How to Teach Preschool (As An Exhausted Daycare Provider)
Do you worry you’re not doing enough “teaching” in your family daycare? If you’re an exhausted home daycare provider, trying to teach preschool like a child care center is an overwhelming idea. So how can you teach preschool at your family child care home without going crazy?
Read below for some insider tricks how to teach preschool during your already busy day.
Why You Should Teach Preschool In Your Daycare
I want you to know that I can relate. There’s plenty of reasons to tell yourself you can’t teach preschool at your home daycare.
- You’re the only employee
- You already work 50+ hours a week and don’t want to spend time planning lessons
- You have mixed age groups
- Your day is already busy
- You don’t have a teaching degree
Even though your excuses are valid, it’s been proven that kids who attend a preschool program have improved kindergarten readiness skills. And these advancements can last for years.
So, yes, you really should teach preschool at your daycare. But you still don’t have to make yourself crazy doing it! Just keep reading.
How to Teach Preschool (As An Exhausted Daycare Provider)
Start with Small Changes
Before I even give you a list of ideas, remember to take baby steps. If you’re like me, you’ll want to dive in head first. But the problem with that is, the enthusiasm is going to wear off and you’re going to get burned out.
Also keep in mind that science has proven that small steps are the key to lasting changes.
Ways to Include Preschool Lessons in Your Daycare
The good news is that preschool is not about learning letters. So put down the flash cards and get that idea out of your head right now!
Preschool kids actually learn best through play. Yes, that’s right – keep on letting them play!
Don’t force 3 and 4 year olds to sit at a table and work for hours on end – it’s pointless! Instead, read, play, and talk about things related to the Early Learning Standards.
First, though, make a mental goal to try to talk or play about something from each learning area every day.
Learning Content Areas:
- Social Studies
- Social/Emotional Skills
Teach Preschool During Regular Daily Activities
Remember, how I said play is the context that kids learn best? Well, this is awesome for you and me because it doesn’t have to take any planning ahead or prep work!
While you’re playing with your daycare kids, just throw in some educational concepts!
Here’s some specific examples of how you can include preschool standards into your free play times.
When a child mentions an object, ask:
- What shape is that? What shape is the other one?
- That’s a pretty color. What color is it?
- How many of those are there?
- That starts with the letter “_”. Listen for the letter sound.
When you go outside:
- What do you see?
- I hear something. Do you?
- Do you think animals live around here?
- Are plants alive?
- What is the weather like today?
When the kids are playing independently:
- Describe their work, using words like big, small, fast, slow, strong, etc.
- Praise them for working together and sharing
- Praise them for focusing on their work
- Ask them to describe their work
- Ask them to make choices about what to play
I know these sound super simple, and you might do most of them already! But don’t let the simplicity of these statements fool you. For real, kids are actively learning when you get them thinking about these concepts.
Teaching doesn’t have to be for a long period of time about one subject. Short bursts are actually more effective because they can happen more often. Small interactions like this also take advantage of students’ moods and motivation.
Teach Preschool Lesson Plans
Informal teaching is awesome when you’re busy with other kids and responsibilities. But group instruction is important too – a good preschool program needs both.
And sometimes you’ll want to target some more specific standards that are hard to reach through free play.
So here’s two practical ways you can do this (I do both):
- Circle Time
- Guided Play
Start off your preschool day with a 15 minute circle time (see our schedule here). Just review your calendar, weather, colors, shapes, numbers 1-10, and whatever you talked about the day before.
You can also get a bulletin board to a hang a poster of a different letter or theme to talk about each week.
Then use your [Free] Preschool Morning Work Worksheet and wrap up by reading and discussing a book together.
Guided play just means setting up an opportunity for your kids to play with a learning objective in mind.
So start with your goal. What do you want your kids to learn about?
Try to think of your goal of your kids becoming familiar with a concept.
Instead of making a goal to recognize the number on a flash card, give them number magnets they can touch and play with. Then they’ll get familiar with what each number looks like and how they’re different. And then when you say, “This one is a six” they’ll understand why that one is a six and the others are not.
The internet is full of guided play ideas. To find them, try searching for:
- (learning, literacy, math, science, etc.) centers
- (letter, number, color, shape, etc.) games
- (letter, number, color, shape, etc.) activities
Or do it the easy way: Just follow me on Pinterest!
And you can get tons of downloads on Teachers Pay Teachers! Sign up for FREE today.
Don’t forget you can check out my store and browse custom teaching resources here. 🙂
Stop Comparing Your Daycare to a Center
Don’t worry, I have fallen into this trap more than once myself. Because it’s easy to think that you’re not doing good enough by your kids when there’s a “legit” preschool program across town at a church or daycare center.
But you know what? The kids at your home are getting loved on, individual attention, and a homey environment. Those qualities are invaluable! Plus, research has backed up a bunch of stuff about the benefits of close teacher-student relationships, and also the impact of good social/emotional skills in preschoolers.
Want to learn more about why you don’t need to compete with an academic preschool? Read more here.
Would you like a quick and easy way to see what your preschool kids are learning at your daycare?
You can use my new Preschool Assessment Pack to test your preschoolers for kindergarten readiness every quarter so you know what they are truly learning in your preschool program!