View Full Version : Preschool/Pre-K Curriculum

09-16-2010, 01:14 AM
Hi all, newbie here looking for advice for a curriculum for preschool. My son is nearly 14 months and I'm looking for preschool materials that are appropriate for now as well as when he gets older. While I'm not sure when the appropriate age to start, I figure I need to start something now to put him on the right path rather than allowing him to watch TV all day or destroy my house (he's well on his way now; Iím not sure how much more my furniture can handle:eek:) once he turns 2. Plus as there is so much out there to look at I figure it is going to take me at least a year to pick one to use when the time is right.

I haven't found anything that appears to be geared for 18 mos to 2 yrs and 2 yrs to 3 yrs. Suggestions?:confused:

For when he gets a bit older I found Sing, Spell, Read and Write (http://www.pearsonschool.com/index.cfm?locator=PSZ16c&filter_161=&filter_422=&filter_423=6733&filter_424=&filter_281=&filter_425=&programFilterTypeList=161%2C422%2C423%2C424%2C281% 2C425&PMDbSiteid=2781&PMDbSolutionid=6724&PMDbSubSolutionid=&PMDbCategoryid=1662&&PMDbProgramID=24483) (SSRW) Preschool for homeschoolers. Has anyone used it? Is it any good? Is there something better?

I really just need some direction. I donít want to wait until heís 4 to discover I canít do it and set him to fail:(. Well that might be a little dramatic but really if I canít do it, I want to get him enrolled in preschool sooner than later so he doesnít lose that head start.


09-16-2010, 07:57 AM
Welcome to the site! My kids are much older than yours now, but I would suggest reading to him constantly-read books to him (Dr. Seuss is great), read labels and boxes when you're cooking, etc. Let him see what you're reading, point out the pictures in relation to the words, etc. You might try to pick up some educational type coloring books at Wal-Mart or a dollar store as well. At 14 months, I wouldn't worry too much about a formal curriculum.

Enjoy your time with him-you've got plenty of time to formally educate him. Take him for walks and talk to him about nature, play with him. At his age, these all have educational value.

09-16-2010, 09:26 AM
I agree with Shoe--"education" at this tender age is just life, reading stories, listening, playing, going places with you, seeing you do your regular day to day things and participating when appropriate. At 14 months all of life is learning (really, that's true our entire lives if we live intentionally); there is nothing special or extra that you need to do. In my opinion TV probably shouldn't play a part in a child's life at all at that age, but we all have different views on that. As long as it's limited and thoughtful it probably doesn't matter in the long run.

Play in the leaves, explore the colors and textures and trees that they fell from. Have him help you sort socks when you do laundry and have him correct you when you try to put them on his hands or nose instead of his feet. Name his body parts as you do play this game--he'll catch on quickly. Have him help you in the kitchen--at this age my son's favorite thing to do was help wash the dishes. It took forever (!) but there are so many important life skills learned in handling wet dishes and helping mama do her work. He can help set the table with napkins and forks, he can help pick flowers for a pretty vase, he can learn about bugs in the garden, he can rake leaves (Target used to carry adorable kid sized rakes or use a little hand rake). Oh my--I'm starting to miss that age!

The last thing you need to worry about is a curriculum of any kind, or "giving him a leg up". As long as he has ample opportunity to explore his world around him and share in life with you, you're doing it right! :)

Welcome to the group!

09-16-2010, 09:35 AM
My 3 yr old likes doing the activities from www.letteroftheweek.com (http://www.letteroftheweek.com/). There is religious content, but it is listed separate if you don't want to do it. She has curriculum listed from 3 months and up. I can't tell you anything about the baby or toddler plans because we didn't start until the preparatory, but my son really enjoyed it. We also use some of the activities from this (http://confessionsofahomeschooler.blogspot.com/search/label/Alphabet) blog.


09-16-2010, 09:41 AM
At that age I suggest playing, talking, singing/dancing, reading, creating and exploring. Toddlers seem to be hardwired to learn through direct interactions with people. The more you introduce him to new words, experiences, concepts, sights and sounds the better the foundation for more formal learning later.

You can "teach" during these times, but more subtly...name the colors or shapes of toys, read books that introduce letters, numbers, shapes, colors in the story (Dr. Seuss' ABC book for example), play with blocks, costumes, and puppets, let him have his own drawer in the kitchen with his own cups, bowls, spoons, etc. to play with, take walks and name the trees and plants, or animals, play with playdough, fingerpaint, go to the zoo or aquarium, do the Hokey Pokey, listen to different kinds of music.

