If you have a few kids, and one happens to be in elementary school, chances are you have a preschooler or a toddler. If you do, I can share a few tips about how to homeschool with a preschooler.
Spend time with your preschooler
Since I started homeschooling, I have always had a preschooler. I found that if they will do just about anything to get your attention. This may sound obvious, but spending time with your preschooler before you start teaching lessons makes a big difference.
What are some great activities for parents to do with their kids? These are my kids’ favorites between the ages of 2-4:
- Sing songs (alphabet, the Wheels on the Bus, church songs, make one up, etc)
- Read books
- Do a cooking lesson (I measure, they dump and stir)
- Go on a walk
- Play outside
You probably have even more ideas that you could share. Please add them to the comments.
Activities for Preschoolers During Lesson Time
My kids’ absolute favorite is to play with magnetic pattern blocks. They are foam on one side and magnetic on the other. I bought 6 aluminum cookie pans from the dollar store that my kids could attach the shapes to. They love creating patterns and pictures of their own. It’s a great way for them to learn some geometry skills and basic spatial relations. Just make sure that the kids are old enough that they won’t chew on them. Babies are drawn to their bright colors and like to teethe on them.
When the kids are turning 3 or 4, I get out the Pattern Cards I bought. The kids make pictures by matching the shapes on the page with the magnetic blocks.
I place the page right on the cookie sheet and the shapes’ magnets are strong enough to stick to the cookie sheet so the page doesn’t move.
Related Activities with Pattern Blocks:
Even though I plan to use the same curriculum with all of my kids, when it is time to do literature with my kindergarteners and first graders, I have my preschooler join in. When they get to kindergarten and hear the story again, they’ll understand it at a different level. They love being included in the lesson and begin developing comprehension skills because I ask them questions, too. I make sure to tell my older child not to answer the question for the younger child.
When the older kids are coloring in art or language arts, my younger kids want to join right in. However, I’m usually not ready for them to tackle regular markers. So I get Color Wonder books out for them to color. If they joined me for the lesson, it helps to have a blank color wonder page so I can assign the preschool child to draw a picture about the story we just read or what we learned in art. Other times, I have them practice coloring in the lines.
Color wonder markers, in case you aren’t familiar with them, do not add color to anything but the color wonder paper.
As I mentioned in an article entitled Using Food to Teach Math, I often have my kids learn math in the early years in a fun edible way. We get out the cereal, M&M candies, chocolate chips, or raisins to learn addition and subtraction. Preschoolers can join in, too, by learning how to count.
My kids love having their own school work. So, I bought them each a workbook designed for preschoolers. Most workbooks teach kids about colors, shapes, letters, beginning sounds of words, basic number skills, categorizing, and more. I pull out the crayons and pencils and work with my preschooler.
Depending on attention span and the pace you choose for your kids, you could make it last 2 years. I have chosen to buy workbooks the year before entering kindergarten and finished them with my kids.
Puzzles are another great activity to do with your child or, when they are ready, to keep them occupied while teaching an older child. I prefer Melissa and Doug puzzles because they are durable. One puzzle I enjoy is the train puzzle that rewards the child by making a train sound when the puzzle is completed.
These are just a few ideas- the tip of the iceburg.There are so many different things that I do to make sure that my preschooler feels cared, is learning, while still getting my school-aged-kids’ lessons done.
I’m sure many other people have brilliant ideas, too. Please share them in the comments section. I can’t wait to read what ideas work for your family!