Published on March 25th, 2020
Homeschooling. It’s brand new territory for me. I was never home schooled and I have no experience with it whatsoever at all. Sure, I dabbled in it this last summer because I was worried about my 3 year old son’s language development. I wanted him to be prepared for preschool. I didn’t want him to be considered “behind” in his class and I paid $85 + tax to ensure that.
Yes, I fell for some of those ads you might have seen floating around on the internet. You know the ones with the big curriculum set and early learning book sets to boot. Several companies offer similar sets like that and, no, I don’t think they’re bad. I actually think they are an invaluable resource. However, had I done my research —even just a little bit— I think I could have saved a big chunk of moolah.
Following the outbreak of the COVID-19 Coronavirus, I’ve had to once again turn to homeschooling for my little man. As it turns out Pre-K home schooling just isn’t that hard. Almost anybody can do it and it doesn’t take 6-7 hours in a classroom either. 3-5 year olds are so curious in nature that they’ll most likely soak up anything you are willing to teach them. ABCs? Check. Numbers? Check. Arts & Crafts? Check.
Still unsure of yourself? Here are some more specific ideas. These are things that I’ve tested and found successful for my son in the three weeks he has been home from school during the outbreak:
- Coloring Sheets — You don’t need a printer for this either. You can draw a picture with a crayon and then have them color it after. Little man LOVES this.
- Gardening — Little man is new to gardening so he finds it FASCINATING. He helps me weed the garden bed, aerate the soil, *watches* me prune, and helps me plant seeds and bulbs. He does this all while asking questions and learning about how things grow.
- Baking — We don’t do this everyday, even if little man wants us to. On “treat days” I might bake cookies or a loaf of banana bread, and little man helps me pour in the ingredients.
- Letter/Name Writing Practice — Again, all you need is a blank piece of paper. Write a few letters out and try to have them trace and/or copy them.
Basically, if you can think of anything that might be a little bit of fun for your preschooler, it’s probably a learning experience too. However, if you’re looking for something a little less basic and don’t mind spending a few bucks, here are a few of our favorite resources for pre-k home learning:
- Starfall.com — Starfall is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that I’d never heard of before the COVID-19 outbreak. It came highly recommended by our school district as a home learning resource. They’ve been around since to 2002 and their site looks like it too, but don’t be fooled! There is a reason Starfall takes the #1 spot on our list. Their sole purpose is to provide low-cost educational development to families, and their online learning platform reflects that. The games may look old-fashioned, but they actually do teach. At 4 years old, little man has already tackled addition and subtraction because of Starfall. Bonus: Starfall.com has free worksheets for you to print out and some are customizable. Starfall offers partial access to their programs for free and offers a $35 tax deductable annual home membership for full access.
- ABCMouse.com — Chances are you’ve already heard about ABC Mouse. They’ve been around at least since I was in middle school, if not longer. They’ve also been running commercial TV ads just as long too. Their sole purpose? To make money. ABC Mouse easily costs twice as much as Starfall , but sometimes you can get a good deal on your first month when you sign up. With that being said, ABC mouse touts an award winning curriculum and while that may be the case—in my experience—there is a lot less learning that is going on. Don’t get me wrong, my son LOVES ABC Mouse. However, we’ve had a membership for 2 years and I can say that for his age group, my son has not learned anything scholarly. He has instead had a lot of practice playing games, practice using a computer mouse, and practice problem solving. So that really does count for something.
- Hooked On Phonics — This isn’t your momma’s hooked on phonics. Yes, they’re still around. However, instead of infomercials offering an enormous and very expensive kit of books, DVDs, and workbooks; they have restructured their format and pricing options. Presently, Hooked on Phonics offers a smaller, monthly delivery of books, workbooks and access to digital learning content via their app. The digital learning content can be accessed via tablet, smart phone, or on your desktop computer or laptop. At the time of writing this article, you may sign up for Hooked on Phonics and receive your first month for just $1, and after that it’s just $12.99 per month.
- Learning Dynamics — This is the one. Yep. This is the one that I fell for. They targeted me with their Facebook advertising, and I repeatedly saw their funny, over the top mom life ads. Throw in a little “mom guilt”, and they struck gold. Do I regret it? No. As simple as the curriculum is, I think it is something that my family and I truly needed. Learning dynamics offers a program that includes a workbook, book set, curriculum guide, sing along songs, and rewards. Learning dynamics key motto is that you’ll have your child reading in 4 weeks. Even their web address is 4weekstoread.com. But don’t misunderstand that they mean that your 3 or 4 year old will be reading chapter books by the end of four weeks. No, at the end of 4 weeks, your child will have begun to practice the basic foundations of reading. They should be able to start recognizing the letters and begin to blend their sounds together to create small words. Will this be the case for every child? No. At 3 years old, my son really struggled with the idea of blending. He did however excel at memorizing which letters made which sounds. We decided to take a break from it for a little while as we believe he just needed to be a little bit older. You wouldn’t believe how much of a difference 6 months can make in the capacity of learning for a young child. Now that we’re homeschooling again during this outbreak we’re taking it up again—we’re both excited. At the time of my original purchase, the cost was $15 off the regular price of $99.99. A few days after I purchased, it was $30 off. I wasn’t exactly happy about that, but it is what it is. Now, currently they have their price set at 30% off which translates to $69.99. The motto of the story? If you care about saving a few bucks, be careful on this one! They seem to change the prices all the time!