How to Homeschool a 4 Year Old
Your child is turning 4, and you are eager to start homeschooling. Your first question is, Should I homeschool my 4 year old? Well, that’s an easy answer. Your 4 year old has already been homeschooled for three years—technically! As a parent, you have been teaching your child how to walk and talk and use a spoon and so many other things that you would not consider to be school. However, you have been teaching, and your baby/toddler has been learning. When it comes to homeschooling a 4 year old, you are probably thinking about adding a bit of structure to that teaching and learning you both experience every day. Let’s see how homeschooling a 4 year old can work:
What Should a 4 Year Old Be Learning?
Already, your 4 year old can probably do household tasks like toileting, opening a tube of toothpaste, pouring a cup of water, and undoing buttons, and you have likely watched your child happily running, jumping, hopping, and catching a ball. Equally as likely, your child has also begun more academic pursuits like telling stories, singing songs or short poems, recognizing letters and numbers, beginning to understand time, and naming some colors.
Now, one of your goals in homeschooling your 4 year old is to prepare your child for kindergarten—academically, behaviorally, and socio-emotionally. Here are some knowledge and skills that your 4 year old should be learning to help as you plan what to teach a 4 year old at home:
- To identify some letters of the alphabet and some common sight words
- To identify words that rhyme
- To write his/her first name with uppercase and lowercase letters
- To speak in complete sentences
- To repeat his/her full name, phone number, address, and birthday
- To grip writing implements (i.e., pencil, marker, crayon, chalk) correctly
- To count to ten
- To classify objects based on shape, size, and quantity
- To use glue, scissors, paint, and other art supplies
- To bounce a ball
- To play alone or with another child, focused on one activity for a maximum of ten minutes
How to Start Homeschooling a 4 Year Old
So how do you start homeschooling a 4 year old? Here are a few simple steps that will help you prepare:
- Step 1: Make sure to do your research and find out what resources are available. Look for 4 year old curriculum ideas and homeschool activities for 4 year olds. Getting started with preschool homeschool is a big step, and many parents have gone before you. Learn from them before you begin with your child!
- Step 2: Prioritize what you want your child to learn this year. Compare your child’s abilities with developmental milestones and what is expected for kindergarten. What does your child need in order to catch up to other 4 year olds or get ready for the next phase of education?
- Step 3: Set up areas in your home and yard to encourage interest in learning in natural environments (e.g., Lego table, sandbox, puzzle basket, costume bin). Allow your child easy access to these areas.
- Step 4: Create a healthy, age-appropriate homeschool schedule for your 4 year old that is consistent but relaxed, includes some time with other preschoolers (if possible), and targets short periods of focused learning spaced throughout the day.
Start planning out your homeschooling days with this free easy to use daily planner.
What Should a Curriculum for a 4 Year Old Look Like?
Your 4 year old is starting to build a foundation for reading, writing, listening, and speaking as well as initial math skills. Your child also needs to build the gross and fine motor skills to support physical activity/sports and the use of writing implements and art supplies while social and emotional skills are also beginning to develop.
A homeschool curriculum for a 4 year old must be consistent and flexible. It must also be engaging and motivating enough to build a solid foundation of not only knowledge and skills, but also habits, attitudes, and confidence. Here are some things to consider when choosing a curriculum for a 4 year old:
- A preschool curriculum should include language arts, math, science, and social studies in a way that prepares your child for kindergarten.
- Lessons should be focused on basic concepts, including pre-reading and pre-writing activities, and include repetition for skill mastery.
- Instruction should be play-based, engaging your young child in different modalities using a variety of teaching styles.
- Learning should build from one topic to the next, ensuring that a strong foundation is constructed for each subject area.
- Activities, including worksheets, should enable preschoolers to follow simple directions.
- All aspects of the curriculum should introduce your 4 year old to “school” in a positive and reinforcing way that builds self-confidence.
How Time4Learning Helps You Homeschool Your 4 Year Old
Time4Learning offers an online curriculum that can be the basis for homeschooling your 4 year old. Although it requires early levels of attention, fine motor control (i.e., ability to use a computer mouse), and language, the curriculum is designed so that your child will be able to use it without much adult supervision. It assumes no prior knowledge and was created for pre-readers.
Here are some reasons why Time4Learning’s preschool curriculum can be ideal for your 4 year old and your family:
- Time4Learning’s preschool lesson plans are organized into two levels, with an additional alphabet level. Level One themes include School Time, My ABCs, My Colors, and At the Zoo. Level Two themes include All about Me, In My Neighborhood, and Measurement. You can use the curriculum as a two-year program to prepare your child for Kindergarten.
- Each theme is introduced by a song and show or story, including professional music and animations, and then your child can choose among activities like games and puzzles to deepen learning.
- A lesson planning worksheet helps you to plan the number of lessons per day in each subject to complete the curriculum.
- Your child can save snapshots of work onto a dashboard to share with you.
- You receive information on all completed activities, including time on task and the date and time of completion.
Is Time4Learning the only online curriculum you can use when you homeschool your 4 year old? No. You can compare Time4Learning and ABCmouse.com®, another popular online preschool program, to see which curriculum may be the ideal fit for your child. Remember that you can always choose to blend the best parts of more than one curriculum (called an eclectic approach) to truly fit the needs of your 4 year old.
Tips for Homeschooling a 4 Year Old
We know that early childhood education success is important to you and your family. Here are some overall tips for homeschooling your 4 year old:
- Tip 1: Focus on Play-Based Learning: A preschooler’s job is to play, so your job is to make sure that your preschooler has plenty of opportunities to do just that. When you add some learning to play, you have created a win-win! Remember that just learning how to play (especially with others) is an important accomplishment all by itself!
- Tip 2: Include Art: Drawing, coloring, painting, cutting, and pasting not only build fine motor skills, they also encourage preschoolers to begin expressing themselves. You want to help your 4 year old become an active learner who engages with content and is willing to express opinions and ideas. Art can be a great beginning!
- Tip 3: Be Flexible: While you may have a schedule and curriculum already planned, be attentive to your child. If your child is getting frustrated or avoiding activities, make changes and follow your child’s interests. Ease your 4 year old into “school” in a way that is supportive and encouraging and creates positive views of learning.
The most important tip for homeschooling your 4 year old is to have fun! Chances are that your state’s homeschool laws do not regulate preschool, so you have a wonderful opportunity now to introduce your child to lifelong learning that is enjoyable and stimulating and a way to bond with you. “Unitask” while you homeschool your 4 year old and enjoy every single second!