Do you have a little one who is expressing interest in school? Maybe your firstborn is nearing school age, and you want to start homeschooling preschool. In either of these situations, you may be asking yourself, how can I find the best preschool homeschool curriculum? Well, the answer is that it depends a lot on your style, the amount of time you have, and your budget. Read on for why you might want a preschool curriculum and some specifics about choosing a preschool homeschool curriculum.
Do you need a preschool curriculum?
Before we discuss how to find the best preschool curriculum for your needs, we should first ask whether you need one at all. You may not need a preschool curriculum if you have only one child and a lot of time to dedicate to preparing activities for him or her. You may not need a curriculum if you have early childhood education experience. However, if you are homeschooling multiple children or you have younger children to care for at the same time, a curriculum will be helpful. Keep in mind that there are no state requirements for preschool, so if you choose to use a curriculum at all, you are free to choose whichever one best meets your needs and that of your child . if you choose to use one at all
Benefits of Homeschooling Preschool with a Curriculum
Using a great preschool curriculum will ensure that you include all of the skills your child needs to be ready to start kindergarten. It will also reduce the time it takes to prepare the activities for your child each day. If you’re wondering what to look for in a curriculum, check out some tips for choosing a curriculum.
What to Look for in a Preschool Curriculum
1. Focus on Play
If preschool is not fun for your child, you might be doing more harm than good by teaching children that learning is boring or tedious. A curriculum with a focus on play will keep your child engaged much longer than a lot of worksheets. Look for multi-sensory activities that engage the whole body as well as fun worksheets that include writing and play. Preschool students learn best by exploring their environment, outside and inside. Make sure the curriculum is flexible enough to follow your child’s interests.
2. Pre-literacy Skills
A preschool curriculum should include plenty of reading time so students learn pre-literacy skills. Reading to children helps them see that words on a page have meaning. They will also learn that books always proceed from left to right. Children who are exposed to plenty of book reading are learning to listen, and they are developing their vocabulary beyond what they encounter in their everyday environment. Preschool curricula should introduce capital letters, lower case letters, and individual letter sounds (beginning phonemic awareness). If your child does not remember all of the letters and sounds right away, you shouldn’t be concerned. Your child will hear it a second time in kindergarten and the review will solidify the letters and sounds your child unsure about. The curriculum should tell you how to help your child with tips to remember tricky letters that look alike, such as b and d, or p and q.
3. Math Skills
The best preschool curriculum should also include early mathematics skills. Preschoolers should become familiar with numbers (both numerals and dot patterns) and counting. In my daughter’s preschool they counted every single day of school and had a big celebration when they reached 100. I think 100 is still her favorite number. Basic shapes and sorting and grouping objects are also commonly included in preschool curricula. Problem-solving skills are also valuable at this stage.
4. Motor Skills
Preschoolers should be working on developing their motor skills. Both fine and gross motor skills are important at this stage. Develop fine motor skills with activities like writing, tracing lines or letters, coloring, cutting, and using manipulatives. Gross motor skills include running, jumping, hopping and other whole body activities. Make sure to include gross motor skills that require children to cross the midline of their bodies. These activities, which involve reaching a hand or foot over to the opposite side of the body, are important for developing coordination between both sides of the brain and body.
5. Other Necessary Skills
Preschoolers will need other skills beyond literacy, math, and motor skills. They should be learning social and emotional skills, like how to take turns, share, transition between activities, and cooperate with others. If you have an only child, developing those skills takes more time with you unless you can find a homeschool co-op where your child can participate with other children. Many preschool curricula will introduce the calendar including days of the week, months of the year, and seasons and weather patterns. Children should spend time in nature, learning about insects, plants, and how fruits and vegetables contribute to our nutritional needs. They should learn colors, and participate in artistic activities. They also need to know their body parts and how to take care of their bodies with personal hygiene and how to keep from spreading germs. If you find a curriculum that includes all of these skills, you will not need to spend time developing them separately.
The BJU Press curriculum starts with a biblical worldview. The Bible is the foundation for all that we learn and teach. Worldview may not seem as important to you at this stage, but incorporating biblical principles into education from a young age can have lasting positive effects. Preschool curricula are not typically written with a secular worldview, but some may be. If you do not want to undo what your curriculum is teaching, choose one that matches your worldview.
7. A Good Fit for Your Child
The curriculum that will work best will ultimately be the one that keeps your child interested and is at the right developmental level. It should be adaptable to various needs and interests as well. If your child is not enjoying preschool, try taking a more playful approach to the curriculum you chose before you go looking for another. Remember that children do most of their learning as they explore their environment through play. Pay attention to what your child shows interest in and do more of those activities. Take the curriculum at your child’s pace. With no state requirements for preschool, you are free to do whatever works for your child. The best evidence of readiness for kindergarten is a child who wants to learn!
8. A Good Fit for You
The curriculum needs to provide enough guidance for you to be confident in teaching your child the necessary skills. It also needs to be flexible enough to fit your schedule if you are working, homeschooling other children, or have younger children to care for. If you need your child to work independently because you have a lot going on, some online programs can be really helpful. ABC Mouse and Teach Your Monster to Read are some of the apps that you can use. Remember to limit screen time for very young children, and promote imaginative play as much as possible. Try to make sure they spend at least an hour outdoors each day, if you can, honing those gross motor skills, whether or not it’s part of your curriculum.
The Best Homeschool Curriculum for 3-year-olds vs. 4-year-olds
The best curriculum for 3-year-olds may not be the same as the best curriculum for 4-year-olds. At these different developmental stages, children have different needs. If you are starting preschool with a 3-year-old, your schedule should be light and include as much play and multisensory activities as possible. Sensory bins are a great option for keeping the little ones busy.
Highlights of the BJU Press Preschool Curriculum
The BJU Press Preschool Curriculum offers several options to meet your needs. Each option is a full-year multi-sensory learning curriculum.
Pathways for Preschool is a curriculum designed for three-year-olds, but may also work for some two-year-olds who express readiness. It includes a teacher’s edition, activity packet, and a CD which you can copy to another device so you’ll have the songs readily available on your favorite listening device.
Footsteps for Fours is a preschool curriculum designed for four-year-olds. It includes enough material for a full day of preschool, five days a week, so as a homeschooler, you would be able to choose which activities you want to do, or possibly use the curriculum for more than one year. In some cases more than one year of preschool will be the best option for your child.
K4 Online with Books is a full-service video curriculum taught by two BJU Press video course instructors. The 60-minute lessons prepare children to complete the activities included. If you are especially busy with other obligations, this could be your best option. Remember to limit screen time for very young children and supplement this curriculum with multisensory activities and outdoor play.
• • • • •Valerie is a wife and a mother to a very busy preschooler. In her free time she enjoys reading all kinds of books. She earned a B.S. in Biology from Bob Jones University, minoring in Mathematics, and a Ph.D. in Molecular Genetics from Ohio State University. Valerie has 15 years of experience working in research laboratories and has coauthored 8 original research articles. She has also taught several classes and laboratories at the high school and college levels. She currently works as a Data Analyst and a freelance writer.