Do You Need a Preschool Curriculum?
Choosing a curriculum can seem like a daunting task, but sometimes the task is not even necessary. Before learning about and entering the world of homeschooling, my son attended a public preschool for a few hours each week. I thought that’s what you were “supposed” to do when your child reached a certain age. Sure, he already knew his letters and numbers. He could listen to a story and tell it back to you. He could solve puzzles, and sort objects by color, shape, and size. I thought that was just normal development. Surely, he needed the formal curriculum that preschool provided. It wasn’t until a parent-teacher conference that I began to think differently. According to his skills assessment, my son had already mastered everything required for preschool. I thought it was so strange when the teacher said, “You must have worked with him at home.” I didn’t even understand her statement. I parented him at home, but I had not “worked” with him. We read lots of stories and I provided opportunities for learning through play, but I thought that’s just what moms did. There was no curriculum. There was no formal plan.
My younger son did not attend preschool and had no formal preschool curriculum at home. I taught him the same way that I had taught his brother: naturally, through engaging play, stories, and experiences. He also had the benefit of listening while I was teaching his brother to read, as we were homeschooling by then.
So, do you need a formal, pre-packaged curriculum for preschool? I don’t think so. You just need to spend time with your child while he/she actively participates in activities that provide learning
opportunities. Read good books together that are age-appropriate. Ask your child questions and encourage your child to ask you questions. Create art together and mix colors. Find patterns, shapes, opposites, and rhyming words. Listen to fun kid songs. Enjoy outings to your library. Our local library provided an endless source of great learning material. Go to the zoo, aquarium, nature center, beach, mountain, or anywhere your child can explore new things.
Finally, if you’re still convinced that you need a pre-packaged, formal curriculum for preschool, refer to a list of curriculum standards. Your state probably has a list of skills online for each grade level. Print out a copy of the preschool list and check each skill off as you go. I suspect that you can check some skills off before you even start “working” with your preschooler. Then, choose fun activities to meet each skill. Your little ones are eager to learn at this age and you are just the person they need to teach them. This precious time goes by so fast. Enjoy it!
Heidi Kinney is a freelance writer and editor. Her background includes professional teaching in the area of mathematics, as well as writing and editing for several educational publishers. She has been homeschooling her children since 2007. She shares homeschool resources and lessons on her website, SharedLessons.org.