In my fifteen years of homeschooling, my biggest challenge has always been keeping the toddlers and preschoolers busy while I homeschooled the older children. If you have more than one child, you can relate but may still need help learning what to do with this sweet children.
My solution was preschool at home.
Please do not think that I mean you need to carve out more time in your day to educate one more child, because I don't mean that at all. What I mean is prepare for activities that will keep them busy for 15 minutes at a time, while you work with your older children. This has been crucial for my younger two boys, who are much younger than my older two (Literally 6 years between my second and third child, and 7 1/2 years from my third to my fourth).
What child do you know that doesn't want to be just like their older sibling? Tapping into this natural desire, while being creative in your preparing for preschool at home will be the best time you have ever spent in planning for your school year. Trust me!
7 Ways to Prepare for Preschool at Home
- Organize Toys in Bins – This has been something that I have done for over 12 years and it is the best way to stay on top of the children's things. However, the benefit of short lessons and focused toys has been key to our homeschooling with toddlers and preschoolers. While I'm working on a short lesson with my children, I can pull down the animal bin and creative play normally last during that time. I can train my young child to pick up toys, as the older children work independently for the next short lesson. Before I start the next time with my older children, I can help my youngest pull out the next toy bin of his interest. This really works!
- Create a Learning Center for Learning Boxes – I love creating learning boxes for my preschool ages. He loves it when I say it is time for a learning activity; often times he ask to do an activity in the evening with me. Having all my learning boxes in one center helps me to stay organized and easy to do in a no time, since the learning box is already created.
- Purchase Age Appropriate Puzzles – I love Melissa & Doug puzzles for preschool ages. My children has always worked on puzzles, but my youngest started before he was one because he demonstrated excellent hand eye coordination. Puzzles are great for analytical thinking and matching. Investing in puzzles that are easy enough for a toddler or preschooler to do on their own is key. Visit your local library to see how your children do with the different puzzles and then look at yard sales and used sales.
- Purchase Art Supplies – Age appropriate art supplies is so important for little ones! I love having all of my supplies in one local area and I encourage my preschooler to be creative often. Some of these items include: Play Doh and tools; beginners scissors with paper; pipe cleaners and beads; journal and coloring pencils and paint.
- Create a List of Habits to Build – I love the Charlotte Mason way for this very focus of building habits in children as part of their education. I love having a list of character I would want my preschool to master during that school year, like: first time obedience; attentiveness; forgiveness; tidiness; helpfulness; independent playing. Having a list of what I desire for my preschooler is my way of staying focused during the year, not making him feel like he is a disruption to our homeschooling, but that he has his lessons to learn as well.
- Create a List of Skills to Master – I love to have my children know what they have learned in one year and take the time to celebrate their accomplishments. My preschoolers start the year with a list of skills they need to master by working on through the year, some of them are: making their bed, taking care of dirty clothes, setting the table, taking care of the pet, keeping their toys in their place; riding their bike, learning the alphabet and numbers, memorizing scriptures for character.
- Create a List of Educational Shows, Websites and Apps – For those time, when I need a little more than 15 minutes to cover a lesson with my older children, I fall back on educational shows, websites and apps for the Kindle Fire. I know that with these things, my preschooler is learning something good, and I have the 30 minutes I need to work with a child that needs my full attention.
In the end, my preschooler feels as though they are being schooled and just as important as the older children. They are learning important things perfect for their age. It creates the atmosphere of education that I desire for our home and in the end, my little guy is happier for the time I put into preparing for preschool at home.