By Susan Ehrhardt
Do you have concerns about sending your child to preschool in the Fall? Will your child’s preschool even open this year? What changes will need to be made due to the pandemic? There is one thing for sure–the preschool classroom will certainly look different. Will children be permitted to play with each other or will social distance be encouraged? Will the new emphasis be on health, hygiene, and sanitation of equipment? Will the teachers and the preschoolers be required to wear masks? With all the new guidelines, can the primary goal continue to be children “LEARNING THROUGH PLAY”?
Because of all the uncertainty, have you been contemplating homeschool? I am here to reassure you that you can successfully homeschool your preschooler with the help of a simple, organized curriculum resource like my book, A to Z Ready for K: A Complete 35-Week Curriculum, to guide you.
I have been teaching prekindergarten for 33 years and have developed a basic, practical, play based, curriculum. The philosophy is “learn through play” because a child’s play is their work; it is how children learn. The weekly lessons move through the seasons, using the alphabet with fun and creative activities. All the skills necessary for kindergarten readiness are included. The information is precise and easy to follow. The earlier lessons build confidence, and progress in difficulty to challenge. Repetition is used throughout for review. Structure and routine are also very important to learning. Order creates a sense of calm and well-being. Children want to know what comes next. The introduction explains my weekly and daily routine with the children. Each weekly lesson includes the following:
Dramatic Play suggestion
Listening Activities and Songs
Interactive Charts and Props
Circle Time Activities
Sensory Table Activity
Let’s take a look at how my curriculum, written for the classroom, can be easily adapted for Home School.
Learning Objectives: These include – Physical and Small Motor, Cognitive, Communication and Language, Social and Emotional, and Approaches to Learning. Very simply, this is assessment. How is your child progressing? There should be steady growth with consistent practice.
Dramatic Play suggestion: Imaginative play is extremely valuable for your child. Young children model adult behavior to learn how the world works and how they fit into it. For a complete explanation of the value of Dramatic Play, read my blog Dramatic Play: “Watch me learn. Watch me work. Watch me play“. (February 6, 2020)
Listening Activities and Songs: Keep in mind, any favorite songs will do. The songs I use are simple and most are what is called a piggy-back song. I write the words for teaching a concept to the tune of a traditional, familiar song. Songs can help your child remember parts of the body, shapes, alphabet letters, etc. Songs just make children feel happy!
TIP: Have a book swap with other families in your neighborhood.
Stories: After so many years of teaching the stories listed are my favorite choices of books that help reinforce the letter or theme of the weekly lesson. Use your public library to expand your home storybook collection. The librarian may also have helpful suggestions. TIP: Have a book swap with other families in your neighborhood.
Interactive Charts and Props: Notice the Color Bear props on craft sticks. To adapt to Home School just use colored pencils. All the colors are in the pack! There is no need to duplicate the charts displayed. Each one is simple and is used to teach a concept. The chart – “Color is all around us” matches a color to a picture. To adapt to Home School, use those colored pencils and look around the house to find a match for each color.
Circle Time Activities: This is teaching time during class – recognizing the Letter of the Week, listening to its sound, reviewing the letters already learned. We discuss topics related to the letter. For instance, in Ff Week we look at the American flag. I read a story about the history of our flag. Your child can learn the number of stars and stripes by counting them. And ask, “Is there anything you notice about the stripes?” And because Letter Pp Week was studied previously, your child will answer, “The stripes are a pattern!” And if they don’t, just point it out, and review patterns. That’s what learning is all about!
Circle Time has the most varied and creative ideas in my curriculum. Pick the ones that interest you and your child. There are more choices than you will be able to do in a week. If your child takes a special interest in a topic – explore it with them. Preschoolers love to learn. The added time spent on a subject of your child’s choosing shows them you value what they feel is important. Even better, learn with them! This is a magnet that is proudly displayed in my classroom.
