As you’ll know if you’ve been reading this blog for a while we are home educating Frida* which means that she doesn’t attend any kind of preschool, instead splitting her week between myself and my husband. We’re all finding these preschool years incredibly fun; full of wonder and delight at the world around us, learning astronomical amounts through play and conversation. Our days have a lot of time for free play, indoors and outdoors, as well as weekly swimming trips, ballet class, playdates with other home educating families, and time just to potter about in the garden or relax at home.
I’ve said before that I see my role in these early years as a curator of Frida’s environment, ensuring that she has resources around her which I feel fuel her love of learning and discovery as well as bringing her joy. I wanted to share some of the books and resources we’re really enjoying at the moment; I know how long I spend researching brilliant materials, so hopefully I can spare you some research time!
Some books we are currently loving
There are far too many to share, but some of Frida’s most-loved at the moment include the fantastic “The Little Book of…” collection and the Usborne “Look Inside” series (favourites include A Hospital, The Body, and The Stone Age). What’s great about these is that she will look at them alone as well as reading them together, as they are interactive enough for her to get lots out of them even though she can’t read yet.
We are also reading more chapter books, with favourites series including Moomins, Violet Mackerel, and Calpurnia Tate (I will write a blog post sharing more of our favourite chapter books soon!), and we continue to make it a habit to read poetry together at least once a day, starting off the day with a poem from this collection.
Some resources we are really enjoying
Frida isn’t using very many learning resources at the moment, preferring to play with toys or outside, so as ever we are led by her. However, there are some things that she is really enjoying at the moment which I feel are great both for learning new skills, and for fun.
- Uno! My husband recently bought a set, and it’s been a surprise hit with Frida who seems to really enjoy it. We have the junior and standard versions, but to be honest unless your child struggles with reading numbers I’d skip the junior version as it’s not that different, and just take some of the action cards out whilst your child gets used to the rules. I still find it wild that we now have a child that we can sit and play a card game with: slow down, cruel time!
- Three letter word flash cards. I love these cards as they have the word on it’s own without any image (so the child can actually read the word rather than just guessing by the picture!) but then have the image on the other side, providing a great control of error for children to check their own reading. I’ve ordered the sight words and phonics cards too which I’m looking forward to using with Frida in a relaxed way.
- Bingo. These games are brilliant as they come with an information booklet, so they’re a really fun way of learning about wildlife. We have the bird, bug and ocean versions, but there are many other kinds including cat, dog and monkey. We’ve just bought the Match a Pair of Birds game from the same makers which I’m looking forward to getting out.
- Snap circuits. Frida received a set for her birthday, and has really been enjoying using these with my husband. There are lots of different brands out there, and I’m not sure which ones she has, but they weren’t especially expensive but have brought a lot of joy as well as a great learning experience.
- A wall map of the world. There are so many out there that it can feel overwhelming to choose one, so I chose a pretty standard political map. It’s up in our dining room, where we do a lot of our “learning”, so that if we read about a country we can immediately find it on the map. I’ve also set up a little book stand next to it with some picture atlases and books about the world.
- Some French resources: First Thousand Words in French, French Snap, the 199 Images… series, and First Words in French are all great, and we’ve also bought some classic books in French too such as The Gruffalo, The Very Hungry Caterpillar, and We’re Going On A Bear Hunt.
We also have a cart loaded with playdough and art materials that Frida has free access to, as well as many (many!) books, toys (both open ended and small world), and other learning materials including to support numeracy.
Some other fantastic resources for preschool age children I recommend
These are all wonderful additions if you have a preschool age child, regardless of whether they are home educated or not!
- This Montessori subscription box (UK and EU only). This is perfect if you’re interested in the Montessori approach. Montessori Family founder Carine kindly sent me a free box recently, and I was so impressed that I’ve just paid for a subscription, as the quality is excellent and it saves so much preparation time!
- This gorgeous nature-based curriculum. My friend Jill creates The Little Oak Learning, and so much love and magic goes into her work. If you have young children aged two onwards, this will give you so many ideas and prompts to use together!
- This brilliant nature study curriculum. We love Exploring Nature With Children, and have used it on and off for a while. From September, I plan on us using it weekly. It’s an incredible, generous resource, and is worth its weight in gold! I’d say this is great for ages three onwards as you can make it as simple or complex as you like, though it can be used for much older children too.
*I’ve been asked before why I say we home educate Frida whilst she’s still so young; most children her age in England attend a preschool at least part time, and she “should” be starting school full-time in September, so it feels like we are already very much on the path of home education, if only from an ideological perspective! We hang out with other home educating families, I read a huge amount about education, and my husband and I talk a lot about how we should best approach Frida’s education, so we already very much feel like a home educating family despite Frida not being compulsory school age for another year. Plus, I also feel like there’s a difference between home education and home schooling; for me, education starts from birth, not from school age!