Preschool Homeschool Curriculum Comparison Guide

what homeschool preschool curriculum should i use

I’ve rounded up 8 of the best options for teaching your preschooler at home! Use this helpful homeschool curriculum comparison guide to decide on the best option for your unique family.

I have homeschooled 5 kids and I’ve never used an actual homeschool preschool curriculum. Does that sound crazy to you? I loved the thrill of choosing all my own picture books, going on adventures together, and weaving early learning skills into our daily life in an organic, simple way.

But while I have chosen to teach preschool at home in my own unique, DIY, life-learning way, I do not think that’s the only way to homeschool your preschooler!

What homeschool preschool curriculum should I choose

{This post contains affiliate links. Please see disclaimer.}

There are many reasons why using a pre-made preschool curriculum might be a good option for you:

  • Your oldest is finally almost ready to “do school” and you’re both eager to dive into the homeschooling adventure in an age-appropriate way
  • You’re a mom of many who is looking for a purposeful way to invest time in your littles
  • You (or your little one) thrive on structure
  • You’re looking for outside accountability to keep you on track
  • The thought of coming up with a DIY homeschool preschool plan sounds overwhelming or unnecessary or unfun
homeschool preschool curriculum guide

You’ve decided you want to at least consider buying a preschool curriculum, but then the second challenge comes.

There are just SO MANY available, how do you know which homeschool preschool curriculum is going to be the best fit for your family?!

In this post I’ll suggest some questions you can ask about any of the homeschool curriculum options to see if they’re right for you.

I’ll also share a brief introduction to some of the most popular pre-K curriculum options, most of them shared with me by people right here in the Humility and Doxology community!

I’ll also share links to reviews or flip-throughs of the various preschool curriculum options whenever possible so you can get an idea of what they’re really like.

homeschool preschool curriculum guide

You really can teach Pre-K at home!

Homeschooling your precious little ones can be as laid-back or as planned-out as you’d like it to be. What is the best fit for your personality, Mama? What is the best fit for your early learner?

Just remember, you get to decide what is best for your own unique homeschool family. It doesn’t have to look just like anyone else’s. And it certainly doesn’t have to look like a traditional school model!

Preschool is best when it is filled with wonder and delight, laying a strong love-of-learning foundation for our little ones. It’s also the time we are establishing family habits and nurturing self-control in our preschoolers. So keep those goals in mind no matter what curriculum or DIY preschool plan you choose!

Have you used any of these preschool programs? I’d love for you to share your own experiences in the comments below!

homeschool preschool curriculum guide

How to Choose a Homeschool Preschool Curriculum

Cost

What is your homeschool budget? It’s good to determine this before you start looking at programs! You can sometimes also find other ways to cut costs: Can you find the curriculum used? Can you find any of the materials at your local library?

Many times you get what you pay for. Remember that there is a cost of time and energy associated with curriculum, too. Doing preschool all on my own was extremely cost effective, but it came at a higher cost of my own time and energy. But I highly valued my flexibility and the ease of fitting preschool into our daily life, so it was worth it to me.

Time

How much time will this curriculum take each day? How flexible is that time commitment? How many days a week does the curriculum include?

Especially if you’re a mom with many other children or other commitments, you will likely want to choose a preschool plan that requires less time per day or is extremely flexible. Preschool should not become one more place you feel behind!

homeschool preschool curriculum guide

Teacher Prep

How much prep work does this curriculum require of Mom? Will Mom have to put a lot of things together each day, or more on a weekly/semester basis? Does it come pre-printed, or will Mom need to print pages out ahead of time? How many extra supplies are needed, and are they around-the-house items or specialty items that will need to be purchased ahead of time?

Philosophy

What educational philosophy is at the core of this curriculum? How does it align with your ultimate homeschool/family goals?

Is it developmentally appropriate?

Children vary widely at any age or stage, but perhaps never is it quite so dramatic as it is in the pre-K years! In my own family I’ve had children who were reading fluently in preschool and others who struggled with letter recognition past the end of 1st grade. Some children struggle with fine motor skills, some with gross motor skills, and some with social/emotional maturity.

As you consider a preschool curriculum, consider whether it is age and developmentally appropriate for your particular little one. If your child struggles with fine motor skills, a program that requires a lot of writing or manual dexterity will likely not be a good fit. If your child struggles to sit still and concentrate for long periods of time, you probably don’t want a curriculum that expects 2+ hours of work each day.

homeschool preschool curriculum guide

Can it be used with multiple children?

Is it designed with a limited age range in mind, or is it something you could use to teach multiple ages of children at once? Is it reusable or consumable?

