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Working From Home with Preschoolers

Photo of Kathryn HumberEarly Learning Center preschool Demonstration Teacher Kathryn Humber shares some tips for working from home while also parenting a preschooler. Kathryn has been with the ELC for 10 years and is currently teleworking with her own preschooler, five-year-old Lucas. We hope you find this helpful and be sure to leave questions in the comments section! 


Set up a schedule for your child (and yourself)- it really helps! Get in a routine, children thrive on knowing what comes next. It can even be as simple as setting up a general plan for the days you will be working from home. Remember, consistency and knowing what to expect is very important for young children.

  • Picture schedules are great for preschool children. A simple drawing of what the day will look like will work well- it doesn’t have to be fancy! 
  • Here is a link for the sample schedule that I shared with my own preschool families this week. 

Parent Work Time Ideas 

  • Develop a nonverbal cue that you are busy and cannot talk/play (wear a tiara, tie a ribbon around a doorknob, make a sign that says “stop”)
  • Take breaks often to talk and interact with your child, they need and crave attention, especially since they cannot see their peers in person.
  • Plan for interruptions, especially as children settle into this new way of being together at home during the week.
  • Get creative about when you are working so that you have support from another adult
    • If possible, alternate schedules with a partner to care for your child and work so that you both are able to accomplish as much as possible
    • Consider setting working hours across the day at times that may be easier to occupy your child. We’ll be posting sample work schedules our ELC staff members are using soon, so be sure to check back- perhaps seeing other schedules will help you set your own!
  • If your child still takes a nap, use that time wisely!
    • If your child does not take a nap, they still benefit from a quiet time where they are reading books or working on an activity (puzzle, drawing, etc.) quietly. Consider setting a timer or a visual cue for when quiet time is over.
  • Remember to give yourself grace… this may end up being a messy, chaotic time for everyone. Things may work smoothly one day, but may not the next, and that is okay!

Emotional Support

This is a hard time for everyone, children especially as they pick up on the emotions of the people around them. We know that they pick up on the fears and worries of their parents and sometimes they need help processing these big emotions. Some things that you can do to help support your child are:

  • To acknowledge the emotions that they may be feeling
  • Invite your child to take a moment to talk about what questions they have or things they are worried about. I would keep things fairly general, perhaps something like, “There is a virus that is spreading around and can make lots of people sick. Our job is to stay home so that we can keep from spreading the virus to other people who could get very sick from it.”  
  • We use the Mood Meter at the ELC to help children and adults understand their emotional states. Here is a quick video to explain how it works. Create or download a Mood Meter to help your family members recognize what they are feeling. You might even have your child create a journal to track what he/she is feeling so you can help them process their emotions. You can model this for them by participating in Mood Meter check-ins yourself. Some things your child might express:
    • Missing friends and teachers
    • Worried about others
    • Confused about what is happening in the world
    • Wondering why parents/adults are stressed out by the recent events
    • Mad that they can’t go somewhere or do something they want to do
  • Set a tone of understanding and empathy
    • This is hard on everyone! Our typical routines are currently gone and the unknown/unpredictable can be scary for all of us. 
    • Children in preschool do well when they are given opportunities to act out what they are seeing (think about the times when you have seen your child act out home life/school) 
      • Let them act out taking care of a sick stuffed animal or pretending to send an email (like they see you doing if you are currently working from home)


Giving children (and grown-ups!) the opportunity to move their bodies is so important. Here are some resources we’re turning to at home to help us stay moving:

  • Cosmic Kids Yoga
  • Go Noodle
  • Dancing
    • Here are some of our classroom’s favorite songs that we often have dance parties to. We don’t watch the videos at school, but we thought it might be helpful so you could see how this might look at home 🙂

Activity Suggestions

  • Set up a scavenger hunt for your child to search for things around your house based on:
    • Letter(s), number(s), shape, color, size
  • Sorting
    • Have your child sort small items into muffin tins based on color, number, letter, etc.
  • Arts and Crafts
    • Cutting magazines (letters, pictures, etc)
      • Making collages
    • Creating puppets out of paper and sticks, socks, paper bags
      • Putting on a puppet show
    • Making play dough
    • Beads and string/yarn
    • Mazes
      • Create mazes that can be traced by drawing a path on a piece of paper in a highlighter and having your child trace over it with a pen/pencil
      • Create a maze out of a paper plate and small strips of paper, similar to this one
    • At Home Makers Station Resources 
    • Boxes and cardboard have endless opportunities for young children. Here’s a video 
  • Spend time outside
    • Thank goodness we can still go outside! Here are some things you can do in the great outdoors with your family
      • Hunt for insects, worms
      • Cut grass with scissors (this is a great fine motor activity for preschoolers)
      • Watch for birds (or other animals)
        • Create a tally chart for how many birds you see outside
        • Hunt for bird nests to see if they have eggs in them
  • Create games for children
    • You can use tape to make shapes/pathways on the ground for the children to walk on or jump from one place to the next
  • At home activity suggestions 


Literacy Experiences:

Virtual Trips/Computer Experiences

We sure hope this is helpful to families learning to navigate work-from-home routines and the extended time at our homes. Please reach out and let us know how we can be helpful to you all!