In my book, as you go through the Weekly Lessons, you will see that my class puts on seasonal shows. The purpose is to build self-confidence. I wanted the children to be comfortable speaking up and verbally sharing in a group situation. Most adults recoil when asked to speak in public, but children love to perform. So I took the opportunity to give their families a peek at the special activities we did in class, sing a song or two, and show-off what they are learning. Adapt, and use the show ideas and make a Memory Video. Send it to family or use it as a keepsake of the special Home School year spent with your child.
Table Work: To make this curriculum even easier to adapt to Home School, there are Reprodicibles of worksheets, as well as craft and project patterns that can be printed for your use. All Reproducibles are marked with a large asterisk and can be printed from the Redleaf Press website listed in the Introduction of the book. Strengthening small muscles is extremely important for developing writing skills. And consistent, daily practice is the key. A weekly routine works well for Table Work. Each day of the week is different. On Monday the children practice writing the letter. On Tuesday, it’s Phonics Worksheet day. Cognitive skills are also part of Table Work so the activity varies on Wednesday. Here are some examples: Pp Week – Small, Medium and Large Worksheet, Rr Week – Rhyming Worksheet, Nn Week and Snow Week – Counting and Writing Numerals, and Gg Week – Graphing Practice. For Journal Thursday, purchase a composition notebook and use it for the Journal Activity. At the end of the year, you will see the writing progress your child has made. Finally, on Friday, make a fun craft from the lesson that will intentionally practice listening to directions and scissors skills.
TIP: Most children need extra practice with small motor skills.
TIP: Most children need extra practice with small motor skills. Check out another blog I wrote Small Motor Task Boxes (posted August 19, 2019).
Writing Center: Have a space set up for your child to write, draw, cut with scissors, etc. Often this space can be part of the Dramatic Play area. And because it changes regularly there will be various kinds of small motor skills practiced. A few examples of writing in conjunction with Dramatic Play are:
Pet Shop – making name cards for the pets
Pizza and Ice Cream Parlor – filling out an order form
Grocery Store – writing grocery lists
Friendship Card Factory – writing cards
Board Games: Age appropriate board games are suggested. Games teach counting spaces, taking turns, strategy, thinking skills, and learning to be a good loser and a kind winner.
Sensory Table suggestion: At home your sensory space will be whatever you have to contain wet, messy, touchy, feely activities. Here are few suggestions. Use the kitchen sink for water play – young children can help wash unbreakable dishes, fill a child’s wading pool with water, sand, soil, shredded paper, etc., and use the bathtub to wash plastic animals, dolls and doll clothes.
TIP: An area rug will help give boundaries to building blocks and other floor activities.
Workbench: To adapt for Home School, use a sturdy table for Legos, building sets and blocks, puzzles, leaf rubs, nuts and bolts, Science experiments, STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) and Art activities. TIP: An area rug will help give boundaries to building blocks and other floor activities.
Easel Art: General drawing and painting can be done on paper taped to a wall with painter’s tape or lay the paper flat on the kitchen table.
Crafts: Each weekly lesson has numerous ideas. Remember the reproducible patterns that come with the book. Suggested craft supplies are readily available. Projects never require special tools or kits. The crafts are simple and age appropriate for preschoolers. It’s the process that is important. Teach your child to take pride in their effort and they will be proud of their project.
A to Z Ready for K: A Complete 35 – Week Curriculum is all you will need to Home School your preschooler. It will fully prepare your child for Kindergarten.
However, if your child is able to attend a part-time preschool you can also use my book as enrichment – a supplement for learning and exploring new and creative ideas.
My hope is that this blog has given you and your preschooler one more positive option for learning this year. If you work full time and you have a caregiver or grandparents helping out, the Home School activities can be shared. Each family situation is unique. We all must be flexible during these uncertain times. Learning at home, with your child can definitely be a rewarding, as well as a relationship-building experience for you and your child.
Susan Ehrhardt has thirty years of experience as a pre-K teacher in Cincinnati, Ohio. She has a BS in Education from the University of Cincinnati, completed graduate studies in ECE at the University of Cincinnati, and in Early Childhood and Special Education from College of Mt. St. Joseph.