Preschool is an essential period for all young learners.
In preschool, kids learn the basic structures and skills required to enter the formal education system.
They develop important pre-reading skills like familiarizing sounds and rhymes as well as pre-math and pre-writing skills like recognizing patterns, shapes, and relationships.
The schedule of preschool also introduces toddlers to the concept of time management and following instructions, which is crucial in keeping kids from becoming defiant when they’re older.
Even free play in preschool helps young kids grow their imaginations, exercise, and learn to develop friendships!
Even though most preschools and daycares aren’t open right now, it’s easy to turn your home into a valuable learning center for your child.
Since preschool is such a vital part of your child’s development—both socially and academically—I’ve come up with a simple list of ways to turn your home into the ultimate preschool learning environment!
1. Create a Learning Space
If you can, it’s a great idea to set a little space apart for your child’s learning. It could be as large or as small as you want.
If you have a spare guest room or den, you could easily decorate it with educational posters and fill the room with toys and learning resources, but even dedicating a corner in the common room will work fine!
It’s important for your child to become familiar with their learning space and know what’s expected of them when they’re there.
They’re more likely to get distracted if they don’t have a set learning area, so creating a specific environment of some sort will go a long way in your homeschooling efforts.
2. Invest in Learning Materials
The best part about homeschooling a preschooler is that you get to be creative in how you teach them! Unlike the K-12 system, preschool doesn’t require expensive textbooks or hard-to-access resources.
Toys like blocks, dress-up clothes, musical instruments, and kitchen sets are all great tools for learning in preschool. They teach kids to use their imagination, place things in context, and recognize the different kinds of relationships between objects.
It’s also very easy to find educational coloring and connect-the-dot books for your child to enjoy, and children’s TV shows can be invaluable resources!
You don’t want your child glued to the screen, but videos are a great way to change the pace and keep your child learning in a dynamic way while also giving you a break.
ABC Mouse is a valuable resource that offers learning opportunities via tablet or computer. Your child can learn through simple online programs from as young as age 2.
3. Create a Schedule
Consistency is key when conducting at-home preschool. Preschoolers are naturally curious, and since they aren’t yet familiar with the idea of schedules and routines, they get off track easily.
Make sure your toddler knows what to expect each day. This may mean starting off with a coloring exercise, giving them a task to complete, watching a video, and then breaking for a snack or free play.
As long as they have a general idea of orderliness, your preschooler will become familiar with the concept of a routine.
Many preschools only last for half a day, and this might be something you want to duplicate.
It can be hard to get preschoolers to follow directions all day without getting grumpy. Alternatively, you could give them a long free play break in the middle of the day and resume formal learning in the afternoon.
It’s up to you how to schedule your at-home preschool, and while going with the flow is necessary sometimes, it’s important not to be too relaxed!
4. Brainstorm a Curriculum
Similarly, it’s important for you to set up learning goals and themes for your child’s preschool experience. Some parents will opt to create detailed lesson plans while others will simply create a list of bullet points.
Ultimately, it’s your decision on how specific you want this step to be, but no matter what, you should create some sort of curriculum.
For example, one week you could focus on cooking and following recipe instructions. Another time, you could base your preschool around learning the rules and goals of different sports.
Creating themes like this will give your child even more structure and help them make connections more easily. Each week you can come up with one or two goals for your child, like counting to 10 or learning to rhyme a set of words.
Doing this will help keep your child’s learning moving forward and on track!
Teachers Pay Teachers is a great place get inspiration and materials to construct your child’s curriculum if you’re to given enough at home.
5. Allow Time for Free Play
While it is very important to introduce your child to the idea of structure, it’s just as vital to let them express themselves freely during their preschool years.
This time is when kids are truly developing their understanding of the world and growing their imagination, curiosity, and critical thinking skills.
In life, it’s just as necessary to follow instructions as it is to think freely, and free play will provide the balance your child needs. And they’ll love it!
Free play will give your child a break and something to look forward to throughout the day, and it will give you an opportunity to see your child grow in ways all their own.
6. Reward Their Progress
This is the final step for running a great preschool from home. Your child is putting in a lot of effort to develop all the essential skills they need going forward, and it’s hard work!
Even if it just seems like playtime to you. Make sure you let them know how proud you are of what they are accomplishing and learning.
Stickers, stamps, special snacks, and small toys are all great rewards for a job well done and will keep your child happy and motivated throughout the school day!
Preschool is all about having fun and helping your child develop their cognitive and social abilities in an environment that’s equal parts organized and open.
I’m sure you’ll grow closer with your toddler as you watch them learn, and know you’ll be happy with the child they turn into!