Looking for Advice on Doing Pre-school at Home

Updated on September 28, 2009
A.S. asks from Shrewsbury, PA
20 answers

My husband and I have recently decided to do pre-school at home with our daughter. She turned 4 years old in August. We were going to enroll her in the preschool in our area but when we researched them they had poor ratings. anyways. I was wondering if any other moms have taught there childern preschool at home and what supplies should i keep in the home for this? We are working on learning to write our letters and numbers.. is there anything i should work on with her? like trying to learn to read or put stickers on things so she can learn to spell? i'm clueless in this area. i appreciate any advice! thank you all for your help.

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So What Happened?

thank you everyone for your great advice! it is much appreciated.. we have our daughter enrolled in gymnastics and she has a play date every week.. she has absolutely no problem with making friends or being around other people.. she loves to socialize.. i know i will have absolutely no problem next year for kindergarten! i am working with her on learning her phone number and she has her address down.. she's also been writing her letters and numbers and names, some words. becoming very good at being able to write the letters. thank you to all that gave me some USEFUL advice!

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answers from Pittsburgh on

IMO preschool is much more about learning the dynamics of a classroom setting and how to interact with many other children. I sent my kids to preschool to learn this and supplemented it at home with actual learning.(Both my kids were readers at age 4) When my son was in Kindergarten it was painfully apparant who went to preschool and who didn't. The adjustment to a traditional classroom setting for some was difficult and held back the rest of the group.

Maybe you can get some other parents involved and then act as the "teacher" to make it a little more formal and run it like an actual preschool (ex:circle time, "jobs" such as passing out napkins or filling out the weather chart, organized crafts, show and tell, etc.)



answers from Pittsburgh on

Go buy a pre-school book at Wal-Mart $8.00 and that is all you need it teaches them every thing. but you have to go slow do one letter a week and the sound of that letter and they will get it.
good luck T.

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answers from Sharon on

There are so many fun things you can do with your daughter. What a wonderful time for you two to solidify your relationship. Its up to you if you feel your daughter is ready for numbers and letters.

One thing they try to do in preschool is develop large motor skills and fine. Going outside and kicking a ball throwing it etc can be part of your preschool. Using scissors, painting, coloring, play dough all develop fine motor skills.

Reading imaginative, colorful books together is a great model for reading and will certainly perk her interest in books. Let her handle books herself too.

One great website that I have used with my preschooler is starfall.com He loved it and pretty much taught himself to read from it. I would just go through the alphabet occasionally with him and check to see which letter names he knew and which letters sounds he knew.

We got by with tempera paints, brushes, jumbo crayons, construction paper, pencils, glue. There are many great websites out there that can help you as you search for craft ideas. I like the family fun website. Try doing a search for preschool lessons plans.

I've done little finger plays/rhymes with my children that were fun.

You can be as structured or unstructured as you like. You could pick a theme and work with it or you could just do what you want whenever you want. Whichever fits your style.

As a homeschooling mum myself I can tell you that you will treasure this time with your daughter and you two can have so much fun together.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Fort Smith on

About 2 years ago I was laid off, and my husband and I decided for me to stay at home. The day care was already teaching letters and sounds to my son so I knew I needed to keep up. I went to Wal-mart and found a pre-school book of like 300 pages for $4. When he was done with that we got the kindergarten book. Over 300 pages and $4. Now we decided to homeschool, this should be his kindergarten year, I had to get 1st grade books. I didn't push it that much, I didn't have to, he loved them. I think the books are a little bit more now, like $8, but well worth it. How I started was when it was color time, rather than getting a coloring book, I got this book. Plus alot of it was coloring. and tracing. As far as socializing, take her to the park. Check your library. Ours has story time once a week and my son, who is 5 still loves it. If you check around, there are alot of groups who get together and let their children play. You may want to even look at homeschooling. I love it.



answers from Pittsburgh on

just focus on numbers ,letters, spelling her name, knowing her address and phone number ,colors and shapes. i watch kids in my home and my son never went to preschool he is in 1st grade and is doing excellent. preschool is more for the social part of it, get her involved with other kids her age and work on the above stuff and she will do great!



answers from York on

I agree with previous posters regarding the social aspect of preschool. If you plan on sending your child to school someday (not home-schooling), I think that it is important for them to get those few hrs away from you each week. It will only help with the transition to kindergarten. It's only a little more than 4 hrs and you still can do your own learning at home. Also, it gives you that one on one time with your 1 yr old, which your 4 yr old got but your 1 yr old isn't getting.

