Are you getting ready to teach your preschooler, but you aren’t sure what homeschool preschool skills you should be teaching? Below you’ll find fun and engaging activities to make sure you’re teaching preschool skills your child needs to know before kindergarten.
Preschoolers are so much fun to teach! They have such excitement for learning, and they show such growth as they develop many skills during the preschool years.
However, if you’re just starting to homeschool your preschooler, you may be wondering what homeschool preschool skills to teach. You may also wonder how to teach these skills.
Then continue reading because below I’ll share important skills preschoolers need to know before kindergarten and fun activities to help them develop these skills.
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This post is the second in a series on starting to teach preschool at home. Below you’ll find the posts for the rest of the series. As they are published, I’ll link to them so you can easily find everything you need. Be sure to pin or bookmark this post so that you can refer back to it as needed! Continue reading all the way to the end as I have a helpful get started guide to use as you begin your homeschool preschool journey.
Teaching Preschool at Home Series
- Begin Teaching Preschool at Home in 5 Easy Ways
- What Skills Preschoolers Need and Activities to Help Develop Them (this post)
- 11 Really Helpful Supplies for Teaching Preschool at Home
- How to Create a Relaxed Routine for Teaching Preschool at Home
- How to Easily Plan Your Homeschool Preschool Year
What Homeschool Preschool Developmental Skills to Teach?
- Physical: Fine Motor and Large Motor
- Creative Arts
Children learn many skills during the preschool years. The skills and corresponding activities listed below are some of the more common homeschool preschool skills that most children will develop by ages five or six.
Remember, though, that kids are unique and learn at their own pace. Don’t worry if your child hasn’t mastered these skills by kindergarten. Focus on introducing the skills and offering activities to help your child develop them. Keep it fun so that your child will love learning!
1. How to Teach Cognitive/Literacy Skills
Cognitive and Literacy Skills Preschoolers Should Learn:
- Recognizing their first and last name
- Printing their first name
- Reciting the alphabet song
- Recognizing most uppercase letters and some lowercase letters
- Following two or three step commands
- Identifying rhyming words
- Understanding the parts of a book (title, author, illustrator, and how to hold a book correctly)
- Listening to a familiar story and retelling it (the main idea, not word for word)
Fun Activities to Help Preschoolers Develop Cognitive and Literacy Skills
Recognizing Letters and Books
So what activities can you do to help develop the skills above? Most importantly, read to your little one as often as you can. Point out letters and say the letter sounds. Kids love their own names, so it’s easiest to start with those letters first. Expose them to letters through alphabet puzzles, magnetic letters, and alphabet sensory bins. My kids have also enjoyed the Leap Frog Letter Factory video. It’s great for letter recognition and letter sounds. Plus kids love it. This post has additional ideas for teaching the alphabet to preschoolers.
Sharing poetry with your children is a fun and lovely way to introduce rhyming words. Dr. Seuss books are also a great way to look at rhyming words. Ask your child to tell a sibling or parent/grandparent a story you recently read to them. Or tell your children fairy tales for several nights, then switch it up and have them tell you the fairy tale.
There’s some debate about whether to teach children uppercase or lowercase letters first, or whether to teach the letter by its sound only. I personally have found that my children have learned their letters and letter sounds easily no matter how the information was presented. I didn’t follow a certain technique or order when teaching letters. Since I like to begin teaching my preschoolers through real-life experiences, I’d teach the letters and sounds naturally as they came up in our day.
Games are good activities to teach children how to follow commands. They also introduce children to social skills, like waiting their turn and being a good sport. These games can include board or card games, outdoor games like kickball, or even games you make up together.
Another way I help my children develop skills for following commands is by having them repeat the commands back to me. For instance, every evening I tell my preschooler three things he needs to do before bedtime: put on his pajamas, brush his teeth, and go potty. In the beginning, I’d say the command one at a time and walk through the activity with him. Then I’d tell him the three commands and stay in the room as he did them on his own. After that, I’d say the commands and he’d repeat them, then go do them while I checked later to make sure they got done. Now all I have to do is ask him what three things he needs to do before bed and he tells me on his own. Having children repeat commands back to you ensures they are listening too!
2. Teaching Math Skills to Preschoolers
Math Skills Preschoolers Should Learn:
- Counting to 20, backward from 10
- Writing numbers 1-10
- Identifying numbers, shapes, colors, position, and simple patterns
- Sorting, classifying, and comparing objects
- Subitizing small quantities (being able to identify an amount without counting)
- Creating and describing simple graphs
- Measuring length and volume
Activities to Teach Math Skills
A numbers basket or bucket is a great way to introduce your preschooler to numbers. To create mine, I put in a set of wooden numbers I purchased off of Etsy and a smaller set from a wood puzzle. I started with 1-5, then 1-10. Then I added some wool felt balls, dice, and Unifix cubes. Any kind of counting objects you have around the house will work. Kids can match the numbers to each other and/or the dice and put the correct number of counters next to the numbers.
Number and shape puzzles, playdough, and sensory bins are also helpful for learning math and number sense skills. A balance and measuring cups teach measurement. Counters or other math manipulatives are useful for sorting and comparing and to create patterns. Do a dot markers are good for patterns and filling in bar graphs. Games, like Hi Ho Cherry-O and Chutes and Ladders, are fun ways to learn numbers and counting.
