We started homeschool preschool this week using the “Playing Preschool” curriculum from Busy Toddler. As a mom with her MAT, K-6 teaching credential, experience as a preschool teacher and as a nanny, I have to say – I am impressed.
In this post, I am going to go over my most frequently asked questions about homeschool preschool:
- Why did we decide to homeschool preschool?
- What curriculum did I choose & why?
- What steps did I take to start homeschool preschool?
- What supplies did I buy before starting homeschool preschool?
- What does our “calendar time” look like each day?
- How do we like homeschool preschool so far?
- Lessons we have learned so far
- and other questions you have asked me!
Before we get started, these are a few of my recent posts that I think you will just love, so check them out:
- 96 Super Fun Fall Bucket List Ideas for Families
- 27 Easy & Healthy Plant-Based Snacks for Women
- 55 Best Toys for Toddlers on Amazon
Now, let’s get to it!
This post may contain affiliate links, which means I receive a commission if you choose to purchase through links I provide (at no extra cost to you). As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.
How I Homeschool Preschool My 2.5 Year Old | Super Easy & Meaningful Homeschool Preschool Program
Before we get started with answering the FAQ’s, I want to give you a little bit of a backstory as to how this all started.
Harrison, my son, is 2 years 10 months old (we just say 2.5 for now because it’s easier). Until two weeks ago, I had absolutely zero intention of starting a homeschool preschool program for him.
Harrison attends a Playschool two days a week from 8:30-11:30 where he gets to socialize and play with other children, participate in enriching and creative activities, and more.
We chose this Playschool because of their philosophy on how toddlers learn: children learn best through play and self-discovery. And, I have seen it first hand, academics are being forced onto our children far too early, where as play, socialization, and creativity are being held back from them, producing devastating consequences.
We desperately wanted our son to be able to learn how to socialize, and get really comfortable with it, prior to entering kindergarten – but also wanted to allow him to simply be a kid for as long as he could be – thus, we chose the Playschool.
Now, to get to the homeschool preschool part of it. I was lying in bed one night and it just “dawned” on me how much I missed being in the classroom (as a teacher). I really miss it. My wheels started turning (as they always do late at night as I’m trying to fall asleep) and I remembered an Instagram post I had seen from Susi at Busy Toddler earlier that day. It was on her “Playing Preschool” homeschool preschool curriculum. One thing led to another, and next thing I know, I had purchased the curriculum and had also purchased most of the supplies I would need (on Amazon).
I cannot tell you how happy I was in the days following when I would take time to organize my supplies, read the guide within the curriculum, and get our little “corner classroom” ready for Harrison’s first day! I could feel my heart being filled with the same feelings I have when teaching in the classroom.
Most importantly, though, I knew two things before starting this program:
- Harrison was searching for more structured learning
- The program is very simple, takes little time, and is the exact amount (very small) of academics I would ever want in my 2-year-olds life.
The above two reasons are the only reasons why I decided to start homeschool preschool for my son.
Now, let’s move on to the FAQ’s, for your benefit.
Why did we decide to start homeschool preschool?
I have already given you a lot of information regarding the decision on homeschooling our toddler. But, I’ll give you a little more:
- The thesis (backed by more research than you can imagine) I wrote for my Master’s in Teaching specifically explained how beneficial preschool is for children (both short-term and long-term). While a lot of the reasons were social- and emotional-based, many of the reasons had to do with the introduction to academics (mainly reading and math) at an early age, and the opportunities this provided for children later in life.
- I simply just have a teacher personality. I do! It’s really hard to escape that when you have it!
- I could tell that Harrison was starting to really notice letters, numbers, certain aspects of book reading, and more – and I wanted to give him more of what he wanted.
- I myself had become a little “bored” with the day-to-day happenings at home as a stay-at-home-mom. I needed a little something extra to add to the mix.
- I knew this would be fun for him – something he looked forward to each and every day. I also knew this would be fun for me.