A Few of the Best Homeschool Preschool Curriculums

Note: some of the information below I received directly from the preschool curriculum authors. Look for quotation marks to designate that information.

Have you used any of these homeschool curriculum options? I’d love to hear your experience in the comment section! My goal is for this post to be a helpful resource to new homeschool parents trying to decide what is their best option for homeschooling their preschooler.

homeschool preschool curriculum guide

Purely Preschool

Purerly Preschool from “Where’d You Learn That” (see my interview with the author, Rachel from Seven in All, here) is a literature-based program designed to make preschool easy. Each themed unit (available in both English and Spanish) includes 4 lessons for ~4 weeks worth of instruction. Free sample lesson available here.

What makes this curriculum unique: Purely Preschool is a good fit for the “practical, minimalist homeschool mom” who still wants to do fun themed preschool learning. “These preschool themes don’t involve tracking down 10 books from the library (only 2!), going to the store for sensory bin materials, or making cute crafts that are too complicated for your 3 year old to do on their own. There’s a heavy focus on practical life skills, practical knowledge, and building awareness of how the world around them works.  There is NO systematic alphabet/phonics teaching, although alphabet activities are included every week as pure exposure and play with letters. Units are available in English OR Spanish–between the two languages the activities and learning points are mainly identical, but the books and songs are, naturally, different.” There are 9 different themed units currently available. Repetition is a key component of this preschool curriculum.

Age range: designed primarily for age 3 (based on my own glance through the curriculum, I think it could be used for ages 2-4 depending on the child)

Estimated Time Per Day to Complete: 20-30 min

Mom prep required: “Print a small number of activity pages per week, gather books (if you’re using physical books), pick the activities you will do today and gather minimal supplies.”

Primary Educational Philosophy: Literature-based themed units, discussion-oriented

Digital or Print: PDF downloads

Cost: $4.99/4-week Unit

Reviews:

Here’s a review from Katie Waalkes, another past podcast guest:

Little Explorers

I call Pam Barnhill my “Big Sister of Morning Time,” so you know I was excited to hear she had created a new resource for parents of preschoolers! Pam is known for bringing practical, live encouragement each month to her community, and Little Explorers is no exception. Hear my conversation with Pam about “Us-Schooling” here and about the value of Gathering together as a family here.

What makes this curriculum unique: “Alongside the necessary skills preschoolers need, this curriculum begins introducing even our youngest students to a morning basket full of truth, goodness, and beauty. We delve into poetry, picture study, music, and more. In addition to rich content each month, we provide a live parent equipping event where we cover a short presentation on a topic related to homeschooling preschoolers as well as an opportunity to ask your questions about the curriculum or homeschooling questions in general.”

Age range: 3-6

Estimated Time Per Day to Complete: 30 to 60 minutes 

Mom prep required: “Some time at the beginning of the month prepping busy boxes if you are using them and requesting library books. Our detailed supply lists make it easy to gather any materials needed ahead of time. The daily activities are accessed through our app or via text and are generally considered open and go.”

Primary Educational Philosophy: play-based, literature-based

Digital or Print: Digital (+ live online community and a mobile app)

Cost: $19/month

Reviews: Colleen says, “It is fabulous!!!! I am so excited about Little Explorers. I will have a 4-year-old next month, and in my house that tends to be when my kids need a little one on one time with me that looks like “school.” This will be perfect and save me so much time searching for random stuff on Pinterest! Thank you!”

Clap for Classics!

My 1st grader loves his weekly live music class with Miss Elizabeth from Clap for Classics! We joined Clap for Classics! in Kindergarten, and plan to continue through 2nd grade. But you may not know that Clap for Classics! has expanded their offerings and now includes all sorts of enrichment activities and resources that would also work well as a full homeschool preschool plan. Get a sneak peek at what this program is like through their FREE podcast for kids! It’s been a huge hit with my kiddoes. Listen to my interview with co-founder Elizabeth here.

What makes this curriculum unique: Clap for Classics! “marries art, poetry, music and STEM to give young children an rich arts education that just feels like play.”

Age range: 2-8

Estimated Time Per Day to Complete: It “varies, but we recommend spending time in the curriculum a few times a week; let your child’s interest and attention span lead the way.”

Mom prep required: “Very little.  A few simple materials that you can find around the house may be required for some of the activities.” (Think things like a pot, a spoon, paint, a scarf.)

