I haven't written on the subject of homeschooling here on BEBBlog before. I was homeschooled through high school and then went to college. I can't say I loved the whole experience, but it wasn't completely horrible either. I do appreciate the education my mom worked hard to give me and it has made me consider homeschooling my own son.
About the author: Kathi is the mother of four young adults. She studied early childhood education, but unless the grandchildren are visiting, she and her husband spend their days with goat kids instead of the human kind. Check the bottom of this post to find different ways to connect with her!
Children Are Sponges!
Children are little sponges! They absorb everything around them, soaking up experiences and words. You can provide a rich environment for your child to jumpstart his learning and help him to develop language, gross and fine motor skills, concepts and more. It doesn’t cost a penny, just your time and attention.
I’m just touching the tip of the iceberg with this post, giving you some quick pointers on teaching language, math, and concepts. I encourage you to look at your day as an opportunity to teach rather than just a to-do list to get through. Make it enjoyable for both of you.
We teach our toddlers to speak and converse by speaking and conversing with him or her. Talking as you work through the day gives the child background, experience, and knowledge. I know it feels silly sometimes, saying to your baby “I’m going to sweep the floor with the broom now. Oh look, I found the toy we were looking for this morning,” but this is how he learns to talk.
Use rich language with your toddler whenever you can. Instead of saying “do you see the dog?” you might ask “do you see the big brown dog across the street?”
Asking a preschooler questions such as: “would you prefer macaroni and cheese for lunch today, or would you like a peanut butter and jelly sandwich?” encourages an answer that is longer and more complex than just yes or no.
Letters are everywhere. The big bag of cat food in my kitchen has a large “K” in the name – mention it, point to it, trace it with your finger and encourage your child to do the same.
Read to your child. If he’s a wiggler and won’t hold still, read while he eats, when he lays down for a nap, maybe even while he’s in the bathtub.
Sing at home and at church. Many churches have moved from hymnals to the lyrics projected on the walls, but hymnals are such great learning tools that I’m sorry they are all but gone. When mom holds a hymnal for the child, the child learns what musical notes look like, they learn that when the notes go up, so do the voices. By moving your finger from left to right under the words, the child is familiar with the left to right movement when he begins to read. Meter, unison, and rhythm are all taught through music.
Colors, shapes, comparing objects, and understanding opposites are concepts. Many concepts are pre-reading and pre-math skills as well. There are many fun ways you can teach concepts to a young child, such as:
Compare sizes: “this toy is bigger than this one” and “this book is smaller than that one.”
Set a favorite toy on top of the table, then under the table, and talk about behind/in front of, next to/inside, and other “places”.
Call your child’s attention to colors in clothing, toys, books, cereal boxes, flowers, etc.
|Bottle caps represent colors and shapes|
Look for shapes, and encourage your child to trace them with his finger. For example, look for:
Circles: a ball, dinner plate, wheel.
Square: boxes, blocks.
Rectangles: drawer fronts, a sheet of paper, an envelope in the mailbox.
Also look for triangles and ovals and cubes.
Counting, recognizing sequences, and patterns are pre-math skills. When you help your child pick up his toys, count them all. Or count the toy cars. Or the red toy cars. Count steps as you walk. Count M&M’s. Count the yellow M&M’s. Make patterns with M&M’s: red, orange, brown, red, orange, brown. (Then comes my favorite part: eat the M&M’s!)
“After lunch we can go to the library” teaches sequencing to a toddler. For a preschooler, you might list several errands such as going to the bank, then the library, then home for lunch and a nap.
While you fold towels, let your child match the socks into pairs. Besides color, and sometimes patterns, socks also come in big and small. You are also practicing counting to two. When he is old enough to fold washcloths in half and then in half again, you are teaching fractions, shapes, and practicing motor skills.
Believe me, the early years are fleeting and will be gone in the blink of an eye. Have fun with your children and include them in your daily routine, you’ll be teaching them more than just letters and colors and numbers.
Connect with Kathi