What You Need to Know about Preschool, TK, and Kindergarten

Did you know that Kindergarten is not required by law? In California, compulsory education begins the year a child is 6 by September 1st

If you want to homeschool for the preschool – kindergarten years, you can! Your child’s learning time (whenever they are awake!) is too valuable to be wasting it with schoolish assignments, so forget what is advertised – you can do better than that! Children learn at a rapid rate from birth to age 5, and there are things you can do to maximize that brain growth. Workbooks, lessons, and things marketed as “educational” don’t need to be on the list!

What does a home preschool or kindergarten look like? It looks like home! It looks like reading aloud. It’s full of giggles and hugs. It looks like playing games, singing, and having fun with your little one, and it won’t be expensive because you won’t need new costly educational supplies. Think back to a few years ago before you started to worry about school. Nothing needs to change. 

You’re not suddenly your child’s teacher – you are still the mom, dad, grandparent, or whoever is important in their life. This is just what a young child needs. A parent is a child’s first and best teacher. Relax and do what is natural, and don’t feel pressure that you must become “the teacher”. You are experienced and have had that role for years.

When it is time to get a job or go to college, they will be ready. But for now, all they need is an enriched home learning environment, spending time with someone they trust and love. 

Read picture books, read chapter books, read, read, read. And then read some more! Same with singing and listening to music. Have fun with fingerplays (search online for some). Collect art supplies such as paper (different colors, sizes, and textures), crayons, colored pencils, felt pens, scissors, ruler, tape, feathers, chalk, pipe cleaners, straws, stickers from junk mail, envelopes, glue, and whatever else you would normally throw away. Put it in a box or on a shelf so that your child can use it whenever they want!  Paint and play dough are also loved at this age.

Play outside. Go for walks. Play in dirt and maybe plant a garden. 

Talk to your child, but listen too. Listen and respond. Appreciate what your child says. Read some more. Provide fun toys like puzzles, blocks, Legos, puppets, dress up clothes, and lots of cardboard boxes that will be used in ways you couldn’t imagine.

Make playdough! Cook together and do other chores together.

Make your home kid friendly where enthusiastic ideas are welcomed. You’ll be creating the perfect environment for your child to learn and happily thrive.

Welcome to homeschooling!  You don’t need to teach academic subjects to be considered a homeschooler. You just need to keep your young child home with you, and be available to help them learn. Some parents do it until kindergarten, and others take one day at a time until it’s time for their child to go to college!  Always worry about today and tomorrow, but not next year or 10 years from now. You can do anything when it’s just one day at a time.

A note from Karen. My homeschooled son did not go to preschool or kindergarten and was homeschooled until he graduated. I wrote about some of my memories shortly before he left for college: No Regrets, It Was Worth It.


Karen Taylor’s always homeschooled son attended a local community college after graduating from homeschooling. He transferred to UC Berkeley as a junior, and received a PhD in neuroscience from UCSF.  She shares homeschooling comments and links on Facebook, Pinterest, and this blog.