Teaching pre k for me is pretty low key, as a minimalist homeschooler, I create a thinking process rather than focus on information retention for information’s sake.
My pre k curriculum choices are simple, eclectic and effective for young minds to learn how to begin the formal education process in a relaxed way.
In this post
In this post, I will list what I use, why I use it and how you can use the same or similar items and tools to create a functional and minimal Pre k curriculum that is tailored to your child.
What should NOT determine pre K starting age
One of the most important aspects of pre K learning is starting right, don’t start your child based on age, you must start them when they are ready it can vary, anywhere from three to five, and also depending on boys to girls, it depends also on your own outlook, I myself am fairly relaxed about pre k, I keep it simple.
Flashcards are good for this and are what I use the most, I make them fun and they enjoy being a part of the school environment with their older siblings while they learn the critical thinking skills in the process of creating patterns and slowly memorizing what the flashcard is teaching, such as ABC’s, counting, days of the week, and so on.
What should determine pre K starting age
Ditch the Pre K age guide and start looking at your child.
Many of the answers on google when parents asked when is my child ready to start Pre K?
They answered with socialising as the number one factor.
Are they able to operate independently?
Can they speak well and express themselves?
All this is designed for parents who are sending their children to school, where the academic aspect is an afterthought.
Rather the concern is the child being able to cope in groups and be comfortable away from parents for hours at a time.
As homeschoolers, we focus on a child academic ability based solely on the child, on their ability to create lifelong learning skills through life skills and thinking skills and be ready to start the more formal learning process.
The time spent in Pre K for the homeschooler is a time of getting to know the child’s learning style, of introducing them to the learning structure and allowing them to grow in confidence in their own ability to learn.
WHEN IS A CHILD READY TO START PRE K?
For me personally, I don’t fuss with grading young children.
So, the Pre K curriculum can be started at any age and can take as long as it needs.
This phase is crucial and the most important thing you can get right is knowing when to start.
THE 4 SIGNS YOUR CHILD IS READY TO START PRE K
- ARE THEY SEEKING MORE INTERACTION FROM YOU? Obviously this is going to be happening no matter what in young children, but young children who are ready to learn will begin to seek out more conversational or question heavy interaction when you notice this happening you can begin introducing them to more formal learning.
- ARE THEY SHOWING A CURIOSITY FOR LEARNING? does the child want to find and experience more? Do they request books, do they love bugs or nature or music? if you see an interest forming in the child feed it, but do not squash it will only formal learning as the only answer to teaching a skill or increasing the childs interest. Pre k is teaching confidence in a child’s learning ability, not just imparting knowledge. Let the child dictate most of the learning topics if they have specific interests and work on indluding the pre K basics along side.
- HOW WELL CAN THEY SPEAK? speech is a very good indicator of a child’s ability, a child with good speech (not necassarily pronounication but a good vocabulary index) is a child who is constantly picking up new words and can quickly understand how to use those words in situations, this is child who can most likely grasp the concepts taught in Pre K.
- HOW MUCH TIME DO THEY SPEND ALONE? Children who are ready for prek learning, are children who can play alone, good imiginative play is huge in child’s development and so, when you see this, a child who can sit and play alone, happy to dream up situations and scenarios (that are well thought out and somewhat related to reality) this is most likely a child who is ready to be introduced to pre K learning.
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HOW TO TELL IF YOUR CHILD IS NOT READY FOR PRE K?
IF you have introduced pre k and you are finding it difficult, the child’s attention span is not long enough the child isn’t interested, the child is not retaining any of the information after weeks of repetition, then you have started too early.
This is perfectly normal.
The majority of children are started at too young an age.
If you think you have started early there is nothing you can do but stop and wait, usually, three to six months is a good time frame to come back again and reintroduce the child to Pre K.
In a world where Pre k depends on a birthday cut off date, this can be difficult for parents to do.
One of the hardest things parents can do is nothing.
Especially if you know other children the same age as yours who are thriving in pre k.
THE SIGNS YOUR CHILD IS NOT READY FOR PRE K
- DOES THE CHILD NOT WANT TO TAKE PART?
