For a while now I’ve had other moms ask, “how do you do it? I want to homeschool, but I don’t know where to begin! Help.” In great effort to do just that, over the next few weeks, I’ll be featuring a series of “learning at home” posts. Each post will focus on a different age, including a my favorite age-appropriate resources and a few tips that I’ve learned along our [brief] way.
But first I need to say, one of the greatest lessons I have learned in homeschooling is that it, just like parenting, will take on the personalities in your family, so even if you’re using the same exact tools/resources as your friend, they will still appear different in your home. And that’s okay. So if you are interested in home-education, think less about what is the right or wrong curriculum or way to educate and more about what will fit your parenting/family style and the way your kids learn. This will help save you worry, time, and money.
Now, on to toddlerhood.
Toddlers can be one of the most fun ages! They’re newly walking, running, jumping, talking, and of course, experimenting. When Liam, my oldest, was a busy two, I remember thinking, “Will I ever stop telling him ‘no’ or redirecting him?” The answer is no, but fortunately I tell him ‘no’ much, much less now. (Wink.) Learning at home in these years doesn’t have to be an elaborate project. They are learning so much through their environment without you even planning it! In terms of structured learning, these years are more about exposure and experimenting. Here’s a few tips and resources:
KEEP STRUCTURED LEARNING TIME SIMPLE. Short attention spans and high energy require easy, quick activities. Think:
+ homemade play-dough (make or play)
+ simple blocks to build together while listening to music
+ daily walks hunting for a ___ (rock, leaf, bug, … etc)
+ simple art activity from one of my favorites — First Art
READ TOGETHER DAILY. Read-a-loud time during these years truly does cultivate a love of reading and learning through books as they get older.
+ To create a habit, try to pick a time of the day when you can be consistent, like bedtime or nap time.
+ Read a variety of stories, but also use this time to introduce letters and numbers. I love this set of board books from the Metropolitan Museum in New York — an introduction to letters, shapes, and numbers and also great works of art.
+ Try local story-times at the library or a book or coffee shop. This can also be a great place to meet other young mothers and homeschoolers.
BEGIN YOUR OWN RESEARCH. Use these years to inform yourself about the various homeschooling methods and learning styles.
+ Talk with other homeschooling moms if you know any.
+ Read The Homeschooling Option. This is my favorite intro to homeschooling book. Lisa Rivero is a homeschooling mom and professor at the University of Wisconsin. She tells a bit of her story while informing the reader of various ways homeschooling can look. It’s also full of additional resources from organizations to more specific books.
DON’T DESPISE SMALL BEGINNINGS. Starting small will help you build consistency. For toddlers, one activity a week — or even a month depending on your family circumstance — might be enough. That’s okay. Blessings to you and your family.