I recently wrote about how we got started with homeschool preschool so today I wanted to share our unschooling preschool curriculum.
Since I started writing this series our preschool curriculum and schedule has changed a little bit. In fact I think it was the day the last post went live that we decided we needed some childcare. Go figure!
So, OG is now going to preschool 2 days a week so that I can get my work done and also have a day or two off with my family.
But that doesn’t mean we aren’t still homeschooling. I’ve found that many families use public school to supplement their homeschooling. In our case it’s purely a childcare arrangement that she’s going “to” school and we still consider life to be the best classroom (especially in the early years).
That being said, let’s talk about preschool curriculum. Since we have chosen an unschooling approach to learning we don’t have a set curriculum.
What we do is offer experiences and learning opportunities and follow our kids’ lead but I like to have a plan for all of that and I’m going to call it our preschool curriculum.
How I Plan Our Homeschool Preschool Curriculum
I like to have a basic plan in place for our preschool curriculum, not because I don’t think OG will learn everything she needs to without formal preschool (she will), but because it helps me to be present in her learning, which is a good skill for me to practice too.
Here is how I do it.
I Ask (or Notice) What Topics OG is Interested In
The last time I asked, OG said she was interested in school buses, cowboys, farming, and being a mommy.
I also notice that she has been interested in playing school (probably because she’s started going to school) and generally into pretend play and nature.
I plan our curriculum around these topics while leaving plenty of space for free exploration. So I choose one or two themes for each month and fill in with OG’s current interests.
When I have a few themes I brainstorm activities, field trips, Montessori trays, etc that fit in that theme and will help OG learn different skills. More on this below.
We Plan Family Trips
We go for a hike or walk just about every week. It’s a good chance to get exercise and be in nature. I try to stop and show OG anything interesting that I see, a caterpillar, a pretty rock, a hole, etc.
As for formal trips- I try to plan at least one trip a month to some sort of museum, fair, or family event. Recently we borrowed a pass from the library for Billings Farm, a local historical, but still functioning, farm.
They offer milking demonstrations, historical farm house tours, a walking trail around the livestock fields, etc. This trip was right up her ally and she loved it.
We don’t seek out trips that are only things OG is already interested in though. I believe it’s my job to expose her to things she may not choose for herself but may enjoy.
And sometimes it’s just that something sounds fun. Unschooling is really just finding opportunities for learning in everyday life.
Some other things we plan for our preschool curriculum:
- Apple picking
- Pumpkin picking (at my parents house)
- Annual Fair
- local family friendly events
Just about any activity can be educational. Be creative. A huge part of a preschoolers education is emotional and social so play dates or learning how to be patient at an event are great learning experiences.
We use FREE Online Resources for Preschool Curriculum
I don’t believe that worksheets or printable are necessary or even beneficial at this age (and maybe not any age?) but sometimes it’s nice to tie a quiet activity to something else we’re doing.
If she’s restless and a printable gets her happy to sit down and color then it can help the day go more smoothly and give me and Matt a break.
I recently printed out a nature journal for OG to fill in. I quickly realized that the journal didn’t matter as much as putting “investigating nature” into OG’s mind.
She used the nature journal how she felt like (i.e. “wrong”) but we got to talk a lot about what kinds of things we notice in nature which was the real reason behind the journal anyway. (More about my favorite FREE online resources in an upcoming post.)
We Use the Library
Story time is a great free resource for homeschooling preschool. If you can find a good one, where the librarian is open to kids asking questions and talking about what they are hearing/reading then it’s a great chance for early reading skills.
Now that OG is in school on Wednesday we don’t go to the local story time but we still borrow books from the library. I try to be prepared with some specific books I want to get out.
I’ll look at our “curriculum” and search for books that might fit a subject that we are interested in.
When we go to the library I pick out the books I think are OG will like and I let her pick out some for herself.
For some of the books she likes best I will go online and search for matching activities or come up with one myself, I try to make these as open ended as possible.
We Arrange Our Environment to Facilitate Learning and Exploring
I strive to keep an orderly space. I like toys to be grouped together in a way that makes sense rather than large boxes of random toys.
I try to rotate toys so that they are not all available at once (which is distracting and not conducive to learning). Too many toys can truly be a nuisance.
I try to create a YES space for both of my children, the reason being that I want them to learn how to explore uninterrupted. Spending time saying, “No, don’t touch that” is frustrating for everyone.
That being said, I am not perfect. Our shelves currently look like a tornado hit. I try to spend time each week organizing them but it gets exhausting, so I do what I can. The important thing is that I try to be intentional about our space.
If you take a look at the toys you already have you probably have something for every subject area. Blocks for spacial awareness, art supplies for creative expression, manipulative for math, outdoor play for science, etc.
Organize the toys into centers if you like or use Montessori style trays to display different materials. This is how we make sure OG has access to materials for all subjects which fills in any “holes” we may be missing. (More about Montessori tray in another post.)
Planning Our Unschooling Preschool Curriculum
This is what our unschooling preschool curriculum looked like for September. We definitely didn’t get to everything and that’s ok.
I hope it gives you some ideas about how you can make learning part of each day and I hope it also shows you that you’re probably already do lots of learning!
Remember these activities are supplemental to things we are already doing. We always have drawing, painting, and gluing as options. We often cook together. We go on nature walks.
We dance to music. We fly kites. That means that each category doesn’t have to be filled in and we may not even do some things.
I just like having a plan to fall back on when everyone is restless. This is what we had planned for September.
Preschool curriculum themes
- School and Buses
- Apple stamps
- Melted crayon animals
- Counting apples, tomatoes
- Colors of apples and tomatoes from garden (which ones are ready to pick?)
- Picking, eating and baking with apples
- How things grow
- Farmers grow apples
- Bus driver, teachers, what do they do? (notice the school bus passing each day)
The key to this style of homeschooling is to be aware. Our preschool curriculum is really just talking about topics that come up in every day life (like gardening, cooking, and things we see daily).
Though I don’t plan out specific lessons for our preschool curriculum, I’m always aware of the themes we are interested in so that when an opportunity arises we can take advantage of it.
It’s not that hard really, and kind of happens on it’s own once I’ve taken the time to organize topics and activity ideas.
When OG gets restless I pull out an activity but otherwise she self directs her play (and learning!).
How do you plan your preschool curriculum?