- I absolutely love Susi from Busy Toddler. She is amazing. She was a teacher before being a mom, and has worked in the classroom as well as in curriculum and I trust her work, wholeheartedly. I had known about “Playing Preschool” for about a year prior to purchasing it.
Next up is the reason why I chose the curriculum I chose for homeschool preschool.
What curriculum did I choose for homeschool preschool & why?
As I’ve already mentioned, I chose the “Playing Preschool” curriculum by Susi from Busy Toddler. Love it.
Here are some of the reasons why I chose this one in particular (other than the reasons in the previous answer):
- It is playful. Toddlers need play like humans need water. I couldn’t choose a curriculum that didn’t have this philosophy embedded within.
- It is simple. I am a teacher, yes, but I am also a full-time stay-at-home-mom, a full-time blogger & businesswoman, a wife, a stepmom, and more. I knew I wanted something that was realistic in terms of time and effort, and something that wouldn’t be too complicated for Harrison to benefit from.
- It is exploratory. I love this part about the curriculum. It allows your child to be naturally curious & explore various content using all five of their senses – perfect!
- It teaches skills my son will need once he is in school. For example, it teaches prediction skills, recall and retell skills, number sense, comprehension, fluency, and more. These are all skills Harrison will need once he enters kindergarten and I am glad he is getting a great foundation right now, in only 15 minutes a day.
- It was only $29.00. Yes, that’s right. Only $29! I couldn’t believe it. It’s normally around $40, but if you use code “HOME25” right now, you get 25% off. I certainly wasn’t wanting to break the bank for a homeschool preschool program – I don’t know about you!
Now, let’s move on to the steps I took to start homeschool preschool.
What steps did I take to start homeschool preschool?
I love this question. Honestly, the steps I took were at least 3 years in the making, as 3 years ago I began my MAT & teaching credential program – and 3 years ago I became Harrison’s mom. However, I will try my best to outline exactly what I did, in order, for those of you who are interested in knowing.
- I printed out the curriculum and placed it in a 2″ 3-ring binder (in the picture above, from my Instagram stories the other day). I added dividers to it, some folders for loose-leaf papers, and a notebook for any notes I may wish to write.
- Then, I read the guide (included in the curriculum when you purchase) from front to back and highlighted important pieces along the way.
- I looked at the supplies list (included in the curriculum when you purchase) and determined what we had versus what we needed to buy. A lot of items we already had because I have a lot of activities for Harrison already (see this post for a general list of homeschool preschool supplies), but I did have to purchase a few things, which I will go over in the next section (keep reading).
- I then logged onto my local library’s website and reserved all the books I could reserve for the first 4 units (because that would cover the first 2 months). The ones that were unavailable, I bought used on Amazon.
- Then, I determined which space in our house would make the most sense for our homeschool preschool time and mapped out how exactly I would convert that into a learning space. The space I chose was a corner downstairs in our living room (literally the only space available in our house!) which was being used as a “cozy corner” with pillows and blankets.
- I then had to determine which day we would start on. I chose Monday September 14th (yesterday). Then, I grabbed a blank calendar and planned out the year, by unit, and added in breaks for holidays.
- After all of the above steps, I told Harrison about what we were going to start doing (then) next week. I didn’t complicate it – I simply said, “Harrison, guess what? Next week, we are going to start learning time each morning! Mommy is going to teach you letters & numbers and we are going to sing songs and paint and just have a good time!” He responded with nothing but smiles and excitement!
- The night before our first day, I set up my “classroom” completely. I quickly cleaned out the space completely and then added in the pieces that would make our little “classroom” for homeschool preschool. The pieces I added to make our little “classroom” can be found in the next section where I go over all the supplies I purchased or used. I will include some pictures of the space at the end of this section so you can see what it looks like now!
- The morning of, I simply told Harrison as he was waking up that today was our first day of learning time (I have chosen to call it this so that he does not get confused since we refer to his days at Playschool as “school”). Then, we headed downstairs and I asked him to sit on the carpet so that we could get started. As he was sitting down, I started my opening song and then continued throughout the rest of the lesson. It went so well, I couldn’t believe it!
