I'll preface this by saying that we are actually planning to send my son to "real school" for preschool, because I want him to attend Montessori school for at least a year—I think it will form a good foundation for homeschooling. We found a local Montessori program that also offers Catechesis of the Good Shepherd, something that is a priority of mine for my kids. We haven't made a final decision but it's very tempting. After a year of preschool, we plan to homeschool from kindergarten on up.
First, you've got to read this article, 6 Ways to Early Years You Won't Regret. I kind of want to memorize it, maybe tattoo it to my arm. I'm often tempted to start pushing academic stuff, but my son is TWO. No need for that yet. This article is a much-needed reminder to just enjoy this time together ... and do lots of reading aloud.
These are the programs I've found so far. I know I must be missing some—please share any others in the comments!
A few friends have recommended The Homegrown Preschooler, which seems to be pretty simple and play-based. Good stuff.
The Joy School program is great if you have a few neighborhood friends interested in doing a little homeschool co-op. It's non-denominational but vaguely Christian, and seems intended to offer preparation for going to "real school" down the road.
Five in a Row is a program based on reading aloud children's literature. It looks like a lot of fun, to be honest, and I look forward to exploring it more closely.
For a slightly older crowd...
Mother of Divine Grace is a classical, more traditional, Catholic program. It seems comprehensive and rigorous, and I think we may use this program when we start homeschooling, although I haven't done enough research to say that for sure yet.
The Kolbe Academy program is also classical and Catholic, and I'm not actually sure how it differs from MODG. Clearly I need to do more research on that. Fortunately I have time.
What are your favorite resources for beginning to homeschool in the early years? I'd love to hear what else is out there!