Mostly, have fun!

09-16-2010, 09:57 AM
I agree with all the suggestions above...reading, talking, creating, exploring...definitely great things to focus on in the preschool years. If you want a little structure, without going overboard, you might want to check out the Time4Learning Preschool curriculum (http://www.time4learning.com/preschool-games.shtml) (if your son enjoys being on the computer, that is). It is a nice amount of formal, fun learning without being too "schoolish".

09-16-2010, 12:02 PM
I haven't found anything that appears to be geared for 18 mos to 2 yrs and 2 yrs to 3 yrs. Suggestions?:confused:


I really just need some direction. I don’t want to wait until he’s 4 to discover I can’t do it and set him to fail:(. Well that might be a little dramatic but really if I can’t do it, I want to get him enrolled in preschool sooner than later so he doesn’t lose that head start.

That does seem really dramatic. I don't want to be harsh or rude, so please know that I'm trying to be really kind. But honestly, there's a reason you're not finding that many pre-K curricula for kids under 4. It's because they don't need it.

The "head start" that preschool gives kids is mostly about two things, neither of which you really have to worry about. First, for kids from poor homes where the parents are mostly uneducated or who work long hours and don't spend much time with them, preschool helps them learn skills that no one is teaching them in the home. We're talking about homes where parents don't read to the kids or play games with them - they just plant them in front of the TV or let them fend for themselves. Second, for all kids, preschool helps kids learn institutional "school" behaviors - how to line up, how to raise your hand, how to sit quietly for longer periods of time, how to hang up their coats and put their things in their cubbies. I don't want to diminish those skills exactly. In life, you do want to know how to wait and be in a group, but at this age they're drastically less important for homeschooled kids.

I'm not saying you can't do anything. Like others said, you can read, you can go out and see the world, you can play games and cook together and do little mixing colors up science experiments and make art and sing songs... You can even get a curriculum (like maybe Letter of the Week, which I know a lot of people like). However, before a kid is 4 years old, then he cannot be expected to sit still consistently to do any kind of formal learning. And even then, we're talking about a short attention span. You work your way up. My kids are 6. We don't do more than two hours of school total a day and it's broken up between playing games, me reading aloud, them reading, and doing what you might call "seat" work.

I think there are two important points I'm trying to make... First, if you're reading to him and spending time with him at this age, you CAN'T FAIL. Maybe later you'll figure out things that you realize could have been better, if only you'd known some trick or some resource. But really, you CAN'T FAIL by reading books and playing with a kid under 4 years old. Second, please do not judge yourself or your child by his ability to sit through seat work for a formal curriculum of any kind before age 4. Or really, age 5. Some people would tell you age 6 or 7. You start slow. Remember, homeschooling is a marathon, not a sprint. The most important element to see if you "can do it" as you say, is just to see if you can stand spending all day with your kid. There's more to it, of course, but I would say that's your first question.

09-16-2010, 12:04 PM
I agree with everyone above. I start teaching from birth. We read, read, read, paint, play with Melissa and Doug toys, play, sing, and get messy !

I wait for my children to ask to learn. When they start asking what letters are, I teach them. When they want to read, I start teaching them the sounds of letters. When they start picking up books and trying to read them, we begin to put those sounds together. A child will learn best when they are interested in something.

Until then, read, read, read, and read some more to him.

09-16-2010, 04:43 PM
I realize that I must sound kinda nutty.:o My first time mom nerves are acting up again. lol.

He's just in a stage where he's getting into EVERYTHING and causing mischief; curiosity is an understatement (swear that heís trying to give me a heart attack). I was just looking for ideas to help his development. I figured preschools must have ďcurriculumsĒ for that age so there must be something out there to point me in the right direction. For my sanity, we just need a bit more structure than we have now. He doesnít sit still for me to read anymore; heíd rather tear the book apart. But he does like the games I have for him on my Itouch and is highly interested in my computer. He will gladly sit in my lap while I click Starfall for him.

As for the rest, I am a planner and like being organized (though since having my son Iím failing miserable at it). I was just trying to explore the options available so when the time is right I wonít have to waste anytime making a decision, we can just jump in. I like being preparedÖnow if I could just find the manual that was issued with my child.:)

Thank you for your suggestions and reassurance that Iím not doing everything completely wrong. I needed to be sure that there wasnít something out there that I was missing.

