This year we started a new adventure…..homeschooling. I am not new to the concept as I was homeschooled from middle school through graduation. However, I really never thought I would have the patience to actually teach my own kids at home. When it became clear that this was something my husband really wanted (it is rare for him to set his mind on something) I started looking into it again.
After much research and reading I decided we would proceed. If it was just my son I think the thought would not have been so overwhelming because we have basically been doing school at home ever since he was big enough to speak. However, I knew his two year old sister would be in the mix as well and a few months after that a newborn arriving on the scene. I did not want to jump into this blindly and have my son’s education suffer. The one thing that is most important through all this is my kid’s education. I do want the best for them.
Since it was so important to me to be prepared I spent a lot of prep time trying to figure out my course of action. We are only five weeks into this so I am sure to have more to share later on this topic, but for now here are some examples of things around my house.
Prescoolers and Peace is a great blog that introduced an idea called circle time. Circle time can be modified to fit into your schedule and plan and you can use it however you want. The thing I like about it is that it introduces teaching the child to sit still and listen. Of course this can be a real challenge with a toddler. I have started out expecting just ten minutes for my two year old to either sit in my lap or in her high chair while I read. I will warn you the first few weeks were rough. She probably cried, wiggled or screamed down for the first five minutes at least and it was really hard to read over her. But, I feel so strongly that this is a skill that is missing now days that I was determined to stick it out. It does get better. Yesterday, we actually went about fifteen minutes with her being relatively content. I don’t expect her to be quiet because toddlers just don’t be completely quiet at this stage. Also, I do try to give her things to do while she is listening. We have puzzles, coloring sheets, cut and paste activities, and blocks. Some days these will entertain her a while. Some days she throws them down. On those days she just has to sit there. Slowly she is figuring out that this is part of her routine. I remember reading somewhere long ago that after fourteen days you have established a habit. So be consistent in this and stick it out.
Circle time can be whatever you want it to be. We use it for reading stories, our memory work, some songs, and just starting the day off. For more ideas check out Preschoolers and Peace.
After about ten or fifteen minutes of sitting I will let her down. Sometimes, I will let her down to choose what she wants to play with. However, if I find that she is using that time to get into things she should not be, then I put her in her playpen. Sometimes I put her in there with toys or sometimes I pick short movies like Baby Einstein. This will usually allow me another thirty minutes or so of uninterrupted time.
Preparation is the biggest thing you can do to save yourself frustration. Even though it means more work upfront, it helps keep things running smoother in the long run. I try to have several things laid out on the table for her to do every day. At this stage their attention span is still short so you may have to have several things prepared. I try to have one craft for her to do with my help and then I vary up the toys from day to day so she is not doing the same thing.
Some ideas of good toys to keep them busy are: Playdough, building blocks, stickers and paper, puzzles, shape sorters, stackadoos, markers and paper, and fingerpaints.
Also, some extra fun things we do: I lay out a plastic tablecloth and let her use different Tupperware, funnels, and spoons to play with things like rice or dried beans. Cut a slit in the top of a container and let them put small items in it. (I use poker chips because they are bigger than pennies, but flat enough to fit) Another fun thing is to let them have a spray bottle with water and a cloth. They can wash windows or spray plants.
It doesn’t matter what you pick. I search the internet a lot for ideas. The main thing is to decide what activities you are going to do before school starts so you are not running around gathering items during school.
Keep in mind that there are some days that there is going to be fussing no matter how much you prepare…..that is the fun part about toddlers. However, being prepared goes a long ways to minimize frustration.