How do I set up an easy Homeschool Preschool schedule? How can I make it simple enough that we'll actually stick to it?
The short answer is... start small & simple.
Set yourself up for success by creating a clear plan and then making it easy to accomplish!
Here are the steps I went through to set up our schedule this year.
Steps for setting up a a simple home preschool schedule:
1. Study what preschoolers need to learn.
The National Association for the Education of Young Children NAEYC shares the following components of a high quality preschool program.
In a high quality preschool program children will...
- Interact with caring adults.
- Participate in active, hands-on, “minds-on” play and learning.
- Connect new ideas and skills to what they already know and can do.
- Explore and make sense of their world.
- Participate in teacher-guided learning (this can be a parent, caregiver, or an educator).
Whether your child is attending a preschool program in your community or in your home, these components are important to include in your program!
I believe that the most important parts of a home preschool program are spending time reading and playing!
We also focus on the following other important areas that the NAEYC says should be included in a high quality preschool program:
- Physical development
- Social development
- Emotional development
- Language and literacy development
- Thinking, or cognitive, skills development
The main subject areas to emphasize are:
- Speaking and listening (language)
- Early reading
- Early writing
- Social studies
- Creative arts
These subject areas are easy to teach kids through stories and play!
2. Decide on your goals.
Although there are many important areas to cover during the year with preschoolers, it is important to pick the main things you are going to focus on the most.
My main goals are to...
- Always start the day reading together every day.
- Participate in a variety of hands-on play and learning activities.
3. Work together with your child.
Once I decided on the general subject areas that would be included in our program, then I teamed up with my child to brainstorm what free play activities and interest areas she wanted us to include.
She helped me make a big list of her favorite free play activities and interests- dinosaurs, space, stuffed animals, trains, etc.
By incorporating my child's choices into our plan, she was much more bought into our program than if I just decided everything.
High quality preschool programs should include a balance of teacher-guided learning, child-led learning, and independent play.
RELATED: Need more ideas for your child? Here are some of our favorite easy play ideas.
4. Make a visual schedule.
Next we were ready to build a visual schedule.
Here's how I made our visual schedule:
- First, I purchased sentence strips.
- Next, I wrote out each subject area/play activity on a sentence strip with a Sharpie.
- Then, I printed out photos of all of the activities featured on the sentence strips.
- Finally, I cut out the photos and taped them onto the sentence strips.
5. Build the schedule together!
Once the visual schedule is put together, you are ready to get started!
Each morning we start our day by building our schedule together. I pick the main subject areas that I want to focus on for the day and then my daughter picks the free choice activities that she wants to include in the day.
We stick our sentence strips on the wall with Painters Tape, but you could also use a Pocket Chart.
The first thing on our homeschool preschool schedule is always story time so that we make sure to accomplish my goal and prioritize reading together every day!
RELATED: Need more structure in your toddler's day? Check out this schedule for a two year old.
Frequently Asked Questions about our Homeschool Preschool Schedule
Do you put time on your schedule?
No! Since our homeschool program is child-led, we try and follow the child's lead. That could mean that an activity time period is over in five minutes or fifty. Each child is different.
By leaving a time frame off the schedule, we take the pressure off the child that they have to be "done" by a certain time. This helps them (and you!) be able to deep dive more into the activities and also increase their attention spans.
Putting time on a schedule for preschoolers is mostly for the adult and not the child. Young children aren't able to grasp the concept of time until much older.
If you have an older child and want to include time on your schedule, I recommend also using a visual timer, like a Time Timer to help your child visualize what the time frame means.
Do you do the same number of activities each day?
No, our schedule varies from day to day depending on what we have going on and our family's needs. Since I also work from home, if I have a busy work day, we might just put three activities on our schedule.
Where do you get your ideas for the main content areas?
We have so many favorite resources! Here are a few that can be helpful.
- Our Year of Play Ebook that is filled with 48 weekly plans and 48 children's book recommendations on different themes. The plans include literacy, science, math, art, movement, sensory play, and snack ideas.
- Our Hands-On Learning Hub weekly plans that are shared with our membership group.
- Our Learn landing page on my Toddler Approved blog which has hundreds of learning ideas.
Some other awesome content resources include:
- Playing Preschool, my friend Susie's Preschool program (affiliate link)
- Breakfast Invitations- my friend Beth's easy to use activity cards
- Everyday Preschool- my friend Allie's simple preschool program
Do you follow the schedule in order?
No, the schedule is child-led, so our only goal is to try and accomplish each activity by the end of the day. We always start with story time and then after that, my daughter gets to choose the next one. I choose what we do during fine motor, science, art, math, movement, and literacy time.
When she completes an activity, she removes the sentence strip for the activity and places it in the basket below. This signifies visually that she is done.
How do you incorporate independent play time into your schedule?
The majority of the free play activities listed on our schedule are independent activities. I start out the activity playing alongside my child in a non-exciting way. I don't engage tons or try and be super exciting in my play, I just play and model how to play independently.
As she begins to play, I eventually move away for periods of time so that she can be independent. Over time, I increase the amount of time that I am away getting my own "work" done, whether that is washing the dishes, answering emails, or whatever!
What if you have other children who are doing different things?
This schedule style is easy to adapt to whatever you are doing. My older kids who are doing remote learning often join us for some of our schedule activities and playtime when they have breaks in their schedule.
Here is a overview of our basic routine and then a deeper dive into a typical day's schedule.
Our Basic Daily Schedule/Routine
Here's my very very basic routine/schedule looking at one day this past week. This isn't posted on my wall or written down, but it's how we fit activities into our day.
- Story time (always first thing after breakfast)
- Movement time (always after stories- often my workout the preschooler joins)
- Free Play/Activity time
- Quiet time/Free play (always after lunch)
- Outdoor time (almost always before dinner-except during fire season)
- Playtime/Clean up