Mom’, ‘Dad’, ‘cook’, ‘cleaner’, ‘maid’, ‘best-friend’, ‘caregiver’ are just some of the many hats parents wear. One of the most important ones is ‘teacher’. As parents, one of the most important things we can do for our children is to teach them. Teaching them how to love and care for others, how to share and respect their peers, how to communicate what they are feeling, proper manners, right from wrong, the list goes on. Parents are their children’s primary educators, and will find themselves in this role for life. It’s not an easy role to assume however, and every parent needs a little helping hand to help their little one start their own journeys. The traditional helping hand in integrating kids into society are of course preschools.

Preschools offer so much more than a place to mind your child whilst you are at work. They are a place that allows your kids to interact with others their age, feel safe as they learn to enter society, and of course, it’s a kickstart to academic education. Preschools aren’t for every parent and young child though. Whether it be the choice to homeschool your child, or perhaps being too costly due to limited places, there are many ways to ensure your child isn’t missing out.

It is a common misconception that homeschooling your preschooler can somehow be harmful to their educational progress, but this couldn’t be further from the truth!  With our ever-growing technological age there are so many amazing resources available to help parents learn how to be the best teacher they can for their child. Below we’ve compiled five essential tips on providing the best possible homeschooling experience for your preschooler. 

1. Consider an Online Preschool

These days you can pretty much learn how to build a rocket from YouTube, so why not how to give your child the best start to early learning? Whether you consider virtual preschool platforms  as an alternative to the traditional brick and mortar preschool, or as a chance to help you learn from early-childhood educators on the dos and don’ts so that you can go on to homeschool your preschooler, virtual preschools are a godsend for parents. Going back to the many roles parents have to play, it’s not always easy to find the time to sit down and carve out a lesson plan, much less know where to start.  Online preschools offer parents the chance to have some breathing room. 

When it comes to online preschools, nobody is more committed to providing the best possible experience for your child than Carin Smolinski and ABC Virtual Preschool. For under a dollar a day, you are just a click away from 45 minutes of daily virtual preschool lessons led by some of the most experienced and professional educators out there.

2. Appoint a Time and Space for Learning 

We get it, so much to do, so little time. Throw in a toddler tantrum and unscheduled Zoom meetings, it can definitely throw you off balance. Designate an area that is safe and is as free as possible from any potential distractions to have as your learning environment. When you and your preschooler come together in this space they will in time come to associate it as their learning time. With the time you choose to do this, try to make it regular. Don’t worry too much about learning time beginning 9 or 11.30am on the dot, as long as you designate a certain timeframe to begin each day. 

Whilst implementing routine is important however, it’s not the be all and end all. Try not to worry too much if something comes up and you aren’t able to follow your schedule as planned. It’s important to have some flexibility in our lives, and may in fact be a good lesson for our children to learn from time to time, goodness knows they will need it as they get older. 

3. Research Homeschooling Curriculums

Not one child is the same, and not one parent is the same either. This early on, your child probably won’t have defined interests and passions, and what works for them one day might not the next. Knowing this, there is no right curriculum to follow. Being your child’s developmental age, this is the time for them to be able explore what resonates with them and what doesn’t. Creating a curriculum for your preschooler can seem like a daunting task, but it doesn’t have to be. There are countless curriculums to be found online, from blogs, to set educational curriculums, or those employed by virtual preschools. Research a few and compare them. What are the common factors? What does your child need to learn academically? What do they need to learn cognitively or emotionally? In what ways can you teach your child these things? 

Instead of focusing on finding the perfect curriculum, instead concentrate on trying various methods and activities to deliver the content you are trying to teach your child. Take note of which ones resonate with your child or that they adapt best to. It may feel like a very long trial and error process at first, but with time you will find what works best for the both of you. 

Be wary of programs that are worksheet focused. Meaningful learning for preschoolers comes from hands on, participatory learning, not one dimensional worksheets.

4. Plan Extracurricular Activities 

Part of early-learning is teaching children to be sociable. If they don’t interact with others their age, how on earth can you expect your child to learn concepts like sharing their toys, or playing nicely with others?  As humans we need opportunities to interact with others, and how we do so begins from an early-age. Just because you have decided to homeschool your child does not meet you have taken away their social interactions. Set-up virtual and in person playdates. Even during the pandemic when in person play is limited, it’s a great time to learn social emotional skills and start to develop a personal toolkit for self regulation. Virtual preschool like ABC, that have a strong SEL element can help those skills to develop.  You can find like minded families on Facebook groups with other parents homeschooling their preschoolers. Again these groups can be used to organise play dates or larger meetups in your area with other homeschoolers. If these options aren’t available to you then maybe look into sporting groups or community programs. Don’t be afraid to expose your child to new environments, not only are these experiences excellent for your child’s cognitive and behavioural development, but they can also give you a much-needed pause and peace of mind.

5. Learn to Enjoy the Homeschooling Experience

Not going to sugar coat this, things will at times get stressful. Very stressful. There are ways to mitigate this however. Many parents set unrealistic expectations for both themselves and their children, and before they know it significant real emotional distress can set in if things don’t go to plan. Instead of focusing so much on outcomes, focus instead on how privileged you are to be able to enjoy this time with your child in this way. After all, if homeschooling isn’t an enjoyable experience for you, it certainly won’t be one for your children either. If you are able to balance your time and, most importantly, your expectations, and eventually homeschooling will become an activity both you and your children cherish.

Homeschooling isn’t something that will come easy at first, and it will be a process that you will be continually learning from as you go. Try out different avenues, and use the tips above to help guide you on this journey. Remember, you are not alone in this – there are so many people and resources to help you navigate your preschoolers homeschooling journey. And most of all know this, there is no right or wrong way to homeschool your preschooler.