3. Physical Skills for Preschoolers to Develop
Fine Motor and Large/Gross Motor Skills Preschoolers Need
- Holding writing utensils and scissors correctly
- Cutting, tracing, and drawing basic shapes
- Completing puzzles
- Bouncing and catching a ball
- Hopping on one foot
Activities to Help Develop Fine Motor and Large Motor Skills
Fine Motor Activities
Fine motor skills can be developed very well through playdough. The kneading and rolling involved with it helps strengthen hand muscles, which makes holding pencils and scissors possible, as well as being able to cut, trace and draw.
When completing puzzles, make sure your child is using age-appropriate puzzles. Younger children do well with the big knobs on each piece, while older preschoolers can put together smaller piece puzzles with no knobs to hold onto.
Coloring is also a great fine motor activity. Children can draw their own pictures or practice coloring in the lines of a coloring page. Lacing cards and lacing beads onto shoestring are also fun activities for fine motor skill development. Fine motor skills are easily learned through fun hands-on activities.
My preschooler loves transferring water from one bowl to another with this fun twisty dropper. The rest of the set also includes great tools for developing fine motor skills in preschoolers.
Large Motor Activities
Go outside to work on large motor skills. Bounce a ball back and forth, kick a ball in the grass, and run around. Create a small obstacle course that has your child jumping or skipping. Use sidewalk chalk to put a hopscotch game on your driveway.
You can also combine motor skills with literacy skills. Write letters on the driveway and call out a letter that your child jumps on. Alternatively, you can write out a giant dashed letter and have your child trace over it. Taking the learning outside encourages development of many different skills!
4. How to Teach Science Skills to Preschoolers
Science Skills for Preschoolers
- Identifying body parts
- Exploring objects in the physical world
- Recognizing earth and sky
- Noticing seasonal/weather changes
- Differentiating plants from animals, living things from non-living things
Activities to Teach Science Skills
Spending time outdoors with preschoolers is a great way to teach them about science. Nature walks are wonderful for learning about the physical world. As you walk, point out different plants and animals you find. Discuss why rocks are not living while flowers are. The Exploring Nature with Children curriculum gives you weekly topics to study nature with your kids, including books to read and activities to do. It’s an especially great value since you can use it year after year.
Have your child look out the window each morning to observe the weather. Read a moon book and then look outside in the evenings to observe the moon’s phase.
Gardening with your preschoolers is a tasty way to teach your kids about nature. Preschoolers can help plant, water, and weed once you show them how. You could let your child choose vegetables to plant in a garden. Alternatively, you could plant a flower garden and let them choose the flowers. Gardening also helps develop fine and large motor skills.
A fun way to learn body parts is through the song Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes. Add in crafts by making a Q-tip skeleton. Going outside to exercise is a fun way to combine learning about the human body with large motor skills. Keep it fun and let your child take the lead in observing.
5. How to Teach Creative Arts Skills
A fun, interactive way to introduce classical music to your preschooler is through Clap for Classics! music courses. These are ideal for children ages 0-8 and range from single courses to a monthly membership that can include a weekly live class. Find out more and sign up for a free 5 Under 5 Musical Play Series to give it a try!
Creative Arts Skills Preschoolers Need
- Singing simple songs
- Learning about/trying musical instruments
- Learning colors, lines and shapes pertaining to art
- Drawing lines and shapes using art materials
- Dramatic play
Activities to Help Develop Creative Arts Skills
Young children love to sing and dance, so be sure to give them lots of chances to do so. Teach them nursery rhymes so they can sign along with you. Tell them fairy tales and have them act them out. They could put on a little play with puppets.
Leave art materials they can use out along with some paper. Let them enjoy watercolor paints, chalk pastels and markers. Use chalk pastel video lessons as part of an art class. Chalk pastels are very easy and inexpensive for preschoolers. They don’t require special paper and clean up easily with baby wipes.
Buy or make musical instruments. Preschool music courses are an engaging way to get your little one dancing, singing and appreciating classical music. They are perfect if you’d like to teach your child music but aren’t very musically inclined yourself. All the work, including the teaching, is done for you. They even have an amazing set of instruments that you can add on to a course.
To help you get started teaching preschool at home, I’ve created a Preschool at Home quick start guide. This guide includes over forty ideas for preschool themes, as well as planning pages to plan your activities and books by week and month. It’s a perfect way to get ready to preschool at home.
Remember, don’t force homeschool preschool skill development
Above all, remember that all kids learn differently. Don’t worry if your preschooler isn’t showing interest right now. Not all kids are ready for these skills by ages 3 or 4. In fact, my youngest is currently 4 ½. Earlier this year I thought I’d try to encourage him to work on learning letters, counting, and some of the other skills I mentioned above. He wanted nothing to do with it. So I took a step back and added more hands-on activities for him to work on while I taught his older brothers.
Well, guess what? About a month or two ago, he suddenly became interested in learning. Just in this short time, he now knows all but about five letters and several letter sounds. He can write his name and spell his first and last name aloud, along with being able to write many other letters too. He can not only count to at least fifteen, but he can also write numbers as well. Had I pushed him, it still might have taken this long for him to learn all of that. But it would have been months of frustration and tears. Instead, it was months of fun, hands-on learning activities, reading books with Mom, and smiles.
Don’t feel like you need to sit down with your preschooler for hours of flashcard drill every day to learn. Your child can still develop the homeschool preschool skills needed before kindergarten through reading books with you and fun, hands-on learning activities.