A lot of homesteaders I know are also homeschoolers.
It might be because many rural homesteads are too far from good schools, schedules don’t fit well with taking care of farming chores or they believe that their kids will benefit from an untraditional learning style just as they are benefiting from an untraditional (or traditional?) lifestyle.
Because I work from home I decided to do homeschool preschool.
Homeschooling preschool is totally different than homeschooling K-12. Kids don’t need preschool. If you’re a more laid back kind of person and are happy to just let your kiddos roam and explore and play for their preschool years they will benefit immensely.
If it’s something you are comfortable with then, good, you’re done with your curriculum!
But, if you’re a type-A kind of person (like me) you may want to have a little more structure to your homeschool preschool days. Another reason I prefer to have a plan in place is that without a plan life gets in the way and we don’t make an effort to do stuff, like go to the library, museum or park.
This post and the ones in the future (sign up for my newsletter so you don’t miss any!) are going to show how I implement an unschooling style preschool for my daughter.
There are many ways you can set up a homeschool preschool. With September almost upon us, here are some tips for getting started.
Decide what style of homeschool preschool you want
Charlotte Mason? Classical? Unschooling? Montessori? A combination of any or all?
I already knew that studies show play based preschool curriculum is much more beneficial to children than structured, academic preschool, (meaning kids benefit from learning about colors from playing with play dough rather than from doing worksheets or listening to a lecture).
I also want to instill in her a love of learning much more than I want her to know any one piece of information, so, play-based preschool was definitely the direction I wanted to go.
After a lot of back and forth I decide that, even though a planned curriculum would be best for me (since I like order, checklists, etc) an unschooling, child led approach would be best for OG (see what our unschooling preschool looks like here).
Decide on a homeschool preschool schedule
Many parents follow the public school schedule, others school all year round (with more breaks).
I decided it makes the most sense for us to follow (loosely) the public school schedule because the summer is a time when we are extra busy growing and preserving fruits and vegetables, taking hikes, visiting parks and playgrounds, swimming, etc.
That doesn’t mean we aren’t learning in the summer, we are, it’s just that the learning opportunities come much more naturally since we try to capitalize on the short summer we have here in New Hampshire and we get outside as much as possible.
It’s the winter that we need more structure and planning to keep from twiddling our thumbs.
As far as time of day, I am a morning person and I have very little energy by 5pm… ok 3pm, so a morning schedule works for me.
To figure out what schedule is best for your family ask yourself these questions:
- Is the summer a time when you can get outside or is it too hot?
- Do you have older children in public school?
- Do you work outside the home?
- Do you need to take time off during the year for holidays or vacations that don’t fall in line with public school schedules?
We have a lot of flexibility with schedules because there are no legal requirements for preschool and our style is to “do” preschool by “doing” life so it happens whenever and wherever.
But, I do like to have a general schedule laid out so that I can just keep myself ahead of whatever is going to be coming up and make sure I have time to do the really fun seasonal things that often get skipped when we are busy with life.
Choose your preschool curriculum
There is so much good preschool curriculum available, some for free and some paid. There are also many sites with tons of preschool activities so you can build your own. Here are a few of the resources I used to get started.
Free homeschool preschool curriculum resources
Teach Beside Me has a very thorough list of free preschool curriculum sources.
Teachers pay Teachers has lots of printables, many of them free.
Montessori Print Shop has many free printables as well.
Living Montessori Now has many ideas for hands on learning and often you can make them with basic supplies.
Obviously unschooling doesn’t follow a set curriculum (or it wouldn’t be unschooling) but you don’t have to be totally hands off either. Unschooling is about following your child’s lead and offering opportunities to explore and learn which means you have to be fairly organized (or quick on your feet!).
On the other hand, learning happens all. the. time. Really, you almost can’t get away from it. So our unschooling homeschool preschool plan is a combination of the two.
We have some planned activities (like this melted crayon activity) to expose OG to new ideas and concepts, we implement montessori style activities at home and we allow lots of unstructured play time.
Organize your Materials
Since we’re going the unschooling route I don’t have a ton of materials to organize. We have basic supplies: paper, crayons, markers, pom poms, glue, construction paper, building materials, etc.
We also have montessori style tray activities which I’ll go more into in another post.
So that’s the basics of getting started. Stay tuned for our daily schedule, our homeschool preschool curriculum plan, activity ideas and more!