Homeschool, Kids

How To Teach Preschool At Home: A Practical Guide

I never imagined that I would be “homeschooling” preschoolers.  It’s hilarious how much it intimidated me, a mom with a bachelors degree, to even think of how to teach preschool at home! I had no idea what preschool was really. One day it hit me that although my kids were learning through play (which I swear is most of what they do at preschool anyway), that they weren’t learning some things like letters and sounds.   Sending both our kids to preschool is too expensive at this point.  Plus, we are a one car family.  So after a short unnecessary panic, I started reading about how to do preschool.  The more I read, the more I realized that I can’t really mess up preschool!  So I’ll teach you exactly what we do and what you need to know!

This post contains affiliate links.

What do kids learn if you send them to preschool?

Parents send their kids age 2-5 or so to preschool.  You are probably already doing half this list without trying to “do preschool”.  Yay!

Identify numbers 1-10

Counting 1-20

Shapes & Colors

Say and identify the ABC’s

Identify sounds that letters make

How to sit and listen

Taking Turns with Toys

Following directions

How to hold a pencil and use scissors

Learn to use glue and paper

How to draw pictures and shapes

Hands-on play

How to teach preschool at home

Get some supplies

I think it’s helpful to order a few crafts and tools online to have around.  You cant really go wrong if you find something that helps you show them numbers, shapes, letters, and colors. I keep a cupboard that has supplies in it. Like crayons, markers, Play Doh, craft items, paints.

Here are a few ideas to get you started. We have the Big Preschool ABC book pictured below and it’s awesome! There are 300 pages inside, with tons of tracing!  My 4 year old boy is learning to trace straight lines, curved lines, and later in the book, there are pages practicing tracing letters, shapes, numbers and more. The Melissa and Doug trio below that has activities for using scissors, tape, and chalk which can help add to some activities to do at home.


Age and ability

As a side note, my almost 3 year old girl does not really “do preschool” yet. She plays with her 4.5 year old brother and entertains my 11 month old. And chats with my ALL day. Her language skills have been incredible since she was 2. She listens to stories, and loves sensory activities but her attention span is just too short and she has little interest in formal learning yet.

I hope you don’t feel anxiety over what to teach them at what ages, just keep trying to introduce things and it will be obvious when they are interested! I’ve seen a huge difference in what my boy and girl have been capable of at parallel ages. For me, it’s more like, try stuff out and see if they can do it. If not, try again later!

Start a routine each day

I have a 10 month old, and a 3 and 4.5-year-old at home.  I’m not a very scheduled person so the hardest part of “doing preschool” is actually blocking out some time for learning every day.  And I mean, very little time, like 30 minutes or two 15 minute blocks! And at this age, it doesn’t even have to be every day.  If you spend 30 minutes just three days a week intentionally learning things, your preschooler is going to learn a lot!

Most preschool-aged kids only go 2-3 days a week, unless their parents are paying a lot more.  And much of the day is spent playing and using their imaginations, not just “doing school”. Their attention spans are just too small for hours of school.

Most people I’ve learned from recommend doing “school” as part of a routine.  Not necessarily at a set time.  Her after breakfast we start a learning activity. More so the kids (and myself) know what’s coming next.

We do 1-2 short blocks of more formal teaching each day.  I say blocks of time because my almost-3-year-old’s attention span is a lot shorter than my 4-year-old. So a block of time for her is around 10 minutes and a block of time for my 4-year-old is 10-20 min.

Get your FREE preschool daily checklist to make starting an at home preschool routine super easy!

* indicates required

Our very easy preschool routine

  • Short lesson (10-15 minutes)
  • Hands on activity (as long as they want)
  • Play (pretty much most of the day)
  • I read to them (a few books a day, on a good day)

Our new routine has been to eat breakfast, the kids play while mom finishes her coffee, and then I do a reading lesson out of this reading book with my 4-year-old while my almost 3-year-old plays and my baby is still sleeping.  This takes us about 10 minutes. Check out this post to see how you can use that reading book to teach your preschooler to read! And by the way, this is just a bonus because your child will not be learning to read at preschool if you send them so no pressure!

After that he gets to watch a show.  And if I can be honest I think he LOVES his reading lesson because of the reward of a show.  I don’t care if it motivates him to read! We are in lesson 20 and he can already read sentences like “An ant sat on a seed”.

After the show, I’ll crack out some kind of hands-on thing and play some kids music.  Seek out Pinterest if you need ideas, but we do Play Doh, bake something, build a fort, color, whatever.

