2-year-olds and 3-year-olds
Homeschooling a 2-year-old? Have you lost your mind? Your child doesn’t need to be homeschooled that early! Are you crazy?
Have you heard any of these protests before? Have you heard them from other people? Or have they come from your own head?
Have you struggled with self-doubt or even self-disdain over whether you should start homeschooling your child this early?
Have other people accused you of setting your expectations too high for your child or trying to condemn you for doing what you believe is right for your child?
My Friend, I get it! I’ve been in that spot. I’ve felt all of these things and more! I’m not gonna lie, it can be hard to wade through those comments. It can be hard to hear them and hard to move past them. But as I worked through all these negative comments, I realized something: When you know why you’re doing what you’re doing, it’s so much easier to stay focused on your purpose and your goal. To block out the voices of others that simply want to derail you.
Did you catch that? When you know why you’re doing what you’re doing, it’s so much easier to stay focused on your purpose and your goal. To block out the voices of others that simply want to derail you.
So before diving into the practical, the first question you need to answer is: Why do you want to begin homeschooling your little one?
The Why Behind It
This is the key to it all: Why do you want to begin homeschooling your 2 year old? Are you wanting your child to start school early so they can be considered a ‘genius child’? Are you wanting them to have great accomplishments you can brag about? Or are you wanting something fun, more guided, and productive to do with them during the day? Are you tired of all the unstructured time and need a plan to focus your attention for even a little bit?
My Friend, allow me to give you a word of caution here: If your intention for starting to homeschool your child so young is to force them to grow up faster and to get them learning things so you can look good because of what your child knows, this is not a good motivation! If your intent is to force your child into something, you need to stop and reevaluate before moving on.
However, if you want to find a way to have fun with your child, begin teaching them some simple things and concepts, and have a guided map for your play time, then beginning to homeschool your 2 year old might be the perfect fit for you.
My husband and I decided to start homeschooling our children when they were only 2 years old for a few reasons. First of all, I wanted to have a little guidance in our play time. Oh, we were having fun and doing lots of learning activities, but I loved the idea that we could focus on a theme that matched the month and read books, draw pictures, and do activities centered around that theme. It was also a bit of a relief because I no longer had to come up with all the activities on my own!
Secondly, we knew we wanted to homeschool our children pretty much since they were born. Particularly with my oldest, I knew I needed to start building a homeschooling habit. I knew I was the one who would set the tone as she got older and the reading, writing, and arithmetic aspects of school came into play in full force. I figured if I started with a 2-year-old curriculum, we could have fun with guided play, but I could start building the habit for myself. Plus, there’s a lot of grace inherent in working through a 2-year-old curriculum – much more than a 5th grade or even a 2nd grade curriculum! So, I gave myself time to build a new habit.
As the years went on and more children were added to our family, I became more and more grateful for this 2-year-old curriculum. You see, my little ones wanted to be like their older siblings. They wanted to do school, too! So, while my older kids worked on math or spelling or science, my little one got to feel special because they had schoolwork all their own. In short, using a 2 year old curriculum has worked out beautifully for our family!
Where Do You Start?
This can feel like the most intimidating question, can’t it? Where and how do you even begin? Let’s take this question in two parts: First, let’s answer the question of what the curriculum itself looks like. Then, we’ll tackle the question of storing all the parts and pieces that come with homeschooling little ones.
What Does the Curriculum Look Like?
A 2-year-old curriculum looks very different than what most people think of when they hear the word ‘curriculum.’ Stop and think about it, when you hear the word ‘curriculum’,’ what comes to mind? A textbook and a workbook with an assignment that’s due? Or a children’s book to read together, a silly song to sing, and a flashcard matching activity? My guess is you immediately thought of the first one.
But yet, a 2-year-old curriculum cannot be a textbook and a workbook. A 2- or even 3-year-old is simply not ready for that yet! The very first thing you need to do is to set your expectations. When you’re working with 2 and 3 year olds, you cannot expect them to sit and pay attention for long periods of time. Some days school might take 1 hour and other times you might get into a project and spend more time.
Also, don’t fall into the trap of believing you have to have structured school time every day. Aim for 2 or 3 days a week to do a couple activities. It may not feel like enough, but at the same time, this is getting them ready for more.
Now for the good stuff: The practical suggestions!
Theme of the Month
Starting with a theme for each month can save a lot of guesswork! It allows you to build a more cohesive group of activities, songs, and books. And it has the added benefit of changing up what you’re focusing on each month so there’s always something new to look forward to!
If you’re looking for some suggestions for themes, don’t panic! I’ve got you covered! I created a guide just for you that gives you practical suggestions for a theme of the month as well as activities, songs, and books that go along with that theme. Best of all, this guide is my gift to you! Simply type your best email into the form below and your Grow with Me Guide will be on it’s way to your inbox even as you continue reading!
Books, Books, and More Books!
Reading to your child is so incredibly important! In fact, it’s so important that I wrote a whole post talking about the importance of reading (you can check out the post here). Make sure you read lots and lots of books to your child. But make it fun, too! Start with books that focus on your theme for the month and explore some new books at your library. But all the books you read do not have to be focused on your theme. Remember to read – and re-read – your favorites, too!
If you don’t know where to start with finding books on your theme, look in your free ‘Grow with Me Guide.’ It contains a list of suggested books for each monthly theme to help get you started.
