Heading into an uncertain school year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, homeschooling has become an increasingly popular option for families of school-aged children. But what about preschoolers? Is formal learning necessary from home? While academics should be largely play-based in the pre-kindergarten years, it is important to put some learning structures in place from home. Let’s discuss the best online resources for free & paid printable homeschool preschool worksheets to set your child up for a successful year!
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How to Choose Your Homeschool Preschool Curriculum
When it comes to homeschooling your preschooler, you might choose from either play-based learning experiences or concrete worksheet activities (or better yet, a combination of both!).
Although this article is primarily about worksheets, I want to be upfront with my opinion that play-based learning is most vital for preschool-aged children. The good news? Academic learning comes naturally with most play experiences once you look for it!
The Premier Academy Child Enrichment Center provides seven excellent examples of play-based learning:
- Play with a dollhouse or toy farm. Play side-by-side with your child and organically introduce vocabulary such as up, inside, over, under, in front, and behind. Make cleanup time it’s own “matching and sorting” activity!
- Bake or cook together. Find a great kid-friendly recipe that’s an appropriate match for your little one’s skillset. Invite your child to create a picture recipe card. Washing dishes can become a great sensory activity! Letting the whole family try your delicious treat can also serve as great practice in sharing.
- Explore play dough. This ever-popular kids’ activity is great for growing imagination and fine motor skills. Change up your routine by incorporating household objects (e.g., buttons, bottle caps, or small animal figurines) to make new shapes and impressions. Add a friend or sibling into the mix to work on taking turns with these treasures!
- Feed their imagination. Does your little one ever make-believe on their own? My toddler loves turning anything into a lawnmower! Play along with their pretend to encourage abstract thinking. You can spark imaginative play by providing dress-up clothes or even some old shipping boxes to make a new creation!
- Get outside. Explore together on a nature walk and ask your child sensory-based questions about what they see, hear, smell, and touch. Observe seasonal patterns such as changing leaves!
- Provide sensory play experiences. The ideas on Pinterest for sensory play are endless! A simple idea is drawing letters, numbers, and shapes in shaving cream.
- Have storytime together. If you can, make visiting the public library a weekly experience to expose your child to diverse children’s books. In light of current times, limited contact pick-up options are often available. Find a book your little one just loves? Consider making a related craft or snack together to honor his or her favorite character or storyline!
How Wee Learn: My Play-Based Preschool Headquarters!
I realize you came to this article for worksheets. But I would be doing your child a disservice if I didn’t briefly touch on my favorite go-to resource for play-based learning.
I’ve been a long-time subscriber of How Wee Learn, a phenomenal educational site founded by Sarah, a veteran teacher, and fellow homeschooling mama. Sarah just recently launched a complete homeschool preschool curriculum packed full of play-based learning ideas!
What is so fantastic about How Wee Learn’s Play into Kindergarten Readiness curriculum is that at its core, it’s truly a coursebook designed to empower you as your child’s teacher. If you’re feeling overwhelmed on where to start this school year, Sarah will be right there to hold your hand!
From walking you through the order in which to cover the alphabet (Hint: It’s not A-Z, whoops!) to building a foundation of developmentally appropriate math skills to how to create impactful fine motor and social skills experiences at home, you’ll never be alone.
She even offers an opportunity to set up a one-on-one phone consultation to discuss your child’s strengths, areas for growth, and your most burning questions as a homeschooling parent!
When to Use Worksheets
While play-based learning should always take a front seat to pencil and paper activities for preschoolers, worksheets do have a time and place and can be very beneficial in your homeschool experience.
Shannon from thesuperteacher.com provides an awesome guide (below) for using preschool worksheets. She’s both a veteran teacher and fellow homeschooling mama! According to Shannon, worksheets can be beneficial at the preschool level when optional/supplemental, used as a review of previously taught content, concise and engaging, and developmentally appropriate.
The benefits of homeschool preschool worksheets
Homeschooling multiple children
Are you homeschooling multiple kiddos this year? In this case, your little one may be begging to join the kitchen table and delve into a little worksheet action like their big brother(s) or sister(s).
