The Ultimate Home Preschool Schedule: How to Keep it Really Easy

home preschool schedule

Are you looking for a way to simplify your home preschool schedule?  Or maybe you are just starting to consider homeschooling your preschooler and you want to know what that might look like.

Well, there are plenty of options out there for home preschooling!  Today, I’d like to share with you our home preschool schedule!

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My Background

If you’re new here, welcome! I’m Tricia, home to three cluster babies. I am a kindergarten teacher turned stay at home mom, and I absolutely loved our first year of home preschool!

Play vs Schoolwork

I am a firm believer in learning through play. One of the things I love about our schedule is that it allows for so much time for free play each day. 

A lot of our free play is outside when the weather permits, and even some stints when it doesn’t!

Because my children have so much time for play, I don’t mind making our “schoolwork” time just a tad formal. We do play games, sing songs, etc., but we also sit down at the table together to do the “work” at this time.

How often do you do home preschool?

We typically do schoolwork three to four times a week for about 20 to 30 minutes. 

This is all totally flexible though! Some weeks we do more. Sometimes we do less.

We typically skip days that dad is off work, holidays and sometimes even for playdates. These occasions are important for my children, and I want to prioritize it. 

What does your home preschool schedule look like?

My kids begin their morning with a “counter game” with a little bowl of cereal while I make their breakfast.

Their “counter game” is simply a little game or activity I put together for them to do at the counter. These “games” practice skills like sorting, letter recognition, or sometimes even just a puzzle.

Once breakfast is cleaned up, we dive into the schoolwork.

We’ll typically do two days a week that have a literacy focus and two that have a math focus.

Literacy Focus Days

Our days that are focused on literacy, usually look something like this:

  • Letter-focused counter game
  • Shared poem
  • Letter sound practice
  • Writing
  • Reading
  • Page from workbook
  • Read three quality books together

Now, we don’t always include all of these things into our home preschool schedule, but we will do most. Usually I’ll opt for either writing or reading, but sometimes we will do it all. And these things really are quite quick, so it doesn’t take a lot of time.

Shared Poem

No matter the focus, we always begin with a shared poem or song.

I’ll select a simple preschool poem that focuses on the time of year. For example, in September, the poem was about apples.

Each morning, for about two weeks, we will read this poem together.

Sometimes, we will look for particular letters or words in the poem.

I will usually point to the words as we read, so they can begin to understand how each group of letters represents a word, along with other connections they can make.

Shared poems are a great tool to efficiently build a multitude of literacy skills!

You can get our shared poems for the year, along with activities to accompany each one here!

Letter Sound Practice

Personally, I find that scheduling in rote skills like letter sound in each session reminds me to do it. But it also really helps to build those skills!

I absolutely love our letter sound book.

ABC, See Hear, Do, by Stefanie Hohl, is an amazing book for teaching letter sounds! The author gets kids moving with the sounds!



Each letter has its own movement attached to it. As research has proven, getting movement involved with learning, allows the brain to remember things better!

This book also focuses on the letter sounds, rather than the emphasis being on the letter names.

My kindergarten teacher brain loves this. Knowing letter names is almost irrelevant when it comes to reading. You really have to know what sounds the letters make in order to learn to decode. This book recognizes just that.

I highly recommend this book for teaching letter sounds!

Writing

I take the Lucy Calkins’ ‘small moments’ approach when it comes to writing.

Now, this is rather watered-down as we are really in the very beginning stages of learning to write.

But this is our process:

We think about what we want to write about. (Meaning, I guide my daughter to brainstorm things that have happened recently that she wants to talk about.)

I help my child to come up with one or two sentences about the topic. Rather than being broad, though, we narrow in and focus on the small moment.

For example, instead of writing something like, “We went to the aquarium. It was fun,” we narrow it down a lot. We might go with something like this, instead: “I got to feel like stingray at the aquarium. It was wet and bumpy.”

This approach gives more meaning and depth to the writing.

Now for actually getting it down on paper.

I am the one who actually writes down the words, but I’m using the words my child came up with. We take one sentence at a time.

I model how I sound out words as I write them. I’ll often ask for input on the first letter of a word. If a word is repeated, I’ll have my child read back the letters to me as I write it.

Once the words are on the paper, we’ll read the words together once or twice.

Then, it’s my child’s turn to draw a picture that “matches” the words. We talk a lot about how pictures match the words in the books that we read. So if we’re writing about a stingray, then there should be a picture of the stingray, or the stingray tank. There shouldn’t be a picture of a playground, because that doesn’t match the writing.

I’m obviously not picky about what the picture looks like. Rather, the intention of the picture should have the same meaning as the words.

When the picture is completed, we’ll read the words one or two more times before closing it up.

We loved using these little books for our writing this year! I might size up to these books for next year.





Reading

Before I get into how I taught reading to my three/four year old child this year, there’s an idea that is really important to know. It’s called Concepts About Print.

Concepts About Print

Concepts About Print, or CAP, includes a variety of really basic skills that kids need to know, prior to learning how to read. These skills are things we do all of the time without even thinking about it. Here are some of the CAPs:

  • Knowing where the book cover is
  • Knowing what a title is
  • Knowing how to turn to the next page
  • Knowing that a group of letters is a word
  • Knowing that a group of words is a sentence
  • Recognizing that we read left to right
  • Return sweep (the idea that at the end of a line of text, you go down to the left side of the next line)
  • Recognizing that the picture on a page matches the text on the page

When I talk about teaching reading with my very young child, it’s because we’re essentially working on these core skills.

