Do you have a little one at home you’d like to start preschool without sending him or her off? The best teacher for your child is you! Early childhood education isn’t always an option for families due to cost, availability, ability, or personal preference. With a little creativity, you can teach your child. Keep reading for 5 preschool ideas you can do at home.
When To Start Preschool
Where we live we are fortunate to have free 4-year-old kindergarten (4k) within the public schools. In many ways, this replaced the private pay pre-school like I attended the year before I started kindergarten. My kids went to 4K for 3 hours 4 days a week. The curriculum was play-based and it readied them both socially and academically for kindergarten. I am certainly thankful for this resource otherwise it would have been quite the expense for our family. With easy access to preschool starting at age 4 however, there seems to be a push to start kids in a preschool setting at age 3, or even 2, so they are ready for 4k.
Parents vary on when to start school. Kids in day-care typically get preschool activities built into their day. Kids at home might go to a class for a few hours a week to get a feel of a classroom setting. Other children might stay home for a variety of reasons.
There are families who can’t afford private early education. Other parents might feel their child would not do well in a classroom setting at a young age due to where their youngster is at developmentally. Preschool can be an issue for kids who have special needs if schools aren’t properly equipped so moms and dads choose to keep their child at home.
To help you decide if or when you should send your child to preschool consider things like cost, early education options in your area and the pros and cons of school based on your situation. It doesn’t hurt to seek opinions from your pediatrician, other parents with older kids and any child specialists you have contact with to help you make your decision. Of course also think about your child, his or her needs, and what is in the best interest of him or her.
Why We Waited Until 4K
I grappled with the idea of sending my kids. As a former school counselor I am all for instilling a love of learning at an early age. But since I am a former counselor, as in not working, paying for 3k would have put a strain on our single income budget. Ahh, wanting to give the best opportunities for our children vs putting the food on the table!! Mom guilt set in wishing I could send them to preschool because there are a lot of great programs out there.
Then I reminded myself that I didn’t think they would be ready anyway since their birthdays are in the summer. I didn’t feel comfortable sending them off being freshly 3. They will be the youngest in their class for enough years why start at that age? So they did not go to 3k. That was what we decided was best for our family though, every family has their own unique reasons when to start preschool.
I still wanted to expose my kids to a preschool experience. I knew with my background working as a play therapist it didn’t take much to come up with play-based learning activities. It did take time and planning, but I knew it was worth it for my kids.
If you are not able to send your little’s to preschool or are choosing to keep them home for any reason there are things you can do to help them establish a love of learning. Here are the 5 preschool ideas you can do:
Preschool Ideas At Home
Once a week I used to plan a theme for my kids where would read a book, do a craft, and listen to songs or play an activity involving the theme. For example one day we had a snowman theme. We read the book “That’s Not My Snow Man.” For a craft, we glued cotton balls into snowmen on paper and for a snack made marshmallow snowmen with toothpicks. There are tons of ideas on Pinterest. Learning 4 Kids and Hand’s On We Grow are also great resources.
Play Date or Preschool Coops
Plan regular play-dates with some other moms and incorporate themes into the play-date. Each mom can take turns leading the activities. For a more organized experience, you and other families can plan weekly scheduled gatherings with lesson plans like this one using ideas from the links above.
Free “Preschool” Programs
Our community had once a week “play and learn” sessions for kids ages 1-5 and their caregivers through the United Way. The session was set up like a pre-school with 2 teachers, circle time, free play, story, music, and craft. Check with your local United Way by dialing 2-1-1 or see if your local school district offers something in your area.
Look up information on mom’s groups like MOPS, Mom’s Club, or similar groups through different churches or organizations that offer scheduled gatherings. I attended a mom’s group where the mom’s met in a room for a book study while the kids played in the nursery. The playtime wasn’t structured like a preschool but they got socialization by playing with their friends. It was a nice break connecting with other moms uninterrupted too.
Library Story Time is free, educational, social, and fun. This was a regular activity scheduled into our week and my kids loved it. They got to sit in a circle time setting, listen to books, dance to music, be around kids their own age and sometimes complete a craft activity. The lesson planning is done for you, all you have to do is show up.
These are just some ideas I did over the years with my kiddos. I tried to keep it fun and interesting by putting an emphasis on play. If you have temper tantrums, Pinterest fails, or just not up to the challenge on a particular day that’s okay! Ask a preschool teacher, they deal with those issues too. You are your child’s best teacher and your youngster can have great preschool experiences at home with these ideas.