary school years. I still haven't decided how much I'm going to homeschool, but I do know that I want to do it through kindergarten at least!

  3. normaleducation August 1, 2013 at 5:23 am - Reply

    Hi Markell,
    I'm committed to the belief that reading aloud to your children is one of the most educational things you can do with them. I can say this right now, as I've just been reading to my two-year-old for about an hour, and he never lost attention until he was almost asleep! Just one of the great things about reading to them is that they acquire a long attention span. By contrast, television trains them to have a 9-minute attention span.
    Thanks for your great ideas

    • amouseinmykitchen August 1, 2013 at 8:28 am - Reply

      I totally agree with you! My little guy doesn't love it when I read to him right now, but I keep trying. He will sit forever if the book has pictures of trucks or trains so we focus on those books and try to throw a few others in when we can. It's great bonding time, too!

  4. Bethany August 1, 2013 at 5:36 pm - Reply

    I agree, 2 is too young for preschool away from home. At this age, they pick up everything, so with a little effort, they can learn lots of things organically. My son is not two yet, but through reading books, playtime, and simply pointing things out to him, he knows all the letters of the alphabet (not the order, he recognizes each letter) colors and numbers 1-10. I will probably won't put him in any type of class until kindergarten!

    • amouseinmykitchen August 1, 2013 at 9:29 pm - Reply

      Wow that's awesome that he recognizes all his letters. I'm working on that with my son.. he's pretty sure all letters are "b". But he's getting better! It's so fun to watch them learn and grow.

  5. Timber August 3, 2013 at 9:58 pm - Reply

    Excited to use some of your advice with my two year old once he is a bit older.

  6. yurrabazain August 4, 2013 at 10:57 am - Reply

    I'm in the process of exploring the world and academic topics with my 3 year old at home. We've just begun, so like you, I have very few expectations of our time together, except that I document how she grows, and not have goals for what that growth will be just yet.

    I am an elementary teacher with a couple of degrees and some research under my belt, so I wanted to share some seemingly lesser known information:

    1. Letter recognition is an important reading skill, but there are different ways letters can be recognized.
    2. Letter naming is foundational to verbal spelling skills.
    3. Phoneme (letter sound) naming is critical to decoding skills.
    4. There is almost no correlation between knowing letter names and knowing how to decode words.
    5. In the early years, less emphasis is placed on letter names because spelling is not as important as sight-sound recognition. We instead introduce letter sounds, and sometimes not introduce the letter's name if it is conflicting. (R and /r/, compared to phoneme /ar/) Studies have found students become confident readers and later phonemic spellers if we teach less A, B, Cs and more phonemic awareness. =D
    6. We also do not teach phonemes in alphabetic order. We start with the letters that are most common in simple CVC words. /m/ is the first sound we introduce because it is one of the first sounds babies know how to verbalize.

    Numeral naming is different because it is integral to counting skills. However, numerals are symbols. When you introduce a numeric symbol, the brain benefits if meaning (objects to count) are attached to it.

    So, I follow my daughter. I introduced to her the symbol M, and did tell her its name is M, but it makes a sound. I emphasize the sound in games where the M is, we practice writing M with verbal cues (down, mountain, mountain) while making the sound m. We make foods with the /m/ sound. I try to incorporate /m/ throughout the day until she's firm. And only when she is firm in her understanding and recognition of /m/, do I add /a/ as in "c/a/t." Then we explore /a/ and /m/ for several days until she is firm enough to blend /a/ and /m/ into a word she can read, already. It's an exploratory process that can result in strong decoding skill.

    Hope this is helpful for someone out there! =D

    • amouseinmykitchen August 4, 2013 at 1:36 pm - Reply

      Wow. Thank you for the comment. I really appreciate the work you put into that comment. I agree that letter recognition is important, and I hope to be able to figure out ways to integrate learning letters into every day life for my son. I am in no means an expert and I love all the advice I can get on teaching my children. I am interested in the order you teach letters to your child. Where do you go after M & A? Is there a list somewhere that I can see?

      • yurrabazain August 5, 2013 at 9:34 am - Reply

        Here's a link to the closest sequence I could find online:

        This is actually the Reading Mastery research justification page. My school for many years used this program, although I personally do not plan to use it with my daughter. I use some of their research and ideas and several years of teaching K-2 reading to help me make my own sequence. They start with /a/ for Kindergarten/1st grade, but other research and experience notes /m/ as more appropriate for smaller ones.

        Unlike Reading Mastery, I plan to incorporate other common phonemes after the most common are introduced. I am trying to find a balance between direct teaching (telling a child what something is) and exploratory learning (let a child figure it out). For my daughter, though, she benefits most from being told, and then giving her opportunities to notice patterns in everyday life without consequence, you know, just fun. 🙂 It's still a work in progress for me with much more research ahead, but in just a few short weeks (or days), real decoding begins once sounds are taught over letter names. =D [mmm, am, Sam, etc]

        Just food for thought.

        I'm following your site; maybe we could keep in touch! Homeschooling is a new journey for me, too.

        • amouseinmykitchen August 5, 2013 at 11:00 am - Reply

          That sounds awesome. I am going to look into that. It makes sense that the kids would do better learning sounds over names. Letter names don't mean anything to kids. They don't sound like their name, and what they need to learn to read is the sound, not the name. That's a really interesting way of looking at things. Thank you for your comment. I do hope we keep in touch. I am looking forward to this homeschooling journey and am hoping to have lots of support and people to talk to during the process!

  7. Keisha Hanvy August 9, 2013 at 8:01 am - Reply

    Thanks for being a part of the Homeschool Blogging Carnival! You sould like you have it all figured out, lol! While kids do need some down time it is fun to open them up to new ideas and allow them to explore new concepts regardless of age. I didnt even know what homeschooling was when my kids were this age but looking back we did a lot of learning from nature and sensory play. Homeschooling does not half to cost alot now a days with the internet and library, oh and if you have a Dollar Tree near you they usually have some great things.

  8. Jessica @ Mom 4 Real August 11, 2013 at 10:10 am - Reply

    Wow…you are amazing! Thank you so much for sharing at Monday Funday!

  9. teaching at home December 20, 2013 at 5:48 am - Reply

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  10. Melanie Thomas January 28, 2014 at 6:34 pm - Reply

    I like your idea of inviting another child to attend your “preschool”. I am going to think about that one. My daughter is an only child and she would just love that.

    • amouseinmykitchen January 28, 2014 at 7:42 pm - Reply

      Thanks for stopping by! I think it's so important for kids to have some social time, plus they learn by seeing. It's super beneficial for your daughter if you invite a child that is a little older than her.

  11. Lami February 17, 2014 at 4:55 pm - Reply

    I have a good friend who homeschools their preschooler. It really helps her learn the fundamentals. I will pass along the idea of inviting other kids over too, I think they would like that.

  12. family tour packages March 26, 2014 at 1:14 am - Reply

    Wow. Thank you for the comment. I really appreciate the work you put into that comment. I agree that letter recognition is important, and I hope to be able to figure out ways to integrate learning letters into every day life for my son. I am in no means an expert and I love all the advice I can get on teaching my children.

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