The ABCs of How to Home Preschool: U-Z

home preschool

 The ABCs of How to Home Preschool

Today I’m sharing with you Day Six of the ABCs of How to Home Preschool series!  Today I’ll be sharing with you letters U-Z.

If you missed the Day One opener, click here.  
If you missed Day Two, letters A-E, click here.  
If you missed Day Three, letters F-J, click here.  
If you missed Day Four, letters K-O, click here
If you missed Day Five, letters P-T, click here.

Before I get started today, I just want to remind you this is really the ABCs of How WE Home Preschool, as there is no definitive guide that can tell you what will work in YOUR home and with YOUR child.  This is just what we do and what works for us.  Hopefully you can use parts of it, or at least gain some inspiration from it.  If you want to home preschool, you can!

There is no way to cover all the ins and outs of our daily lives as home preschoolers, but I’ll do my best to show you through these ABCs a good glimpse into our day-to-day.  Feel free to ask questions.

Here are my U-Z of How WE Home Preschool
If you missed the intro post, start here first!
how to home preschool

U is for us, our family, extended family, and friends.  I’ve found it helps to include all the “human resources” you can in your home preschool.  When your kids see that LOTS of people value learning–and it’s not just mom–it starts to really sink in for them.  I try to get as many people involved in our home preschool as possible because everyone has something they can add!

There are lots of ways to do this:  

  • Invite people to share their expertise with your children.
    • We’ve asked the kids’ Oma (a former science teacher) to bring some of her rock collection to share with the kids.  Now each time she visits, she brings along some natural items she’s collected on her many trips and a few books to read to the kids.  They love it, and it’s a great bonding experience for them.
    • My own mom has a big backyard garden.  I mentioned the kids might like to help her with it, and she set them up a seed planting station so they could try it first-hand.  Then she followed up by sending us photos via email of their plants growing in the garden.
    • If you have a significant other (and they don’t do this already), you might mention that you’d love if they shared with the kids, too.  Dinner prep, working in the garage, yard work, using tools, crafting, etc. are all great things that they’re probably already doing; children can observe and learn from just about anything you’re doing if one just takes the time to let them observe and explain it.  We even have a few things in our home preschool that are special projects just for Dad and the kids, like this electronics snap circuit kit.
  • Communicating via video chat is also a great educational tool.  On a recent business trip, L&L’s dad called them via Skype and gave them a video tour of his hotel room.  They loved it!
    • If you have bilingual family, this is also a great way to expose your children to different languages!
  • Ask your family to save “craft” materials for you.  I’ve had various people collecting tin cans, paper towel rolls, and bottle caps for me at different times.  This is a good way to start off asking for support since it’s simple and can build conversation!
  • If family members or friends ask for gift ideas for your child, consider adding books or learning toys to the list!  It’s one simple way you can grow materials for your home preschool.
  • If you family knows that you “work” with your children, others might be more inclined to doing things with them, too.  I’ve noticed that at recent family gatherings around the holidays, there are more “learning” activities — we’ve shot off rockets, made homemade ornaments out of clay, done some hand print art projects, and visited a petting zoo.

Having a supportive family is GREAT, and I hope you have some, too.  Home preschool can certainly be done by you alone, but it can add so much to be done by an “us!”  If you have close family and friends, you might be surprised at how they’d love to help out and by what they can offer!

how to home preschool

V is for videos.

This might be a shocking statement to some, but my children watch pretty much no TV.  They have seen some TV shows on occasion at Grandma’s house, and sometimes their dad will DVR them a few Cat in the Hat, Dinosaur Train, or Super Why episodes (a couple of the very few shows we approve of), but during daytime hours our TV is not randomly playing with the kids sitting in front of it.  It never has been.

In fact, until the time our oldest was two, he never watched TV at all.  (Except perhaps the occasional football game in the afternoon on a Sunday.)  

There is tons of research out there about children and TV.  It can affect their behavior, sleep habits, weight, language development, and more….and not in good ways.  So, we’ve chosen to limit it at our house.

