Preschool is an amazing time in a child’s life, and it’s the time when you focus on preparing your child’s school readiness. Homeschooling is a great idea because it allows you to customize your child’s learning. Learning how to homeschool a 4-year-old is easier than you imagine.
A four-year-old spends most of their time playing; play-based learning is ideal for this age. You might not realize it, but playing is how they learn. Kids learn so much while playing, but they also need to focus on learning skills that will benefit them in kindergarten.
Are you ready to get started? Here is what you need to know about preschool homeschooling.
What Should a 4-Year-Old Be Learning?
Before you decide to homeschool a 4-year-old, the first thing you need to consider is what your child should be learning.
Kids at this age need to work on practicing daily skills that make their lives easier. If they can’t open the toothpaste tube, make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, pour a cup of water, or catch a ball, I suggest including those goals in your plan for the year.
Daily tasks and skills matter as much as the educational part of the goals.
At the same time, your child has academic goals to meet at this age. The goal is to prepare your child for kindergarten while simultaneously creating a love of learning. I think a love of learning is the most important goal of all because, once your child enjoys learning, everything else flows with it.
Before your homeschool year begins, I suggest writing out a list of academic goals that your child to meet by the end of the school year.
Here are some realistic goals for what a 4-year-old should be learning.
- Identify letters of the alphabet and common sight words
- Identify rhyming words
- Write name
- Know his birthday and address
- Hold a pencil correctly
- Count to ten
- Classify objects based on shape, size, and quantity
- Know how to use art supplies like paint, scissors, and glue
Don’t Forget the Motor Skills!
Focusing on motor skills, fine and gross, are a vital part of preschool. Gross motor skills come first because development follows a pattern of larger muscles to smaller ones.
For example, painting with a large paintbrush is easier and an earlier skill than using a pencil.
Here are some gross motor skills to practice with your four-year-old.
- Catching a ball
- Throwing a ball
- Walking on a line
Don’t forget the fine motor skills as well!
- Stringing beads
- Buttoning and zipping
- Cutting with scissors
- Rolling Play-Doh
How to Homeschool a 4-Year-Old
It feels intimidating when you start homeschooling for the first time, but let me reassure you, as long as you are working with your child, you’re doing good. A 4-year-old is just starting their education journey.
Let me break down the steps to start homeschooling a four-year-old; it’s much easier than you imagine.
Know Your State Laws
The first thing you need to do is find out the laws of your state around homeschooling. Most states have no requirements for a four-year-old, but it’s smart to be prepared and understand what the state expects from homeschooling families.
Pick Goals for the Year
Prioritize and write down what you want your child to learn this year, and keep in mind what your child needs to know for kindergarten. This is particularly important if you plan to enroll your child in kindergarten in a public or private school in the following year.
Keep these goals written somewhere that gives you easy access to them so that you can mark them off when your child meets the goal.
Consider a Curriculum or Find Resources
A curriculum is not a necessity for a four-year-old, but many first-time homeschooling families feel more comfortable using a designed curriculum instead of picking their own resources.
You’ll find an abundance of choices for preschool curriculums for homeschoolers, but the most important things to include are :
- Resources to help your child learn basic math skills such as counting and identifying pattern
- Plenty of books to read aloud
- Resources to teach your child the alphabet and introduce phonics
- Plenty of art supplies
- An area for play-based learning
- Fun science experiments that introduce your child to the world around him
Set Up an Area for Learning
Don’t feel like you need a homeschool room; most families don’t have an extra room for homeschooling. The couch might be your center for learning, but I suggest having an area to hold your supplies and books.
Create a Relaxed Schedule
A four-year-old only needs a relaxed homeschool schedule. Lessons should be 10-15 minutes long per subject with plenty of play and art intermingled. Kids at this age learn best when they’re playing and having a good time, so keep it simple yet enjoyable.
Connect with Your Local Homeschool Community
You might be surprised to learn that most areas have a homeschool community; homeschooling is the fastest-growing education sector in the United States.
Finding a community opens up so many options, and check with local businesses. Many gymnastic and dance schools provide lessons in the daytime specifically for homeschooling families.
How to Pick a Homeschool Curriculum for a 4-Year-Old
If you decide that you want to buy a pre-packaged homeschool curriculum for your preschooler, you want to make sure your investment has everything your child needs. This time is when your child learns and builds a strong foundation for the rest of his education, along with practicing and gaining gross and fine motor skills.
So much is happening for a little child!
When selecting a homeschool preschool curriculum, here are some considerations.
- The curriciulum should include language arts, math, science, and social studies that will prepare your child for kindergarten.
- All lessons should be simple and concentrate on building basic concepts.
- Play-based is ideal for this age, and children should be exposed to lessons using different learning styles and modalities.
- Each lesson needs to build upon the next, creating a foundation.
6 Tips to Homeschool a 4-Year-Old
I know how exciting it is to starting homeschooling your four-year-old. When you’re ready to get started, here are some of the best tips.
1. Get Outside Daily
Children belong outside, so get your preschooler outside as often as possible. Go on nature walks and explore the world; let him bring home things he finds and learn what they are. Answer questions and observe together.
2. Read Aloud Daily
Reading aloud to your child is one of the most important things you can do for your child. It helps with speech development and early literacy skills that will benefit your child for the rest of their lives.
Include at least 10-15 minutes of reading aloud daily with your children. The results are amazing!
3. Take Age-Appropriate Field Trips
Preschoolers take in the world around them more so than other age ranges, so take your child places.
While Covid surely makes things more complicated, visit local museums and zoos as often as possible. If you learn about a topic that your child enjoys, find related field trips that will enrich his learning.
4. Visit the Library Regularly
It doesn’t matter if your child reads yet – visiting the library encourages reading literacy. Once your child reaches the age of reading, your child can check out books as often as he likes.
5. Keep Lessons Short
Preschoolers have short attention spans, but that’s okay. When you homeschool, you adjust the lessons to fit the needs of your child. So, plan short 10-15 minute lessons that have a focused point and plan.
6. Sing Songs and Rhyme
It might seem silly to an adult, but singing songs and rhyming works to help children develop their speaking and listening skills.
Counting songs, like “one, two, buckle my shoe…” are one way to help your child have fun with numbers and learn their order. Find songs that your child thinks are fun and sing them regularly. This also builds their memorization skills.
It’s easier to homeschool a 4-year-old than you might imagine. Remember, your goal is to prepare your child for kindergarten and practice their motor skill development. Don’t stress; you got this!