Preschool: Early Education at Home

If you are just starting out with homeschooling, keeping things simple and easing into a new routine will ensure that your journey will be rewarding and successful. It’s easy to catch the curriculum bug, but I have learned that “the grass isn’t always greener” somewhere else, and you don’t have to purchase hundreds of dollars of curriculum to have a successful homeschool.

What do I do for preschool?

My favorite resource when we started homeschooling was Early Education at Home, which is a manual for preschool and kindergarten that contains lists and lessons for a complete year or two of these early grades. It is no longer in print, but you may be able to find a used copy somewhere. It taught me that I didn’t have to have a full-out curriculum at first, and it gave me the confidence to plan our days with ease. Even if you can’t get your hands on a copy, read on for some ideas that you might be able to replicate on your own . . .

My advice to new homeschool moms with kids starting preschool or kindergarten is always, “Relax, you can do it.” You are your child’s best teacher, and the precious time you have with your kids should be savored. Early Education at Home gave me confidence in my first year of homeschooling, and I eagerly used it again twice more with my younger kids. M. Jean Soyke’s curriculum guide for preschool and kindergarten is perfect for easing into homeschooling, as it relies on “real life” learning and encourages moms to naturally incorporate teachable moments into their daily routines. The lessons are structured, yet flexible, and are easy to prepare using readily attainable materials and classic books. The guide also addresses different learning styles by offering a variety of methods for teaching.

Early Education at Home includes thirty-six weekly planning sheets, covering all subjects:

  • numbers
  • letters
  • shapes and colors
  • language
  • literature
  • Bible
  • character qualities
  • science and health
  • social studies

The stories relate either to the letter of the week or the topic being studied, along with snack ideas, recipes, and field trip suggestions. One week includes the letter P, the sense of sight, winter, measuring temperature, diligence, books by Ezra Jack Keats and Lois Lenski, making a bird feeder and marshmallow snowmen, and going on a nature walk. (Click here for some field trip ideas!) The index of topics makes it easy to mix things up and do the lessons according to a child’s interests, or coordinate with the curriculum of an older sibling. Reproducible daily and weekly planning sheets, along with a skills checklist for kindergarten, make record-keeping a breeze.

Early Education at Home

It is tempting to purchase an expensive curriculum, and all of the choices can be overwhelming. The great thing about Early Education at Home is that it is affordable, and the suggested materials are inexpensive or even free, such as:

  • large and small balls
  • crayons, pencils, paste, and scissors
  • paintbrushes and watercolor paints
  • construction and drawing paper
  • magazines
  • can labels, egg cartons, boxes, and cardboard tubes
  • sandpaper
  • dry cereal, rice, and macaroni

Recipes are included for making colored rice, play dough, and finger paint; and there are pages and pages of suggestions for putting together activities to reinforce the lessons, such as making letters out of sandpaper for kids to trace with their fingers, making an egg carton toss game to learn numbers, and making a shape mobile. There are also ideas and instructions for setting up learning centers to enhance the lessons. All of these activities are there for the taking, but the idea is to use the curriculum to fit your needs and not to feel like you have to do everything.

Flexibility is the key here, remembering that young children will need full parental attention with most learning activities. However, many of the concepts presented can also be reinforced at ‘odd moments’ of the day–driving in the car, bath time, etc. (p. 17)

One drawback to the curriculum is that it is not available as a package. The curriculum guide is all you get, and if you want to have all your materials at the beginning of the year, you will have to go through each lesson to compile a list. I found it helpful to have a good Bible story book; and though we already owned many of the books used in the lessons, we took a weekly trip to the library, regularly adding our own choices to the list or making substitutions. I looked ahead at the weekly lessons before my grocery trips, so I could make sure to have some of the snack ingredients on hand. We learned how to make applesauce and had fun with the snack themes, such as orange foods, square foods, and foods that start with the letter JEarly Education at Home can truly be customized to meet your schedule, teaching style, and your child’s interests.

The heart of this curriculum is the message that learning can be joyfully incorporated into everyday life. That is the key to successful homeschooling. Starting off with the basics, a little structure (but not too much), and quality time together prepared me for the years to come. This curriculum also gave me the confidence to adapt and modify it to suit our needs, which has been an important skill to have as my kids have gotten older. We started off our homeschooling journey with an enthusiasm for learning, due in large part to Early Education at Home. Can you homeschool? Relax, you can do it.

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