Primary Educational Philosophy: Play-based learning

Digital or Print: primarily video instruction with a digital Curriculum Companion Guide containing written materials and printables

Cost:  $160 for a year or $15/month

Reviews: Amanda J.: “We are big fans of Clap for Classics! The variety in musical and learning activities is really amazing to me. There is always something new and fun each course. You’ll find within the musical content opportunities for learning in art history, STEM, math, social and emotional skills, literature and more. I have found myself learning right alongside my kids. They truly understand how to engage young kids in rich music and fantastic learning activities.”

Eugenia:“I love that Krisanne’s art classes introduce famous artists and their art as a way to inspire my kids to discover art by exploring the art of famous artists. It’s not just painting or creating. It’s a fun invitation to learn about art, experiment with new styles and to get to know about artists like Yayoi Kusama and I value that so much and my kids love it”.

Listen to the podcast

Peaceful Press Preschool

Peaceful Press Preschool is a 26-week long, 5 day/week, literature- and project-based preschool curriculum for early learners. It is published by The Peaceful Press. You can hear my interview with the curriculum founder, Jennifer Pepito, here.

What makes this program unique: “We not only include phonics, counting, and classic children’s literature suggestions, but we also include important motor skills and practical life skills activities that are essential for developing strong learners. It’s easy to use, gentle, and fun.”

Age Range: 2-5

Estimated time per day to complete: 1 hour

Mom prep required: “Minimal mom prep. We include printables, supply lists, and book lists to help mom stay organized.”

Primary Educational Philosophy: Montessori/Charlotte Mason

Digital or Print: Digital with a link to purchase the printed bundle included in the welcome email.

Cost: $49

Reviews:

Curriculum Review: The Peaceful Preschool [updated August 2020]

Before Five in a Row

Before Five in a Row (and More Before Five in a Row) are the preschool/kindergarten portions of the beloved literature-based Five in a Row unit study curriculum, emphasizing read alouds, discussion, play, and a gentle learning environment. Each week is based on a new book which is read daily, and the subject learning flows from that picture book. Part 1 includes lessons based on 24 picture books. Part 2 is a resource for the parent, providing tips for lifestyle-based learning.

What makes this curriculum unique: “It is a literature-rich curriculum that encourages interest-based and play-based learning opportunities and encompasses some of the best qualities of each homeschooling philosophy.”

Age range: 2-5

Estimated time per day to complete: “Before Five in a Row takes around 15 minutes a day, More Before Five in a Row could take from 15-25 minutes per day.”

Mom prep required: “Order a picture book from the library (or purchase) and then read through the teacher’s manual for 5 minutes each day or every few days and choose a discussion or play-based lesson to enjoy with your child. There are occasionally a few basic art supplies or household objects used for lessons that you’ll need to gather. That’s it, quick and easy!”

Primary Educational Philosophy: “Five in a Row is a literature-based, Unit Study philosophy– drawing lessons from wonderful picture books where the topics and learning opportunities are nearly endless. It also encompasses some of the best aspects of different educational philosophies: like the classical education philosophy, wide and varied reading is encouraged; like Charlotte Mason’s educational philosophy, Five in a Row focuses on great literature while reading, grammar, spelling, and writing skills are strengthened through hearing books read and dictation (at young ages).” 

Digital or Print: Print

Cost: $49.00 

Reviews:

 You can also read testimonials on the publisher’s homepage here.

Gentle Classical Preschool

Gentle+Classical Preschool includes 26 lessons based on each letter of the alphabet. It includes handicrafts/activity guide, an art/music pack, memory statement cards, letter/number flashcards, and more. Laura Adams says, “Gentle + Classical Preschool blends Charlotte Mason’s principles with simple memory work to give children a sweet introduction to preschool.”

What makes this curriculum unique: This program “includes 26 units of instruction with scripture, catechism + character, ‘all about me,’ math, nursery rhymes, gross + fine motor skills, manners + hygiene, a letter of the week, and weekly picture books. Our Teacher’s Guide includes extension ideas for 3-4-year-olds if you’d like to add more to the curriculum for your little one. Our Preschool curriculum bundle includes Memory Statement Cards to provide a visual for each of the weekly memory statements. It also includes an Art + Music pack for introducing artist and composer studies to your littlest learners. You’ll also find a weekly activity, additional book lists and suggested ideas, a suggested weekly schedule, and more in our Handicraft + Activity Guide (included in the curriculum bundle). Additionally, it includes a Preschool Morning Binder to help your little one practice fine motor skills and reinforce early math and phonics concepts.”

