Oh the preschool years… Those sweet little humans drive you crazy with their constant testing of their independence. But on the other hand, they still need you for some things and still love to cuddle up in your lap for a good story.
This is the time when many parents, and even educators, start to worry if their child is learning what needs to be learned. They start throwing around the words ahead or behind. Which if you ask me are arbitrary assessments.
I am a huge believer in child led learning. Each child has their own unique learning timeline, so they are never ahead or behind since every child learns a skill at a different time.
What shapes their unique learning timeline is the environment and the experiences you give them. Want them to be a reader? Then read to them, have letters out on the shelf, and visit the library. Want them to be good at math? Cook with them, let them see you paying the bills, and count out loud when handing the cashier money. Want them to write? Let them help you write the grocery list and journal together.
You see, whatever you want them to learn, you must provide it in their environment. The more of a natural experience it is, the better. It’s easier to develop motivation to learn the skills you want them to learn if they have a real, personal reason to learn it.
There are 4 skills that I think every preschooler needs to have before they enter Kindergarten. I’m going to start with the least important and move to the most important.
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Yup, I’m adding the alphabet as the least important skill your preschooler needs before Kindergarten. It’s actually tied with numbers, but since most parents tend to add more emphasis on the alphabet, I decided to add it first.
I think your preschool should be exposed to the alphabet through games, puzzles, and books. The best way to learn the alphabet is through reading lots of great books.
Your preschool should know what a letter is and understand what letters are used for. But knowing the actual names and sounds of each letter? Not that important at this age.
However, if your kiddo is extremely interested in letters, then by all means teach them. But if your kiddo is fighting you or not engaging in letter activities, don’t push it.
We learn our letters through hands-on experiences. We use sound boxes and focus on the sounds rather than the letter names. I chose to focus on sounds because that’s what we use to actually read. The letter names are not important when learning to read and write. We also focus more on lowercase letters since 90% of what your child reads and writes is lowercase.
In our homeschool, we learn numbers just like we learn letters. We play a lot of games, do puzzles, and have numbers lying on the shelf for counting objects. Again, numbers are not important in the preschool years unless your kiddo is super interested and engaged in learning them.
It’s more about exposing and developing a motivation to learn them.
Now we’re getting into the most important skills your preschooler should know before entering Kindergarten. One of those skills is emotional regulation. Your preschooler should be able to stop themselves when angry to calm down and ask for help. They should be able to identify their own feelings and feelings of others.
Preschoolers should also be able to do simple problem solving. In our homeschool, I’m working on problem solving with my two preschoolers. If they have an issue, we sit down together and talk it out. They help me come up with solutions to their problems and we test them out together.
Love of Learning
And the most important skill your preschooler should have is a strong love of learning.
Most of your learning should come from what your preschooler is interested in. Your routine should have a few hours each day where your preschooler can explore on their own and in their own way.
Your job is to guide them. Ask questions that get them to think and deepen their curiosities. Provide materials for them to learn more and process what they’re learning.
A strong love of learning is the basis for a quality education. It’s not about what your child knows. Instead, it’s all about how your child learns. Focus on the process of learning not the content being learned.
Want fun, hands-on preschool activities? Click the image below to download our My Body Preschool Unit Study.
CHIME IN: What are some ways you prepare your preschooler for kindergarten? Let us know in the comments below!
About the Author: Amanda Stockdale is on a mission to help families fall in love with their homeschool. She uses her 4 essentials to child-led learning framework to help homeschooling moms raise passionate learners while still finding some YOU time every single day. She is the creator of The Preschool Experience Curriculum and her signature course Raising Passionate Learners.