(1) PRESCHOOL IS NOT COMPULSORY. In both the US and the UK formal education before age five is optional. Many families like to have some kind of educational plan for their preschoolers, and we are making suggestions on this basis. Please do not feel that because the suggestions are there you must follow them. Readiness varies widely between children - one four year old may be ready to read, another may not yet be ready to learn the alphabet; some children may want to "do school" like older brothers and sisters, whereas others may have no interest in doing anything structured.
(2) READ TO YOUR CHILD. If you do nothing else with a four or five year old, a short time reading to your child each day will lay important foundations. It helps to cultivate the habit of attention, build vocabulary and general knowledge, and - best of all - gives both mother and child some enjoyable one-on-one time. If you have a wriggly four year old, just a few minutes at a time is fine. Don't put your child off the reading experience by forcing him to sit past the point where it is enjoyable.
(3) WHEN IN DOUBT - DO LESS. Trying to do too much with a young child is worse than doing too little. It is better to start from scratch with a six year old than to find yourself dealing with one who doesn't want to do schoolwork any more. Be sensitive to your child's needs and readiness. If he or she isn't ready, then holding off for a year or so is fine.
(4) YOU ARE THE EDUCATOR. The resources listed here are suggestions meant to give you a clear picture of what is recommended at this level but they are not set in stone. If you find a suitable resource that you prefer, please feel free to substitute.
Catholic Mosaic by Cay Gibson - gives suggestions for picture books to read during each month of the year, along with a selection of activities to go with each book. Can be used for both Preschool and Kindergarten. Take care to go at your child's pace - no need to rush through at this age!
Suggested Resources for Living the Liturgical Year (adult resources):
There are many resources you can use to begin number work with your Prep Level child. A formal curriculum is not necessary, but if you choose to use one, do be sure to fit the curriculum to the child and not the other way round. At this age readiness varies widely; the most important thing is to go at your child's pace. Some will race ahead in this area, others will struggle. Trying to force a young child into doing what a curriculum provider says they "ought" to be doing at this age can result in a child who hates numbers for years to come.
Some Suggested Activities and Topics
Number games (dominoes, number lotto)
Board games with dice
Make and copy sequences and patterns
Time (clock with movable hands)
Measuring (ruler, weight scale)
Money (learn different coins, count pennies)
Math(s), reading and writing - daily, for 10 minutes each (less for handwriting)