I feel like this whole post is going to be a bit ramble-y, and I’m sorry! This is something I’ve been thinking about recently and is one of my insecurities as a mom. Am I doing enough to help Allison learn? Should I be doing something different, or even anything at all?
At this point in a mom’s life, I think most moms start to think about how they want their children to be schooled- whether in a public school or homeschool. What’s the best option for our family? What can we afford to do? And what can we handle physically and emotionally? And the final question is, when should we start?
If you search Pinterest, you’ll definitely drown in information! There are so many ideas for crafts and educational materials for all ages; yes, even infants. We’re bombarded with things like Montessori activities and ways to make your baby like Eintstein, and oh what’s wrong with you if you don’t do any of these things? You’re totally a horrible mom if you’re not educating your child 24/7.
Now that Allison is almost 2, I’ve been thinking more about her schooling and what I want to do once she reaches school age. On the one hand, I’d love to keep her home and homeschool her up until high school graduation… but on the other hand, putting her in school gives me a few hours of peace and quiet! Does that make me a bad mom? In either case, right now I stay home to care for her, so there are things I need to teach her *now*, like colors and the alphabet.
First of all, is that even considered homeschooling?
Right now, the way I see it, I am teaching her the basics of life. Recognizing colors, learning to read, understanding social concepts… I don’t really call that “Homeschooling”, I call that “A parent’s responsibility to teach her child before school-age”. And that’s not to say I have a problem with those who do lots of homeschool stuff with their toddler. If you know you want to homeschool your child the whole way through, you’re doing great by starting early and getting practice in! And if you already have older children that you’re homeschooling, you probably have a pretty good grasp on what you’re doing.
How far do we go with homeschooling a toddler?
I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but toddlers don’t have a huge attention span! There have been times when I’ve sat Allison down with a cute activity and say “Hey darling daughter, work on this!” And she’ll mess around with it for about 30 seconds and push it away. So much for trying to get a teaching relationship going! And I have to be careful with what I give her, because obviously, some things are just not meant for toddlers. Like expecting her to draw shapes, or color inside the lines. The last thing I want is for her to get frustrated and have a rough relationship with education.
Back in school, we had strict schedules. Math for 40 minutes, then Science, then English, and so on. And we did specific activities for a certain amount of time before we moved on to the next. Trying that with a toddler is No. Good. No matter how badly you want to, toddlers just aren’t meant for those kind of schedules! I can barely manage the routine of lunch, then nap.
So what can we do, then?
The best way to homeschool a toddler is to let them PLAY! It’s something that took me awhile to understand, but little ones learn by playing. Even if you’re not specifically saying, “You are now learning that this toy car is red”, they’re sticking that information in their head by watching and listening to you talk to them. There are so many other things you can do to help them learn through play, even if you don’t feel that they’re learning anything. Here’s what I’ve been doing:
- Toys: Seriously, toys. Anything! Allison loves her Duplos and Mega Bloks especially; she’s learning fine motor skills by working out how to stack the blocks, and she’s learning colors just by looking at them. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy; something as simple as stacking blocks provide her with educational material.
- Television: Okay, hear me out. I know that television is sometimes considered horrible for your children, but I think it can be a great thing, in moderation. Allison has become obsessed with Ralph Covert of Ralph’s World, and absolutely loves watching his music videos on Youtube. The music gets her dancing and clapping her hands, which is teaching her rhythm, and some of the songs have even taught her the alphabet and the sounds the letters make. I’ll actually hear her singing along! It’s just a delicate balance; I’ve been guilty of letting her veg for a short while watching TV while I get a couple things done, but I’ll also sit with her and talk about what’s happening on screen. TV can be educational, but I know toddlers learn better when their parents are the ones explaining to them!
- Real life experiences: And this can be literally everything. Allison and I take walks up and down the sidewalk, and I talk about what we see. That was a big car that drove by! Look, that squirrel just ran up a tree! She’ll point at the flowers and I’ll talk about the colors. If we’re inside and I have to cook, I’ll do it while she’s eating and talk about what I’m doing, explain how the oven’s hot, etc. It doesn’t have to be a set-up learning time! Just talking about what you both are doing helps your toddler so much in the long run.
- Use Pinterest for ideas: Holy cow, I could spend hours on Pinterest! You can find so many awesome ideas for activities and crafts. I’ve started saving coloring pages and other activities for when Allison gets a little older.
So to answer the question “Is it possible to homeschool a toddler?”, the short answer is YES! Because you really should be teaching your child the basics anyway. Whether you choose to pursue this into full-time homeschooling is totally up to you, but for now, let’s just focus on letting our little one play and learn at the same time!
Hopefully you made sense of at least part of that! What do you think? Is it possible to homeschool a toddler in some shape or form? Your thoughts/ideas are appreciated!