Instead of TV shows filled with commercials and questionable content and language, we do select videos.  We have gradually added to our collection over the past few years.  Most of the videos we own are educational, and most are around 30 minutes in duration.  We have also added a few movies to the collection and usually we watch those together as a family as a special family night treat.

The kids are allowed to watch up to one video per day.  There are lots of days the TV is never turned on at all, and on days they do watch, the average is about 30-45 minutes of time.

For some examples of the types of videos we have in our collection, it includes the Signing Time collection, LeapFrog videos, VeggieTales, What’s in the Bible?, Scholastic Storybook DVDs, several Cat in the Hat videos based on the books, Meet the Sight Words, a few Disney/Pixar/classic movies, etc.

I also have a YouTube for Kids Pinterest board that I have stocked with short videos and clips appropriate for kids from the toddler age on up — educational and fun songs, book read alouds, clips from shows like Sesame Street, and more.  I suggest you still preview the clips as things can change unexpectedly, but the collection should help cut down on your search time and make sharing YouTube videos with your child at least a little safer.

As for TV, my kids don’t beg to watch because the way we watch only a little is all they’ve ever known.  Instead their days are filled with play and active, hands-on learning.  There is no doubt that TV can be educational, but hands-on and real life experiences are even more so.  As with most everything, finding balance is key.

It is up to you how much television you watch in your house (of course!) but I do suggest you do some reading on the research that has been done regarding kids and TV just so you can make an informed decision.  If you start out watching little to no TV, your kids will not know the difference.  If you start later trying to cut back, it can be done, but be prepared for resistance.  Have some fun play and learning activities ready to go to keep them busy when the TV urge strikes!

how to home preschool

W is for What does my child need to know?

I know many of you have been waiting for me to get to letter W since I posted a teaser about it earlier on letter K.  One very helpful thing to have is a list of the things you want your child to learn during preschool!  Here is a typical course of study preschool curriculum guide from World Book that I’ve found to be quite good.  You can use it to plan out what you want to teach, or even as a checklist to keep up with what you child has mastered and where you should continue to focus.  You can always add your own goals and objectives to the list as well.  (i.e. There are no religious goals included on the World Book list but you might like to add some.)

Every state has it’s own “standard course of study,” though many are now moving to what’s called a “common core.”  It’s the list of goals and objectives that classroom teachers use to ensure they are teaching all the things they are supposed to for their particular grade and subject.  I suggest you also find out what the “standard course of study” for kindergarten is in your state.  That will give you a good idea of what your child needs to be prepared to learn in their first year after preschool (or if you will be homeschooling, it gives you an idea of what your child’s peers will be learning).  Here is North Carolina’s kindergarten SCOS as an example.  Here is World Book’s general kindergarten curriculum guide for your reference as well.

how to home preschool

X is for xylophone.

We have a wooden one, along with a whole basket of other musical instruments like a triangle, kazoos, maracas, a bongo, and more.  We use our musical instruments mostly during our calendar time.  After we’ve gone over the season, month, day, and date, we usually sing some songs, a mix of seasonal songs, nursery rhymes, and Biblical songs usually.  One way to make this time more fun, exciting, hands-on, and…err…musical?? is to play instruments while we sing.  We pull out our basket and everyone picks an instrument.  Then we sing and play.  Yep, I do, too, and I have to admit it’s pretty darn fun.

Sometimes the kids will also get out the music basket and play along to music from our iTunes collection.  I’m amazed at how they can actually play along with the beats of the music now with great rhythm.  It’s my personal opinion that this is a great activity for phonological awareness — an individual’s awareness of the sound structure of spoken words — which is a HUGEly important skill for beginning readers to master.

how to home preschool

Y is for YOU because home preschool will undoubtedly start with YOU and I hope this series has brought you some encouragement if you’re considering the idea!

If you’re still reading through this series, then you’re probably pretty interested in home preschool.  I will be the first to admit it can be a tough decision to make.  I registered my oldest for preschool the year he was turning 3.  We toured the classroom, met the teachers, observed a class, and then I thought, why don’t we do this at home?  We were already doing a lot of play and learning at home, but I had never considered it preschool.  It was exactly what they were doing in the class we observed though, and at home, my son would benefit from one-on-one attention and the fact that I knew him so well and could tailor activities to best meet his needs.  We lost our ~$100 registration fee, but I don’t regret keeping him or his little sister home with me for a second.

