Preschooler at Home Learning.

Updated on March 13, 2011
P.K. asks from Danbury, CT
14 answers

Hi ladies, my son turned 4 years old last month and I was wondering if you know of a curriculum for me to follow to get him ready for school. He is in a 4 year program, but most of the time is play. I would like to follow a program that will teach him. We have a great time doing homework and want to take advantage of this time to teach him at home before he enters kindergarten. What do you think of hooked on phonics? Is there a website that has a curriculum that I can follow (homeschool) that you like?
Thank you in advance for your help. I can't wait for hear all the advice and ideas.

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So What Happened?

Thank you so much ladies! I guess I was a bit worried about playtime and did not see the philosophy behind it!! I will use some of your suggested sites and still let him be a child and teach him in everyday life. I really appreciate all your answers, they helped me a lot. Once again thank you!!

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answers from New York on

Thru play he is really learning a lot. Since I am an old fashioned kind of
girl, you can teach him without making it a "school type of setting." Kids
do not really get to be kids any more so teach him thru everyday life. It is
fun that way.

3 moms found this helpful

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answers from Rochester on

I'm not sure what everyone has answered, but I will say I do NOT like Hooked on Phonics, My Baby Can Read, or anything else like this.

However, I homeschool, and I started my youngest when she was 2 and a half on pre-K stuff, and you DON'T have to spend a ton. Here's what I did.

First, we used a Magic Doodle (or Doodle Pro, or, the pen that writes on the board and you swipe across with a slider to erase it) to learn letters and numbers. Start with the capitals, because that's what they need first. After he is comfortable with all of the capitals and can recognize them, write them when they are said, and tell you what sound each one makes, then you can add the lower case and they will come easier than if you try to do them along with all the first. Pick a very common picture to represent each for a, ball for b...and sound them out, like aaaaa-pple, b b b all, so he understands letter sounds and knows what pic to think of to remember. Also, make sure you teach the short vowel, elephant, igloo, octopus, umbrella...and not the long vowels. He will eventually learn that long vowel sounds are just the letters.

For handwriting, I absolutely LOVE the Handwriting Without Tears program. Very inexpensive, and WONDERFUL...I wouldn't recommend buying the teaching guides, I would just go with the workbooks and move along in them. My daughter could write fine at 4, but when she started the HWT program, I swear, her handwriting improved SO much that now at almost 6, she writes better than most adults I know. And that's no joke, that's how great this program is.

You can buy inexpensive "pre-K" workbooks in the book section at Target (or probably a lot of other stores, plus Barnes & Noble...) and just look for one that has colorful pages. They have a variety of activities...counting, letters, simple addition, shapes, colors, etc...and they can be a lot of fun.

I tried the Kumon series for some pre-K stuff, too, and my daughter didn't enjoy them much because they weren't much fun. There was a "scissor" book, or cutting, or something by them that she did enjoy, but the more educational ones are a bit of a bummer.

Also, games can teach SO much. Play Monopoly, Yahtzee, card games, Life, dominoes, etc...really, they reinforce a lot of counting and adding skills.

I went through a TON of different workbooks from the B&N educational workbook section, and I can't even say which they were anymore but we liked all of them. Just really check them out, and see which ones you think would be fun.

Lastly, if you are going to do this, I would do it very regularly, but not for any extended time. I think we did about an hour a day, 3 or 4 days a week, and that was enough. Play is important too, because soon he'll only have weekends and summers!

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on


Children learn best through play. Children do not need special lesson time or anything else. They learn best through play.

Take your child to the zoo. Go fun places. There is no need to start a 4 year old on a curriculum.

Yes, everyone wants to make sure their kids are ahead of everyone else. But the funny thing is, the special sauce isn't a curriculum. Children that attend preschool early are not ahead of their peers later on.

Kids are born with their smarts, and all you have to do is play with them and talk to them.

btw, I have a PhD in philosophy of education, so I actually do know what I am talking about here, and my advice: let your kid be a kid. Just pay attention to him and talk to him constantly!