Those are the steps that I personally took to get ready for homeschool preschool. Now, I want to say this – not everyone will take all of these steps in order to start their own homeschool preschool. Part of the reason I was so detailed in explaining it to you is because I have gotten so many questions about exactly what I did to get started, so I figured this would perhaps help at least one person out there, which is why I did it this way.
Next up is a list of all the supplies I either had or bought in order to ready myself for homeschool preschool.
What supplies did I buy before starting homeschool preschool?
As for the supplies, many I already had (again, refer to this post for a list of general homeschool preschool supplies). But, I also bought my fair share of supplies that were either suggested by the curriculum or were things I simply wanted to have for my little “classroom.”
Here is a list of the supplies I bought to get ready for the first day, in no particular order. Again, some of these are suggested in the curriculum, others are just supplies I wanted to get for my little “classroom”:
Supplies I already had:
- 1 small table and chair set
- 1 pocket wall calendar
- 1 box of dry erase pocket sleeves
- 1 ream of AstroBright paper (a teacher favorite)
- 1 ream of construction paper
- 1 small flashlight
- 1 set of Post-It Notes
- 1 set of washable tempera paint
- 1 bag of pom pom balls
- 1 deck of playing cards
- 1 set of dice
- 1 roll of butcher paper
- 1 roll of painter’s tape
- 1 set of Elmer’s glue
- 1 set of glue sticks
- 1 box of washable markers
- 1 box of colored pencils
- 1 box of crayons
Supplies I purchased specifically for this program:
- 1 small white board
- 1 set of weather cards for morning circle time
- 1 pack of dot stickers
- 1 bag of cotton balls
- 1 31-quart storage container
- 1 2lb bag of uncooked rice
- 1 pack of large Sharpie markers
- 1 book display case
- 1 set of supply caddies
- 1 storage basket for unit supplies
- 1 storage container for homeschool preschool supplies
- 1 jar for stickers
- 3 sets of stickers
- 1 stuffed animal for read aloud time
- 1 2″ 3-ring binder
That is literally every single thing I either had or bought in preparation for starting this homeschool preschool program.
Now, let me say this – you will not need all of these supplies. The only supplies you need will be included inside the guide that goes with the curriculum. I simply wanted a lot of these things to make my “classroom” exactly what I wanted it to be!
Let’s move on to how we like homeschool preschool so far!
What does our “calendar time” look like each day?
Part of the “Playing Preschool” curriculum is setting aside a little bit of time at the start of each lesson for “calendar time” or “morning circle” time.
For someone who is a teacher, planning and setting up calendar time was simple. However, I understand that not every parent out there is a teacher, so I want to walk you through what our calendar time looks like so you have an idea of what yours can look like, too.
For starters, you have to have some sort of calendar to use during this time. Susi talks about how beneficial the learning of days, dates, and months is for children within the curriculum guide.
I personally prefer a pocket calendar, as it makes it so that I can use the same calendar every single month, only having to change the dates. Plus, it makes it really easy for your child to be able to help with the calendar and remove dates or add them, etc. This is my favorite pocket calendar (which I also will use in my classroom when I go back to teaching full-time).
Here is what our morning circle/calendar time looks like, including the lesson and goodbye song, from start to finish. Numbers 1-5 and number 9 are all completed on the carpet in our little corner “classroom”:
- Sing opening song, “Are You Criss-Cross?“
- Sing “Days of the Week” song (we clap rather than snap).
- Go over calendar (say “today is Monday, September 15th. Yesterday was Sunday. Tomorrow is Tuesday.”)
- Go over weather (say, “Harrison, can you look outside and tell me what the weather is today? Is it sunny? Is it cloudy? Is it rainy?” and help guide him to the correct answer. Have him point to the picture that goes along with the weather outside.) Then, we talk about the season (say, “the season is fall. Fall is sometimes kind of chilly.”)
- We then read our poem for the unit and sing our song for the unit (both included in the curriculum).