I see you live in Shrewsbury, I grew up in that area. I know that St John Lutheran Preschool is an amazing preschool. Have you looked into this school? If I still lived down there, that's where I'd send my daughter.
Good luck!



answers from York on

This is what we did with both our kids when they were ages 3-5. It was called Joy School and we met with other moms using the curriculum meeting twice a week in homes. After that, it was easy to go into homeschool though some of the Joy School moms went on to send their kids to K and first grade.

here are some links for research.

Unique Preschool teaching children the fundamental "joys" of life.

"Joy Schools are well-established (over 100,000 parents have been teaching) and truly unique preschools. The central belief of Joy School is simply that children, while in their most impressionable years, should be taught life's most important thing, various capacities for joy. A related belief is that children suffer not from being started in academic learning too late, but in starting too soon, before they have a basis of social and emotional self-esteem."

"The Joy School preschool lesson plans are written for three, four and five year olds. An age variety in a Joy School group is no problem. In fact, it is often an asset as older ones teach and "tutor" younger ones. There are two differnt sets of lesson plans, so children can participate in Joy School for two years in a row."

When I did it we only had one year and it was the first set of Joys.

After that I homeschooled until they graduated from high school. For info on homeschooling go to www.yhsa.org which is the site for York County PA since I see you are local. Plus, there are lots of pre-school moms and younger siblings of home schooling families in the YHSA group. It'd be a good connection for you to meet other young families with kids in the area www.YHSA.org



answers from Philadelphia on

I am not against homeschooling (in fact I'm considering it for my older children), but I do agree with those who have mentioned the social aspect of preschool. I think there are lots of fabulous learning resources available online and in stores, so no matter what you decide you can tap into those. My kids have all gone/are going to preschool, and I think some of the biggest lessons are cooperation, listening skills, taking turns, separating from parents, etc. Our school also does learning and will work with kids on that level as well. For us, we just supplemented the preschool experience with additional learning where the kids were ready and/or interested. If you do preschool at home, just make sure you are including social interaction opportunities as well (not just siblings - that helps, but not quite the same).

I have spoken to several kindergarten and first grade teachers, and the biggest obstacles in their classrooms come from kids at different social/soft skill levels, and not varying academic levels. This is something to consider, especially if you intend not to homeschool all the way through.

That said, if doing it at home be sure to set a pace where your child is being given small challenges and trying new things, but keep it fun and exciting. Don't push too hard or you'll likely turn them off to the learning process. Depending on what y our child already knows, start with things like colors, shapes, body parts, weather words, etc. You can also work on counting and the alphabet, gradually increasing recognition of the letters and numbers and if she's ready the sounds of the letters. As she progresses, you'll get a sense of whether she's ready to read or not. Most kindergartens in our area do not expect children to be reading when they start, but some certainly are. It depends on the child - my oldest didn't care about learning it till she started kindergarten and then picked it up quickly, while my second was reading beginner chapter books before starting. Also, be sure to include lots of songs, especially those with hand motions or other movements in your learning.