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Topeka on

I have never been a big fan of these boxed pre-planned teaching packages, seems to me that the only one to really benefit from them are the people selling them to you!!
To me...YOU are the greatest asset that you have as far as teaching your son. You can start teaching him all that he needs to know about phonics....I am assuming he already knows his start teaching him about the SOUNDS that the letter make. When you see a word....discuss the sound that the word starts with...then help him think of other words that start with the same sound. He will pick up on it really can make a game out of it...."how many words can you think of that start with the M sound?" My oldest daughter uses an old metal cookie sheet and has a set of those little plastic letters that have magnets on the back of them. She will spread a few of them out on the cookie sheet and then ask him questions...."can you find the letter that starts the word "dog" ? " She also has taught him how to spell his name like that...and other simple words, dog, cat, Mama, Papa etc.
You can start teaching him the concepts of subtraction and addition by working with objects....spread 10 pennies out on the table...take one away and have him count and see how many are left...etc.
Does he know how to tie his shoes? Button his coat? Take care of buttoning and unbuttoning his pants when he goes to the bathroom? These are all things that would be helpful for him to know before he starts school.
Just enjoy making the most of teachable moments in your everyday activities and your son will be more than ready for school when the time comes!!

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Detroit on

Would you consider a Montessori preschool program, or does your school system offer a pre-Kindergarten program? Since he just turned 4 last month, I am assuming it would be for this upcoming school year, and he would actually be starting Kindergarten fall of 2012. Like others have said, there is much value in "play-based learning" but if you are looking for something different, you could look into a "pre-K" program (if that is an option - in our school district the child has to meet certain qualifications), or Montessori. Keep in mind though that some schools claim to be Montessori but really are not, so it helps to do your homework, research it, and visit the schools that offer it. Also, Montessori is not for everyone, and some kids have a harder time (initially) adjusting to regular school after being taught with Montessori methods for 1 or 2 years.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from New York on

Play is great...learning how to interact in a social setting is key for getting ready for school. However, if you want to introduce some key concepts, is a great free website! It has songs & activities for every letter of the alphabet & then some! My own 4-year-old and my classroom of kindergartners love it!!!

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answers from Portland on

Patty's right on... children learn so much through play, yet it is incredibly undervalued in our culture. This is something I spend a good deal of time educating parents on, and here's a great resource to learn more about it:

"The Wisdom of Play" is the one I'd suggest. Community Playthings has a lot of resources available. There's a dvd they offer (for free, I believe) on Foundations, which emphasizes the importance of block play.

One thing I do in my preschool to work on letter recognition is to do alphabet puzzles. We talk about the letters as we put them into the tray, or together, and I especially like using the letter pieces of some puzzles as "Alphabet Cookies" at a "bakery". We take turns being customers, asking for specific letter cookies, and finding them. It takes a lot of experiential contact with the alphabet symbols for them to sometimes make an impression. You can make the letters with playdough, and talk about which sounds they make. Children are most interested in letters of their names, too, at first, and then more interested in learning letters when those moments are relevant. "Invitations" for more interest in language and reading could include letter writing/notes for friends, taking dictation as gives you lists of things he likes or wants to remember. (You could try keeping a 'journal' together. It doesn't have to be about much. It's just 'his' book and he'll see you writing.) Making nametags with his name for different areas of the house where he places his things is also an idea, so he'll recognize his name later. And drawing,pencil work, painting all help with holding a pencil for writing later on.

Some other things to consider for Kindergarten prep: fine motor activities, which help them in self-care skills by developing dexterity for fastening buttons and zippers; scissors work; and by far and away, social skills are extremely important. A survey of kindergarten teachers in CA showed that they spend more of their class time on the self-help and social skills-- which take longer to learn-- than actually teaching the academics, because kids are relatively ready to learn their ABCs, shapes and numbers at this age, but the first two (self-care/social) are critical to helping kids have the foundation to be able and confident in the classroom.