- At that point, we get into the lesson. There is typically an introductory part (where we either introduce the topic or refresh our memories on the topic), a read aloud, and then a “things to talk about” part (where we discuss different things about the topic).
- Next, before our first activity, we sing the “Skidamarink” song.
- Then, we complete our first activity, our second activity, and head back to the carpet (which is where we complete our morning circle time).
- The last thing we do to wrap up learning time is sing our goodbye song, “So Long Now” (we only sing the first four lines until “see you later alligator, in a while crocodile good day).
FREE Learning Time Songs Printable
As a special help to you, I have created four printables that display our four songs. If you are interested in using these songs during your learning time, feel free to download them and print them out to keep with you until you memorize them all! Click here to grab your four printable songs!
> > > FREE Printable Morning Circle Songs < < <
Now, let’s go over what we like about this homeschool preschool program so far.
How do we like homeschool preschool so far?
So let’s talk about how we are liking homeschool preschool so far. The short of it: we love it. Both Harrison and I do.
We are currently on day 3 and it has gotten better each day as we go along. I am noticing so many connections that Harrison is making from within the lessons and unit to his life and play.
For example: we have been working on the letter “A” this week, as it is this unit’s letter. Last night, I was reading a book to Harrison and closed it and said “the end.” He then said, “look Mommy!” as he pointed to a letter “A” on the cover of the book, “it’s a letter ‘A’!” Then he went on to point out four other letter “A’s” while we were sitting there! Four! I was so proud and impressed and somewhat caught off-guard that I nearly cried.
He is starting to sit for longer periods of time on the carpet when I read the read aloud book to him, and he is also starting to sing along with the songs we sing each day (we have four songs that we sing throughout learning time). He really is growing each day and it is incredible to witness.
But, what I love the most, is that our “learning time” consists of only about 15-20 minutes each morning – that’s it – and then he has the rest of the day to play. So I don’t feel like I’m taking anything away from him at all.
It is really special because each morning he comes downstairs and says, “Mommy, are you ready to talk about the weather?” or “Mommy, let’s sing our ‘Days of the Week’ song!” I love knowing he looks forward to learning time and is excited about it. That makes all the difference.
Next up: lessons learned thus far!
Lessons learned so far
To help you out, I want to go over a few “lessons” I have learned so far with homeschool preschool, specifically for the “Playing Preschool” program:
- Prepare for your lesson the night before (this typically takes about 2 minutes). Set out all your supplies (paint, paper, etc.) and make sure you have the lesson paper you are going to read from (if you want to read from it – I always have it on hand to help me throughout the lesson).
- Keep your supplies in a storage bin near your “classroom” area. This has helped me tremendously.
- Be patient. Know that this is brand new to your child, and they will grow as the program continues. They may not be “perfect students” right from the start (nor may they ever be) but look for signs that they are absorbing what you are teaching – they will be there.
- Allow them to “play” in the “classroom” area outside of learning time. It should not be a “hands off” type of space outside of learning time – let them pretend to teach you, if they want. Let them know they can come and read the books you have on display at any time. Let them draw on the white board. This is another way that they learn, and it is okay for them to “play” in their “classroom” area!
- Make sure to reserve the books of the unit from your local library at least four weeks ahead of the unit start date. These are very popular children’s books and often times they are already being borrowed by someone else, so make sure you plan ahead!
- Prepare for messes. They are going to be doing a lot of painting, sensory bin work, and more. Messes are going to happen – and that is okay. Try not to get upset in the moment, but rather focus on the learning that is taking place.
- Don’t bind your curriculum – print it (either at home or elsewhere) and place in a 3-ring binder instead. This is my favorite brand of 3-ring binders. Reason being, you will want to be able to grab the lesson page for that day, rather than having to take then entire book with you each time. Trust me on this!
- Have someone take pictures of you teaching and your child learning or doing an activity from time to time. If no one else is home, pull out your phone once or twice a week to catch your child in action. You will absolutely cherish these pictures for years to come.
