I have a confession: I’m very much a rule follower and people pleaser. In the beginning of my homeschool journey I thought I had to recreate school at home. That is, I thought I had to replicate a classroom in my eating area. Wow, that sure didn’t work with my Aspie and his very active younger brother!

So, I’ve come to relax and realize that you can do a lot of early education without a curriculum. Did you just fall off your chair? I’ll give you a minute to get back up. Yes, you can teach your young children without a curriculum. Here are five tools to get you started:

1. Games. There are so many things that games teach while your kids think they’re playing. There are games that are specifically educational, but even regular board games teach a lot. Of course, your kids learn math concepts and reading. Your students also learn colors, object identification, matching, turn taking, patience, kindness, strategy, self-control, and more. Choose your games carefully, and kindergarten and first grade math will be a breeze because your child will have already memorized lots of math facts without realizing it. Some of my favorite childhood games that teach are Sorry!, Mancala, Animal Sequence, and Memory. By the way, you can make your own Memory game with note cards to review concepts in any subject!

2. Paper and writing implements. When you have paper, you can use it to teach all kinds of things. Let your child create her own stories and illustrate them. Don’t worry about spelling errors—right now you’re instilling a love for expression. If she can’t write her letters yet, be her scribe and then let her illustrate. As your child begins to learn basic math facts, you can write down simple math problems. You can fold paper and teach fractions. Teach literary criticism by folding a paper in half and asking your child to draw the problem in the story on one side and how it was resolved on the other. Drawing and coloring develop little hands for writing. Of course, you can add scissors and glue and your son has new skills to learn. The possibilities of paper is limited only by your imagination.

3. The library. More than likely one of your goals as a homeschool parent is to instill a love of learning in your child. A library card is a great asset. You can choose books on certain topics and create your own unit studies. Check out ABC books to help your child learn the alphabet. Let him learn how to find books in the library (early research skills). Come home with a variety of books: fun stories, informational science and history books, even picture books that teach math concepts. Most libraries also have audio books, movies, and computer programs that you can check out. Your library may have programs your child can attend.

4. Educational TV and movies. Yes, you read that correctly. If you have a child that you’re trying to teach to read, Leap Frog videos are your friend, particularly if you can get your hands on the older Letter Factory and Word Factory. PBS, Nickelodeon, and Disney all have educational children’s programming that helps children learn math and reading as well as social skills and more. You can also use lunch time to watch a cooking or DIY show to help your children learn a new skill.

5. The kitchen. You have a great classroom inside your kitchen walls. You may need some extra patience, but the time you allow your children to work with you in the kitchen reaps great rewards. In addition to reading and math, you will also teach listening skills, enhance motor skills, build confidence, and bestow independence. Get ready for a great feeling when your child can get her own snack!