How I Taught Reading to My Three Year Old

Again, the point of this reading wasn’t for my child to be reading completely independently at such a young age. Rather, it was so she could begin to learn the mechanics of reading, which will set her up for success when she is ready to truly read.

What books do you use?

We used these great little readers from Scholastic. The box set, First Little Readers: Guided Reading Level A, has 25 little books in it.



Our set was leveled A, through the Fontas & Pinnell reading level system. I’m still trying to decide if I’ll go with this set of level B books, or this set that emphasizes sight words.





What is your process?

This is our process on the first day of a new book:

  1. Look at the cover and ask, “What do you think this book will be about?”
  2. Picture walk. Look through the pages together, and talk about what we see in each picture, while ignoring the words.
  3. Read the book to the child. Point to the words. I would sometimes point out a repeated sight word, or the pattern of the words in the book.
  4. Read the book again, inviting child to join in.
  5. Ask a question about the book like: “What did you think of this book?” or “What could’ve also been included in this book?”

Day Two of a book would look something like this:

  1. “What do you remember about this book?”
  2. “Do you remember what this word is?”
  3. Read the book together once or twice, while pointing to the words.
  4. Ask a question about the book like: “What does this book make you think of?” or “Why do you think the author wrote this book?”

Then the book goes into a “can read” basket. The books in this basket are all ones that I’ve instructed on already. We will sometimes pull from a book and reread it together. More often, though, my daughter will go to these books on her own, and read them to herself. 🙂

This has really built up her confidence when it comes to reading. Most of the time the “reading” is out of memorization, and at this point, that is a wonderful thing!

Page from Workbook

Just about every schoolwork session, we will do a page from her workbook. The Scholastic workbook we use, Get Ready for Pre-K, has all different skills and subjects in it from tracing to science to letter recognition.



I have a whole post here about why I love this workbook, even though I don’t like worksheets!

The post is a full review of the workbook and how you can incorporate it into your home preschool schedule.

Read Three Quality Books Together

Once we’re done our work at the counter, we’ll select up to three high-quality picture books to read together on the couch.

By high-quality, I mean picture books that have a true story to them. Or non-fiction books that have great, age-appropriate information in them.

We don’t do the quick board books during this time.

Although another favorite for this time are classics like the Raggedy Ann stories. I love these for so many reasons. One, though, is that there’s only a couple pictures accompanying the stories.

They really require the reader (and listener) to focus and imagine what is happening in their mind. It’s such a great skill.

And frankly, I was surprised that my three year old liked them so much, especially with the limited pictures.

Math-Focused Day

Our days that we math-focused usually went like this:

  • Counter game that focused on numbers, shapes, sorting, or patterns
  • Shared poem
  • Rote counting
  • Math game
  • Scissor practice
  • Page from workbook
  • Read three quality books together

What’s the same?

Like the literacy-focused days, we would begin with those counter games and shared poem. We would end with the workbook page and reading together, like I mentioned above.

I’ll go through the parts that are more math-centered.

Rote Counting

On each of these math days, we count to 100.

We use this awesome book I picked up at the Target dollar spot years ago. Each page has 100 of something on it. We simply pick a page, and point and count the 100 items.

By doing this regularly, it helps me from forgetting to include it in everyday life! It also really helps to build the skill, in a fun way, that really is rote memorization at this point.

Math Game

For math, we use this awesome book by Kate Snow, titled Preschool Math at Home.



This book is specifically made for home preschool!

It includes simple math games that are highly effective!

Each game takes maybe five or ten minutes to play. Some are even shorter than that.

The book includes a few supplies, but the rest of the materials are things you can find around your home. Things like plastic plates and stuffed animals. 🙂

With that said, I did purchase this jar of colored counting bears. I used these on the reg with this book. Highly suggest the bears, if you are purchasing the book.



By having math one or two days a week, we used the book consistently from the beginning of September through the beginning of June.

It’s a great way to teach math, and to keep things simple for you!

Scissor Practice

Around Christmastime, I decided to include some scissor practice into our home preschool schedule on our math days.

Again, by doing it regularly, it helped to remember to teach the skill. 🙂

We used this book from Carson-Dellosa. It starts out with basic straight lines, and advances as the book goes on.



Kids can add a sticker to the chart in the back of the book after each completed page.

We started out with these safety scissors, and later moved on to more legit scissors.





Six months after starting this book, my daughter is really doing an amazing job cutting! Her cutting is much more smooth, and her hand placement is correct.

She now loves to cut and glue to make all sorts of things! I’m really glad I included it in our school day.

Do you use themes in your home preschool?

Yes! But not always. I will often include a theme into our schoolwork.

You can check out how we did our Firefighter Unit here!

You can easily incorporate anything your child is interested in into your home preschool!

Do you use other methods of teaching?

Of course. Like I mentioned earlier, learning through play is such an effective and important way for children to learn all sorts of things.

For this reason, I allow for plenty of playtime daily, in addition to our home preschool schedule.

Alternatively, children also learn just by talking with them!

I often go out of my way to explain things that we see and are just a part of life.

For example, we might have a whole conversation about what a bank is, just by driving past one.

Giving our children background knowledge on all sorts of things sets them up for future understanding.

Conclusion

Your home preschool schedule can be super simple and as routine as you’d like it to be.

I mean, that’s the great thing about any homeschool…you can design it however it works for you and your family!

Related

Pre K Workbooks: The Very Best One that Your Child Needs

Firefighter Preschool Unit: 9 Super Easy Firefighter Activities for Pre-K

5 Play-Based Jan Brett Activities for Preschool: A Winter Mini Unit

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