09-16-2010, 05:13 PM
Letteroftheweek.com has some infant stuff. Or get Slow and Steady, Get Me Ready book it is for birth to 5.

09-16-2010, 08:09 PM
If your ds has a science bent ("he's getting into EVERYTHING and causing mischief; curiosity is an understatement") you could give Mudpies to Magnets (http://www.amazon.com/Mudpies-Magnets-Preschool-Science-Curriculum/dp/0876591128/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1284681657&sr=1-1) a try. But I agree with the other suggestions about getting out in nature. My dc loved taking rubbings (with paper and block wax crayons) of tree bark and leaves (vein side up) and even things like the bottoms of shoes. Borrow or buy a junior field guide or two and I bet you could get your little guy interested in figuring out what bugs and plants you have in your area.

My dc also really liked the Montessori activities I'd set up. My Montessori Journey (http://mymontessorijourney.typepad.com/) is a great resource for such ideas. I've also used activities from Sunflower Schoolhouse (http://sunflowerschoolhouse.com/) (not entirely secular, but there are secular materials there).

My youngest likes games like Time to Rhyme and ABC Go Fish, and then there are all those Kumon books--haven't run into one they haven't liked yet.

Above all, have fun!

09-16-2010, 08:13 PM
Oh, and absolutely, read, read, read! I regularly haunt children's book publishing websites with a window to my library's website open, and just request, request, request. So many great books out there!

You could also try something like Before Five in a Row (http://www.rainbowresource.com/product/Before+Five+in+a+Row/001512/1284682320-1379539), which is not secular but easily made so (uses picture books as the basis for learning in several different fields). I'm using some of the Five in a Row (http://www.rainbowresource.com/product/Five+in+a+Row+Vol.+1/019808/1284682320-1379539) suggestions this year with my k-er.

09-16-2010, 08:44 PM
Oh yeah - my mother gave the copy of Slow and Steady Get Me Ready that she had when I was a kid! It was useful for that early toddler time and then I forgot about it. Also, you could get something like The Toddler's Busy Book - I think I found that in a remaindered bin when my guys were about that age - it has ideas for art projects and lots of tactile experience things you can do to keep them busy. I remember our favorite thing was to put several bowls of random stuff onthe kitchen floor and let them go at it with spoons, funnels, mixing cups, etc. Usually flour, water, sometimes old rice or sometimes corn starch so it would turn into goop. And I would put food coloring into bits of it. It would keep them going for at least half an hour (amazing at that age!) then we'd all clean up together!

09-16-2010, 09:57 PM
www.carolscurriculum.com has monthly kits for the younger ones through, like, age 5 or something. For about $10/month plus shipping, you get a kit with everything you need for a month's worth of activities & crafts. It's pretty cool. It's geared toward daycares, so some of the stuff will talk about "the provider." I've ordered from them a couple of times for my daughter who was three at the time & she enjoyed the crafts. It was awesome for me because it seriously came with EVERYTHING, so I didn't have to plan or get anything together.

You're obviously a very dedicated momma who wants to the best for her baby. Now breathe! :) As long as you don't lock your kid in a room alone, he's going to be fine. There seems to be lots of pressure lately to get kids into preschool; I think it's crap. Have fun with your baby, be present (but not in his face all the time!) & follow his lead. It's even okay to let him watch TV. :)

It's hard, though, the first time around. I remember being stressed out about what my first was learning, if she was learning enough, if I was doing enough, what more should I be doing?! The best thing you can do is relax & don't put pressure on him. Trust him to learn & he will. Easier said that done, though, right? :)

Welcome to the group!

09-17-2010, 12:02 AM
Welcome :)

You have been given some wonderful ideas. BFIAR is great, although I personally feel that he would be too young. I have that book here and will consider starting it when my son is 2.5 but will access where he is at then.

If you do want more 'activities' to do at home I would suggest having a look at some Montessori Inspired things, you can set up most things quite easily and fairly cheaply using odds and ends. The activities cover many areas, give the children a sense of focus and something 'educational' to do without them being academic in nature. I have a large list of Montessori type blogs/websites on my blog - http://ourworldwideclassroom.blogspot.com/p/our-links.html - two books that might be of use to you are - Teaching Montessori in the Home The Preschool Years by Elizabeth Hainstock and Basic Montessori by David Gettman.

