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Homeschooling can be intimidating for a new homeschool parent. I know when I first started planning to homeschool my three-year-old daughter Marie, I was reading all the Pinterest posts, watching all the YouTube videos, and reading books on homeschooling.
I bought my first curriculum, bought a small desk for my daughter, posters, a whiteboard, and started building my little classroom. I spent quite a lot of money on all these things. The first day of school rolls around and my daughter is having fun, but can't focus or sit still. My one and a half-year-old son is running around, getting into things, pulling posters off the walls. Internally I was screaming and frustrated. Why wasn't this working out like I thought it would?
Change Your Outlook
Probably the best thing I purchased is the book The Brave Learner: Finding Everyday Magic in Homeschool, Learning, and Life by Julie Bogart. This book has changed my perspective on educating my kids.
Children, especially the toddler age just want to play and have fun. Their attention span is short, their interests change constantly, playing is like their job.
You need to change your outlook on your child. They view the world as one big learning experience. Everything is a toy, anything can be made into a game, and their imagination is their greatest tool. Learn to step into their world, instead of trying to make them grow up into yours.
Don't Be Afraid to Change Things Up
After the first few days doing homeschool my way, I realized I needed to change things up. I knew my son would be running around like a mad man, so I sat him in his chair and gave him his breakfast and some screen time. While he was occupied, I then took my daughter into our little homeschool room and did our daily routine. (day of the week, letter of the day, colors all that basic stuff, or circle time.)
After we finished our daily circle time I grabbed her workbook, our craft caddy, reading for the day, and brought it to the kitchen table. I like to involve my son as much as possible, even if he is only one and a half. So we do storytime together, as well as workbooks.
Both of my children love it when I read books to them. My base curriculum is The Year Of Tales Preschool which revolves around the Beatrix Potter books. You can read more about my curriculum in my blog post Pre-K Homeschool Curriculum for 2020. My daughter loves bunnies, so it's not hard to get her to focus while I read.
When we're finished reading daughter works on some tracing practice or letter practice, my son colors in a coloring book. My kids love art, and any chance they can get to break out the art caddie. If they get bored, I don't force them to keep going. Forcing your preschooler to keep going, when they are bored will only frustrate them and make them never want to do it again.
It's ok to change things up, and veer off your plan for the day. Young kids need to be able to change activities and follow their interests. These can be great opportunities for further learning.
Play Is A Child's Work
Just how we as adults have our jobs, a kid's job is to play. When a kid plays they learn so many skills. Blocks can help with architecture skills, problem-solving, and creativity. A dollhouse can teach social interactions, creativity, imagination, and more. Playing outside they get exercise, can explore nature, play with bugs, and pretend garden.
You as the parent need to see these opportunities and use them as a source of education. The child is already enjoying the activity, why not use it as a tool for educating a little.
However, that being said don't interrupt them or correct them during hard play. When you are deeply concentrating on a task, don't you get frustrated when interrupted? How about when your super proud of something you've created and then someone corrects you? Your child is a human being with real emotions, interests, and thoughts. Sometimes we treat them like dolls we make do what we want. You need to realize that playtime is like work time and to respect their play. When they are playing with a toy in a different way, don't criticize them but watch how they go about it differently, and encourage them.
You Don't Need to Break the Bank
This is something I learned first hand. I was the new homeschool mom who bought ALL the things. I bought super cheap dollar spot things, and I splurged on a curriculum and printing it nicely as well as classroom decor. Falling into the rabbit hole of 'My Homeschool Classroom Tours' on YouTube, I wanted to have the picture-perfect classroom right off the bat.
Now I use my curriculum mostly as a guide or to spice things up. We barely spend time in the dedicated classroom, and my favorite supplies are the workbooks I found in the Target dollar spot and kids book area. I would say don't splurge on supplies, buy a few different cheaper supplies, test the waters, and find what your kid enjoys. Then once you have tried a few things, dipped your toes in, and have a good idea of how your child likes to learn, now you can go and buy a few nice things knowing it's more likely your kid will enjoy them.
Preschool is still full of free play, fun, and adventure. Don't throw out the magic of being a kid by forcing your toddler to do it the 'public school way'. The magic of homeschool is that you know your child better than anyone, and you get to explore your child individually and nurture their strengths while helping with their weaknesses. Homeschool is all about the freedom of education and keeping the magic of learning alive. So don't stress let your child lead you, and have fun learning in new amazing ways. I have learned so much looking at the world through my children's eyes.
I hope this helped you to look at homeschooling a preschooler a bit differently, and maybe brought some magic back into your education. Being a parent is hard enough, taking on the role of an educator is brave. However, the rewards are far greater, and it truly is a magical experience to share with your child. You can learn just as much from them as they can from you.
If you have more tips, advice, and techniques on homeschooling a toddler or preschooler feel free to share in the comments section. Or message me on my social media listed below.