Guest Post by Rachael of Nothing If Not Intentional
In our state, kindergarten is not mandatory. Yet not only do most of my friend’s kids go to public kindergarten, but it also often seems as though preschool is no longer optional either.
However, sometimes the cost of preschool is prohibitive, children (or parents!) aren’t ready for school, or, if you’re like our family, you want to try homeschooling to see if it’s a good fit. In these situations, homeschool preschool may be a good alternative to a formal preschool class.
Here are a few ways to have a great homeschool preschool experience:
:: Join a group. Preschool classes teach children how to follow directions, function in a group setting, and learn from someone other than mom or dad. We accomplish this by immersing ourselves in group situations. We regularly go to Tot Time at our local science museum. During these lessons, our toddler must sit quietly, listen to the teacher, and follow instructions for the craft or experiment. Similar opportunities include story time at the library and Sunday School class at church. We also use our weekly play group as a chance to practice taking turns, using good manners, and handling conflict well.
:: Take a (field) trip. Public and private school classes take field trips. So should you! We venture to pet stores, a nursing home, the library, museums, park nature centers, and the airport. (In our family, Daddy is a pilot. However, many small towns have regional airports that would be happy to have a toddler stop by to watch the airplanes come and go. Call and ask!) When the weather warms up, we’ll visit an orchard, the big local fountain, a fire station, and a pumpkin patch.
:: Play. Our daughter is only two and a half, so our “curriculum” is centered on play. However, even older toddlers learn well from playtime. Learn about weather and rain while jumping in puddles. Explore nature by pointing out a sunset, a colorful bird, or a feisty squirrel. Introduce architecture with a blanket fort. Discover music and rhythm by banging on pots and pans. Enjoy chemistry by squeezing drops of vinegar on baking soda. Let your P.E. class consist of somersaults and hopscotch.
Teach (and model) responsibility. Our daughter likes to help around the house. She gets the silverware at dinner, rinses dirty dishes, and helps Daddy unload (unbreakable) dishes from the dishwasher. She puts on her coat, gives her baby sister her pacifier, puts dirty clothes in the laundry basket, helps feed the dog, and stirs the batter when we bake. Responsibilities at home will give your child confidence and enable him or her to function independently if or when they enter the classroom.
:: Use the Internet. There are tons of free resources available online. Our current favorite online activity is to watch the live animal cameras from SeaWorld and the San Diego Zoo. PBSKids.org has free Curious George, Sesame Street , and Dr. Seuss printables and coloring sheets. I will often search for free printables that go along with the books we’re reading.
To help you stay on track, check out this inventory of preschool skills. Resources like these will help to ensure your child’s at-home preschool is truly preparing him or her for whatever schooling option you chose to pursue in the future!
Nothing if Not Intentional started as a blog to share stories from Nate and Rachael’s ten trips to Guatemala . It has since grown to become an outlet for Rachael’s writing (she’s a former English major), and a place to share stories from their travels (Nate’s a pilot) and life with their two young girls (ages six months and two years).