Over the years I’ve used several different preschool curriculum programs and I thought it would be good to do a round up post and share my thoughts on each one I’ve used.
Before I get started, let me say I know how controversial teaching preschool can be in the homeschool world. I have a very gentle approach to preschool. I think I’ve rarely finished a program all the way, just because I’m not super stressed about getting it in every single day. I normally do preschool because our younger children see the older ones doing school and they want to do something as well. I don’t remember doing much preschool work with our oldest, because he wasn’t begging me! Do what you feel is best for your family, but don’t be afraid to put a worksheet in front of your child if they are begging for one.
As much as I love the Charlotte Mason approach, I think the guilt can be over the top about not letting your little ones do any preschool work at all. If they are asking for it, let them do something! If they don’t want to do anything at 3 or 4, don’t stress about it! You are not going to ruin your child either way. I recently read a large family mom say she did widely varying methods with her children over the years, no preschool, unschooling, preschool, and they all turned out about the same when they were older.
With that being said, here is a review of several different preschool curriculums we have used, along with what we are going to be using for the new school year!
Horizons Preschool Curriculum
I was pleasantly surprised with how much I liked this Horizons Preschool Curriculum. I’ve used it with two of my girls now, and they both enjoyed it a lot. It focuses on numbers, ABC, tracing, matching skills, patterns, and some cut and paste. I used it both times without the teacher’s guide to save money, my sister did use the teacher guide. It just depends on how you teach. Like I said earlier, I’m pretty relaxed with preschool. This is good for the 3-4 year old age range. I like how everything is already put together, there is no printing involved or gathering lots of supplies. I also like how the child does not have to do much writing in this book. Trying to teach a 3 year old to write is a daunting task that is very advanced for many that age, I would rather them learn how to draw lines and trace versus writing lots of numbers and letters.
About Three Series
The About Three is another series I’ve used with several of my children. I would never do just these books for preschool, they are so cheap that I normally grab them at conventions just to give them something to start with. My honest opinion is that they are rather boring looking, and so they don’t grab the child’s attention quite like something else does. That being said, it’s a good series on the budget and easy to do while juggling other children and their school needs.
ABC Series by Rod and Staff
The ABC set is another popular series for preschool, probably because again it’s so affordable and easy to use. We have tried it several times and I’ve never made it through the whole program with any of my children. I use it now as filler if I find it at used homeschool book sales, just something to give them as extra work if they want it. It could totally stand on it’s own for a preschool program, but I have to love it to use it every day and I just don’t love this program enough. I want something that is visually a little more appealing, which is probably why I’ve used Horizons several times now.
Confessions of a Homeschooler Letter of the week Curriculum
My sister bought this Letter of the Week curriculum and printed off the entire curriculum for her twin boys several years ago. She dropped the cd off at the UPS store and didn’t even check on the price, not realizing just how many pages were on this DVD. She went into shock when the bill was several hundred dollars! She was printing it for two, but still….this is my warning if you use this curriculum!
She made it to the letter H and didn’t end up liking it, so she gave the rest to me! I recently started using it with Sophia and just decided to start with H over the summer, to keep her busy. I’ve been shocked over how quickly she is picking everything up. We did it one day and she could already tell me what the big H and the little h was when I asked her the next day. I showed her a bag of wooden letters at Hobby Lobby and she instantly saw the big H and was excited.
This is supposed to be a letter a week curriculum, but we do it in 2-3 days. If school was in full swing right now I can see stretching it out to 5 days just because I wouldn’t have as much time.
If you have a good printer or you are ok spending a lot of money to print it out, this can be fun. Just be aware of how much you really are printing off before you drop it off somewhere! Some of it needs to be printed in color, other pages are just fine in black and white.
All About Reading Pre-Reading
As much as I love and adore the level 1 of All About Reading, we have never made it through the pre-reading curriculum. I do like it, but it takes more one on one time and with a large family it can be harder to juggle that. I’ve decided it’s better for me to wait and pour myself into All About Reading level 1, which we normally start in first grade.
Peaceful Preschool Curriculum
The curriculum from Peaceful Press is quickly becoming a more well known name in the homeschool community. I plan on using the Peaceful Preschool with Sophia this coming school year, and I’m super excited about it!
I think this is something I can manage, because I’ve adjusted my expectations. I will not be doing every single activity suggested. We will pick the ones that fit with our schedule and life with a new baby, and Sophia will love anything I set before her. 🙂 I also love that it is a literature rich program, but it’s not overwhelming. For each letter there are two or three books suggested for the week, and most of them can be found at the library! We can fit in reading just a few books to go along with the letter of the week!
It looks like a sweet and gentle approach to preschool, and easy to use. On a side note, I’m doing the Playful Pioneers with my 1st and 3rd grader this year as well, so I’m hoping Sophia is involved with that as much as she can be.
The Good and The Beautiful Pre-K
We might start doing the Good and the Beautiful Pre-K halfway through the school year, but for now I want to start with something more gentle. This is a great program that is easy to just open and go, but I don’t feel she is quite ready for it. The younger grades tend to move pretty quickly, so I think this book might be better to do when she turns 4.
The Year of Playing Skillfully
If I had a larger homeschool budget right now, The Year of Playing Skillfully is my dream curriculum! I highly recommend this program if you are looking for a hands on program that is full of literature, playing with a purpose, outside time, nature time, hands on time…the list could go on!
I’ve looked at this program several times now at conventions and absolutely love how beautiful the book is (don’t buy the PDF version, this is one that you want to have printed out and it’s FULL of beautiful color pictures). I even went and sat in on the talk that one of the authors presented at a convention. I felt silly sitting in on a preschool class when I’m getting ready to teach my 6th preschool child (and that was the only class I attended the whole convention!), but it was such a good reminder to not just let my child wonder around and play with whatever they picked up that day. Actually play skillfully, play with a purpose, play with a vision in mind. It helped me come home and be more purposeful about getting specific things set out for my two youngest girls to do, and be more of a fun mom.
I did order the Summer Of Playing Skillfully at convention and the print copy is coming next week to my house. I’m looking forward to doing this with them!
I hope that gives you some suggestions for preschool curriculum, and what might work for your family! Remember, every family is totally different and what works for us might not work for you! Just relax, have fun, and if you do nothing else but play and sing with your preschool child it will be ok!
Affiliate links are present in this blog post.