If you already read to your kids, let them color, sing the ABC’s and point out shapes on things like cereal boxes, then you are already doing some preschool.  Basically every day I just ask myself did they learn something new? Do an activity? Play nicely? Get exercise? Then hurray!

Related Post: Indoor activities for toddlers

Our favorite school room tool

Something that gets used every day for preschool, as well as just play, is our art easel.  We use this one, provided to us free from Hape Toys and it has been a key tool I use for both play and preschool. It has a whiteboard, paper roll, empty paint pots, and a blackboard.  You will need to buy your own markers and paint and chalk and brushes, and an extra paper roll as the one that comes with it has barely any paper. If you are on the fence like I was about getting one, I can say it is honestly a favorite and never collects dust like most of their toys.

How to teach preschool at home. Tools for teaching preschool at home to toddlers and kids age 2-5. #blueandhazel #toddlers #preschool #homeschool

How to teach preschool at home. Tools for teaching preschool at home to toddlers and kids age 2-5. #blueandhazel #toddlers #preschool #homeschool


Related Post: One income, one family, 5 people: How I am able to stay at home.


Examples of how I teach preschool at home

How I teach numbers & counting

For number recognition, I just draw numbers out on paper or their art easel.

For learning to count out loud we just do it every day!  I don’t worry if they get it wrong and say 5, 6, 9, 10…enough repetition and they will get it right! We go all the way up to 20.

I ask them how many of something there is, like cereal bowls on the table.  Or buttons on a shirt.  Or bananas in the bundle.  Then I help them count while I touch each one.  We also have books that have numbers in them and those help with recognizing the number as well as counting.


Related Post: How to end the battle of the picky eater in one week.


How I teach letters

We sing the ABC song every night while brushing teeth.  It’s about as long as I need them to keep their mouth open, so they know that song! As for letter recognition, we love these dry erase flashcards. They have letters on one side and pictures that begin with that letter on the other side. 

I know some people who do a new letter each week and theme their preschool day around that letter.  We do it a little differently. My 4-year-old is learning to read (totally not a requirement for preschool just so you know), and the book we use does not teach letters in order from A-Z.  So, we learn the lowercase letters as he learns the sounds in his book, usually one new letter every few days.  And my almost 3-year-old is not yet learning letters, although she is capable I think.  She just likes to color in the letter 🙂

How to teach preschool at home. Tools for teaching preschool at home to toddlers and kids age 2-5. #blueandhazel #toddlers #preschool #homeschool

Another great tool for teaching letters and associating them with objects are these fun water wow cards from Melissa and Doug. Our kids loved and used them waaaay before ever “doing” preschool because they are really entertaining. You “paint” with the water stick and the photo underneath appears. Plus they are reusable! I can’t recommend them enough, even if you are far away from teaching the alphabet. This is an especially great tool to take to doctor appointments, in the car, or on an airplane.

You may like: How to teach your child to read using this one easy book!


How I teach sounds

We teach sounds using the reading book How to Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons.  It is a lifesaver and teaches me exactly what to do.  Honestly, I hadn’t taught sounds to my son till we started the book.  I’m just 20 lessons in and Nigel can say SO many sounds, and can sound out so many words!  Just today on our way into church, he stopped to look at the “sounds” he saw on a car that spelled out “J-E-E-P”.  We point out sounds he has learned in the book all throughout the day, like on books, cereal boxes, and packages.

Related Post: Treasure Hunt Preschool Activity to Teach Prepositions

How I teach colors and shapes

I will draw shapes on their art easel or on printer paper and ask what shape it is.  This is probably one of the easiest things to teach and learn, and most baby books start with shapes and colors.   And I’ve found that books with shapes and colors will go a long way in teaching preschool at home. Lots of my friend’s kids know their shapes and colors early from learning shows or apps.

Related Post: Dinosaur Activities will play with for hours

How I teach hands-on play

I feel like one of the best parts of preschool is just making learning fun and letting them discover through play.  Lots of preschool moms enjoy matching a hands-on activity that matches the letter they are working on, or the color, shape, etc. I don’t really plan enough yet to do that, (you crafty moms are amazing to me!) so instead I just kind of rotate through sensory activities they love.

This includes Play Doh, digging outside, stacking blocks, making indoor obstacle courses, sorting toys we have by color or shape, sidewalk chalk, cooking with mom, and crafts if I can get to the dollar store once in a while. Call it preschool if you want.  I think a lot of it is just a day in the life of a stay at home mom, for real!

