I see this question on social media all the time, “How do I homeschool preschool?” or “My child is 5 and I don’t think I’m going enough.” or “I can’t get my child to do his school work each day.”
I have read many books all in agreement with one another that formal education doesn’t need to start until age 8. If you want to start younger than that, that’s fine, but keep that thought in the back of your mind when your kids don’t want to do school. Many experts believe they’re not ready for a formal education until 8 and need the years before that to learn through playing. Some even say you can wait as late as 12 or 14 and children only need 2-3 years to learn all they need to before college. I write about that here.
Buy a cheap preschool workbook
I do buy cheap workbooks like Brain Quest on Amazon. My little ones like to have their own “school work” like the big kids do. Sometimes they bring it out and want to do 8 pages in one day. Then they’ll go a week or two without touching it. I let it be theirs to bring out when they want. Or sometimes if they’re bored while I’m helping another child I say, “Would you like to get out your workbook and see if there’s a fun page you’d like to do?” And they’ll usually go get it and bring it to the table.
Document everyday activities on an unschooling chart
Besides the workbook, pretty much everything else preschoolers do is “school” or educational. I feel better if I document it so I can see that we indeed had a great learning day. I made this chart where anything we do can be put down in any category I feel it fits in. You can call it an unschooling chart or a preschool chart. However, I suggest you use it up until age 8. I use it from ages 2-8.
Download it, change the dates on it each week, print it out and put it on the wall. Then as you do things each day, pencil them in.
For example, if your child draws a picture for Grandma, put it in art. If she also writes a little letter to Grandma, also note that in the language arts category. If you walk it to the mailbox, help her put the flag up, and answer her questions about the mailman and how her letter will get to Grandma, that counts for social studies. (Walking can also be exercise if your mailbox is far away.) When you show her on a map the different states you and Grandma live in, that is geography. Let her lead the conversation with questions. Follow her interest and let the conversation last as long as possible.
Let her daily life be her preschool
Learning this way your child will soak up so much more than if you interrupted her playing with her doll and said, “It’s 10:00. Time for social studies. Today we’re going to talk about mailmen.” Then bore her with all the details of mailmen. Follow what she’s interested in. When she is interested in mailmen because she sees the mailman come by or wonders how her letter will get to Grandma, that’s a great time to talk about it. Get a book from the library on mailmen. Encourage her to talk to the mailman when he comes by and take a peek inside his car or truck. He’ll love showing her!
We did this with the garbage man. When we lived in the city Anderson was fascinated with the garbage man for years. He asked for a garbage truck for a present each year, drew a million of them, got stacks of garbage truck books, waved at the garbage man every Friday, and asked to sit in his truck. We became his favorite family and he literally cried when we moved. We still exchange Christmas cards and letters every year.
Sorry for the digression! As you can see, when your child is passionate about something you will be too!
My point was to let your child play all day and document it on this free chart and you’ll soon realize she’s doing way more than the reading, writing, and math you thought she’d do in preschool.
Some more examples
Play doh goes in crafts.
Playing doctor goes in social studies.
Legos is science and engineering.
Reading a book about sharks is reading and science.
Baby-sitting her friend goes in other. I’ll write “Played with Sally for 2 hours.”
Going to the park is exercise/outside time.
Any kind of counting goes in math. How many plates you need to set, how many cookies you baked, how high we can count before the light turns green. Then if you want to talk about safety laws and policemen and tickets, go ahead. (Social studies.) That may lead to how much a ticket will cost. You can compare that cost (say $200) with the amount of food you buy in a week or the cost of 10 dolls. (More math.) At the next stoplight sing a song and that counts as music. As you drive again talk about how fast you’re going. (More math.) Tell the story of the time Grandpa got pulled over in South Dakota. Talk about which states that’s between. (Geography.) Tell about speed limits then and how they’ve changed. (History)
See how children are learning all day long! If a chart isn’t for you, just read and talk to your child all day long. Let them play whatever they want. Give her lots of outside time. And lots of unstructured time. I promise she’ll turn out just fine. If you have questions, let me know! I love helping people homeschool preschool. Enjoy these years! They’re my favorite.