(Last Updated on March 11, 2023)
Time is one of the greatest gifts you can give your child. Time with you. Time with other people who love them. And even time alone.
In this series on How to Homeschool Preschool, we’ve already talked about the importance of playing (in Part 1) and character training (in Part 2). But, to do both of those things, you need time and you need to be intentional with it!
Thankfully, homeschoolers are in a position to maximize the quality time they have with their kids. It’s not that we can somehow fabricate more hours out of thin air (I wish!). But homeschoolers generally have more flexible schedules and more say-so as to how their family uses their time. (I talk more about this here.)
Homeschooling Preschool: Focus on Quality Time
As you homeschool your preschooler, you’ll use your time in different ways. Some of your days will be exciting – field trips and visits with grandma. Other days will be mundane – cleaning the house and catching up on laundry. But, through trial and error, you’ll find your homeschooling groove.
When my kids were in preschool, there were three tips from seasoned homeschoolers that stuck with me:
- Consider using a routine instead of a schedule. Some families do well with a rigid schedule (8:00am breakfast, 8:30am morning chores, 9:00am read aloud, etc…), but not mine. For us, super strict schedules were too stressful. And I didn’t like interrupting my kids when they were engaged in something just because it was “10am! Time for math!” Instead, a general order and flow to our day – more like a “suggested outline” – helped us stay productive but not overly focused on the clock.
- Keep a big picture view. There were many days when I was homeschooling my young kids when I felt like we’d done nothing. Zero progress. All I did was barely make it to the next day. That’s ok! Rome wasn’t built in a day! You can’t do everything everyday. Instead, think about your progress in terms of weeks, months, and years. Maybe you didn’t read aloud to them on Tuesday. Maybe you didn’t have any playdates this week. Maybe they didn’t learn to tie their shoes yet. Don’t worry!! Over the course of the weeks and months, you’ll look back and see that they’re still learning and socializing and maturing even if today was a total flop.
- Do more with them and less for them. Kids are often capable of learning skills that we continue to do for them. If you train them in age-appropriate skills, they’ll soon be able to do more for themselves which frees you from doing it for them. And, the less time you spend tying everyone’s shoes and zipping up jackets, the more time you’ll have to other things (like take a deep breath and maintain your sanity, for one).
These three pieces of advice helped point me in the right direction. But, I soon found myself falling into other traps when it came to planning the specifics of our preschool.
In order to make the most of your time homeschooling, try to avoid these common pitfalls:
Time Trap #1 – Spending Too Much Time Planning
Preparing and planning are good and necessary things, but remember to prioritize doing over planning. Spend less time formatting your lists of pre-k activities and more time implementing them. Spend less time preparing lengthy book lists and more time actually reading to your child!
Time Trap #2 – Over-scheduling Your Preschooler
We all want to provide opportunities for our kids, and homeschoolers have more flexibility than most to fill up our free time with worthwhile activities. But Junior has years to learn Latin and perfect the violin and win the state spelling bee and study formal logic. None of this needs to happen in preschool (if ever). As you find a good balance of activities for your family, remember that there’s a big difference between the pace of life that a three year old and a thirty-three year old can handle.
Time Trap #3 – Parent Burn Out
In our efforts to provide quality time and experiences for our kids, homeschooling moms and dads can easily burn out. We plan, we research, we manage, we shop, we read, we teach, we clean, we organize, we chauffeur… and eventually we collapse!
In order to avoid this, we need to be intentional about setting boundaries and routines with our kids. It’s absolutely necessary to take breaks from each other, so don’t feel bad mandating a quiet hour in your house or having them play by themselves for a while each afternoon.
Another lesson I learned when my kids were in preschool was to do chores with them as much as possible. I know, I know. It’s harder to get things done with little ones under foot. But I’ve found if I can get household jobs done with them, I’m much less resentful than when I have to use my precious quiet time breaks to scrub toilets. When they help you with chores, they feel included, they’re getting life skill training, and you’re getting actual work done. Win, win, win!
When it comes to homeschooling preschool, the key (like in other areas of life) is to find a balance and routine that works for your family.
Sometimes it seems hard because we have goals that seem to be opposites of each other. We want to be intentional in our planning, but also embrace organic, teachable moments. We want to incorporate play and free time, but also include training in responsibility and other positive character traits.
Often, we can find creative ways to accomplish both goals at once. For example, “fun play time” and “necessary character training” don’t have to be compartmentalized. And they aren’t opposites! We can intentionally include “free play time” in our daily routine and then allow time for a “5 Minute Pickup” (more about that here) where we focus on responsibility and taking care of our belongings.
I pray you’ll find homeschooling your preschooler to be one of the best, most rewarding choices you’ve ever made! And, if you’re overwhelmed and don’t know where to start, just do life together! Remember, a loving parent-child relationship and a safe place to learn and grow is all they really need. Everything else is icing on the cake!
Subscribe today to receive new posts via email!
If you’re embarking on a homeschooling journey (or even just considering it), Think About Homeschooling: What It Is, What It Isn’t, & Why It Works is the book for you! It will help you think through every aspect of your schooling decision and give you the solid foundation you need to get started home educating your child(ren)! Click here to learn more.