I'm not sending my daughter to preschool. The reason is simple, at least to me. She has cystic fibrosis and even getting a cold could land her in the hospital, but at the very least means doubling up on her treatments every day. That would mean over two hours of therapy each day, while she's sick and miserable already. No thanks. I'm going to keep her as healthy as possible for as long as possible. She can get everything she needs from preschool right in our own home, from learning letters to socialization. Plus, it's (practically) free.


There's a lot to learn when it comes to letters. It's not just about singing the ABCs, but that is the best way to start. As your child is learning the alphabet, sing along while pointing to each letter. Use foam letters to teach her while playing a fun game. Once she has a good sense of letter recognition, move on to the sounds. My daughter loves to play "What Does It Start With?" For instance, "What does bear start with?" "Ba, Ba, Ba, B!" We have also made letters into animals, including using an A as the face of an alligator. She can tell you the first letter of nearly any word you throw her way.


Shapes are fun to teach. You can read one of the many books about shapes, point out shapes throughout your house, and make shapes with Play-Doh. Try a shape scavenger hunt by asking your toddler to find something that is shaped like a square, circle, rectangle, or triangle.


Teaching colors is fun too. Crayons are the obvious way to go. You can use a regular coloring book, plain sheets of paper, or even a color-by-number book. You can play I Spy Something Blue in your living room or by looking through a magazine.


Children usually grasp the concept of numbers easily. You can start by counting the steps as you walk up them, counting feet as you put them in shoes, counting fingers, counting crackers on her plate, or just about anything. Teach her addition and subtraction with a special counting treat of goldfish or bunny crackers.


When you notice your child's coloring skills improving, you can try having her draw straight lines. Make a dotted line and have her trace it. Then move on to circles and other shapes. Once she's "mastered" those, you can try letters and numbers.


Set up a safe and simple obstacle course in your home. Set it up so that your child is able to go around, under, over, behind, up, down, and through. Make sure you talk her through it such as, "Now go under the table." This will help her learn these common terms.


By the time my daughter is three, her little sister will be running around and playing with her. She is already learning to share and to communicate with her baby sister, her cousins, and play date friends. As long as you make sure your child interacts with other kids once or twice a week, she will be learning to socialize.

These are just the basics of what you can teach your child at home. Follow her lead in other areas that interest her, such as astronomy or animals. Turn it into a song, a rhyme, a story, or a game and your child can learn just about anything at home with you and be on track for kindergarten.

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This post was included in the latest Homeschooling on the Cheap blog carnival, the Carnival of Homeschooling, and A Homeschooling Carnival.