This isn't to discourage you from wanting to teach your son, but two more ideas and then I'll sign off. First, if ABCs become a chore, and not a love, your son will treat it as such, so stick with play and books and leave the flashcards for now. Books are the most positive way to teach phonics, because they learn a lot through memorization of stories, and slowly put it all together as they get older. Second, if you are teaching the kindergarten curriculum now, he might get bored when he finally gets there. Keep it fun, take it slow, and most of all-- keep it relevant for him.


2 moms found this helpful


answers from Atlanta on

My daughter turned 4 and most of the daycare centers offer a GA Pre-K program. I was not satisfied and decided to look for a homeschooling program. My best friend home school her kids and has offered to home school my daughter as well. She has them registered with a Cyber Academy and it is accredited. Look into that. I have also been using Your Child can Read video series and it works wonders. I have never used Hooked on Phonics but I hear it is ok. I wish you luck and peace of mind with your decision.


1 mom found this helpful


answers from Las Vegas on

They have online curriculums like, I didn't see price tags on em. sells a curriculum workbook type thing that is a 9 month curriculum, it's like $150 but then again if it's good it's cheaper than normal preschool I THINK. has some ideas and such.

I debate home schooling a lot. I think if I didn't have to have a career (single ma) to support my baby girl I'd home school her


Barnes and noble sells workbooks that are categorized by age... they're like $4ish each I think... I was contemplating getting some. They also have brain flash cards, I forget what they call them but it's on a turn table bookshelf, they are skinny cards that have a monkey on the front.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from New York on

Hi P.,
go to the website for Ct department of education. On the left there is a section called Teaching and learning. Scroll to the bottom and click on teaching and learning again. There you will find the common core state standards for all grades. Click on a subject, and I believe preschool is listed first for each subject.

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answers from New York on

Are you planning on homeschooling? Here's the reason I ask. If yes, then it would make sense to start looking for some type of ciriculum.

If he will be attending school, there's not need for you to even begin considering "teaching" him at home. Teach him through your daily activities. Plan a board game like Cootie, which teaches him concepts like taking turns and creativity by creating the bug. Go to they playground, talk about cilimbing UP the stairs, going DOWN the slide, walking OVER the bridge. Play with blocks, put the RED block on TOP of the GREEN block. As you put the blocks away, count them.

Of course one of the most important things you can go is READ, READ, READ. Talk about what you read, "that book was so silly, it make me laugh", or "what do you think will happen next".

1 mom found this helpful


answers from New York on

If you're planning to homeschool him, that would be great. If not, I wouldn't bother with a program like Hooked on Phonics. It's not necessary to be able to read to start kindy. His school will have their own reading program/curriculum and teaching him some other way may do more harm than good. Use everyday experiences for learning - name the letters on signs, have him help you count out money or measure things for recipes. Read together a lot.
What's required for kindy in public school is not a lot of academic things. It would be great for him to recognize most of the letters and count to 20. He should identify colors and basic shapes. The other things needed are to be able to sit and listen for 10 minutes, to follow a multi step direction, to be independent in things like zipping his own coat, putting on his own boots, etc.



answers from New York on

I have homeschooled and I think the most important thing is to let him run, climb, jump and play - ride bikes, skip ropes, etc. And then read to him an hour a day - broken up throughout the day. For boys, they might not read until age 8 and that is fine. They tend to be on par with girls by age 8 - but it generally takes more time for them to develop an attention span and read. So, just give him the best - no electronics, lots of time outside or with playmobile/legos, and develop his attention span by reading excellent literature to him - Mother Goose nursery rhymes. Stay away from junk - like staying away from junk food. I love the phonics book "Phonics Pathways". But go slowly and don't worry. Just give him what he needs to take the next step when his brain is ready. Enjoy!



answers from Syracuse on

My kids love the website:

Right now we only do the ABC's part of the website so I'm not sure about the other pages... however, my 3yr old & 1.5yr old love it and it has an app for your iphone too.

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