Overview: Knowing how to choose a home preschool curriculum can be a daunting task. Every family is different and will take a different approach to finding a curriculum. I’m giving you 5 things to consider before choosing any curriculum for your toddler or preschooler.
Being a teacher for many years and in many different schools, I have worked with a variety of curriculum. Some I loved, and some I hated. I wasn’t a fan of curriculum that told me step by step how to teach and you couldn’t deter from it. Which happened to be almost every curriculum I came in contact with over my teaching career.
When it came time to think about how I wanted to teach Sicily, I struggled with the idea of actually having a curriculum. I wanted her learning to come from her ideas.
I’m a huge advocate for inquiry learning and discovering things on your own. I wanted something that allowed me to extend it if she was enjoying it and asking lots of questions, but I also wanted something that we could take our time on if she was having difficulty understanding a concept. On the flip side, I also wanted something that didn’t force her to learn things she wasn’t interested in or ready for.
I couldn’t find that curriculum out in the world, at least not for toddlers and preschoolers. That’s why I created The Toddler Experience.
Every family is going to have different needs when it comes time to choose a home preschool curriculum for their preschoolers and toddlers, but there are 5 things you should pay attention to when choosing a home preschool curriculum.
How to Choose a Home Preschool Curriculum
1. Understand Your Why
I think it’s super important to sit down and discover why you want to homeschool your toddler or preschooler. Knowing why you want to teach your little one at home can be a huge help in choosing a curriculum.
If you are choosing home preschool because you want your child to learn the things he is interested in, then you’ll want to look for a curriculum that is flexible and child-led.
Or you may want to home preschool for religious reasons, so you’ll want to look for a curriculum that includes your faith.
Every family’s why is going to be different, and being crystal clear on your why will making choosing a curriculum a lot easier and faster.
2. Know Your Overall Vision
What is it that you want your child to accomplish in their life? Take a few minutes to think about their future. What type of person do you want them to be? What type of education do you want them to experience? How do you want them to feel about learning?
All these questions will help choose a curriculum. There are 101 different educational philosophies and methods. Knowing what you want for your child for their future, can help you determine which philosophies and methods will work for you.
Related: How to Be Successful By Setting Tot School Goals
I like to sit down every year and create our yearly goals. I start creating my vision, which looks like this…
My Vision: I want Sicily to be a curious individual that asks questions and seeks answers on a daily basis. I want her to know how to use different resources to creatively discover answers through problem solving and critical thinking. I envision Sicily being a person who loves learning and seeks learning opportunities.
With this vision in mind, I know that I need a curriculum that will allow her to choose what she learns in order to build that love of learning. I know I need something that caters to all learning styles and has a variety of activities so I can choose the ones she will enjoy. The curriculum I choose must also focus on learning through play because that’s where children learn most of their problem solving and critical thinking skills.
3. Know What’s Developmentally Appropriate
It makes me mad when I see all these bloggers promoting printable after printable just to get people to subscribe to their e-mail list. They are not developmentally appropriate for toddlers and preschoolers.
A child is not going to learn their letters by using a dot stamper to place dots on the letter or tracing it a million times. They need something hands-on like a salt tray or building letters with sticks.
A curriculum that uses printables should only include printables that are an accessory to the activity like a counting mat to place objects on or clipart for a nursery rhyme.
Related: 9 Reasons Why Worksheets Are Not Appropriate for Young Learners
Young kids, no matter what their learning style, needs to experience concepts with all of their senses. It’s important to research what is developmentally appropriate.
You should not be looking at an overall developmentally appropriate curriculum either. A good curriculum will let you test it out before buying to make sure it’s a good fit for your child. Every child develops differently, so you need to make sure it’s appropriate for your child’s unique development as well.
I think it’s also important to keep in mind that skill checklists are to be used as a guide. Again, every child develops differently and on their own time table. I like to tell the parents I work with that the skills lists I provide are skills that your child should be working on by the time they reach that age, not mastered.
4. Look for a Variety of Activities
A child is not a one path wonder. Yes, they may love reading, but that doesn’t mean all the activities you choose must focus on reading. They may love activities that they get to sit quietly for, but that doesn’t mean you can ignore the gross motor activities.
You need to expose them to every learning domain, even if it’s not a type of activity they like. You can find a way to include each learning domain into their interests to help encourage them to participate.
Related: An Overview of Early Childhood Learning Domains
A good curriculum will have a variety of activities to complete on a weekly basis that hits all the learning domains. You must work through each domain every week in order to develop the whole child.
Today’s society tends to put a lot of pressure on parents and educators to focus on math, reading, and writing skills. But things like cooking, fine motor, and gross motor are just as important. Plus, many of the “lesser skills” like those fine motor skills are important for the more important skills.
Every learning domain should get equal attention throughout the week in a child’s early childhood. A curriculum should not favor one type of skill over another.
5. Keep it Flexible
I’ve said it a million times already, but every child and every family is different. A good curriculum is flexible and allows each family to manipulate it to fit their child’s unique needs.
This could mean that the curriculum is flexible in what you teach, how you teach it, or when to teach it.
Every curriculum and every family is different. Choosing a home preschool curriculum should not be an easy or quick task. Take your time to explore your options and know exactly what you want for your child.