Age range: 2-4

Estimated Time Per Day to Complete: 20 minutes to an hour

Mom prep required: “Mom prep is initially required as you read the Teacher’s Guide, create a memory statement board, sort materials, and make a plan for getting each unit’s books. After this, about 15 minutes of weekly planning and setup are required.”

Primary Educational Philosophy: “A blend of Charlotte Mason, Classical, and Unit Studies”

Digital or Print: “Both Physical + Digital Delivery and Digital-Only are available.”

Cost: Digital edition of the preschool bundle is $34.99. Printed edition is $146.99. Teacher’s guide (which includes the entire curriculum) is a free PDF download. 

Reviews: Read Laura’s review of Gentle+Classical Preschool here.

“I was first drawn to this program due to its aesthetically pleasing vintage-looking flashcards, however, I quickly fell in love with the core of the curriculum! It’s a gentle, natural way of introducing information that young children should learn. My little one (4) has had no “formal” preschool prior to this program. I love how the curriculum introduces math, science, character, scriptures, nursery rhymes to name a few, in ways that are natural to daily life. The bundle was worth it, have all the resources at hand makes it easier for me to plan for each unit. …Wish I would have had this for my other children when they were younger.” – Jaci P 

Ambleside Online Year 0

Ambleside Online is a complete, 12+ year, free homeschool curriculum based on Charlotte Mason’s philosophies. The curriculum guides are online and links to open-source materials are provided whenever possible to make it cost effective. You can also get your own books to have the hard copies if preferred. AO Y0 is designed to prepare your learners for the more formal academic plan that begins at age 6 with AO Y1. If you are wanting to follow a Charlotte Mason approach to education, Ambleside Online’s website is filled to the brim with helpful articles and resources to lay a strong philosophical foundation.

What makes this curriculum unique: “Year 0 is not a formal AmblesideOnline year, but refers to all the years before formal academics begin in Year 1 (typically on or after age 6). During these early years, we focus on helping the child discover his own world through his own explorations, with lots of outdoor time and real tasks around the house. We might introduce gentle academics through play, such as playing with objects (to introduce math concepts) or playing with letters (to introduce beginning reading).” The main goal for this age is lots of time spent outside and habit formation, with a few good books read aloud as well.

Age range: 3-6

Estimated Time Per Day to Complete: formal academics are not encouraged for this age; time spent will vary as parents choose short activities each day

Mom prep required: The Ambleside Online website is a treasure trove of free resources, instruction, and mentorship. Mom will have to take the time to read the articles, understand the philosophical principles, and plan how to implement them. On the other hand, the implementation part will be very simple/minimal.

Primary Educational Philosophy: Charlotte Mason

Digital or Print: free online

Cost: Free

Sonlight Pre-Kindergarten Package: Exploring God’s World

Sonlight provides a 36-week, 4-day/week, literature-based, thorough weekly plan. It is perfect for the unsure or reluctant homeschool mom who wants to ensure their child is ready for a traditional Kindergarten experience.

What makes this curriculum unique: When you order the package, you receive not only the printed, pre-hole-punched Instructor Guide, but you also receive all of the books included in the preschool curriculum plan. It really is all-inclusive, open-and-go.

Age range: ~4-5 year olds

Estimated Time Per Day to Complete: 20 min – 2 hours

Mom prep required: Minimal; look over the provided weekly grid ahead of time, grab the books for the week, and you’re set

Primary Educational Philosophy: Literature-Based learning with some Montessori-inspired elements

Digital or Print: Pre-printed Instructor Guide (including pre-printed worksheet pages) and physical copies of books

Cost: $461.55 (includes Instructor Guide, books, and Montessori-inspired supplies)

Reviews: Read my review here.

“What should I use to homeschool my preschooler?”

I hope this post has helped you decide what’s best for your little one! Remember: there is not one perfect curriculum. Whichever preschool plan you choose, you get to be the boss of the process. The curriculum doesn’t get to be the boss of you.

Want to consider a DIY, gentle approach to preschool? Click here to see how we have homeschooled preschool.

I’d love to continue to be a part of your homeschooling adventure. Be sure to check out my podcast, “Homeschool Conversations with Humility and Doxology,” where I interview a variety of homeschool moms, dads, and other educators on all sorts of topics that affect our lives as homeschooling parents.

You can also subscribe to my weekly newsletter below. Each Monday you’ll get a weekly poem delivered to your inbox, along with other homeschooling encouragement and resources. Plus, you can always hit reply and ask me your questions. I love to help and encourage other mamas!

And don’t forget to leave a comment below if you’ve used one of these (or another) homeschool preschool curriculum. Leave only honest, but kind, reviews please!

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