There are so many benefits to planning out an entire year of instruction ahead of time instead of “planning as you go”. One being the time it takes. Yes! Planning everything at once can seem overwhelming and it will take a while. BUT, believe me when I say, you will spend far less time creating an overall map of where you plan to go than you will if you decide to do all of the planning the night, or even week, before. The overall flow will be better, and you can make sure you are plugging in all the skills you want your child to grasp this year (more on that in #3).
Totally new to homeschooling and feel like you aren’t quite ready to start planning? I can help!
Check out: Homeschooling 101: How to Legally Get Started, How to Get Set Up at Home, and A Typical Homeschool Day
If you already have all of this covered, let’s dive into planning!
Step 1: Calendar
Decide whether you want to have a traditional school year (August-May) or more of a year round school year (6 weeks on, one week off). Instead of 5 days a week, we will be doing planned school activities only 4 days a week and leaving Fridays open for field trips, MOPs, and family time. The best part about homeschooling is you get to decide what you want your calendar to look like, especially in preschool. Once you have your start and end date, fill in important events, such as holiday breaks or vacations. If you’re pregnant, it’s a good idea to factor in your regular doctor appointments and breaks around baby’s due date. Find or create a good curriculum map to make it easy.
Step 2: Themes
A great way to organize preschool curriculum is with themes. You can base them off of holidays, seasons, or your child’s interests. They not only make learning fun, but can help your child learn concepts better because they are attached to fun experiences.
“Remember when we were learning about Space and we made that galaxy play dough? What letter were we learning about that week?”
“That’s right! You were making the letter S with the play dough, weren’t you?”
“Yep! I made a big S! And space starts with S!”
Themes also make lesson planning way easier for you! For example, if you’re theme for the month is “Dinosaurs”, for math, you can count, add, sort, and match dinos. If your learning about shapes, you can help your child make their own dinosaurs out of shape tiles. For science, you can freeze plastic dinos in ice “eggs”, and your child can predict and experiment what would happen if you use a dropper of cool and hot water on the Dino eggs. Sometimes it’s easier to teach different concepts when you have a theme in mind.
Need help finding ideas for themes? Pinterest has a TON 🙂
Step 3: Goals and Standards
For a guideline, I like to use this site that lists standards according to state, grade level, and subject. It only has math and language arts standards for preschool, so I plug in the goals I believe are appropriate for my child to obtain in other areas. For example, being able to identify the 5 senses, the main parts of the body, and knowing the importance of washing hands and brushing teeth are some of the things we are planning to cover for science this year.
Step 4: Plugging in Letters and Sight Words
There are a few different ways you can do this. You could teach letters in alphabetical order or mix them up. You could focus on a letter for two weeks or two letters per week. This will all depend on where your child is developmentally and what they are ready to learn. Even though it can be frustrating, try not to hound your child to learn their letters. When they are ready to grasp it, they will. You may need to take a break from a certain letter and revisit it in a couple months.
This is my second year teaching Brynlee preschool, so I have a good idea of what letters she knows well, and which she needs more practice on. I decided to teach her A-D in order because those seem easiest, then I moved on to the letters in her name. The first year I didn’t work on sight words at all because she could not identify enough letters to. This year, we are going to give it a go and I’m super excited to see how she does.
Step 5: Fill in the fun stuff!
This is where Pinterest, dreamy Instagram accounts, and field trips come in.
Simply typing in your theme + preschool + subject (“ocean preschool math”or “fall preschool art”) into Pinterest, and it will provide you with loads of inspiration. It can be overwhelming, so stick with something simple and you think your child will enjoy. I try to steer clear of too many worksheets, and focus more on sensory/hands-on activities.
If you are on Instagram, there are loads of gorgeous accounts that help me draw ideas from. Make sure to utilize the bookmark option so you can visit the ideas you love again down the road. 😉
And that’s it!
Here is an example of my curriculum map filled out for next month. It’s simple and room for flexibility and creativity.
Follow along with me! You get this template free when you sign up for my newsletter. 😀
Just remember, your curriculum map will reflect an outline of skills and concepts you hope to teach throughout the school year and the order you plan teach them. It is not a minute by minute breakdown. When homeschooling, it’s important to be flexible. If you over plan the day, it will cause unnecessary stress for you and your kiddo. Try to remember, even time spent playing with your child is time never wasted. They are learning SO much at this age. Activities don’t have to be overly complicated, or Pinterest-worthy. Relish in these moments, mama. They will be older tomorrow.