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We have always known we were going to homeschool and being the list making over achiever that I am, I tried to start school at age 2, failing miserably, starting & stopping every year until age 6. True story.

This post is to share not just the what I’ve learned in those 4 years but the WHY so others like me might attempt to relax a bit :).

Tot (2-3)


  • Books/Songs
  • Montessori Play Items
  • Hands on motor skill toys
  • Colors & Shapes

For the tots, I stick to mostly books on a variety of subjects and common songs (think Twinkle, Twinkle or Itsy Bitsy Spider). If you don’t remember any, the Wee-Sing CD’s are good for this. You can also see a list of general topics by month if you want to plan a bit, but try not to create a schedule.

I also like to have plenty of toys that work on fine motor stills & early learning skills. Think stacking, lacing, sorting, animals, colors, puzzles, etc. Montessori activities are great for this and I like the ebook Montessori at Home & the accompanying printable pack.

If you want to add fun gross motor activities, I reviewed Dr. Craft’s Active Play Book.  It has great gross motor games with a little learning thrown in occasionally and they are almost always well loved.

At this age it’s needs to be VERY flexible & child-led. If it ever feels like a check mark on your list that it needs to be crossed off, it’s time to step back. Ditto if neither you, nor your child are having fun.


Preschool (3-4)

  • Books
  • Letters & Numbers
  • Scissor/Gluing
  • Tracing/Pre-Writing
  • Phonics

For preschool, we do a little more than for tot school, but it’s still very fun & child-led. We use the same monthly book themes as tot school and begin adding in some free printable packs to work on tracing, cutting, letter identification & more. Most of these activities come from alphabet printable packs & toys we’ve accumulated, though we also do them for things that particularly interest them. They also love the Poppins Book Nook posts we’ve been participating in.


  • Bible
  • Reading/Phonics
  • Math

So after much wailing & gnashing of teeth (on my part), I finally realized that kindergarten is super intense. For me. It’s a lot of work for children to learn basic math & reading. Really, that’s all you will get done. Math & reading. You could do handwriting if they have good motor skills, but it’s not essential. Don’t bother to try anything else until they are reading proficiently. It’s just not worth it.

Like with the preschoolers, we learn about extras through fun extra units and the Poppins Book Nook posts that we do.

First Grade

  • Bible/religion
  • Reading/Spelling
  • Math
  • Science (opt)
  • History (opt)

If they are still not a proficient readers, continue sticking to the basics–bible, reading & math. You could add handwriting. And if they are not, don’t worry. You homeschool to keep at the pace of your child :).

If they are interested in doing more and you want to or have time to accommodate that, there is a great free curriculum for science using The Magic School Bus DVD’s with a few activities & books. Story of the World and Mystery of History are both story based history curriculums AND are available on CD for your listening pleasure. Extra projects are totally optional, but highly enjoyed. We reviewed these materials from Homeschool in the Woods that work great for hands- on history, too.

photo (1)

Also, I didn’t mention it, but we read the bible or a bible story book nearly everyday for all ages, at all ages. Our current favorite for littles is the Read-And-Share Bible. As you can see, it’s well loved. It’s seen almost continuous use since we received it several years ago.

Notebooks and pencils


After several years of this type A mom stressing about needing curriculum & checklists, I have to laugh at the fact that my advice to you now, is precisely the advice I ignored when I started. Hopefully, explaining a bit of WHY all veterans say this is helpful :).

What is your best tip for a new homeschooling mom of littles?


Jen S.


back-to-homeschool-blog-hop-smThis post is part of the 5 Days of Back to Homeschool Blog Hop by the Schoolhouse Review Crew.

Check out these other crew members participating in the hop:

Dawn @ Double O Farms
Tess @ Circling Through This Life
Lisa Marie @ The Canadian Homeschooler
Lexi @ Lextin Academy 
Karen @ My Harbor Lights
Joanie @ Simple Living Mama
Lisa @ Home to 4 Kiddos
Lori @ Home: where life happens


Series Navigation

5 Comments on Homeschooling for First Grade & Under – Avoiding Overload {5 Days of Back to Homeschool – The Early Years}

  1. Lori H
    11 August 2014 at 4:55 PM (7 years ago)

    I love the break down you provided of appropriate activities for each age. I see the question asked so often of how much work and what kinds of activities are appropriate for kids as young as 2. I think this is a great post that will give a lot of folks help.
    Lori H´s last blog post ..What you DO need


    jen Reply:

    Thanks for the comment! I hope it does help :).


  2. Tess
    11 August 2014 at 2:50 PM (7 years ago)

    My best tip? I don’t think you need a formal program for anything K4 and under. Lots of music. Lots of opportunity to develop gross and fine motor skills through play and lots and lots of reading aloud. Children learn through play. There will be plenty of time for formal learning. Some of my fondest memories are of homeschooling the girls when they were little. Now my oldest is in college and I do not regret at all that we spent most of our time reading, playing, and listening to music when she was under 5!
    Tess´s last blog post ..Planning: The School Calendar ~ Back to Homeschool Blog Hop


    jen Reply:

    Great comment! I read the same thing when I started, but I need a schedule or curriculum so that I don’t get sucked up in work, writing, chores, etc. Hopefully, others like me who need a loose plan can benefit and not go too crazy :).


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