Coloring pages can be fun and give a nice break from the constant movement of a toddler! If you can, sit with your child while they color – you can even color with them! This will keep your child interested in the coloring page longer and gives you a time to connect. (Although, coloring pages can be very helpful for keeping your child occupied at the kitchen table while you get a jump on making lunch or dinner, too!)
Coloring pages also have the added benefit of starting to give your child a tiny picture of what sitting still and listening to a lesson will look like later in life. Just remember, toddlers were not made to sit still for very long. Don’t expect your toddler to sit and color for an hour! If they do, that’s fantastic, but don’t expect it.
Games and Activities
Games and activities make up a huge part of a 2-year-old curriculum. Toddlers need to move. They like to jump around and be silly. So, take that movement and silliness and incorporate it into activities that line up with your curriculum. If you consistently incorporate activities, your 2 year old is going to be much more interested in the school plan!
Here are some suggestions for different activities you can do. You can find the full instructions for these activities in your free Grow with Me Guide guide.
- Find the animal flashcards (teaching ABC familiarity)
- Sing songs with movement!
- Correspondence Games: Shapes, colors
- Paint – Finger-paint, paint with Q-tips, paint with brushes.
- Matching Games: Shapes, colors
- Follow the Leader
- Go on a search around the house for a shape, stuffed animals, etc.
My Top Tips for Storing All the Pieces
When you talk about homeschooling little ones, there are a lot of small pieces that seem to come with the territory, don’t they? Flashcards (big and little), matching cards, clothespins, game pieces, and more! If these things are simply floating around all over your house, it can be frustrating and annoying. Annoying because when you want to do an activity with your child, you cannot find all the pieces that you need. And frustrating because it feels like you just added to the toys and things you need to pick up!
So, how do you stop those feelings of frustration and annoyance before they start? Here are my top 6 tips for keeping all your homeschooling supplies together:
Tip #1 :: Designate a Spot for your ‘School Supplies’
This could be a shelf of a bookshelf, a place in your pantry, inside a cupboard that closes, inside a china cabinet, a shelf of your home office, or any other place you can think of. One extremely helpful is to find a place out of reach of your child. This way, when you put all the parts and pieces away, they stay undisturbed until you get them down again. It also has the benefit of keeping the school games special and new each and every time you pull them out.
Tip #2 :: Containment for all the Pieces
Keep all those individual parts and pieces to your curriculum in a plastic shoe box (or cardboard or any smaller size box.). Just make sure the box you choose will fit in your designated school supply space! Depending on how many materials you have, you could use multiple boxes: one for the number games, one for the letter games, and so on. This makes it even easier to find what you am looking for quickly.
Tip #3 :: Keep Each Activity Together
For each activity you create or find, keep it together with a rubber band, paper clip, binder clip, or in a baggie. Then, make sure your baggie or rubber banded cards have a home in one of your school supplies boxes. It makes things so much easier when you’re looking for something and you can actually find the entire set on the first try, saving you time and frustration.
Tip #4 :: Construction Paper is your best friend
It’s time to get a little creative! For so many activities with little ones, you can make most of what you need with some construction paper, scissors and a sharpie. Just make sure your little one doesn’t get the sharpie! Plus, construction paper is great fun when it comes to crafts and drawing!
Tip #5 :: Laminating Makes Things Last Much Longer
Laminating is so extremely helpful. Let’s face it: 2 year olds are not really gentle when it comes to papers. If you take a little extra time up front, cut out the cards or activity pieces, then laminate them and cut them out again, they will last 10 times as long. This is especially helpful if you are starting to homeschool your oldest and you have younger children. You’ll only have to create these activities once!
Tip #6 :: The Dollar Store is Extremely Helpful
Don’t think you have to buy everything from a teacher’s store. You’re dealing with small ones here who will be hard on their supplies. There are lots of treasures to be found at the Dollar Store for a great price: pencils, craft supplies, flashcard sets, simple toys, and more!
Your Mindset is the Most Important Factor
More than anything, make sure your mindset is right. Your child is young and you are working with them on a preschool level. At this age, they’re growing so fast that it can physically hurt for them to sit still for too long, so build in lots of activities where they can move and learn all at the same time.
Their attention span is short, but they are little sponges! Your child will absorb so much of what you teach them. So have fun with it! Enjoy the process. And don’t get discouraged if they don’t listen perfectly.
Keep in mind that no child sits down and does things perfectly right away. Be okay with imperfection! Be okay with the mess! Creating the mess and cleaning it up together is, in itself, a part of learning.
One more very important thing: You can do this! You are your child’s momma. You know what’s best for them. If starting a fun curriculum like this is what’s best for you and your child, then go for it! And don’t let anyone discourage you.
Remember, stay true to why you’re doing what you’re doing, and it will be so much easier to stay focused on your purpose and your goal.
You’ve got this!
If you haven’t gotten your free Grow with Me Guide, enter your name and email into the form just below and your guide will be headed to your inbox! Trust me, you won’t want to miss the practical resources packed in this simple guide!
- The Importance of Knowing Your Homeschooling Inspiration
- Why Is Reading With Your Kids So Important?
- How To Make Reading Fun and Interesting
- Difficult Decisions: Homeschooling is not for the Faint of Heart…
- The One-Room Schoolhouse Approach
Elizabeth Tatham, founder of Inspiration in the Everyday, is a homeschooling momma of 5 who loves helping other homeschooling mommas create a unique homeschooling adventure your kids will love…without the overwhelm! Join in on the journey with 7 simple steps to make your homeschooling day go faster, easier, and with less tears here.