As soon as my daughter turned three, other parents were asking me about my plans for preschool. The idea of sending my little one to preschool just didn’t sit well with me for a few different reasons. I ended up doing preschool from home, and it was the best decision for my family.
I’m sharing my journey, for those who are looking for something similar. Post contains affiliate links to Amazon.
Why Homeschool Preschool?
Let me start off by saying there is nothing wrong with preschool or daycare. I think there are many amazing schools out there, and I know many mamas have loved them. When my daughter turned three, I had just welcomed my second baby. The thought of preschool drop-off and pick-up seemed more exhausting and interruptive of the baby’s nap schedule.
Preschool is expensive – anywhere from $500-700 a month in my city. Whenever I shared this with other moms, they were quick to point me to low-cost government programs. It was sweet of them, but the problem wasn’t that we didn’t have the money, it was I was too cheap to spend the money. It made more sense for me to hire a babysitter who would watch both kids so I could work rather than pay a preschool to watch one of my kids.
Finally, I knew I wanted to homeschool for kindergarten, so I thought it was more logical to start with preschool since I was staying home anyway.
The problem with homeschool preschool or DIY preschool is that it doesn’t seem widely accepted. On Pinterest, I either came up empty-handed or bombarded with pictures and ideas from parents who were amazing in the teacher department. There wasn’t a lot targeted towards the lazy/busy work at home mama.
Are you in the same boat as me? Here’s what I did.
Preschool for Two and Three-Year-Olds
These two ages are all about playing and getting excited about learning. I didn’t do anything structured at this age for my first daughter and am doing the same plan with my second daughter, now that she is two. We read a lot of books, played a lot of imaginative play and tried to play easy board games. Crafts and baking activities were super simple. I just tried to do a little something every day and had no expectations.
Favorite, Simple Activities
- Make cookies or brownies from a mix or scratch
- Sprinkle cinnamon on an apple and wrap it in foil to put in the oven
- Use dabbers for art time
- Paint rocks
- Paint with water outside
- Play with stamps
- Reusable stickers on the glass door/window
- Go for walks and collect leaves, sticks, flowers, and pinecones
- Practice pouring and setting table with tea parties
- Go to Barnes and Noble story time to practice sitting still
- Visit the library for free activities and to pick out books/practice proper book handling
- Listen to fun nursery songs or educational songs in the car
- Play play dough
We did lots of reading. I just read as much as my preschooler would want to listen. Some days this was 30-45 minutes of reading in a row (talk about exhausting haha), and other days it was one story in the morning and one story at night.
If your child isn’t interested in books, just keep trying. Don’t be afraid to abandon books that they don’t love, even if you are mid-sentence. Try reading while they are eating a meal for a better captive audience. If you enjoy reading the book, then they will eventually enjoy reading with you. I try to read to the rhythm of the text, and excitedly, even if I want to poke my eyes out because I’m reading the same book for the fifth time in a row. Kids need repetition at this age, so don’t grow discouraged if you have to read the same book ten times in a row.
Here’s a list of books we read a gazillion times during 2-3:
- Seuss ABC’s book by Dr. Seuss
- Brown Can Moo, Can You by Dr. Seuss
- Hand, Hand, Fingers, Thumb by Al Perkins
- Go, Dog, Go by P.D. Eastman
- The Boy on the Bus by Penny Dale
These are easy-to-grasp games that many two and three-year-olds will love. They are fast-paced, which is a win for me. The Sneaky Squirrel Shelby’s Snack Shack game include a squirrel/dog that grabs nuts/bones. This helps strengthen your child’s fine motor skills and gets them ready for cutting and handwriting.
- Shelby’s Snack Shack Game
- Sneaky Squirrel Game
- Richard Scarry’s Busytown Game
- Busy, Busy Airport Game
- Candy Land Game
I’m not going to pretend that we only watched educational shows, but I did try to put on the LeapFrog series on Netflix often. However, these two shows aren’t on Netflix and had the greatest impact on my daughter.
Tips for the Busy Mama
Whether you are a busy mama, work at home mama, lazy mama, or a combination of all three like me, here are my tips for incorporating preschool at home.
- Keep your plans flexible. As a WAHM, sometimes you have an all-nighter and other times you have a strict deadline. Don’t think that you have to conduct a full six-hour preschool class in your home.
- Remember everything is a learning opportunity. Getting dressed, doing laundry, going grocery shopping, going to the car wash – everything that seems like a mundane chore to you is a great learning opportunity to them. Learn food names at the store, learn to count when folding clothes, learn colors when getting dressed, etc.
- Define your goals at the beginning of the year. I have had great success with setting flexible goals for my children each year. Think of five to 10 things you want your child to master by the time they reach the next age and practice them. For example, my goals for my two-year-old are potty training, learning to dress herself, colors, shapes, correct letter name and sound identification, and counting to 10. These goals are really for me, not her. They help me stay reminded that I need to be more intentional about learning opportunities –i.e. counting her buttons when she gets dressed. If she hits three and has only accomplished three of the things on the list, that’s okay! Having the goals shows me what progress is made, and it helps me reset my goals for the next year.
- Think of activities in 10-minute increments. Most of the activities I listed above can be done in 10-minutes or less. When you are busy, try fitting one or two of these activities in your free spots of the day. The same goes for reading out loud. Don’t try to conquer an hour reading time. Instead, just make a goal of 10-minutes or two books and work your way up from there.
The most important thing to remember when doing preschool at age two and three is just to have fun. If your child hits the age of four and doesn’t know his alphabet, numbers, or colors, who cares? He will learn them quickly enough. Focus more on enjoying your time together, making memories, and training them in manner twos and threes need to conquer (i.e. sitting still for a longer period, saying “please” and “thank you,” staying by your side in a public place, being a good listener and helper).
I have some great tips for preschool at the four-year-old level, which will be published Friday. Come back to see how I did homeschool preschool on a busy WAHM schedule.