5 Things I Wish I Knew Before I Started Teaching My Preschooler

If you ask any homeschooling parent how they manage to do it, they are more than happy to give you tips. But one thing we all have in common is that no matter how long we have been doing it, we are still learning things as we go. People are always asking me how long I have been homeschooling or how long I plan to homeschool. I think I have always been homeschooling my children from birth. I mean aren’t all parents teaching their children every day even if it isn’t “intentional”?

So whether you are new to homeschooling and you are ready to start or you have just started this journey then these tips will help you! Here are 5 things that I have learned along the way.

1) You don’t have to follow a curriculum.  

I remember when my friends were all enrolling their children in preschool. My oldest was 2 years old. This is when I really began thinking about how I was going to teach my child. I guess you can say I started to feel pressured into thinking I needed to teach her more things. I started researching all the curriculums trying to find the perfect one. There are so many out there! It really can be overwhelming.

I bought a curriculum and started to work with my daughter. I went through three different curriculums before I realized that there really is no perfect one out there. Instead, I decided to follow my daughter’s interests and go from there. Since then, I have been able to engage and make learning suited specifically for her. Don’t get me wrong, curriculums are great, but you DO NOT need to follow them to a T especially at such a young age. Instead, just follow your child’s interest. That may mean following a curriculum fully, or using only parts of one, or simply piecing together your own activities that you know will interest your child.

2) Teaching doesn’t always have to be while sitting down

When we all think about schooling, we immediately think of children sitting at a desk. So of course, I got my child a small little table for her to do her “schoolwork” at. But let’s be realistic, preschoolers prefer to stand and play and explore. That’s how they learn! I realized that my daughter was learning by helping me cook dinner, and learning by helping me fold laundry, and learning by digging in the garden. I think this is so important for parents to realize!

There are so many ways your child is learning even if they aren’t sitting at a desk. And you can incorporate lessons into all these other activities to teach academic skills like letter and counting. So go ahead, make some muffins with your child and not only will they be learning, but you will connect with your child!

3) Your day won’t always go as planned

In my head I imagined our days to run smoothly with a schedule where my child would have sit down learning time, scheduled outdoor time, peaceful reading time, etc. However, children, just like adults, have their bad days, lazy days, or crazy days. I learned that I needed to follow my child’s lead if I was going to encourage learning.

I made a routine by observing my daughter and taking note of when she was tired, hungry, energetic, focused, etc. After establishing the routine there were still days when we had to forgo the routine and do things differently. And that’s ok! It is impossible to force a preschooler to learn if they just aren’t in the mood.

I also learned that if I plan an activity, it won’t always go as planned because sometimes we would get distracted with something else, or my daughter didn’t want to do it the way I had planned. It’s not about perfection, it’s about having fun while learning!

4) Learning is messy

Have you ever noticed how kids just love to get messy? That is because kids learn through all their senses. When children touch something they are learning how it feels and about cause and effect. Like “Hey, what happens when I put the mud in my hair?” So believe it or not, when your child is making a mess, they are learning!

My family is really big on art and crafts. My children are all budding artists. I remember planning crafts for my daughter when she was young. We’d make letter of the week crafts, toilet paper tube animals, paper plate crafts making sure that she put the googly eyes or pom poms in the correct spot…I know you know what I am talking about.

Well all these are really cute but I realized that these little crafts weren’t really letting my daughter explore and create her own ideas. I started to stray away from those cute crafts and steered more towards art projects that allowed my daughter to create her own ideas. That’s when I noticed that my daughter loved to get messy when she made art. But o did she have fun!

Yes, that toilet paper tube bird is super cute but giving your child the opportunity to make her own bird with a tub of recyclables is so much more exciting. At first the mess was overwhelming but what she could create on her own made it all worthwhile. So grab some toilet paper tubes, feathers, pom poms, string, tissue paper, glue, and paint. Watch and see what your child can create on their own!

5) Take advantage of outside resources

When we first started homeschooling I spent a lot of time planning activities at home for us to do. But I started to explore more ways of teaching my daughter to make it engaging. Learning doesn’t always have to take place at home and it doesn’t have to be expensive.

We started exploring outdoor areas, museums, and parks. There are so many free options available. We would go on a hike and take note of tracks we would see on the ground, or collect insects in our bug catcher. We would go to a nearby wetland and try to catch tadpoles and dragonflies. When we would go home we would read lots of books to answer any questions she had. A few museums even had one day a month that we could go for free. You should research some places to explore in your area that you can take your child to incorporate learning.

One of my favorite things is when we go somewhere and my children explode with questions. Some of them I don’t even know the answers to. I simply tell my children that it’s such a good question that we should write it down in our journal and find out when we get home.

Just remember that teaching your child from home is a journey! What goes well one day may be completely different in a month. I always tell people that I am learning everyday just like my children are. In the end I want to look back and know that I enjoyed my time with my children.

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