Way too long, but best of luck to you whatever you decide to do.



answers from Pittsburgh on

Some of the skills/activities/themes my kids worked on in their preschool include:

writing and recognizing letters and their sounds
writing and recognizing numbers
writing first name
learning to hold a pencil correctly
following directions
recognizing colors
rhyming words
recognizing feelings
basic manners (please, thank you, etc)
learning why we have rules
learning basic "chores" (such as clean up time)
using scissors
molding playdoh
my family
my new friends
people in our neighborhood
sorting and grouping
finger painting
keeping healthy
direction words (up, down, etc)
motor skills (running, throwing, catching, etc)
learning address/phone number

If you search the web for preschool lesson plans you will find a lot of sites with activity ideas.



answers from Harrisburg on

I have the perfect thing! It's called Letter Of The Week! It's FREE and has lesson plans all set up. You can tweak them as you see fit and combine one age level with another depending on your child's needs. There's online groups as well that goes with each age level set to get suggestions and advice, interested. The email level is usually low so no worries on getting clogged inboxes. The web site is www.letteroftheweek.com and it's wonderful! I've used it with my triplets for 2 years and since they're starting preschool this year because they missed the cut off date for kindergarten we'll be doing a bit at home along with what they're doing at preschool, including site words. They turn 5 on October 7. It's a fantastic program with tons of good ideas to go with your lesson plans like a religious aspect if interested, social studies, etc. Check it out!

K. B
mom to 5 including triplets

chat and events within 2 hour radius



answers from Philadelphia on

Although my daughter attended pre-school, which was more social than academic, I felt she was ready to learn to read. After reading a book based on Dr. Montesorri's method of teaching (Montessori Schools are based off of her philosophies) I wanted my daughter to read before kindergarten. I used the book "How to Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons" It only takes about 15 minutes a day and after 75 days my daughter was fluently reading/writing. Amazing! My daughter is now in 1st grade and can read the newspaper although she prefers Junie B. Jones and other kids books.
fyi...the book I read re: the Montessori method was "How to Raise a Brighter Child"
Best of luck.



answers from Philadelphia on

Get some flash cards.One set with number and one set with letters. I would use those to associate letters with the words and the numbers one to associate it with the appropriate number. Involve your son with the flash cards also. Some of the shows are nice to watch like Barney and Sesame street. Make sure to make time to play outside while the weather is nice. I would may be try to do some arts and crafts and do a play time inside with blocks,lego,etc..


answers from Pittsburgh on

Hi Amber, Only one of my girls attended pre-school and that was more for social skills than actual "school" work. As my oldest I wanted to give her a chance to learn how to make friends her own age and function in a "school" enviroment before attending kindergarden. If you want to give your child pre-school at home maybe you should talk to your local school's kindergarden teacher. Find out what she/he expects a child to know before entering school. Some schools require children to know their address, phone number and full name. Colors, letters, matching skills, learning the sounds of letters in different words, and sight words as well as art, basic 1-20 math, how to use a computer, gym and library skills are part of what kids learn in kindergarden. Best wishes.



answers from Johnstown on

Hi Amber,
We taught our older daughter at home and we're currently doing the same with our 4 year old twins. All we have here is just basically construction paper, crayons, glue sticks, safety scissors, and a few items for crafts. What we ran into with our older one is that she actually tested out of kindergarten and 1st grade when it came time to do the kdg. testing. Apparently every school district has varying levels they want children to be at. What we've decided to do with our twins is to: make sure they know their letters--both upper and lower case, colors, numbers 1-10, the must be able to draw stick figures and the more body features they recogize the better, we're teaching how to use scissors, and although it's not a requirement, the teachers love if they can tie shoes. You don't want to get her too advanced or she'll end up being bored. Best of luck!



answers from Pittsburgh on

Dear Amber,
Those are two lucky children to have a Mom at home with them! And kudos to you for deciding to home school your four year old. It is going to be incredibly rewarding for you and for your children! You have already gotten a lot of really good advice, so I would like to just add one more thing -- music! At age five children in the Suzuki program actually start playing small sized violins, guitars, cellos etc. The repertoire of songs is the same for all the instruments starting with Twinkle little Star and other familiar songs, and getting progressively more and more complex and more beautiful. If you are interested, you can order the CDs now, so that the songs get into your daughter's ear and subconscious memory. They are lovely classical pieces and can serve as background music for any other activity like baking, or blocks. By the age of ten, my daughter played violin in an orchestra. In high school when other kids were getting into all kinds of foolishness, she made friends with other hard working yourng musicians who all played together in the orchestra pit accompanying the school musical.
Good luck! I hope you will consider home schooling her beyond pre school. :)



answers from Philadelphia on


I'm unsure what you mean by "doing preschool at home." Preschool is all about developmental learning and learning from and with one's peers so, unless you are planning to have a number of kids in your home for your "preschool" sessions, I'm not sure what you're planning to get out of those sessions that emulates a preschool environment. If you looked at pre-schools with academics, you've looked at the "wrong" preschools.

