This past year, our world has changed a lot. The way we spend our free time, how we work and how our children go to school and childcare looks a lot different from what it once did. More families are choosing to homeschool their children, and though there is a slew of curriculums for older students, how can we work to continue the education of our young learners?
The space that your young learner is participating in homeschooling is extremely important to their engagement and overall development. When setting up your homeschooling space, keep toys, books, and other learning materials in a place low to the ground where your child can easily access them. Give them the freedom to pick out their own toys, books, and learning materials! Giving them this freedom allows them to safely explore the world around them and gives them more independence, which is important for the mental and emotional development of your child. Add some interest to the homeschooling space too! Set up some fun, cozy pillows to make a reading nook and hang colorful artwork at your child’s level.
While there isn’t a strict curriculum when it comes to toddlers, and children who are not quite school-age yet, this is a great time to employ practical life activities to engage them, and keep them active and learning. Give your child everyday objects to explore—safe items, of course—objects from nature, like acorns and leaves, or objects from around the house, like spoons, pots, blankets and baskets. These objects will help to open up their imagination, while allowing them to become more familiar with the objects around them, and how to use them, even if they make a drum out of it!
Let your child express themselves, their taste, and their personality by letting them pick out their own clothes. Now, they probably won’t pick out a Pinterest-worthy outfit (but maybe they will!), but it will be their outfit that they got to pick out, and they will be proud of that, and therefore confident in how they present themselves and the decisions they make. Along with this, it shows that you as a parent are confident in them and their decisions as well.
Allow your child to explore a sensory bin made with a tub filled with about an inch of water. Make sure to supervise them for this activity! Add objects to it, a tennis ball, wooden block, some water-safe toys, cups and so on so they can explore what floats and what doesn’t, how pouring works, and just generally enjoy the water. Bonus activity: if they spill any water out of the bin, they can have a lesson on how to clean up spills!
Toddlers are at the prime age to be learning fine motor skills. Give them some activities to help! Set up a bowl full of different color pom-poms and a paper with circles of the pom-pom colors drawn onto it. Have your kiddo either pick up and place or spoon the different pom-poms into their respective circles. If matching up colors seems a bit too advanced, spread the pom-poms out and have your child pick them up and place them in a bowl.
Another great fine motor skill activity idea is to take a child-safe bottle, a water bottle, or another bottle with a medium to small opening and have your child put thick straws, cut into around 4-inch pieces into the bottle. These activities help your young one to learn how to use their little hands a bit more nimbly, and teach them a bit about putting things away. (Fingers crossed it translates over to putting away their toys too!) There are plenty of other activities like these, so find what resonates best with your kiddo!
The alphabet is an important foundation to any child’s education. Get them their own personalized ABC board book to keep them engaged and to get them to relate letters to objects, pets, or people that they are already familiar with.
While it might still be a little early for reading sight words, picture recognition to words is a great place to start! Find yourself a book with images and words for an easy transition to sight words when you and your child feel ready to take that next step!
If you have an active child, this next activity is for you! This is a great scavenger to teach picture recognition. Create flashcards with printed or drawn pictures of objects you have around the house. Give your kiddo a few flashcards and a basket or bag, and have them go through the house collecting those items. Make yourself a big stack of these picture flashcards so you can switch up the hunt for many scavenger hunt sessions!
To round out your toddler homeschooling, read to them out loud. This is a great way to connect with your child and hopefully get in a few snuggles during a crazy homeschooling day. Reading not only promotes a deep love for reading at a young age but also helps to inspire their imagination and develop a richer vocabulary. Read them a wide variety of books, from fairytales, to non-fiction books meant for a younger audience. Get your child curious about the world around them, and the worlds that come to them through words!
Homeschooling may seem daunting, but having these tips and tricks in your back pocket will be a great start towards success. Enjoy these moments with your kiddos, and happy teaching!