The hardest part

What I like least about teaching preschool is coming up with activities. My brain just doesn’t do that! If you are like me in that way then tap into other mom’s creative juices on Pinterest and find 10 things you could easily do if you had the supplies.   Then get the supplies.  I promise you this will make preschool more fun for you and them!

The other hardest part is just starting. With the arrival of our third baby I felt pretty frazzled and stretched for time. How in the world was I going to add something like preschool? All my mom friends were sending their kids to preschool 2-3 days a week and getting a break, which quickly made me feel sorry for myself that I don’t get one (embarrassing to admit, I know, but honest!).  Once I got over my pity party and made a plan, which you now have from this post, it got easier!

After doing this for a few months now, I see it takes a lot less time than I thought, and it is actually pretty cool to see them learn stuff.

You can’t go wrong if you are trying

So even if you think you couldn’t possibly teach preschool at home, you totally can! You really can’t mess it up.  And if you do a little a day, your kid will be way farther ahead than most when it comes to starting Kindergarten.  Or, maybe you will love it so much you keep homeschooling! Leave me a comment with what you would love to see more of on the blog when it comes to raising preschoolers at home. Nap time? Dirty house? Activities? Juggling sanity? I’d love to know.


Thinking about doing Preschool at home? Want to know what kids need to know before starting Kindergarten? See our easy preschool schedule and how it takes a lot less preparation than you think. Get some preschool ideas here. #preschool #blueandhazel #toddler #homeschool




Get your FREE preschool daily checklist to make starting an at home preschool routine super easy!

* indicates required








24 thoughts on “How To Teach Preschool At Home: A Practical Guide

  1. I absolutely love everything you said in this post! Preschool is right around the corner for my kids and I’m determined to homeschool, but it’s almost terrifying thinking of having the responsibility of teaching my children everything they need to learn. I struggle with coming up with creative ways to teach my kids, but I’ve been finding that I don’t have to bend over backwards to teach them. Everything you said is so encouraging to me and it reminds me that I don’t have to be perfect in doing this. Thank you!!!

    1. Sarah I know exactly how you feel! It’s strange how we can feel overwhelmed by teaching preschool but it’s nice to know you can’t really mess it up too much. Good luck to you and be sure to check back for new posts as we discover more preschool ideas.

  2. Thank you, this post is perfect!! I’m a stay at home mom from South Africa, determined to homeschool my 2 kids, but most of the time I’m just overwhelmed by the idea of it!

    1. Hi Natasja! I’m so glad you found this helpful. I see tons of “activities” all over Pinterest for preschoolers, but it was harder to find “a day in the life of” a homeschool preschool that didn’t scare me away. This is working well for us, and I know you can do it too! Did you get the free daily checklist printable?

  3. Great post! Thank you! My 5 yr old twins have chronic lung disease from being born at 26 weeks. They had been in a halfday preK but with all of the sickness and flu this winter my husband and I decided to start homeschooling. If they were to get the flu it wouldn’t be an easy recovery and we have spent enough time in hospitals. I agree with blocking out the time. I do unit learning with a different subject every week or so. Pinterest has so many resources. Coming up with crafts and science experiments is easy for me but I’m overwhelmed when I think about teaching them to read. Thanks for the links! I just ordered the book you posted so hopefuly that will help lead me! I think my greatest concern is missing something and making them behind. We haven’t decided if we will homeschool for kindergarten or not but so far we are having lots of fun!

    1. Hi Katie,
      Wow that sounds like a really good decision for you guys. You are a strong mama for doing what you think is best for your twins, as it sounds like it’s been a hard road. I would love to get a bit more organized to try weeklong units like you said, great idea! I hope you find the book really helpful. My only advice is to read how to use it before sitting down with each kid, and maybe even practice by yourself so you get the hang of what to do those first few pages. We have taken it slow, sometimes half a lesson a day if his attention is short, and it really works. Let me know how its going!

    1. Hi Suzanne, ya it’s a lot easier so far than I imagined, especially once I stopped feeling the need to do so much. Just a basic short addition to whats already going on at home has worked well here! Have fun with it!

    1. Hi Vanessa,
      Yes I saw this past week what changing up the routine did. I started having the kids go play outside first thing and it was really hard to do learning time just before nap time for us. I’m sure it’s different for everyone but I’m going to switch back to how we had it! Thanks for reading and have fun with it.