Kids get their academics once they start kindergarten. Being "kindergarten ready" these days basically means learning certain skills that many preschoolers pick up naturally from just being around parents, like the alphabet and colors, etc. Check with your school district to see what your daughter needs to know to be kindergarten ready. Then relax!

If your daughter wants to learn more, she will. My daughter was reading a little in preschool, but not because anyone taught her. She also went through the preschool before No Child Left Behind, before there were the new requirements of kindergarten readiness. She basically just needed to register. That changed by my second child, who had to be screened but, like his older sister, he picked up a lot just by being read to and hanging out with us! He had 3 friends who were reading extremely well by the age of 3 (which was amazing), but all 3 of them were self taught--not taught by parents or by the preschool. All 3 kids had parents who also believed in the social aspect of preschool and saw no need to push--it's just that the kids did so at their own pace
I don't know where you live, but I cannot imagine a community where all the preschools receive poor ratings! Maybe look in a neighboring community or two! Where we live, there are numerous preschools, many affiliated with churches or synagogues, and all of them are extremely highly regarded. I spent 9 years as a preschool parent at our preschool, and my kids received amazing developmental learning there.

The kindergarten teacher that my children had, in public school, once told me that she tries to get all the kids--or as many as she can--from our preschool into her class as she finds these kids are extremely well socialized. THAT'S what you need to look for in a preschool--the socialization--and not the academics.

Good luck!



answers from Philadelphia on

One thing no one included, which a 1st grade teacher friend of mine said is SERIOUSLY lacking in many children is math skills. Most people focus on getting their kids reading & slack on the math. Counting & naming letters are equivilent skills. Writing letters & numbers is the equivalent. Learning the sounds of letters & values of numbers. Most parents do these things. Then they teach their kids to read (which is great), but they stop the math skills. When your child starts reading, then you should start working on a math skill at that level. Such as addition. Also, something few parents work on, but they should are recognizing coins & telling time.
FYI I currently am planning to keep my kids home from preschool. Here in NJ the state now requires preschool kids (but not kindergarten kids) to get the flu shot. I am opposed to this, so unless they change the law I will probably keep my kids home until K.
Good luck.



answers from Erie on

Ok to be honest the biggest part of preschool is socialization, and that doesn't necessarily mean playing, it means learning how to sit and listen to a story, to stand in a line, to be patient, to listen to a grown up that isn't mom or dad, to follow directions etc etc. So you can definately teach acedemics at home, and some children have personalities that don't need the practice with the socialization, but what you could do is look for Sunday school programs, library story times, dance classes, art classes, zoo classes etc. some are free some aren't. I'm just assuming that you would be sending her to school at some point and not home schooling.
As for the acedemics, supply her with materials to develop fine motor skills, paper and pencils/markers/crayons,scissors, playdough, block building etc. all of those things help to build the muscles she will need to write with.
collect small objects (acorns) and have her count them One-to -one, play board games that require her to recognize numbers and count out spaces, I love the game War played with a deck of cards-(I take out the high cards) you each turn over a card and the highest card takes both. play until you are tired or someone runs out of cards. Cook together and measure, and count.
Starfall.com is a common website used in preschools and kindergartens to practice letter sounds. Visit the Library and read read read read read. There are lots of books for teachers esp. preschool teacher that might help guide you a bit. check with your librarian.
Let her write write write, teach her to print her name, Like this A m b e r first one capitalized the rest lower case. Start at the top and draw down.
Good luck, I hope you and your little one have a lovely time learning together.



answers from Philadelphia on

what worked great for my son was the workbooks at the dollar stores! and its all different characters like disney,spiderman etc so he loved that! also the flashcards ,from there too,as then i could do it with him anywhere not just at a table.

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