I don't typically do any formal learning until pre-k. Before that kids learn best through play and everyday interactions. There's no need for anything beyond that unless you have an extra eager learmer (in which case, just follow their lead). Pre-k, I still like to keep pretty informal. I like to spend a few minutes a day practicing things like writing their name, recognizing and writing the letters and numbers, practicing letter sounds. Brightly Beaming Resources has a really great free "Letter of the week" preschool curriculum plan you can access here. Or The Easy Peasy All In One Homeschool has a fantastic free online complete preschool program. My oldest really enjoyed their pre-k program. It only took about 10-20 minutes a day and she learned a lot from it. Here's the link.
Aside from our 15-20 minutes of formal learning time each day, we spent a ton of time at our local library picking out books to read together and for their weekly story and craft time. We did lots of nature hikes, play dates, crafts, and simple science experiments (Pinterest is awesome for craft and experiment ideas). We sung lots of learning songs; abc songs, phonics songs, days of the week, months of the years etc...YouTube has lots! Here are a few of our favorites:
-Days of the Week Song
-Months of the Year Song
Kindergarten we handle in a pretty similar manner. Our formal learning time gets a little longer but generally no more than 30 minutes a day. I start introducing simple addition and subtraction. We play lots of sight word games like memory and go fish. We spend a lot of time at the library and the children's museum. And we still do lots of songs, crafts, nature hikes, play dates, and kid friendly science experiments. If you have an eager reader, the Bob Book series (https://www.bobbooks.com) is great for early readers. We have really enjoyed their books!
I think the most important thing to keep in mind during the early years is that young children are constantly absorbing information from everyday life. Learning doesn't have to be forced, it just happens. Keep formal learning activities short. Provide lots of opportunities to play and explore and be creative. And most importantly relax and enjoy these years with your kids. It goes by far too fast!
If you enjoyed this, check out my post on fun, hands on activities and games for sight word recognition and spelling!
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