I remember when my first child was born, and being so intensely focused on meeting “milestones”.
I quickly learned that children are little human beings who are all very different. Even at a young age, you can begin to see glimpses of their personalities.
First and foremost, before starting to homeschool, it is important to understand that your child will learn at their own pace.
Personally, I am a huge believer that an arsenal of “educational” toys is super beneficial when teaching children, especially toddlers. Blocks, legos, shape sorters, puzzles and books are all great tools to use with your child.
The question still remains, what should your be focusing on with your toddler? Below you will find a checklist of concepts and ideas to use as you start homeschooling your toddler.
Just a Disclaimer: I am not a teacher by trade, nor do I claim to be. The following are just ideas and tips that were useful for our family and that other mamas might enjoy, as well. If you are curious as to why we decided to homeschool our kids, you can read about it here.
WHAT TO TEACH YOUR TODDLER
Sorting objects by type, color and size.
Naming and recognizing basic body parts (on themselves and even pointing them out on you).
Basic animal names and sounds.
Naming the different rooms in your home (Living Room, Dining Room, Kitchen, etc.).
Naming all of their family members.
Introducing the numbers 1 to 10.
Introducing the letters of the Alphabet.
Developing more advanced gross and fine motor skills (climbing on park equipment, picking up small objects, gentle correction when they are using a crayon, etc.).
Independent self care with parental guidance (changing clothes, brushing hair, brushing teeth, etc.).
Learning manners and being helpful.
Memorizing short nursery rhymes and poems.
Know the names of objects outside (sun, sky, trees, grass, leaf, etc.).
It is important for us to read lots of books to our children…and don’t worry they don’t mind hearing them over and over again!
Introduce several short Bible stories (Creation, Adam & Eve, Noah, etc.).
Using toys, such a legos and blocks, are a great way to introduce your child to colors. Remember, it is important to keep learning fun and engaging, especially at this age. When you are building legos with your child, for example, point out the specific color names.
Even if your child seems indifferent, they are learning. Focus on teaching them both primary and secondary colors, including: red, yellow, orange, white, blue, green, black, pink and brown.
The key is to be consistent and continually reinforce the information in different forms. Examples include: using objects around the house, during everyday activities and even while on the go.
Children are sponges, and even if you think they are not paying attention, they are. Your child is continually processing new information, and before you know it, they will be color masterminds.
SHAPES & SORTING OBJECTS
Like with colors, using toys is a great way to teach your child shapes and how to sort objects by size and type. Shape sorters, stacking cups and legos are all great tools. Also, begin to point out the different shapes you see.
Walk around the house and point out different objects, saying their shape. Also, gather a group of objects that are the same shape and show them to your child. Be creative and experiment. There are no rules.
Begin teaching your child how to sort objects by size. If you have a bin full of old buttons, this is a great time to bring them out. Help your child sort and identify the different sizes, of course supervising carefully when using small objects.
Show your child similar toys and point out their size differences. For example: Look, this car is bigger than that one. See? Once again, work with what you have.
Make a game of teaching your child the different parts of their body. Help your child find their eyes, nose, ears, mouth, fingers, toes and even their bellies. Show them how to find the different body parts on themselves and you. For example: Here is your nose. Look, Mommy has a nose, too!
Also, work on teaching your child basic animals and their respective sounds. Books, puzzles and animal toys are a great resource for this. Most kids find the funny sounds hilarious, and before long, they will be able to point to different animals and make the appropriate sounds.
Walk through your home with your child and point out the different rooms and their purposes. Look, this is the kitchen, where we prepare our food. Here is your bedroom, where you go to sleep. Teach your child the different rooms in your home, as well as their functions.
Also, it is important for your child to be able to identify each family member by name. By this point, your child is probably saying mama and dada, while identifying each individual respectively. And that’s great! If they have siblings, you should also focus on making sure that they are at least able to identify them by pointing.
It is important to begin teaching our children how to recognize and identify the numbers 1 through 10. A good way to do this is by using simple rhymes.
One, two, buckle my shoe,
three, four, shut the door,
five, six, pick up sticks,
seven, eight, lay them straight,
nine, ten, begin again.
Using song and rhyme is very helpful in aiding a child to quickly pick up new concepts.
Tickling and counting your child’s fingers and toes.
Creating sensory numbers using sandpaper and allowing your child to trace each number with their finger.
Use a magna-doodle toy and guide your child’s hand in writing each number.
Group toys and count them out with your child.
Point out numbers you see during everyday activities.
Doing these simple things will allow your child to begin to recognize and say their numbers. Just remember, be consistent and practice whenever your child is willing.
INTRODUCE THE ALPHABET
Just like with numbers, begin helping your child to recognize and identify the letters of the Alphabet. Ideas include: singing the Alphabet song to your child, pointing out letters during everyday activities, creating sensory letters and allowing the child to trace the letters with their finger.
Also, be mindful of saying the letter, as well as its specific sound. This starts laying down the foundation for when you begin to teach your child to read.
GROSS & FINE MOTOR SKILLS
Try to include various activities in your child’s day to help them improve their gross and fine motor skills. This includes activities where they can work on their climbing and jumping, such as playing at the park.
Also, engage your child in activities that work on their fine motor skills. This includes activities such as: picking up small objects and sorting, working on correct form when coloring, threading cereal or pasta for string necklaces, playing with play dough, finger painting, etc.
Basically, any activity that allows the child to concentrate and use their hands in a specific way, will help them develop those hand muscles for later writing.
It is important to begin teaching your child how to dress themselves. Gently guide your child when they are getting dressed in the morning. Also, show them how to brush their teeth and hair. Of course, always go back and finish the job properly. Your child may show a readiness for potty training, and if that is the case, this is the perfect time to start.
PRACTICE MANNERS & BEING HELPFUL
It is never too early to teach your child the “Golden Rule”. Along with that, make sure that you are constantly reinforcing good behavior and the use of words such as “please” and “thank you”.
Also, even though they are young, it is good for your child to have certain “chores” to complete. This instills a sense of responsibility and pride in their work. Chores for this age include: putting toys back in their bin, picking up their books, helping throw objects into the trash can, etc.
SHORT NURSERY RHYMES & POEMS
A good skill to work on with your child is memorization. Repetition is key! A fun way to do this is to sing nursery rhymes and poems. This is a fun and engaging way to help your child work on their vocabulary, as well as teaching them how to memorize small amounts of information.
This is a good time to introduce your child to short, Bible stories. For example: Creation, Adam & Eve, Noah, Moses, etc. Also, begin talking to your child about who God is. You can also teach your child short prayers that they can recite for certain occasions.
For example, in the morning, before a meal and before bed time. It is never too early to start laying down a child’s Biblical foundation. Also, remember that children are master imitators. If they see us doing something, they will follow suit.
ENGAGE YOUR CHILD WITH LOTS OF READING
First of all, this helps your child expand their vocabulary and continually learn about the world around them. Also, you are beginning to develop their ability to sit still for longer periods of time. This will help later on when they are a bit older and able to participate in more focused school lessons. Trust me, your child will not tire of hearing your voice.
Take as much time as you can to read to your child, striving to read multiple books a day. This is a great way to unwind at the end of the day and create a calming atmosphere before bedtime.
What’s the takeaway from all of this? Have fun and relax! Take your time and slowly introduce new ideas to your young child. Be consistent and reinforce the information they have learned. Enjoy the process and have fun with your growing toddler.