When we first began homeschooling last fall, I started with a preschool homeschool curriculum I purchased online. It was basic, but it introduced me to a simple structure and way of organizing lessons. Because I had never taught anyone formally before, I felt more confident having some direction to start with—and I honestly wasn't sure what kinds of activities I should be using to fill my preschool-age daughter's day.
We used our curriculum diligently for the first six months of the school year, but in that time I realized that the formula was pretty simple. Now I've taken what I learned from that formula and used it to create custom lesson plans each week that focus on topics my daughter is naturally interested in, or ideas that are organically relevant to our life that week. The best part? You can create a preschool home curriculum too.
Create a kindergarten or preschool weekly lesson plan in 5 steps:
1. Pick a weekly theme
I cannot stress this enough—having a weekly curriculum theme is the guiding principle for all homeschoolers of young children. Not only does it give your little one a common thread to connect everything they learn, it also makes it so much easier for you to find activities and materials for the week.
Scroll to through to the bottom to be inspired by our themed ideas!
2. Find 3-5 books that fit the theme
Reading to your child is one of the simplest ways to broaden their vocabulary, worldview and understanding of virtually any topic. Feel free to add or subtract books based on your child's level of reading interest. You likely already own books about the themes your child is interested in, but if you want something new, just Google "children's book about [insert theme]."
Use an app like Libby to check out ebooks from your local library, find books for early readers on apps like Epic! or Homer, or search on YouTube for live readings of the book. (Bonus: On YouTube you can often find the book in multiple languages if your child is multilingual, or animated versions that can help hold their attention a little longer)
3. Find a song, nursery rhyme short expression, Bible verse or proverb that fits your theme and use it for memorization practice
Teaching your child to memorize and present is great for training the brain to remember more complex information later (like multiplication tables or state capitals) and also improves neural plasticity and cognitive skills they will use as adults. It's also the foundation for public speaking and other performing arts they might be interested in in the future. Start each day's lessons by repeating the song or verse until your child has it memorized. (Not sure where to find one? Google is, again, the answer.)
4. Find 4-5 activities or projects related to your theme
Here is the beauty of homeschooling right now: So many parents of homeschoolers past have already done the work for you! Search Pinterest, the hashtag #homeschoolidea on Instagram, or that OG Google for crafts, games and other activities around your theme. (Here's your search term: kindergarten homeschool [insert theme] project.) Try to find something that involves an art project, something with counting, and something that incorporates nature to hit on a variety of subjects. Then do one of the projects each day that week.
5. Supplement with apps or movies
Yup, you read that right. Screen time is an important tool in every homeschool parents' arsenal. Especially if you are also working from home, it's a good idea to have a few screen-friendly options in your back pocket for when you need to get something else done while your child stays occupied. Try some of the educational apps on this list, or pick a movie to stream from this list. Afterward, talk to your child about the lessons learned from the movie and whether they relate to the lesson, or teach them values about friendship, family and community to make the most of digital educational resources.
Congratulations! You just created a week-long lesson plan that introduces your child to math, science, social studies, reading and writing.
Above all else, remember that your child is learning literally all the time, even when you're not in "class." (And the amount of class time recommended for each age group is probably a lot less than you think.) So broaden your idea of what constitutes "school." Let your child cook with you—hello, home ec. Count out the coins in their piggy bank—welcome to Economics 101! Impromptu dance party in the living room? You just aced Physical Education with a minor in Music Theory.
Simple themes for homeschool kindergarteners and preschoolers:
- Ocean animals
- Zoo animals
- Countries (pick one that ties to your heritage for a personal angle)
- The water cycle
- Seasons (do one at a time!)
- Planes, trains, and cars
- Human body
A version of this post was published April 23, 2020. It has been updated.