- lack of interest, lack of motivation, and their understanding is low and teaching is Tedious.
- This is a sign that is it too early, if you read my post on how to become a minimalist homeschooler I detail the reasons why you should teach less, and start teaching later ( grade 1 at age 6-7). If you are dealing with a young child, let them dictate the time frame of when they begin and how long they learn for and while you do need to take the time to introduce Pre K.
- DOES THE CHILD STRUGGLE TO FOLLOW BASIC INSTRUCTIONS? Being able to follow simple processes is taught in young children in the physical world. So if you are asking a child to follow a process mentally (flashcards, learning sounds, counting.. ) and they have not learnt how to physically, then you are going to reach a roadblock. stop and learn lifeskills!
- IS THEIR ATTENTION SPAN NOT LONG ENOUGH? a child in pre-K’s attention span is not going to be huge, don’t expect to be able to get done a long list of items that you want to teach, instead be prepared for 10 minutes once or twice a day. I know this seems small, but you are better off to introduce one new element at a time, for example, counting, use the flashcards and then just keep on with that until the child has mastered it, it could take days it could take weeks. However, if you are struggling to retain your child’s attention for even a few minutes and they seem interested but can’t seem to focus then you can incorporate other games and skills into your Pre k.
Pre K is learning a new skillset.
- The ability to sit and listen is as much a skill as learning the alphabet.
- It can be confusing to know when this needs to be worked on and when the child just isn’t ready.
- My guideline is to teach focus first if it is lacking, then introduce Pre k learning.
There may be problems you need to address if your child is unable to focus.
SCREENS OF ANY KIND kill a child’s ability to imagine, recall and focus.
Screens of any kind need to be limited to less than an hour a day, and if you have a child under the age of 5 on screens (iPad, phone or gaming devices) then you need to STOP!
Screens affect imagination in young children
I find children who are spending too much time on screens are inhibited in their ability to properly imagine, imagination is creative, yes, but it is not ridiculous. Children who are absorbed in television and gaming have an imagination that is almost otherworldly and does not encourage learning.
A child’s ability to imagine should be creative, not always in the restraints of the physical world but somewhat linked to their reality, they can place themselves in a world of their own and enjoy the difference to their world we occupy, but they can understand and differentiate reality from not.
learn how to manage screen time in your home
I know this is hard for many of us, I too can struggle with such little screen time for my children especially in summer with it is outrageously hot outside for days on end.
I do however see the change in my children, and my home life gets difficult when there is too much screen time, as my children get older I am finding it easier, in the long run, to say no to the screen, this and knowing that the lifestyle of too much screen time is going to hold your child back from reaching their full potential when it comes to education.
PART OF PRE K CURRICULUM IS LIFESKILLS
Pre k should include life skills for learning mental processes
These are skills that a child should begin learning at 2, these are things that not only help you throughout the busy days of parenthood but by teaching these things you are setting up your child for learning through the teaching of processes, the ability to focus, and a child who can follow instructions.
All learning no matter how basic needs these three skills in order for the child to be able to match and recall the information learned, while the information is great, it’s the process that is key, this is critical thinking, and critical thinking is by far the most effective things to teach any child at any age.
PRE K should include life skills and you should include these as part of your curriculum, don’t be afraid to step back from ticking boxes and begin a lifelong learning journey that is based on skills your children will need as they grow.
teach them how to do simple puzzles, play Jenga, use blocks and give them something to build, and have them execute it until the task is complete.
Learning to clean a small area with step by step instruction is a great life skill and to make it fun with songs or just with clapping and being engaging. Use everyday chores (brushing teeth for example to teach numbered steps, 1, toothpaste on the brush, 2 brush one side, 3 brush the other, 4 rinse brush, 5, wipe basin, 6 put the stool away.)
Basic processes are found in everyday life.
Teach children to make their bed, put toys away, do puzzles and basic flashcards, sing nursery rhymes, read poems to them books that are a little above their understanding, make them think.
These things help their young minds create and recall the many processes all around them as this greatly increases their ability to follow and retain information during more formal learning.
