What to Teach a Preschooler

“How do you know what to teach your child?” I have had this question quite a few times since we told people we were going to homeschool our children. My answer is usually, “There are some great online resources available.”

But, sometimes a feeling of insecurity comes over me and I ask myself the question: Do I know what I need to teach my child? Am I doing the right thing? I’m not a teacher by trade. Maybe I would do something wrong.

In January my husband and I went to a curriculum fair. We talked to a nice lady of a Christian publisher, and she had a nice offer for a unit study to try. It came with three posters, the activities weren’t too scholastic, and it had also hands-on and outdoor activities. With my insecurity about teaching the right way, and all the hours I spend to create my own unit studies every month in the back of my head, we decided to buy that unit study.

At home I opened the book, and I was astonished. What stood out most were the pages and pages with learning goals. It contained 20 pages of learning goals, followed by 24 activities for three- to six-year-olds.

Observing my preschooler on 12 points while reading a short story?!? Did I miss something? Did I do something wrong? Do I need to set up an activity to teach my kids to set the table? No! We set the table three times a day. They learn how to do that. But, that is not “doing school.” Or, is it?!

Working with this curriculum made me realize I don’t have to feel uncertain about teaching my preschoolers. I know what’s important to our family. I know what I want to teach my children. We are homeschoolers, so we don’t have to teach how, what, and when the schools teach.

Buying this set curriculum had some pros and cons.


  • low prep time,
  • meets the goals set up by the state, and
  • the children liked it.


  • costs,
  • some activities geared towards a group, so my family with two children couldn’t do those, and
  • therefore, I was still tweaking the unit study to our own needs.

Is buying a curriculum wrong? No. You have to do what works for you in your current circumstances. It may fit your family, but in our case the cons won this time.

Did we waste money by buying the unit study? No. My children had fun and learned, and mom learned as well. Starting some kind of homeschooling so early is partly for me as a mom to learn — to learn what homeschooling is, to learn what and how to teach, to get some confidence.

I hope to encourage you with what I have learned so far:

  • You can’t do anything wrong if you love your child(ren).
  • Tell them about God and His love.
  • Keep an eye on building good, Christian character.
  • Lead by example.
  • Go outside, get some fresh air, and enjoy nature.
  • Nourish their curiosity by answering their questions.
  • Play together. Have fun!

Sharing the Pineapple


I lean back in my chair, with my new book in my hand. It is Better Late Than Early, by Raymond and Dorothy Moore. I loved their book, The Successful Homeschool Family Handbook, and I want to learn more. I want to learn more about true education, delayed formal study, character building, and how to apply it. Well, my kids provide adequate training situations…

One meal we had pineapple as a side dish. My son (2 1/2 years old) really, really liked the fruit. So, when he saw an opportunity, he took all there was. And, he refused to share with his sister (four years old), who also wanted some of the pineapple.

What could have been a dilemma, ending in a fight, became an important lesson in character building.

Obviously my son needed to learn to share. Keeping everything for yourself is not the way you should act. It will result in negative feelings, I explained. He made his sister sad. He needed to protect his plate, to keep his sister from stealing some pieces of pineapple. And, he was upset when she succeeded in stealing a piece. I told him sharing the fruit with his sister will make not only her, but also him, happy. He shared happily one piece and both kids smiled. Good for them!

Then, my daughter asked for more and my son stubbornly refused again. So…the lesson continued! My son went in time-out in the hallway, where daddy talked in a calm and clear way to him, explaining he needed to share and then they both could happily enjoy the pineapple.

In the meantime, I talked with our daughter. Refusing to share is not okay, but stealing the fruit from your brother is also wrong. Learning to resist temptation is an important lesson, not only for now, but for the rest of her life. Even though she is young, she seemed to understand, and patiently waited for her brother to come back from time-out. Little brother needed a couple of minutes to think, but when he came back to the table, he happily shared the pineapple with his sister until she wanted no more.

Oh, how I love these kids and their smiling faces! I feel so incredibly blessed with the children God gave us, with everything God gave us. Since we decided homeschooling was the way we wanted to educate our children, I learned about true education, delayed formal study, and the need to focus on character building. I have to say I’m still a newbie in homeschooling and I need to learn more, much more. But, I thank God for the lessons both my family and I learn, day by day.

Create Your Own Unit Studies for Preschoolers


Today I want to share with you how I create unit studies for our preschoolers. A unit study is way of teaching your children on a topic they like, covering multiple subjects. On the sdahomeschools.com website are several blogs you can read about unit studies. For example, this one and this one.