Montessori activities, in my opinion are fabulous for littlies as long as they have the control and aren't forced to do them. Many Montessorians are very passionate about being strictly montessori and not deviating from the scope and sequence. I think though, that you can just take the best elements and the things that work for you and implement them into your home. My two year old loves his 'tray activities' but there is no pressure there for him either. I just try to make them fun, interesting and challenging enough for him.

Anyway I think I have rambled enough now hehehe

09-18-2010, 11:18 PM
:) Hi
Well I think on one hand its Great that you are thinking a head to ensure your childs future,But on the other hand I do feel like your a bit over worried....
The Truth is thou,Is we all have been there!!!! me included and its not untill later that you look back wondering why you were so worried ;)

Home-schooling will be stressful,Fun,Easy ,Hard and always at different times....You must relise this and be willing to be patient and remember why you want to home-school to keep your spirits up and yourself driven in this path....
If your willing to go the public school route if it gets hard then thats probally what is going to happen...JMO

I know for my daughter it took yrs to finnally get her to her "grade" reading level....so many times i felt like giving her over to the public school system ...but i knew in my heart why i wanted to home-school and that kept me going and now after finally finding the right curriculum and groove ! she is at grade level and it has gotten so much easier...but thats doesnt mean next yr she wont struggle somewhere else kwim

okay so now that I am done giving my 2 cents;)
here are my suggestions....
Tv is GREAT!!!! so many educational shows on today..My advice is to watch them and figure which one you like ,you may not want it everyday but a couple times a week could be a good thing.
I also like using the internet...I know he is a bit young but we started our 3 yr old with a Online Program (http://www.time4learning.com)for pre-k last yr and he loved it!
Free printables are good,or buying cheap books at wallmart..
but at this age anything fun and visual will work...
Like fridge magnets or a day at the library ...Unit studies might be good like for instantes Fall is here you could read a book about Fall,show her some real leaves,color a fall picture ect

HTH :)

09-19-2010, 10:27 AM
I do not use a curriculum until 6 yrs or so unless they ask for a certain subject, instead we use a lot of things around the house, games, puzzles, blocks and basic toys they already have. A toddler is learning through everything they do, all day long. But, at the same time I can understand wanting to have some organization in the day.

I've set up tubs with different activities that the toddlers and preschoolers could reach during the day and I found that having a space with child-sized furniture nearby helped keep activities contained to the area. My kids enjoyed the lacing cards, pattern blocks, wooden puzzles, Leap Frog products (especially the magnetic letter and word activities). I left board books that they couldn't destroy in a place with easy access so they could grab them and flip through the books on their own. We would make salt dough together and then they would spend hours playing with it. Magnetic letters on the fridge were (and are still) a big hit, they can play with the letters while I'm working in the kitchen. Days when I didn't mind really messy work I would give them 2 or three colors of paint and let them explore painting and colors (I learned to make sure they were in play clothes and not to get too upset when they started painting themselves). For outside and going to the park I bought a couple cheap magnifying glasses and bug catcher kits, keep buckets and plastic shovels around, balls to bounce and throw, scooters to ride, and sidewalk chalk. Dollar stores are great for finding many materials to use at this age, we also got several Melissa & Doug products and Leap Frog products and Christmas & Birthday presents.

Reading aloud; all of my children went through a phase where sitting with them to read aloud was all but impossible. They were more interested in the tactile experience of the book than listening to me read it to them. This is where board books are perfect. We would sit together and I would just let them flip through the books themselves. Sometimes they would point to a picture and want to know what it was, and I would tell them. Eventually they wanted to 'hear' the story again and would sit and let me read (sometimes). But, first they needed to explore what a 'book' was and then they were able to begin understand that there was a story in the book.

In all this I didn't 'plan' too much what we would do, but let them choose. Freedom to explore is really important at this age and you will be surprised some of the ideas they will come up with. Just talking and doing things together is what is important for young children to learn. And, as parents, it is important for me to be aware that toddlers are inadvertently destructive and messy in their learning...they are not doing it on purpose and where I am able I just let them go with it and have them help me clean it up when they are done.

Good luck, that age can be very frustrating but also a lot of fun.