Games you can play to increase focus in young children
- Follow the leader
- Simon says
- Treasure hunts
- Memory games
- The animal guessing game
- I spy
- Sequencing activities
these are games you can play anytime and ones that create scenarios where the child has to focus on something, place a timer on these games and have the child complete the game or complete the time allocated to slowly increase their ability to sit and focus on one thing.
I am sure there are many more than this and if you can think of games of your own that you think will help your child to focus on something for a set time take the time to play them often.
A child that is used to learning these things is a child that has formed the proper memory and processing skills and is exactly the mindset you want to instil in a young learner.
what should you teach in pre k?
Pre K should start with thinking skills, first and foremost.
You should focus on reading aloud to your child.
For the introduction of formal learning, you can’t go past flashcards and simple pencil skills.
- flashcards, for counting, alphabet (phonetically) and sequencing, days of the week and months of the year.
- Simple penmanship, with the emphasis on pencil holding form. You can use handwriting without tears, a printable book from the good and the beautiful (very budget-friendly if you have printer) or just one found at your local bookshop or online, you want to work on pencil skills and confidence forming simple shapes and letters.
- very basic math, I like using the math primer from math u see. OPTIONAL I like to have it and introduce it, if the child enjoys it I continue if not I keep it back and try again in several to six months.
- A great book I like to reference from time to time, pull out when we don’t have much to do, or just read the stories from it is what your kindergartner needs to know.
It’s a good reference book, it includes lessons in social science, geography, and language. they are easy to do, informative and fun, you could use the book as a daily lesson plan or even as a read-aloud.
TIPS FOR TEACHING PRE K CURRICULUM
- Set a timer, for a child new to formal learning set it low, (ten minutes) and increase the time by a minute each week until the child can sit for 20.
- Have the child master every concept! Make them feel their success, if you teach very little during this stage but give your child CONFIDENCE then you have done yourself and your child a service!
- Always begin counting at zero, not 1. This prepares them for mathematics.
- Teach the alphabet phonetically first!
- Take the time to learn pencil skills, most importantly holding the pencil correctly, you will save yourself a lot of time if the child masters this before moving on.
- Don’t micromanage your child’s learning, This stage can be frustrating if you like things done a certain way. Step back and let the child complete their task with gentle guidance at each lesson, keep a learning journal and write what the child needs to work on and introduce those concepts slowly. REMEMBER IMPARTING CONFIDENCE IS KEY!
READ ALOUD’S FOR PRE K
What you choose to read is important!
Make the time you spend you reading to your children as productive as possible.
Choose interesting, educational and challenging books. You can do this with young children by including books with detailed pictures, interesting stories and engaging characters.
Books such as:
All of these books are great investments into your child’s education and ones that you can use time after time and with age-old stories and interesting pictures these books use quality grammar and literacy and life lessons as well as engaging storylines for little and big ears alike.
General picture books of animals, bugs and human anatomy are always are a hit with young children who love to look at the pictures as you read. I have what I read to my children as read aloud’s and as books to use right through to grade four in my post, must-haves for minimalist homeschooling
Include educational toys for pre k curriculum- on a budget
Creative and interactive play should be a big part of pre k curriculum, and you do not have to get fancy!
Simple and cheap toys are the way to go.
I was recently featured in parents magazine in an article for parents who are looking for budget-friendly but effective toys for educational play, something which I think can be vastly overspent on when parents think they require the expensive stem learning toys.
trust me you don’t.
Just buy simple toys that interact with your child’s imagination.
lego bricks (note small pieces but a good addition under supervision for children under 3)
And that sums up Pre k, you don’t need anything fancy, instead focus on creating a confident child, one who can enjoy small tasks, who can follow instructions and a child who has a variable vocabulary through listening to read aloud’s.
Encourage imaginative play, which is a fundamental step in learning and adapting your home to a lifestyle away from screens.
Pre k is the basis of growing a child into a learner, and you can be as basic as you want, the goal to create the blocks of critical thinking, analysis and questioning.
it sounds complicated, but you can do this through teaching chores, step by step games, flashcards and reading to your child.
other homeschooling posts you might find helpful are