- If other people are in your home while you are teaching, explain to them that they need to be quiet during learning time. This will help your child to focus. Also, turn off any distractions such as TV, radio, music, etc.
- Try to have learning time at the same time each day in order to establish a routine – this way, your child knows what to expect and is ready for learning time each day.
I’m sure I will have more “lessons learned” as we continue this program, and if I do, I will update this section as time goes on!
Now, let’s move on to our last section, more FAQ’s!
Answers to more FAQ’s
I recently asked everyone on Facebook and Instagram what, if any, questions they had about homeschool preschool. Here are the questions I was asked (that I haven’t already addressed above):
What do I do if my child has younger siblings who are awake during learning time?
I’m no professional here, but what I would do is simply try to keep younger siblings occupied with something during learning time.
Remember: learning time will only take about 15-20 minutes, so you don’t have that long to keep them occupied.
Maybe save a special toy or activity just for learning time so they have it to look forward to each day.
However, I understand how siblings are – they want to be doing what their older brother or sister are doing! They want to be included in the mix! And you know what? This is totally okay. There is nothing wrong with your younger child(ren) being part of learning time. They will soon be in your older child’s shoes, so I would use it as a teachable moment.
Just do the best you can, mama. Don’t expect perfection – from them or you.
What do I do if my toddler has a short attention span?
Short attention spans are completely normal for toddlers! What I recommend is taking things day by day with them – lesson by lesson, unit by unit.
If they need to engage in something else while you are reading to them or talking to them, that is fine – I would just recommend that you require them to stay in the same room as you during learning time.
Positive reinforcement is great, too – so let them know you are proud of them when they do sit still for a little longer than normal, and make a big deal out of it!
Just remember – at the end of the day, they are still toddlers. They are doing their best, just like you are. Having a short attention span at these ages is completely normal.
How many hours of their day should be structured (like learning time) versus free play?
I don’t really have an answer for this as I know everyone feels differently when it comes to this question/topic.
However, I will say (just like I did earlier) that I wholeheartedly believe that the 15-20 minutes of learning time should be the only structured learning time my son has during the day.
Harrison has plenty of opportunities to learn while he is playing the rest of the day, and so does your child – just about anything can be considered a teachable moment for a toddler. New toy? Talk about the colors and shape. New book? Ask them to point out certain things to you or to see if they can find any letters. New friend? Use that as a chance to show them and teach them how we are kind and respect others.
Just because your child is not in your little corner “classroom” does not mean they are not learning. Toddlers learn best through play. I believe that they should be allowed to play, freely, throughout their days. Just my two cents.
What about socialization? Isn’t this an important part of homeschool preschool?
Socialization is very important for toddlers. Very. Some may be concerned that with a homeschool preschool program, their child does not get the right amount of socialization that they would if they were in a “brick and mortar” preschool.
Well, my philosophy on this is simply – my child attends a Playschool two days a week for 3 hours, and he socializes during this time. In addition, he has a neighbor friend who is close to his age that he plays with daily outside for hours at a time.
I personally am not concerned about my son’s socialization, but if you are, do your best to set up play dates, play with neighborhood children, or perhaps look into Playschools in your area.
Well friends, that is all for this post on how I homeschool preschool my 2.5 year old.
I hope that you will feel enlightened and knowledgeable going into your own homeschool preschool situation now.
If you’re not already following me on Instagram, I highly recommend that you do – I post on their daily and often include stories about our homeschool preschool experience and different things I am doing to make it easier or more practical for us! Head on over to Instagram now to follow me!
If you should have any more questions about homeschool preschool, please feel free to contact me. I’d love to chat with you and try to help you out, if I can!
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If you are a stepmom, or know of one, please head to The Stubborn Stepmom – a section on my blog devoted to stepmoms and unique struggles we have being part of blended families.
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Well, that’s all for me on homeschool preschool today friends! I hope you enjoyed this. Make sure you sign up for my email list below so that you never miss a blog post by me!
Take care & as always, thanks for reading!