In my earlier post, I stated that I don't believe that formal preschool is really necessary for most kids. However, preschool aged children do need to learn preschool skills. Fortunately, preschool skills aren't very complex.
What should they be learning
Preschoolers should be learning about their five senses and learning how to take care of their bodies. They should be learning to recognize and write letters and the sounds they make. Many preschoolers will soon be sounding out simple words. Counting, sorting, relative positions (up, under, beside...) and shapes are important to learn. In addition, preschoolers should be learning about their community and society.
Easy, Everyday Lessons
Most preschool learning should be part of everyday life. Preschoolers are naturally curious about everything. Daily activities can be turned into learning activities without much effort on Mom's part.
For instance, at the grocery store, explore the colors and smells in the produce section. Count apples as you put them in a bag. Talk about healthy foods. Review how to stay safe in public and what to do if lost.
Everywhere you go, ask lots of questions and encourage your preschooler to politely ask questions, too. Ask questions at the post office, dry cleaner, store, library, and every where else your errands take you. Allow some extra time in your schedule to move at a preschoolers pace.
Explore the outdoors. Your yard is good enough. Watch insects. Describe what is happening as you plant a seed and watch it grow. Observe the weather and talk about differences between seasons. Talk about what clothes a person would wear for each season.
Read, read, read, and then read some more. Read about our country's history. There are wonderful books about our nation's founders and about holidays. Read about other nations and other cultures, too.
Give your child an old magazine, some scissors, and a gluestick. Let him cut and paste to his hearts content. It's not terribly messy and develops needed motor skills. Help him write a story to go along with his picture.
Use chalk to write letters a big as you both are able on the sidewalk. Form letters with playdough and cookie dough. Use your bodies to form letters. Draw letters in a bowl full of rice.
Once your child has learned to form letters, she'll probably want to write notes to friends and labels to pictures. Help her sound out the words. Don't stress if she spells things phonetically.
Get out the button jar & let your child sort the buttons into an egg carton. Sort by size, color, shape, or any other characteristic that you fancy. My kids love to get into the button jar. They think that they are getting away with something.
The most important part of schooling a preschooler is to have fun. Enjoy each other. Take time to answer questions. And, don't make it harder than it should be.
Starfall - Lots of animations. (I've never used the paid part.)
Enchanted Learning - Not all is available for free. Free stuff has ads. But, lots and lots of good things here.
Worksheet Lab - Fun, colorful worksheets. I just found this recently.
Handwriting for Kids - Writing skills.
Most "Preschool" or "Kindergarten" workbooks. Just look through it to make sure that the work is about right for your child.
My all-time favorite resource is my public library!