I’ve entertained the idea of homeschooling almost ever since our first child was born. To be honest, I’m still not sure what my husband and I will choose to do, but I’m committed to fully exploring this option.
So, I’m giving it a trial run by homeschooling preschool formally this year, three days per week. This is the last year before our oldest daughter starts kindergarten.
(Oh, and both my older kids are going to a church preschool the two other mornings of the week, so we’re getting our feet wet all around.)
But just because it’s “formal” doesn’t mean it’s complicated. In fact, it’s SUPER simple.
I have an undergraduate and graduate degree in education, plus a couple years of classroom teaching experience from my former life (pre-kids), so crafting a simple yet impactful preschool is within my area of expertise!
I want to share what I do, because it is amazingly simple and it’s working.
Here’s our daily schedule in a nutshell:
This agenda takes us about 45 minutes, but it’s also pretty open-ended. We can keep learning, talking reading, exploring, looking things up on the computer, et cetera as long as we’re energized to do so.
Our school time takes place during the younger children’s naps. It’s a special, quality time between my daughter and me.
Supplies We Use
I will share the simple supplies we are using, but honestly, you could make or improvise everything. No need to rush to the store, but for me, buying supplies is helpful to get started.
- a primary journal. This is a composition notebook with large dashed writing lines and blank space for an illustration on each page.
- pencils and colored pencils
- site word cards
- various education items. This could be anything: non-fiction science library books, a globe, a United States puzzle, math counters.
3 Things We Do on “Preschool Days”
These activities take about 45 minutes to complete. We do this as soon as the younger siblings go down for their afternoon naps.
1. “All About Me” Journal
The purpose of this journal is simply to get her writing. At the beginning of preschool she knew how to write capital letters and her name. This was the foundation we had when we began this journal.
The Rules of the Journal
- Only you can write in it. She can’t beg me for help.
- Only you can color in it. She can’t beg me to do it for her.
- You can only use pencils and colored pencils. They won’t bleed through the paper.
- You can only write one page per day. Using scarcity to create motivation and a sense of privilege. Her focus is shot after one page anyway.
- You must do your best work. If she gets silly with it, we erase.
- Each page must tell something about you and the picture must match the words. She has clear direction and purpose.
When we started, I had to help her through everything. She would decide what she wanted to write, and then I would feed her one letter at a time, while modeling sounding it out.
It was tedious.
But in only three weeks of the practice, her progress is nothing short of amazing. Now she’s incorporating many lower case letters and writing several words independently from memory. She knows how to add spaces between words and periods at the end of sentences.
All because of the practice and repetition of writing one sentence per day.
Any more in one sitting would be mentally fatiguing for her.
2. Sight Word Practice
After the journal entry is complete, we move on to sight words. This is how I’ve chosen to edge into reading. We have an early reading leveled set, but sight words are laying a foundation to help her be more confident when she starts reading these books.
The books themselves were a bit much yet.
I purchased this set of sight words at a teacher store. I like it because the words are organized into groups. You work on one group until you’ve mastered it, then you add the next one, keeping the former on the key ring as well.
You can imagine the momentum and confidence that builds as she adds new words to those she already knows. The reinforcement of past sight words is fabulous.
We go through her sight words two times per day. She attempts, then I tell her what it is if she hasn’t figured it out.
She is learning many phonetic sounds and concepts as they come up naturally. No special lesson planning required, and she knows how to pronounce th, ch, ou, etc.
3. Another subject… usually of her choice
After we’ve completed the journal writing and sight words, I let her choose one other thing to work with and talk about. No lessons are planned, we just explore together according to her interests.
It’s just that simple.
So, there you have it! This is what we’re doing on Monday, Tuesday and Thursday afternoons around our house.
And you know what? It’s working. And you know why? It’s simple. No lesson planning required!