Preschool is one of my favorite ages to teach. The love of learning is so strong. Everything is so exciting and fun for this age. With my own preschoolers, my goal was to be sure not to squelch but enhance that God-given love of learning.
I do believe a schedule benefits children by building in them a sense of security. For this reason, I scheduled times to work with my preschoolers so they knew what to expect and what was expected of them.
Keeping them Occupied:
I found early on that to a large degree, my success in home schooling many ages at one time was dependent on how I managed my preschoolers. Preschool children have the potential of being a major distraction to the learning environment and must be handled wisely.
I would spend time with my preschoolers early, before I started homeschooling the older kids each day, just a few minutes, reading ,cuddling, etc. Then, at snack time again, they knew they would have a few minutes of Mom’s attention and again after school it would be time to read together again. If they know they have times to count on your attention, they aren’t as likely to want it non-stop while you’re working with the older kids. Older kids need to expect a little noise from little ones, but little guys need to be trained to use “school time voices” during school time.
I would prepare, in advance to the beginning of the school year, either a box or special storage place for a multitude of fun learning activities especially for my preschooler. The goal was to have MANY activities ready and waiting to be changed as the need occurred. You want to change activities before they tire of the one they are doing. That way, they look with anticipation to using it again another day! Of course, I would buy special drawing pads, markers, crayons, Bible coloring books. These activities I would let them use ONLY during “school time”, not the rest of the day. (Our school day ran about 2-3 hr per day for all of our children). A very simple activity my little ones enjoyed was gluing shapes onto construction paper and making up their own creations. I would cut up a box of brightly colored shapes from construction paper and let them use a glue stick to attach it to their paper. They loved this!
Another favorite activity that held their attention was simply playdough. I supplied molds of farm animals, people and food, plastic knives, rolling pins, cookie cutters, some ABC cookie cutters as well as animals, biscuit cutter, and so on. Many of the children would be occupied for a good length of time. The mess to clean up was worth it to me! Here’s a list of more ideas for keeping preschoolers busy during school time
We found that often the older children would want to do the fun things the younger kids were doing, but this is great. Use it as motivation for them to finish their schoolwork in a timely manner.
The key to when to begin structured learning varies with each individual child, but generally when they express a desire to “do school” is when we would begin- this was usually around the age of 3-5 years old. If you’re not sure if your child is ready, try a small amount and see how they respond to it. If they are not ready, wait a little longer. But, if that eagerness was there, that was my cue.
In addition to workbooks that taught letters or numbers and other basic preschool skills, the following were always included in my preschooler’s learning time:
Instruction in Bible doctrine: We tend to underestimate the ability of little children to understand the truths of Scripture. Some of the resources I used to use are out of print, but Leading Little Ones to God is still in print and I used it with ALL my children. The readings are brief, but powerful and accumulate over time to build a wonderful base.
Character Training: This is key. A child can’t learn to develop character in his life if he doesn’t understand what that is. Character Concepts for Preschoolers is a resource I created for preschoolers based on the way I taught my own preschoolers.
Bible Story- be sure to use a great Bible story book to walk your child through the stories of Scripture in an orderly fashion.
Scripture Memory- We begin with our 2-3 year-olds, teaching them Scriptures to address the character needs they have. (Learning Character with the Cousins and Learning the Word from A to Z are nice for starters)
Scripture Saturation of the Home- when my oldest kids were my youngest kids, I asked God to show me ways to implement Deuteronomy 6, making my home a place saturated with Scripture. I made a project out of putting the Word of God before the eyes of my children in simple, but effective ways to encourage them to hide it in their hearts. Years later, people asked us to share those projects, and the result of that was the book, Fun Projects for Hands-on Character Building. It has hundreds of projects, but remember, we only did one at a time and once a project was created, it could be used over and over again! Somehow, just be sure Scripture is a priority and not an after thought in your plan for your child training!! Kids need to be taught a DAILY awareness of God.
Above all, remember, even though life often seems overwhelming right now, time is passing- time you will not be able to regain. Your children are growing older every day. Learn to number your days so your children will be able to present to God a heart of wisdom. Keep your goals in focus. Expect bad days, but good days too, and learn not to stress. Rest in God and His guidance in your life as you point your little ones to Him. LOVE your kids, teach them to LOVE and serve God and remember to make time to enjoy life with your little guys. Seek God and His righteousness and all these things will be added unto you. That includes the specifics of your home schooling plan for all your children.It’s all about HIM!!