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Your Own Preschool Curriculum
By Susan Franklin
Learning at Home
Teaching your preschooler at home can
be accomplished several ways. I see three options: 1) Purchase a program from
one of the preschool curriculum providers, 2) Read to your child from great
books, and explore the world together paying attention to what interests your
child or 3) Design your own curriculum for free using the internet and the
library. Any one of the three options should work fine. But if you prefer a plan
laid out in writing and you are on a tight budget, option three is the way to
Here is my step-by-step guide to designing a preschool curriculum tailored to
you and your child.
1. DETERMINE LEARNING OBJECTIVES
In order to outline a program that will include fun for your child and make
sense for his or her developmental stage, consult a few skills lists for your
child's age. SmarterKids.com
provides Early Developmental Checklists you can use to evaluate your
child's strengths and weaknesses.
Be sure to check out the Michelle Lewis skills lists for two-
. I found them daunting at
first but now I'm actually I'm discovering that my four-year old is close to her
model and it gives me some areas of accomplishment to work on with him. World
Book has a Typical
Preschool Course of Study.
2. CHOOSE MONTHLY THEMES
After you have established learning goals for your child, you can browse through
websites to search for
themes. Ideas for themes can be seasonal (fall, winter, spring, holidays) or
they can introduce subjects, such as art, music, the alphabet or numbers. For
example, bears can be a wonderful theme for toddlers. See my themestream
for an extensive list of ideas and resources to use the bear theme. See also "Splash!
Summer Fun Art Unit"
for ideas if you want to do an art theme one month.
3. ORGANIZE YOUR RESOURCES
Now for the fun part. Cruise some preschool
websites to choose fun
activities, songs, coloring pages, poems, games, crafts to go with your theme.
As you gather your activities, book
titles, craft projects, booklists, and other resources set up favorites folders
and physical file folders as you go, labeling them according to the themes.
4. PLAN YOUR MONTHS
It will help you to stay focused if you lay out a plan on paper, writing out the
activities to use each week or month and where to find them. To save time use
one of the charts at Homeschool
Forms on the Web.
5. ADD A FEW FUN FIELD TRIPS
Find a few local points of interest to visit with your preschooler related to
the theme, if possible. But if not, just get out once a week or so and take time
exploring your community. See "Fast,
Frugal Field Trips For Early Learners".
Pencil these into your plan and write in reminders a day or two ahead to call to
confirm your appointment.
6. MAKE LISTS
The final step to step, if you choose to do this, is to create "To Do"
lists and "Materials Needed" and book lists to ensure that the
supplies to do the crafts and activities are available when you need them. Don't
do this until a few weeks before you will need them since your plans will
7. STOCKPILE BASIC SUPPLIES
We have a small stash of various craft supplies in our garage stored in clear
plastic shoe boxes and stacked in a large bookcase. Basic art supplies such as
glue, scissors, stickers, colored pencils, markers are stored on a low shelf of
a linen closet for easy access.
Start saving and gathering supplies such as:
Cereal boxes (flattened for easy storage to use in place of purchased poster
board for small projects)
Plastic baskets from strawberries or tomatoes
Styrofoam trays from produce
Used white paper (for using back-sides)
Plastic peanut butter jars
Colorful junk mail and catalogs
Frozen juice lids
Ribbon, yarn, string
Clear contact paper
Old shirts for paint smocks
Old plastic tablecloth
Fly swatters (to use with bubble liquid outside)
Wire coat hangers
Brown paper bags, large and small
Plastic baby wipe boxes
Pipe cleaners or chenille stems
Used file folders
Used greeting cards
Cookie cutters (for tracing shapes, working with play dough)
Metal brad fasteners
Various tape and glue
Boxes of various sizes
8. KEEP PERSPECTIVE AND ENJOY YOUR CHILD
Playing and discovering the world in a lighthearted way should take priority
over any plans, so do not take this plan too seriously. You may just want
to use this guide as a reference from time to time instead of drawing out a
I received some good counsel when my son was an infant. A friend advised me to
train him first in how to behave: good manners, helping with chores, not whining
and complaining, getting along with others before emphasizing the academics.
This strategy has worked well.
It is a complicated juggling act to have fun together and still maintain some
control over a preschooler and a sense of order in the home. Boy, do I know. But
effort expended to do this will have its reward in a cheerful, well-behaved and
disciplined child. . .eventually. . . . well, most of the time, we hope.
2001 Susan Franklin