Are you considering homeschooling your baby or toddler?
It can be a fabulous way to give them the individualized attention they need and help them learn at their own pace. But it's not always a straightforward task to know where to start. In this post, we'll give you some tips on how to get started with homeschooling toddlers. Keep reading for more information.
Toddlers learn best through play
You probably know that early childhood education experts advocate giving toddlers time to play. When you're homeschooling your toddler, playtime must be a big part of the curriculum. It doesn't mean that you need to let them sit around all day playing with toys, but you should give them plenty of opportunities to explore new things on their terms.
A good example is a sandbox or a box pile in the backyard. You don't have to teach them how to play in the sandbox. But when they start experimenting with it on their own, you can observe their creativity and curiosity at work. Don't stress about keeping your toddler's playtime structured because the chances are that they'll have a much easier time learning when they're allowed to be creative.
Help your toddler learn through sensory-based play
Toddlers enrolled in preschool tend to engage with the world around them through their five senses. This is a good way for them to learn, but they must have plenty of opportunities to engage with their senses playfully at home as well. For example, you can give your toddler some cornmeal, a whisk, and some bowls to play within the kitchen.
They'll love the sensory experience of feeling the different textures of cornmeal and watching how it behaves when they move it around or whisk it into something else. Again, you don't need to worry about what they're "supposed to learn" from it – just let them explore and have fun.
Help your toddler learn through pretend play
When you're homeschooling a toddler, one good way to encourage learning is imaginary play. It's never too early for toddlers to start pretending to do things at home. For example, you can give them a small box of blocks and let them "build" their own tiny house or store or something else.
This is not only fun for your toddler, but it allows them to make sense of the world around them. They'll use the blocks (or other things) to create their little play-world, which should help them learn what may work in real life. Of course, pretend play doesn't have to be limited to playing with blocks – you can give your toddler some dress-up clothes, a little toy broom and dustpan, or whatever else they might need to make their imaginary play come alive.
Find educational toys that are just for fun
One good way to make homeschooling toddlers fun is by giving them age-appropriate educational toys. You don't want to force your toddler to use a toy because it's supposed to be educational, but you can find some toys that they learn from simply because they're having fun with them. For example, you might buy your toddler a play kitchen set or a toy cash register.
These are not only fun, but they can help your toddler develop essential skills. A play kitchen might help them learn about household chores and what it takes to run a home in an imaginative way that's just as effective as traditional "lessons." And the cash register will encourage them to learn math skills in a way that's just for fun.
Make learning a social activity
In the past, kids were often taught in one-on-one settings or small groups with other students about their age. These days, though, toddlers are almost always taught in large classrooms with other children their age and a teacher who spends most of their time managing the group. This is slightly different from homeschooling, which tends to be more of an intimate experience between you and your toddler. So when possible allow them to have some social interaction with other kids their age, through things like playgroups or parties to spend time with friends.
So there you have it. While homeschooling can be a little bit daunting for first-time parents, the truth is that it's not all that daunting to practice if you put your mind to it. You might find some of these ideas super helpful, or you may end up coming up with other ideas on your own – either way, remember that as long as you keep your child happy and engaged, you're wonderful.