Worksheets can be a great way to teach the same or similar topic but differentiate the level of learning for each of your children.
For example, your second grader may be completing an assignment on the weather and the water cycle. Meanwhile, your preschooler could complete a simple worksheet coloring and matching pictures of each season to its corresponding weather. This short, fun activity may reinforce weather concepts you review each day during a family morning meeting or calendar time.
If you’re also homeschooling elementary kiddos this year, I highly recommend checking out these top tips by the Reluctant Homeschool Mama!
Fine Motor & Academic Skills
In the era of digital/distance learning, students nationwide are putting pencil to paper less and less. It’s critical to not completely abandon this necessary life skill in your homeschool program.
Primary Beginnings Child Development Centers provide an excellent summary of the benefits of handwriting experiences at the preschool level. In short, handwriting practice and pencil/paper activities:
- Develop fine motor skills
- Strengthen hand muscles
- Improve coordination between hand and brain
- Improve reading skills
- Strengthen writing skills
- Increase spelling skills
When it comes to education, two minds are often better than one! As a school counselor, I can’t tell you how often I had students say they simply didn’t “get” something until another teacher or tutor explained it.
Today there are SO many different academic worksheets available online for free or at low price points developed by experienced educators. Each can provide a unique spin on reviewing the very same content!
Worksheets can serve as a great medium for reinforcing concepts among both visual and tactile learners. Different charts, pictures, coloring, tracing, or cutting/pasting activities can offer diverse approaches and cater to different learning styles.
Low Cost, A-La-Carte Options
Printable homeschool preschool worksheets are often free or low-cost! Since preschool should be filled with mostly play-based learning experiences, worksheets can be a great way to slowly mix and match resources and begin exploring different homeschool curricula on a smaller scale.
Many homeschool preschool worksheet creators offer extensive curricula for older students, so it’s a great opportunity to try what’s out there and see what works best for your child as they grow and mature.
The Best Online Resources for Homeschool Preschool Worksheets
I am thrilled to announce that we have just debuted our own Resources & Activities page on suchalittlewhile.com! After eight years as a professional school counselor (most recently at the elementary level), I decided to swap time in the classroom for more time at home. However, there was no way I could leave behind my passion for creating social/emotional development activities!
There has never been a more important time for social/emotional learning amidst social distancing and an unpredictable school year.
Why Social/Emotional Development is Crucial for Preschoolers
If you read my most recent post, How to Teach Your Child Empathy from an Early Age, you may recall reading that preschool is an ideal time to begin exploring how others think and feel. In other words, young children are at a pivotal age for gaining a foundation for empathy and emotional intelligence!
Most preschoolers already have a fairly good vocabulary of different feeling words. As parents, we can help our children expand this skillset by:
- Learning to identify common social cues (e.g., facial expressions) associated with different feelings
- Making connections between emotions and the contexts in which they may occur
- Increasing self-awareness of feelings
- Identifying developmentally appropriate, healthy coping skills for negative emotions
- Fostering self-advocacy by knowing when and who to ask for help
Now that direct peer-to-peer interaction is quite limited, there’s never been a more important time to incorporate social/emotional learning into the new school experience.
The Benefits of Hybrid Activities
So most parents will agree that social/emotional development is critical. But why is this area often overlooked in homeschool curricula? In our current times, I’d have to say time! There’s an incredible amount of pressure on working and stay-at-home parents to “do it all” and now become solely responsible for their children’s education.
So what’s a busy parent supposed to do? Fortunately, the “My Feelings Workbook” makes this super easy for you! Why? It’s a 60-page printable activity book packed full of both academic and social/emotional development activities. Each activity serves as an excellent launching pad into organic conversations with your child about emotions, coping skills, and empathy.
Homeschool Preschool Worksheets from Such a Little While
As a licensed Pre-K-12th school counselor, I developed the “My Feelings Workbook” with your child’s social/emotional and academic development as top priorities. What will your family gain from this hybrid learning opportunity?
