I consider all the years until Kindergarten to be preschool; because that’s what they are PRE-school. So from ages 2 – 5 it’s all just about letting your kids be happy and learning. What exactly your child “needs” to know before Kindergarten will vary greatly with each family. Some families want their child basically reading by 5 years old and others are happy if their 5 year old can say the alphabet. It really all comes down to how equipped you want them to be before entering Kindergarten. Kindergarten is the first real grade and thus that is where all kids will really start their actual education. It’s technically in Kindergarten where kids will learn their letters, numbers, etc. Of course, I think most of us, parents want are kids to be “ahead of the game” and that’s fine…so long as your kid is willing and ready to learn.I can’t give you a perfect working formula for preschool because the whole concept of homeschooling is that it can be tailored to each family and individual. I can however tell you what we do and expect in our family and maybe you can benefit from that.
What I expect MY kids to know before starting Kindergarten
ABC’s and their sounds (sounds and sounding out simple words usually happens the summer before Kindergarten)
Write their name
Write letters and numbers
Shapes, Colors, etc
How we go about teaching Preschool
The first few years (roughly 2-3), we’d just sit down with alphabet puzzles, watch a number video, or playing our version of I Spy. It was all every day playing and was never actual school. This I think is very helpful for most kids. Some kids, especially when this young do not respond well to actual lessons and it’s easier for them to learn through play. Now is also a great time to start “unschooling”. The general idea of unschooling is learning through what interests your child or learning through everyday life. For instance, if I’m on a walk with my kids we’d talk about the weather and the other types of weather the day could have been. I might mention that today is Tuesday and then we learn the days of the week. Some times we just decide to play a game we call “Name 5 Things”. I’ll choose a topic and ask the kids to name 5 of them for instance name 5 vegetables. My kids think it’s a fun game and they are learning at the same time. Although be warned that once you start, your kids may never let you take a walk, wait in the car, etc without begging to play those games. I’d say be the time my kids hit 4 years old they know most of the above listed stuff but not all of it and not perfectly.
During the year before Kindergarten (roughly 4 years old), I get some sort of curriculum or workbook. This is mostly for my ease of mind as well as to gently prep them for the actual lessons they will begin the following year in Kindergarten. One year, I just picked up one of those big workbooks that you can get pretty much anywhere during the summer (like this one although I may have used the Kindergarten version as sometimes the Preschool ones can be too easy.) There are also lots of curriculum that you can get online such as the Letter of the Week curriculum.
During this same year (the one right before Kindergarten), we also have our kids go through Progressive Phonic’s Alphabetti books. Progressive Phonics says you can use these books to teach your child the alphabet and how to read all together but we’ve always had the kids know their alphabet and sounds before starting the Alphabetti series. The Alphabetti series is set of books (free and online) that start out with the easiest of phonics “rules”. In the series, kids learn simple consonant-vowel-consonant words, like “dog”. We have rather high reading standards for our kids apparently (we didn’t plan on this, it just happened as that’s what my firstborn was ready for) and so this series maybe more advance than most families would like their 4 year old to work through.
As I mentioned, when it comes to anything in the homeschool world, I don’t feel like I can give you a complete guide for teaching your child. Each family and each child will vary greatly. I hope by showing you what my family does that you have been given some ideas for when your little one starts preschool.
I talked about what MY family does for preschool but I’d love to hear about what YOU use! What are somethings YOU use or do to help your little one prepare for Kindergarten?