As you know there are millions of preschool products, preschool ideas, and preschool curriculums out there for parents and teachers but how many are real ideas, curriculums, or products that can be used to show amazing results? None, zero, nada, etc. Believe me I know because last year I got licensed for an in-home daycare and I began my search for the perfect preschool curriculum. Well after a few weeks I realized we weren't getting anywhere so I researched around to find out exactly what a preschool child should know before going to kindergarten. I organized my preschool curriculum and it cost under about $20-$25 for a whole year. Here it is:
First of all there are 4 different preschool plans:
Plan 1: Children 12 months old to 2 years old. Children at this age should mainly be concentrating on learning about their environment, how things work, why they don't, etc. Your main goal at this time is large and fine motor skills which is using a person's small (fine) and large (motor) muscles. To help your child gain muscle control in their hands and fingers it is a good time to introduce drawing, coloring, finger painting, and play-doh but be very careful because children this age love to eat everything!!! Your child must be supervised at ALL times. Also do not force your child to draw, paint, or make a certain object because right now they don't know how. And don't ask what they are making just tell them it is so beautiful.
Plan 2: Children 2 years old up to 3 years old. Children begin to learn as babies but no actual curriculum should be enforced until they are 24 months old depending on the child. At this age most are able to talk fairly well and all are curious and ready to learn. Still the curriculum should be slightly challenging but easy enough not to frustrate the child. The learning part of the curriculum shouldn't last more than 15-20 minutes since children this age very seldom sit for longer than that at a time. This is the curriculum I came up with for 2 year olds:
- Math - Introduction to 4 basic shapes (square, circle, rectangle, triangle) and counting 0-5: your goal is only for the child to be able to count 0-5 and to recognize the 4 basic shapes. You can buy poster board and make the shapes yourself for about a dollar or you can buy some flashcards from a store for $2-$5. The best flashcards I have found are by school zone and are called Colors, Shapes, and More. I paid less than $3. It includes shapes, colors, counting, numbers, rhyming words, etc. I always introduce 1 shape every 2 weeks so they have plenty of time to learn to say the shape name and learn to recognize it. You also want to find at least 2 things that look like circles so you can reinforce the idea that a shape can be an object and not just on a flashcard. For example, for a circle you could have a round plate and a round clock on hand and say circle and the object name together.
- Vocabulary - This is basically just expanding your child's vocabulary. This is optional but I found it helps to put sounds together especially for children who haven't really learned to talk well. Here are 2 options: (a) I used the bought cards mentioned above by using the pictures on the cards as vocabulary words. (b)Make your own vocabulary cards (as many as you think your child can learn but no more than 25 so he/she isn't overwhelmed) out of construction paper or poster board (white poster is very cheap and one will probably be enough for all vocab words). This will probably cost around a dollar if you already have old magazines. For the actual vocabulary words, cut out pictures (from magazines) and paste them to the poster board/construction paper. If you have the time it is fun to use this option because you can categorize vocabulary words into different groups. For example you can have fruit and vegetable vocabulary words (simple ones such as carrot, potato, apple), types of clothing vocabulary words (such as hat, sock, shoe), toys vocabulary words (ball, block, truck), etc. It is best to introduce only 1 vocabulary word a week but don't move on unless the child has mastered the vocabulary word. If you feel a certain vocaulary word is too hard skip it. You can always come back to it at the end.
- Alphabet - Practice with your child on saying the alphabet whether by the traditional ABC song or making up your own or just saying them without a tune. The only thing you want your child to accomplish is to learn saying the alphabet (or most of it) in order by the time he/she moves to the 3 year old curriculum. Be sure to say the alphabet slowly and clearly.
- Colors - Introduce the 4 basic colors (blue, red, yellow, green). If you feel other colors might be easier than those stated then use them. As long as you introduce 4 colors. For this all you have to do is find things that are the color of the curriculum plans and show them the item and say the color and the object name. For example if you are teaching blue, show them a blue block and say this is blue and it is a block. It also helps to reinforce the color by using flashcards. Again the ones stated above have worked for me.
- Art/Activities - Concentrate on what you are learning. If they are learning blue then let them color with only a blue crayon. If they are learning a circle let them paste blue circles to paper, construction paper, poster, etc. (you would have to make the circles and cut them out but you wouldn't need many maybe about 6). This also helps with fine motor skills. For the vocabulary, alphabet, and counting I wouldn't push with an activity except maybe letting them count 0-5 items or picking out a certain vocabulary card, etc. Children at this age too are still not advanced enough usually to do actual art projects and crafts. It is worth a try though if you feel your child is ready.