My sister-in-law recently came to me asking for advice about doing preschool at home. Due to covid they have made the decision to not send their daughter back to preschool/TK, yet still want her to continue learning and be prepared for when she goes to Kindergarten. As I started to put together a list for her I thought there are so many other families out there in this same situation and at a loss of what to do or where to start. So I thought I would compile my list of what they should know, favorite resources, and experiences into a quick crash course to share with everyone.
I am by no means an expert, and you do not have to use anything I suggest, I just hope to help you as best I can. I have done hours of research and tried many different things. We have done preschool with 2 of my children now and this is what has worked the best for us. My daughter eased into Kindergarten easily and loves learning. My son is right behind her doing TK with me this year. I hope this finds your family well in figuring out where to start and what works best for your child.
So to start here are some things I have found they should know before they start Kindergarten:
- Their name and age.
- How to write their name.
- Know their alphabet letters- uppercase & lowercase.
- Know some (if not all) their letter sounds.
- Pre-writing (tracing) and correct pencil grip.
- Cut with scissors & use a glue stick.
- Count & identify their numbers 1-10.
- Identify colors.
- Identify basic shapes (circle, square, triangle, rectangle, diamond.)
- Positional concepts (in front of, behind, next to, etc.)
- Size order (big, medium, small.)
- Simple patterns.
My biggest TIPS for teaching these skills are: repetition is key, play lots of games, and use your child’s interests.
-For learning new skills, especially in younger children, repetition is so important. Practicing the same thing over and over makes it easier to remember. This does not mean drilling them over and over, but could be learning the same concept in a number of different ways. For example check out all the different ways you can teach them to recognize & write their own name on my blog post HERE.
-Playing games definitely keeps preschoolers engaged. You could turn anything into a game. You do not have to spend a lot of money buying tons of board games, just use what you have in your home. For example, a great way to learn their colors is cut out different colored circles from construction paper. Lay them all around the room and enjoy sitting down while you call out a color and have them hop to the correct one. We play this simple game to also learn letters and numbers (write the letters/numbers on the circles.) You can also use masking tape to create big shapes on the floor and have them cover the edges in cars, legos, or other toys. Again, call out a shape and have them run and stand in the center of the correct one. Write numbers or letters on index cards and hide them around the room. Have them find the cards, bring it to you and tell you what it is. Play simple games together to keep learning fun and stress free.
-My final tip is use your child’s interests whenever you can! My son loves cars and trains so we will get them all out and count them, sort them by color, or put dot stickers on them with alphabet letters and match them on a piece of poster board. My daughter loves princesses so I found a fun preschool learning pack for her to do (website listed below.) Using what is interesting and exciting to them keeps them interested and engaged, not even realizing they are learning.
Doing preschool together at home does not take a lot. It does not have to be complicated, difficult, or stressful. Just 15 minutes a day is really all it takes (that’s all their attention span can really hold anyway.) Creating a designated time every day to do activities together also sets a great routine and something to look forward to, especially during these days of being stuck at home more often. You could plan to everyday mid morning sit down together with a snack and do a lesson. Or moms with babies, when they go down for their nap make it a priority to do a lesson or game together. Spending this time together is greatly rewarding in the end.
Here are my go to RESOURCES to help in teaching these new skills and concepts to your child at home.
1. The Good and The Beautiful Language Arts PreK Curriculum– This is my favorite go to curriculum and “one stop shop” that will teach almost all of the things I listed above. It is listed as a Language Arts curriculum, but teaches colors, shapes, counting, cutting, pasting, and more. The lessons are open and go, quick and simple, and take no more than 10-15 minutes. It comes with engaging games and alphabet flip books that both my children have loved. If you were just to use this set for preschool and nothing else, you be just fine. It is also very inexpensive at only $35 for the whole set. (After using this, I recommend using the K Primer book next.)
2. Learning their name- See my past blog post 9 Ways to Learn Their Name for lots of different and simple ways to teach them to write & recognize their name.
3. Bitty Beginnings– This shop has lots of fun resources, but I highly recommend the Letter, Number, & Shape Tracing Set as well as the Numbers 1-10 Activity Set. Print these and stick them in a dry erase pouch with dry erase markers to be used over and over. They seem very simple, but I use them in a number of ways as well as tracing. You can call out a number, shape, or letter and have them find it and trace, cover it with a sticker, small snack or favorite toy (making it a game!)
4. Let’s Play School Monthly Book Club Subscription Box– If you are looking to also add some fun resources into your days, that is already planned and prepared for you, this monthly subscription box is great! Each month you are sent a themed box containing a new picture book, 6 different learning activities, and extra ideas for board games, recipes, or related books that go with the theme. These activities are already printed and laminated for you (you might just have to cut a few things out before playing.) You can look more into the details and all the skills/learning activities they cover HERE.
5. The Moffatt Girls PreK No Prep Packs– These packs are great for just print and go! Not all kids enjoy worksheets so it depends on your child, but they are fun and hands on.
6. Beginning Sounds- Both of my kids, but my son especially, learn best when being repetitive and playing games together. I have a whole post on Beginning Sounds Games we love to play.
7. These are my go to websites to find FREE resources for preschool.
—Totschooling.net: This website has TONS of free themed preschool learning packs, especially great ones for the holidays. At the top of the website click on themes or seasonal to find the entire list.
—Overthebigmoon.com: You can find learning packs for your child’s favorite cartoon or movie at this website as well as holidays. This is where I found the Disney Frozen Pack for my daughter, or the Super Hero or Toy Story pack for my son. Seeing their favorite characters gets them so excited and more likely to want to do all the activities. (On the home page, click printables, and then prek packs to find them.)
I hope this helps you find a place to start and give you an idea of good goals for your child for the preschool years. Do not feel overwhelmed or feel incapable to teach because you are not a “teacher.” Everyone is capable to teach their own children. You know your children best and the best way to engage them, encourage them, and love them. I know it may seem daunting, but take it day by day. Nothing is set in stone, you can change anything at anytime. Use these precious years together to cultivate a love for learning and being together.