Let’s be honest. “Preschool curriculum choices” is sort of an oxymoron. Preschool and curriculum are two words that don’t really belong together, do they? It’s not that preschoolers shouldn’t learn anything academic, it’s just that their time is better spent blowing bubbles, playing dress-up, and squishing their toes in the mud.
My first two children went to a Montessori preschool for a few hours a week, which I loved. They did things at school like practice washing their hands and pouring grains of rice between cups. If this sounds crazy to you, it did to me too at first. However, I came to see how much my children valued doing “real work.” Now that the Montessori school has closed, I try to give my preschoolers meaningful chores like scrubbing sinks, setting the table, and helping to cook meals.
In reality, I don’t give much thought to preschool. I plan the curriculum for my kids who are at least 5 years old. For the younger kids, I have a few workbooks or worksheets (described below) in case they want to “play homeschool” while the big kids are working, but I never pressure them to “do school.”
However, I understand the desire to have a plan, especially for firstborns. Although I don’t have any recommended “curricula” for preschoolers, here are some of the things our family has done with our 3 and 4 year olds to help them learn different subject areas. Please note that I never did all these suggestions with a single child, so pick and choose as you see fit!
- Read Elmo’s Big Lift and Look Book for counting, letters, shapes, opposites, and more. (See my full review here.)
- Try this Sounds Like Learning CD in the car for alphabet, counting, days of the week, months of the year, manners and more.
- Read The Everything Book for colors, shapes, counting to 5, letters, and more. (Great for toddlers too.)
- Try any of the fun free printable packs from 3 Dinosaurs.
- Go for walks and point out letters on signs, like “S-T-O-P”.
- Make a reading log train using letters instead of books.
- Try The Measured Mom’s free find the letter worksheets using Do-A-Dot markers.
- Use the same markers with This Reading Mama’s free letter maze worksheets.
- Try any of the fun, free clip card sets from The Measured Mom. (Some are good for math too!)
- Practice finding uppercase letters with a letter puzzle.
- Read Chicka Chicka Boom Boom to practice lowercase letters.
- Try Fridge Phonics for learning letter sounds.
- Use sidewalk chalk to make hopscotch and write 1 to 10 in the squares.
- Play hide-and-seek and practice counting together to 20.
- Count together while pushing child on the swing.
- Read 1-2-3 Peas to practice counting to 100.
- Cook together and measure out the ingredients.
- When setting the oven or microwave, have the child push the numbers for you.
- Improve spatial awareness and thinking skills with single player games like Trucky 3 or Camelot Jr.
- Try any of Kumon’s Pre-K workbooks to work on logic skills and give kids practice with worksheets.
- Make a homemade bug house and go on a bug hunt.
- Take a nature walk.
- Check out National Geographic Little Kids Books such as the First Big Book of Space (note they also have books on dinosaurs, animals, the rain forest, weather, etc.)
- Visit a zoo.
- Mix baking soda and vinegar for a fun chemical reaction. Add food coloring to turn them into “magic potions.”
- Visit a natural history museum.
- Hang a birdfeeder and learn about birds.
- Watch some episodes of Magic School Bus or Wild Kratts together.
- Make a Homemade Learning World Map.
- Read A Life Like Mine to learn about cultures around the world.
- Read National Geographic Little Kids First Big Book of Who to learn about famous historical figures.
- Visit a history museum.
- Find your home on a globe.
- Talk about community helpers like fire fighters and librarians.
Most of all, enjoy this stage in your child’s life. Whether they can count or recognize letters or read is not important. The point of preschool, in my opinion, is to help kids develop an insatiable curiosity and experience the joy of discovery.