In our home we’re using the unit study approach for our preschoolers (four and two years old). Since the children are very young, there is no need to buy a curriculum. I am trying to find out what works for us on our new homeschooling journey. At the same time, we cover the basics and learn a lot, and we are having fun. I create my own unit studies, because there is hardly anything in our own language. I do translate things, but that doesn’t work all the time. Also, by planning everything myself I can adapt it to our wishes and the interests, and the needs of my four-year-old preschooler. My two-year-old tags along for part of the lessons, mostly the hands-on activities like games and songs.

Since we began earlier this year I’ve made about 10 unit studies, learning how to create them as I’m going. I change it a little every time — sometimes because of the topic we choose, sometimes because my daughter now knows her ABC’s and wants something new or doesn’t like a certain part of our lesson. I’ve now developed a strategy to get to lessons I like at the moment. This is how I do it.

Step 1: Choose a topic, based on the interest of the child. As the mother, I help pick the topic. I try to spread the topics so we cover a wide variety of subjects. To give you an idea: Our last topic was “trip around the world” (geography). Currently we’re learning about fire fighters (social studies), and our next theme is elephants (nature).

Step 2: Collect ideas to fill the lessons. Pinterest is my favorite place to find games, crafts, worksheets, and so on.

We “do school” twice a week, and we stay on one topic for a month. So, I want to collect enough to cover eight lessons and one field trip. The lessons have the following subjects:

  • Bible / character building: prayer, memory verse, Bible story, and a song or hymn in Dutch or English
  • Language arts: vocabulary, read aloud, letter recognition, making words with our magnetic letters, pre-writing skills, and a song or poem
  • Math / S.T.E.M. activities: counting and understanding of numbers; measuring and geometry; sorting, classifying, and comparing; and an experiment
  • Home economics and personal care
  • Arts and crafts
  • Games (preferably outside)
  • Nature study


I don’t do all the items of the language and math activities in one lesson, just one or two. Sometimes we do one activity that combines for example nature and math. On the other hand, I want enough options to choose from, so I usually have a few more activities planned than we actually do. We’re quite relaxed when it comes to homeschooling; it’s okay to let things happen or to skip an activity when it doesn’t work. This week one of our games was to transfer water from one bucket to another using a sponge. Playing with water is always fun. After a while the kids started “cleaning” the windows instead of doing the planned craft. And, with help of Mom, the windows ended up a lot cleaner!


To give you an idea of what I plan for home economics and personal care: For our “trip around the world” theme, we did a lot of cooking and trying recipes from different countries. Now we are remembering our address and phone number, we talk about fire and personal safety, and our daughter learns the final touches of getting dressed all by herself.

For the Bible lesson I just started using Kids of Integrity, choosing a character trait matching the theme. Each lesson we do a prayer, a Bible story, a memory verse, and a song. We learn at least two songs a month, one in Dutch and one in English.

Step 3: Divide the collected ideas. Plan your lessons and field trip. Print the printables and make notes for other preparation. Go to the library to get a stack of books according to the topic.


Step 4: Have a lot of fun with the lessons!

This way of teaching has been a blessing for us so far. I hope you give unit studies a try too!



Choosing to Homeschool

Soon we are celebrating our daughter’s fourth birthday.

Friends, neighbours, colleagues, everyone asks about her age and school.

Four is a milestone, for in our country all kids go to school at this age. That’s the standard, although they don’t have to be in school yet. In the Netherlands children officially need to be schooled at the age of five.

After our daughter was born we started thinking about her education. Like almost all Dutchman, the only question was this: To which school are we sending her?

Then we met a kind Adventist family who told us about homeschooling. They encouraged us to homeschool our children.

We didn’t know what it meant. We didn’t know it was allowed in our country (it is under certain conditions). And, our first reaction was, “Homeschooling? Hmm…no, too extreme.” And so, we were back to the question: Which school?

It’s very important to us that our children learn the Adventist beliefs and values and, when they are older, that they choose to be in a close relationship with God. Therefore, we want our children’s education to be in line with our conviction and lifestyle. But, there are no Adventist schools close to where we live.

Our possibilities seemed so limited. We prayed over it, and God opened our eyes for THE possibility: homeschooling! The more we learn about it, the more we love it, and we know this is how we want our children to be educated.

Soon we are celebrating our daughter’s fourth birthday.

Friends, neighbours, colleagues, everyone asks about her age and school.

We’re happy to tell them, “She is almost four, and she is going to be homeschooled!”