  4. Thanks for posting this! I have a 2 year old, and for some reason I feel pressure to send him to preschool this fall (I stay home with him and our 6 month old). It’s encouraging to see that it’s so doable to do at home, and that playing practically all day is still ok 😉

    1. Hi April! You are so normal to feel that way! In all honesty, I think most two year olds in preschool are there because either their parents work or mama needs a break! Not at all for academic reasons. I used to feel guilty for not having all these fun activities at home like they might get at “school” but really the kids are happy so long as mom is with them and paying attention. Keep up the hard work!

  5. Liz, thank you for your post. I’m sure new parents will find it helpful. I worked in Early Childhood services (birth to five) as a speech pathologist. I wanted to reassure you that even on those days that you feel you aren’t doing something specific, you are still naturally teaching skills to your children. Even a walk (not sure how that is done with three children😊) is a learning activity. Parents have the wonderful tool of language and kids are sponges! Every time you describe what you/they see or do, you are providing a language lesson—you can’t help it, it just happens naturally. You might not have it exactly planned what concepts you’ll be introducing—that makes some uncomfortable. But you’ll be using lots of vocabulary (color, shape words, number words, loud/quiet, warm/cold, rough/smooth, etc.) just by talking as you go on a walk. This can happen during any activity, not just walks. I just want you to know that it can definitely be counted at preschool teaching even when it is unplanned—as long as you are talking!

    1. Hi Susie! I absolutely love your background and what you had to say! You are so right that the majority of learning comes from talking together doing everyday things. I think that is why I’m not even worried about “doing
      preschool for my almost 3-year-old, although she tries to keep up with her older brother ;-). She already knows so many things just from listening to me talk to my 4.5 year old and from chatting all day. I would love to write a whole post on the importance of what you have said because it is very true!

  6. I teach Pre-K. I’m a certified teacher with my Master’s Degree. While you are on track with what you teach, much more needs to be added to your at home curriculum. Children need to know numbers up to 30 and how to write them. They need to know ten frames & sets 0-10. Other math concepts include: coins, basic 3-D shapes, Patterns AB, AABB, & ABC .
    For Reading , children need to know syllables, parts of a book, author illustrator, framing sentences & words. Children need to know punctuation marks. They need to know basic sight words, basic word families as well. They should be familiar with how to use a computer and know to recognize their given first and last name. They should be able to write it according to the Zaner-Bloser Method of writing.
    This is what I thought of off the top of my head of what I teach in Pre-K. I hope it helps! 🙂

    1. Hi Kathy,
      Thanks for taking the time to write all that down and I will surely be looking into this! I know moms want to make sure they don’t get behind so very good information here.

    2. No way! I’m also a Master teacher. Most of those skills are Kindergarten skills. Pushing so much so early takes away from building a SOLID foundation for future learning. Pre-K kids should be learning 90% through play. Don’t scare off the parents-while I obviously think preschool is great-parents can do most academic skills at home just through interacting throughout the day!

    1. Hi Meghan,
      Thank you so much for the nice words and I really hope it helps get you started. Stay tuned as I’ll be adding new posts on specific preschool activities we are trying out at home soon!

  7. Kathy is right. Here in Ontario, Canada we have 2 years of full day kindergarten with the kids starting in the year they turn 4. They are introducing them to sight words and learning about the author and illustrator of the book they are sent home with daily in their first year. They learn patterns mostly through their crafts and activities so it is play based sort of. They are learning addition and subtraction up to ten not just counting up to ten. Just because they are using craft supplies and such to teach these concepts does not mean it is unstructured and unplanned. So when you consider there are a lot of 3 yr olds still in pull ups and at 4 they have this many expectations put on them you have to wonder if we are pushing too much.

  8. COngrats for taking this on! My kids are now in 1st and 3rd, and I am proud that our district just this year started offering a full day Pre-K, free of charge. More areas should implement this. The cost is really crazy. I can see why some opt to do it at home. Plus then the schedule gives you the flexibility to work around trips to the zoo, museums, playdates, other kids naps.

    1. Thanks! The flexibility is very nice for sure as well as watching them learn. And yes, the cost of preschool is high enough to deter many and I’m glad you could be part of a free one!

  9. Love the detail you get into with this post. I remember how it felt when I was going through this with my son – kinda terrifying – yup, I can relate! I think you’ve covered it all, Love. My biggest add to this for parents who want to “do preschool” at home is to play (kids respond to this!) – in fact, play school is a more appropriate word in my book. Great post! xo Evelyn,

    1. Hi Evelyn,
      Thanks for the nice words. I think you are so right about “playing”, and preschool could definitely be called “playschool”. In fact, that’s mostly what the day consists of and how my kids learn…through play and chatting with mom! That’s one reason why I think any mom can succeed in homeschool preschool. Thanks again!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *