Monday, August 8, 2016

How Do I Start Homeschooling My Toddler?

I believe we live in a different world, in a different generation where we, as parents, are responsible (more than ever) for getting our children ready to face the challenges that life and the modern world has to offer. With that in mind, I also believe that homeschooling at a very young age is the key to unlocking our children's potential. When I say homeschooling toddlers, I am not referring to a rigid, formal curriculum, rather, a homebased, child-led learning through play type of homeschooling.

Homeschooling a toddler is quite simple. In this post, I answer some of the most popular questions I got when I was homeschooling my then toddler.



Why do you homeschool your toddler?

Well, why not? Homeschooling offers a world of benefits for both parent (or caregiver) and child. I am able to foster a love for learning at an early age and also, I was able to discover his strengths and weaknesses even before starting formal education. For example, I noticed that my son responded better to activities and lessons that used "props" rather than just colored books. With this knowledge, I am, now, able to tailor our lessons around his interests and make learning more fun for him. 

Some kids respond to videos better. Some, to books and charts. My son is a mix of everything and that is why homeschooling is the best path for us. I wanted to be the one responsible for his early education that is why I homeschool him. 

What do I need to homeschool my toddler?

You need toys, books, music, videos and things found around the house!

Toys

Buy age-appropriate toys but also experiment with toys for older kids. You never know how your child will respond. You might be surprised to discover that he responds better to toys for older children or that his skills set are quite higher than you expected. 

Books

For me, I buy whatever books I like and whatever interests my son. When he was a toddler, our books were a mix of baby, toddler and preschool books. 

If you are on a budget, check out second hand bookstores (in Manila, check out Books for Less and Book Sale). Have a book swap with friends and family. If you have a great library, then by all means, go there!

Music and Videos

I don't recommend a ton of videos for younger children but sometimes they are necessary. Choose your videos carefully and limit screen time to just 3-5 minutes per day. There are plenty of toddler channels on YouTube that you can subscribe to. Incorporate them into your daily lessons. 

Things around the house

Use tumblers, basins, dippers and small plastic pitchers for a water transfer activity. You can use trays, pom poms and a bowl for fine motor practice. You can use cotton buds for painting. You can paint with water. I have a post about cheap toddler activities here. If you search for "toddler activities" in this blog, you will get a lot of ideas using things you already have in your home. 

What does a homeschool schedule look like?

Because we started homeschooling early, by the time my son reached 1 year old, we already had some kind of a structure to our daily homeschool schedule. He would eat when he woke up or drink some milk. We will then read a Bible story. I will then let him have a few minutes of free play. I would put cars or trains in front of him. Sometimes it's an invitation to play set. For example, I put different kinds of animals on a tray and pull out his wooden Noah's ark set. Sometimes I would pull out a printable where he can do simple activities like color matching. Montessori trays are great for kids this age. 

After that, we will read a few books or watch a video on YouTube. We can also just listen to music and dance around. Then he will have a few more minutes of independent play. 

In the afternoons, I would pull out one busy box. Check out our busy boxes here. This encourages more independent play and also exploration. Sometimes I join him but most of the time I just keep a watchful eye, making sure that he doesn't hurt himself or put anything in his mouth. 

Snacks are also essential during homeschool. We like to take several snack breaks during the day. 

You can also go out in the afternoon or early morning to play in the park, walk around the neighborhood, etc. 

Do I need to tackle certain subjects?

Well, language, reading and math are essential to us. Civics was also part of our early years homeschool curriculum. I incorporated these subjects into our daily activities. One activity can have several learning opportunities. For example, painting with sponges. With this activity, you can teach your child colors. This is also a fine motor practice because your child has to grip the sponges and press them onto the paper to create images. You can teach shapes using the sponges. You can do some counting fun. Finger painting is also a great sensory activity.  Learning through play is important during these years. 

Do we need to develop a routine?

Yes! I found that kids like to know what's next especially with my kid. They want to be in control (especially gifted kids). BUT, you must also be flexible. There will be days when your child does not want to do an activity. There will be days when he just wants to play. There will be days when you will be too busy or too tired or too lazy to plan activities. Just let it go. Just allow your child and yourself some alone time. You can start again tomorrow. When I was starting out, it was hard for me to miss a day in our homeschool but as time went on, I learned to be kind to myself and to my child and just let us be for the day. We can always start anew tomorrow. 

If you need more resources about homeschooling your toddler, just explore my archive. There are plenty of resources here. 


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