Homeschooling with a Preschooler
Those that have homeschooled with a baby, who then becomes and toddler, who then becomes a preschooler have shared with me that they feel the hardest or challenging stage is: preschooler. Why is that? I believe it is because they are so close but not quite there. They want to be a part of the older kids but also haven’t developed the skills or stamina to get there yet. Your preschooler is excited and you the parent are working hard to encourage the excitement while not putting out the flame. It can be a delicate time to balance, all while educating your older kiddos.
So is there hope? What can we do as moms to support our preschooler WHILE educating our older kid(dos)? Here are some steps I have found were helpful for me while homeschooling with a preschooler.
FIRST STEP: PRAYER! Lets be honest for a second, (And prepare yourself I am the biggest at fault for this), when starting to feel the challenge of homeschooling with a preschooler how many of us quickly go to a friend, or a search engine to learn wisdom from other moms to help guide us? I hate to tell you but I am calling myself to the carpet on this one. I struggle to go to God first, to seek His wisdom above all other wisdom. So step number one: PRAYER. I have provided some verses below to help prepare your heart to embrace His eternal prospective as we approach how to teach and direct our preschooler while still teaching our older kiddos.
- Psalm 121: 1-2
- Proverbs 22:6
- Isaiah 41:31
- Proverbs 4:1-2
- Proverbs 1:7-9
- Deuteronomy 6:5-9
- Deuteronomy 11:19
- Psalm 1:1-5
- James 1:5
- Proverbs 2:6-11
- Psalm 127:3-5
STEP 2: Prepare one step at a time. Have you ever heard the saying, “How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.” Isn’t that so true! So my follow question is, “How do you train a preschooler? One step at a time.” Yes, the same way we would handle the huge task of eating an elephant is the same way we would handle the task of homeschooling with a preschooler and that is training our preschooler one step at a time.
Consider this time critical opportunity to start paving the way for your preschooler to become a well formed student in the coming years. Remembering that because you are putting in the hard work now in the following years you will be reaping what you sow. (Galatians 6:9). Here are some examples, lets say one thing that is important to your schooling is that the students will sit at a table while they do their writing, so start off your preschooler coloring at the table. Their stamina might be short but each time you practice at this setting, push them a little longer. Some ideas to lengthening time could include setting a timer for them, or putting a song on, “when the song is over then we will move to the next activity.” Picturing where you want your preschooler to be in the following years can help guide the steps to what they can be doing now in order to get them there.
STEP THREE: Lean into their desire to become a big kid. This is a key moment for us as moms to lean into their desires of our preschoolers. Before I continue I want to say, I hear you, it is hard to help, train, and teach a preschooler when you have other homeschoolers who need you too! It is hard, I know! But, hold on to the hope that this is just a season, and press into it, knowing what we do now will help create our next season.
Find activities for them that are “school” projects. Within the educational activities remember to switch them up within 30 minute blocks, and express what they are learning while doing them, along with how proud you are of them. Attention during this time to the preschooler doesn’t have to be consuming but find ways to build them up as they view you building their older sibling(s) up too.
Here are 20 things your preschooler needs to know before kindergarten. This is to help guide you in allowing them to learn, discover, grow and be a “big” kid with some parent driven intentionality. (This is not a comprehensive list.)
- Encourage Curiosity
- Practice their name writing. And reciting their full name.
- Begin learning about letters.
- Working on a few site words. (Examples: she, said, my, have, here, been, was.)
- Start practicing numbers.
- Practice making decisions.
- Understand how books work.
- Work on self-sufficiency skills.
- Master eating with utensils.
- Practice story telling skills. (beginning, middle, end).
- Practice cooperation.
- Verbalize wants and needs.
- Recognize shapes and colors.
- Practice Drawing with crayons or pencils.
- Classify objects according to size, shape and quantity.
- Identify rhyming words.
- Repeat address, phone number, and birthday.
- Focus on one activity independently or with a friend for 10 minutes.
- Listen to a story without interrupting.
- Bounce a ball and other large motor skills.
STEP FOUR: Let the older kids practice their teaching skills on your preschooler. I believe we as families with multiple kids can benefit so much for approaching our work as a team. Life is better together. In fact, when we involve our older kid(dos) within the educating of the whole family not only does momma receive support, and the preschooler get taught some valuable lessons, BUT the older student(s) get to confirm what they have learned through teaching it to others.
They say the way to know mastery of a subject is to be able to teach it to someone else. In addition, by having your preschooler learn from an older sibling they are not only getting education content but also they are getting to practice learning from more people than just mom. (Which is a great skill to have).
STEP FIVE: Acquire supplies. This step may seem like it needs to come first but in actuality when acquiring supplies I want to encourage you to be intentional with what you are gathering. We have this opportunity to not provide fluff, or just distracting things but moreover using this preschooling opportunity to build the skills needed for the following year. (see list above of what preschoolers should work on before kindergarten).
You also don’t have to spend a fortune. There are many free resources that can be printed, and many activities that can be put together from supplies you might have around the home already. The important part is to start thinking in a way that is preparing not just distracting your preschooler so that you can get the teaching done with the other kid(s).
TIPS AND TRICKS:
- It can be easy for preschoolers to feel overwhelmed when they start, so instead of starting them on a whole page, consider cutting it or folding it in half. Other options would be highlighting what needs to be done first. I have also seen people take file folders and cut one side in half towards the middle, then they would open the flap for what half of the page needs to be done for the preschooler.
- Create excitement, whether that is through words of cheer, a sticker when the page is done, or a reward of playing with a toy when finished. Teaching to work hard until the job is done can be a life long skill.
- Be aware of the level of stamina of your preschooler and work to grow it consistently.
- Give play breaks in between schoolwork, but also know play breaks can secretly continue the educational time. For example, you can give the preschooler a puzzle, which seems like a break but really helping spatial reasoning. Or, maybe they can to design a train track, and they think it is play but really it is engineering.
- Remember not to push your preschooler to far to fast, slow and steady wins the race but pushing is like putting water on the educational flame. Fan the flame of the joy of learning.
- Lastly, there might be some attention seeking moments from your preschooler during school especially if they feel like they are not apart of it, so use this as a reminder to include them. Include them either in learning skills, teachers’ helper, or simply sitting on your lap for some extra lovies.