Simple Home School Starter Guide
I love teaching my daughter at home. I was home schooled until grade 5. My Mum was so creative that she constantly had crafts and things for us kids to do and learn. I totally have her to thank for my creativity and desire to teach my own children. Ever since my daughter was little I have been making little worksheets and crafts for her to do to help her learn and grow.
Recently she participated in a study on toddler development and (not to brag but.. okay, I'm totally bragging) she scored the highest out of all the children in Vancouver and surrounding area. I am such a proud Mama. After posting the results of her study on my Instagram a number of Mom's contacted me asking what I do with her on a daily basis to teach her. The simplest answer I replied with was "I home school her." It can be hard finding the best way to teach your child. Homeschooling can seem like such a big task but I'm here to reassure you it is much simpler than you think and is so rewarding. Here are a few steps to get you started.
Find a Curriculum
It's important to find a lesson plan that works for you. Something that fits the age of your child and works with your schedule. Habitat Schoolhouse is our favourite preschool curriculum. I am someone who loves nature and animals and this curriculum is based on the natural world around us. It also encourages a love of learning and curiosity. You can read more about the homeschool curriculum we use by clicking here.
Figuring out what to teach your child is as simple as, asking your self "What do you want your child to be able to do?" I think educationally, my should know their letters and numbers, they should know shapes and colour and be continually growing their vocabulary. Socially, I want them to be able to play and interact with other children and adults. Emotionally I want her to be able to express and understand feelings. Practically, I think my child should be able to use the washroom properly, brush their teeth, the list goes on.
On top of things you think are healthy for your child to learn there are some standards that children should learn before starting Kindergarten. They should be able to count to twenty, can listen to and follow direction, can recognize and complete patterns, knows the alphabet, ect. A complete list of things your child needs to know before kindergarten can be found here.
You won't need to go out and spend a ton of money on fancy materials. You will likely have most of what you need in your home already. Things like crayons, scissors, blocks, puzzles etc. What you may not have already and want to get are play dough, flashcards, stickers and a chalkboard. You want your child to be able to be creative and develop their fine motor skills so a lot of hands on activities and crafts are great.
Something as simple as making a pile out of spoons from the kitchen and a couple pairs of sock can be a great learning activity for your child. Have your toddler sort the pile you created into two different piles, one of socks and one of spoons. Something as simple as identifying and classifying objects is a great activity for toddlers. Not only are they using motor functions to physically move the objects but they also need to develop the ability to sort them based on similarities and differences which is beneficial to their cognitive development. This is just something I came up with on the spot with household items you already have.
If you aren't someone who can come up with activities for your child Pinterest is a great place to start or going through and picking a curriculum that has activities and lessons pre-planned for you is a fantastic idea.
Get Into a Routine
Kids thrive off of familiarity and routine. It's a good idea to get into the habit of doing a few structured lessons from your home school curriculum every day. If you aren't a scheduled person then doing at least 30 minutes to an hour of teaching every week is a great place to start.
Like I mentioned above, we do home school lessons every day to practice that familiarity and establish a routine. BUT we don't do things at a specific time every day. As a toddler parent, I'm sure you can understand that plans can be changed, pushed and forgotten at a moments notice. So rather than stressing to do our reading at exactly 9 am every day we do things in order throughout the day. Whether our day starts at 8 am or 10 am we have an order in which we do things.
Our Easy Preschool Routine
- Breakfast / Free Play
- Read a book
- A Block - Structured Activities From Our Homeschool Curriculum
- Independent Activities
- Quiet Time
- B Block - Structured Activities From Our Homeschool Curriculum
- Outside Time / Free Play
Typically I wake up before my toddler and have a cup of coffee and scroll my Instagram and Facebook. She wakes shortly after 8 and has breakfast. She will often finish eating before I am so she has some free play before we start our scheduled activities and lessons. We start with reading a book that goes along with the day's lessons. If we are learning about the letter A we will read a book containing a higher number of As in it to familiarize her with the letter. Each of the lessons in the home school curriculum we use has a reading list to choose from.
After we finish a few short lessons* she chooses an activity to do on her own. She often chooses to colour, paint or do a puzzle. While she is doing her independent activity I will make lunch. After eating it is nap time. She has started phasing out naps but I still put her in her crib with a book or two for some quiet time. Sometimes I get lucky and she will fall asleep reading to herself.
*Note: each lesson lasts 5 - 15 minutes. They are kept short to keep your toddler engaged and interested. It's a good idea to have the lesson last as long as your child is focused and learning. It's important to encourage your child to be interested and do their best. I would rather my daughter draw the letter A really well three times than write out a page of 20 A's that get sloppy because she is bored or tired of doing it.
After her nap / quiet time we finish up a lesson or two from her home school curriculum then head outside for free time and to explore the outdoors. The Habitat Schoolhouse curriculum we us has field trip day every Friday which my daughter really looks forward to. We visit the aquarium, head to the library or just get out to a local park where she likes to go down the slide a hundred times.
You can't go Wrong
I hope this has encouraged you to home school your own child. It is so rewarding to see them learn and grow. I want you to know there is no right way or wrong way to home school your child. You can't mess it up. As long as they've learned something at the end of the day you've done your job. As a parent you are constantly helping shape and mold them so why not start home schooling them. Who knows, maybe you'll love teaching them preschool and then decide to teach them Kindergarten next year too!
More information on the preschool curriculum we use can be found on our Home School Page here. I am currently looking for moms who are interested in trying out a weeks worth of lessons for free. Please email me firstname.lastname@example.org to get your free lesson!