Planning Preschool Curriculum

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There are many good preschool programs on the market for use in homeschool settings, but you might prefer to plan your own curriculum. Developing your own lesson plans allows you to mold your school year to match the vision you have for your homeschool, but the thought of doing so might be overwhelming. If you need help getting started, check out this list of four steps to the curriculum-planning process. Not only will you learn the basic steps to crafting a year's worth of lessons, but you'll also discover handy resources that can contribute to your child's preschool education.

Illinois education law does not require children to participate in a preschool program. However, engaging in preschool activities with your little one is a great way to spend quality time with your child, while also encouraging the development of skills on which their future education will be built. The preschool years do not have to be highly structured, but that doesn't mean that you should forgo any planning. Rather, having a plan is a way to help you include meaningful experiences and kid-friendly learning activities in your child's daily life.

By planning your own curriculum, you can select topics and activities that appeal to your child. You can move through your year at a pace that is comfortable for your family, and you can focus on specific the goals that you have for your child. There are many benefits to crafting your own curriculum, so if you need help getting started, view this list for tips and resource ideas that can help with your planning process.

Find a way to organize your plans

Before you start making specific plans, settle on an organizational system for your ideas. One method is to create a spreadsheet into which you can type your plans. You can also create a chart, similar to the one pictured here, and pencil in your ideas as you develop them. Homeschool Creations offers free Preschool Planning Forms that you can print and fill in. Other ways to organize your thoughts are to use a sheet of notebook paper for each week you are planning or a file folder for each unit.

Pick a unifying theme for your year

Having a theme for your studies helps you narrow down which activities to choose for your child. One idea is to focus on a different picture book each week. You could also make your plans around a different Bible story for each day, have a letter of the week or choose a different thematic unit for each month.

Choose resources

Even though you are creating your own curriculum, you might want to incorporate outside resources. There are plenty of preschool books on the market that can make a good addition to your school year. "My First School Book" from Handwriting Without Tears, pictured here in an earlier edition with the title "Get Set for School," gives children a gentle introduction to letter formation. Kumon has a line of First Steps workbooks that help kids develop preschool skills, like cutting and coloring. Rod and Staff makes a set of workbooks just for four- and five-year-olds.

Gather ideas

Once you choose your primary resources, fill out your school year with fun, hands-on activities that go along with the themes you selected. "Ready, Set, Read" by Janet Chambers is packed with ideas for building children's familiarity with letters and their sounds. Trish Kuffner's line of Busy Books give parents ideas for games, crafts and other activities to occupy little ones. Many homeschooling moms provide free, downloadable preschool packs on their blogs with topics that may match your theme; visit 1 Plus 1 Plus 1 Equals 1 for a good collection of preschool packs. Pinterest is a treasure trove of craft and activity ideas. Whatever topics you choose for your school year, you're sure to find plenty of fun, kid-engaging ideas that you and your preschooler will enjoy doing together.

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