09-19-2010, 11:59 AM
I agree with everyone in that you don't need a curriculum before about age 6. Think "learning through play".
Here are a few sites that have lots of great ideas:
No Time or Flash Cards (http://www.notimeforflashcards.com/)

Toddler Workbox Ideas (http://www.squidoo.com/toddler-workbox)

"Tot school is nothing more than intentionally providing your tot with age appropriate activities that are fun and engaging. By choosing specific toys and activities, we expose our tots to a variety of early learning skills. Mastery is not the goal FUN is!" ~ Carisa from www.1+1+1=1

Educational toy ideas for toddlers:

http://www.spelloutloud.com/search/label/toddler%20time (http://www.spelloutloud.com/search/label/toddler%20time)

09-19-2010, 12:07 PM
There really isn't curriculum for that age. Preschools don't typically start until 3ish. Children who are in care prior to that are not in preschools, they are in daycare or Mothers Day Out.
When he is 3 or so, you can look "curriculum", but even then I don't think it is necessary for a child to have structured "school" at that age, especially if you are planning on homeschooling.
Also, when my kids were that age, it would not have been a good time to decide whether or not we were going to homeschool. How we interacted was not at all indicative of our school relationship now.
There is no reason you can't change your mind when he is 5,6 or 7 if homeschool is not working for you. Or change it back.

I would spend his infancy and toddlerhood getting to know each other and seeing what holds his interest. Join playgroups, take walks, go to museums and just look and enjoy, read, read, read to him.

09-19-2010, 04:44 PM
I can't really add anything to the curriculum suggestions - everything I'd have mentioned as already been noted. :)

I think there are two important points I'm trying to make... First, if you're reading to him and spending time with him at this age, you CAN'T FAIL. Maybe later you'll figure out things that you realize could have been better, if only you'd known some trick or some resource. But really, you CAN'T FAIL by reading books and playing with a kid under 4 years old. Second, please do not judge yourself or your child by his ability to sit through seat work for a formal curriculum of any kind before age 4. Or really, age 5. Some people would tell you age 6 or 7. You start slow. Remember, homeschooling is a marathon, not a sprint. The most important element to see if you "can do it" as you say, is just to see if you can stand spending all day with your kid. There's more to it, of course, but I would say that's your first question.

Or 7 or 8 ;)
You'll learn a LOT about your child over the next few years. One of the most important things you'll learn is that what you think will work may not. Some of what you like will be completely wrong for your kid - and you may not realize that until after you've bought it and invested time in working the program... and that is PERFECTLY NORMAL. Homeschooling isn't about getting it right off the starting line. It's about adjusting what you're doing as your child's needs become apparent. As long as you're responsively parenting and teaching, you CANNOT FAIL. :)

09-20-2010, 09:57 PM
Are you sure you're not describing my 2yr old daughter? LOL Reading your posts reminded me of where I was 6 months ago. Wondering the same things you are. Jessa, my 2yr old would rather rip a book apart than read it. She had limited patience and that caused her to spend the majority of her young life screaming and throwing fits, because she was unable to get us to understand her. Thankfully, now she is in the speaking stages and we can actually understand what she is saying she has calmed down a lot. And I do mean a lot.

Like you, I have to organize, organize, and organize. I have lists for my lists. Seriously, I do. I think I may need therapy for this. :0 So one day I set up a yahoo group and posted every internet link I have to date on the links page. I am still looking for links to freebie curriculum, resources, and information that I know will become priceless later on. In my search I found two curriculum books. 1) "We Care. A Preschool Curriculum for Children Ages 2-5" was a joy to have as it gave me exactly what I was looking for. A month by month curriculum. And 2) "The Complete Daily Curriculum For Early Childhood".

Not sure if either of these is what you are looking for, but inside you will find art and crafts projects that encourage the very things everyone else has already advised to do - sing, dance, play, read, visit places like petting zoos, do finger paints, create works of art, and in general, just be with your child.

I found music CD's with children's songs and nursery rhymes are my girls favorites. We play one every time we get in the car. I read tons of Dr Seuss. Both my girls adore "My Many Colored Days" because I made a point to make it dramatic. Flash-cards, board games, race tracks, tic tac toe games. Be creative and have fun. You just can not go wrong. And by the time he's 2 you'll see for yourself, you are doing the right thing.

Happy Homeschooling,

09-20-2010, 10:27 PM
Janette, have you seen the old "Notes Alive" video of My Many Colored Days (http://www.kidsfirst.org/detail/200030.html)? Your library might have it--the Minnesota Orchestra plays music to match each mood.

09-20-2010, 10:43 PM
I had no idea this existed. My girls will LOVE it. Will check with the library in the a.m.

Thanks a bunch.