We started “formally” homeschooling a few months before my son hit his third birthday! I heard some criticism about starting him too young. Of course, no one would criticize starting preschool at that age.
If you were to ask when I started teaching the Champ, I would reply “at birth.” Children are always learning. And, while worksheets and textbooks are not necessary at a young age, you can teach your child a lot through play.
So, how do you “School” before the age of three?
When I changed the Champ’s diapers as a newborn, I counted the buttons on his pajama’s. Count everyday objects such as toys, place settings at the dinner table, or ducks at the park. When the Coach would swing the Champ on our porch, he would hold the swing and count “1, 2, 3…” before letting the swing go. The Champ was proudly imitating him within weeks.
It is never too early to read to your child. You can introduce books to your baby from the moment he arrives, and babies love to hear their parent’s voices. As your child gets older, you can point out words on buildings, signs, and brochures.
Sing and Dance
Gross motor skills are important to learn. Dancing is a great way for your child to learn how to control his body. Children’s songs are another way to introduce vocabulary and language skills.
Create a Literature Rich Environment
Make sure there are letters and words everywhere around your child. Have children’s books readily available. Hang up letter activities they created in the hallway or their room. Hang up an alphabet chart, calendar, or number chart next to the dinner table so they can ask questions while you are eating.
Go to Activities
Mommy and me classes are great if you can afford them. Many of these classes work on gross motor skills and social skills. If there are none in your area, or you don’t want to pay for them, start a mom’s group or set up play dates. Story time at the library is a great opportunity for your child to work on social behaviors and be introduced to new books. Some libraries even offer puppet shows and craft time.
Playing dress up, toy cookware, toy tools, and other pretend toys are great ways for your child to learn about the world around them. Creative art such as drawing, coloring, painting, and playing with play dough is great for working on fine motor development. Sensory boxes can also help your child work on fine motor skills.
Cook and Clean Together
Assist your child as they work on skills such as pouring and mixing when you are working in the kitchen. Let them help you put clothes in the dryer and fold washcloths when you are folding towels. You can also let them think they are helping. Give them a miniature dust pan and broom while you are cleaning or fill the sink with water and let them “wash” a few dishes. They will slow you down, and they will make a mess. But they are learning and will actually be helping you one day.
Create Independence Learning Opportunities
As soon as your child can dump out a box of toys, you can begin to work on independence skills. Chores such as cleaning up toys, taking clothes to the laundry basket, cleaning up water spills with a towel, and taking dishes to the sink can all be introduced to two year olds. Other skills such as getting dressed, washing hands, and taking off shoes can also be introduced. Do not expect these skills to be mastered, but simply allow your child to have the opportunity to work on them.