Research strongly supports the benefits of preschool (going so far as to say it has benefits lasting into adulthood) and research also strongly supports the benefits of homeschool (test scores repeatedly show homeschool students perform better on average than public school students).  I have to believe that home preschool, should it be researched, would also show tremendous benefits.

Whether you decide to all-out home preschool, or you simply decide to work with your kids in addition to the time they are at daycare or preschool, I believe that any amount of time YOU spend with a child giving them personal attention, playing with them, and/or teaching them is going to have great results and long-term benefits!  Not to mention all the bonding and memory-making that will be happening as well for the both of you.

Nothing makes me happier than seeing parents and kids spending time together and having real relationships.  I have to believe this world would be a far different place if every child had that kind of start to life.

In the end, the decisions about preschool and child-rearing regarding your own children are all up to YOU.  If you want to home preschool, I firmly believe YOU can.  And remember, it’s not something you have to commit to for years at a time.  Try it and see how it goes.  The main thing I hope you are taking away from this series is that YOU can have a real impact on your child’s life –their health, their happiness, their relationships, their education– if you choose to, regardless of where they go to school.  In my opinion, the parent will always be their child’s first and best teacher.  It’s not always easy (what is?) and you won’t always get it right (who does?), but I believe that doing something is (almost) always better than doing nothing.

I’d love for you to follow along with us here for more activity ideas to use with your child.  If your child is 4+, you might be excited to know I hope to have a new site up within the month called Parent Teach Play which will continue to follow our fun and learning past the preschool years.  You can follow on Facebook for now and watch for an announcement there when the new site is up!  In Lieu of Preschool will still be updated with tons of new stuff as well, too, because my youngest is only 3!  I’m just expanding so I can include activities and ideas for all ages.  

how to home preschool

Z is for Ziggy.

Last but not least is Ziggy the Zebra.  Ziggy is part of the All About Reading pre-reading program.  He’s a hand puppet.  While I don’t think you need any curriculum for preschool, if you do consider one, this one is a lot of fun, has some GREAT learning elements that are all hands-on and interactive, and I have no doubt Ziggy is one of the memories my kids will carry with them for life.  They love him!  The gladly welcome him to our lessons with hugs and kisses.  (I’m not kidding!  See these photos if you don’t believe me!)

We often even work Ziggy into lessons where he isn’t called for, and we’ve invented fun ways to interact with him like giving him slap on the ear as we shout “High Ear!” instead of “High Five!” when the kids get something right.  I had my doubts about using a puppet to begin with, and have been completely shocked at just how much my kids love him.  Ziggy can make the mundane magical for L&L.

If you want to know more about All About Reading, you can check out what comes in the pre-reading program here, see what a day’s lesson looks like here, or go straight to the website to read more on your own.  We also have and are starting to use All About Reading Level 1 with my oldest and I’ve heard nothing but great things about All About Spelling (for those in about 1st grade and up!).

And if this program is not up your alley, you could always just try adding your own special hand puppet into whatever lessons or reading you are doing! 😉


Thank you so much for following along in the ABCs of How to Home Preschool series!  Tomorrow I’ll be adding a quick, picture summary version for those of you who may be more visual learners, or who would like to share this series with someone without overwhelming them (like a significant other you’re trying to bring on board to the idea of home preschool, for example).  It will include links back to the letter posts for more indepth reading.

I have appreciated everyone’s feedback so much throughout this series!!   If you have any feedback, thoughts, questions, or ideas to share about this series, please leave them in the comments section.  I’d also love to hear what you’d like to know more about or see more posts of in the future here on In Lieu of Preschool!

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Genny Upton

A former teacher turned stay at home mom to two preschool aged children. Creator (and writer) at In Lieu of Preschool and Parent Teach Play. Currently publishing my first children's picture book!

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  • Amanda says:

    This is just incredible and very much an inspiration as I decide to home preschool my 2 yr old. Thank you for sharing!

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