- Instant digital download of 60 engaging printable activities ideal for Pre-K and Kindergarten
- Activities help children self-identify and explore 10 different emotions including happy, mad, sad, silly, shy, scared, proud, nervous, embarrassed, and confused
- Exploration of social cues and context across each emotion
- Introduction and exploration of 15 healthy, developmentally appropriate coping skills
- Activities designed to grow a foundation for empathy and emotional intelligence
- Seamless integration of vital preschool and pre-Kindergarten academic skills
- Letter recognition and letter tracing activities
- Counting worksheets for numbers 1 through 20
- Early reading activities
- Fine motor skills and coloring FUN!
Teaching your preschooler pre-reading skills can feel like such a big (not to mention overwhelming) step as a homeschool parent! This Reading Mama, also known as Becky Spence, is a veteran teacher and seasoned homeschool mama of four who knows her stuff.
Take comfort in knowing Becky has taught across public, private, and home settings, has an M.Ed. in Elementary Reading, and is even certified in Dyslexia and Language-Based Learning differences!
Top Homeschool Preschool Worksheets from This Reading Mama
Why do I love This Reading Mama so much? She offers everything from fun and unique FREE printables, to low-cost a-la-carte worksheet packs and even a complete homeschool preschool curriculum! Here is a little sneak preview of my favorite activities before you click over to This Reading Mama’s shop to see for yourself!
Two curricula in one, this ultimate Preschool Curriculum Bundle from This Reading Mama leaves no stone unturned in helping you get your preschooler ready for Kindergarten reading!
The Learning the Alphabet Bundle Pack can be used with children as young as three and provides hands-on activities to help kiddos master letters and letter sounds. This Reading the Alphabet curriculum is quite hands-on and play-based yet guides emergent readers through 13 essential literacy and math skills such as phonemic awareness and one-to-one correspondence.
Homeschooling elementary kiddos this year? Head over to This Reading Mama and you’ll find over 150 diverse and engaging activities for readers of all ages!
My life as a public school counselor completely changed the moment I discovered Teachers Pay Teachers (TPT). You can currently find over three million educational resources on TPT! The world’s largest educational resource platform, TPT provides the opportunity for educators to upload and sell their original lesson plans and activities for other teachers and parents to benefit from.
The REALLY great news? TPT requires all sellers to have at least one FREE product in their store, which means there are tons of no and low-cost resources available! TPT has a long-standing history of printable activities, yet in the age of social distancing, they have expanded to include a variety of learning experiences that can be completed digitally as well.
How to Use Teachers Pay Teachers
If there is a specific skill your child just isn’t excited about learning, TPT can help you find a related activity that connects to their interests. For example, you can search for super-specific things like dinosaur letter sounds, unicorn counting, and transportation shapes to find tons of themed worksheets and activities!
The Last Things You Need to Know About Homeschool Preschool Worksheets
With the pressure of homeschooling and stress of uncertain times, it’s totally easy to go down a rabbit hole of overthinking this whole preschool thing. I’ve been guilty myself of feeling #momshame and wondering, am I doing enough?
Therefore, I want to end with two thoughts:
- Make having fun the #1 priority. This can take a whole lot of pressure off of us as homeschool teachers! But furthermore, maintaining fun as a top priority can have a lasting and profound impact on your child’s academic self-concept and outlook on learning. If your preschooler likes learning in your homeschool program, you have succeeded, my friend! Your child feels good about themselves as a learner and their school experience. This gift will keep on giving for years to come. 🙂
- Learning happens in the strangest of places. Remember, worksheets are designed to reinforce concepts and skills. Maybe your child learned their colors by taking a daily nature walk through the neighborhood! Fantastic. Perhaps they learned to recognize letters by exploring the outside of the cereal box with you each morning. Big win! Worksheets can be a great way for preschoolers to “show what they know” and feel confident as learners. If you look hard enough, learning opportunities are all around you. You got this!