Thursday, November 17, 2011

Homeschooling Young Toddlers

Like many homeschooling moms, I have a small child (Charlotte is 14 months old) in addition to my homeschooled preschooler.  Because she wants to be just like her older sister, she also wants to "do school".   Most mornings, when I tell Abigail that it is time for preschool, Charlotte also heads to the table.  Because she is so excited about learning, I plan activities for her.  I started my career as a toddler teacher and have found that experience very beneficial in knowing how to "teach" Charlotte! 

I include Charlotte in our circle time, so she listens to stories, songs, and the bible lesson.  We also use several materials that I have purchased, such as 3-piece puzzles, stacking toys, a bead maze, and toddler crayons.  Additionally, I have created a few tasks for Charlotte to work on and would like to share them with you.  All of these activities work on improving her fine motor and motor planning skills and were created with items that I already had around the house.  Because she is small, Charlotte needs to be supervised when doing any of these tasks.

Task One:
I have given her this bucket of plastic Easter eggs and she puts them in and takes them back out.  This week, I made this task even harder by giving her two containers and having her move the eggs back and forth between the two.  When doing this activity, Charlotte often also spends time opening up the eggs and then trying to close them.

Task Two:
I placed some of Charlotte's favorite small toys inside an old wipes container.  She pulls them out and puts them back in.  This is one of her favorite activities and it is now permanently in her playroom; she does this during free play time multiple times each day!

Task Three:
I give Charlotte a handful of dry beans and a paint cup.  She drops the beans into the top of the cup.  When she does this game, Charlotte often giggles at the sound the beans make as they drop into the cup.

Task Four:
Charlotte drops unsharpened pencils into a water bottle (I have also used an empty milk jug for this task).  Then, she turns the bottle over to get them out.  This is the hardest of the four tasks, but she has quickly figured out how to do it.

In addition to her special tasks during our preschool time, I also do several sensory activities (jello, playdough, cool whip, cooked noodles, paint, etc.) with Charlotte each week.

Because she is very young, I never force Charlotte to participate in preschool and always let her decide which (if any) of the activities I have planned she wants to do.  Charlotte's learning is completely child-led.  I have been very impressed by her progress in her fine motor skills and her desire to learn.  I hope that by including Charlotte in our homeschool and creating specialized activities for her, I am helping to develop her love of learning and her desire to be a lifelong learner!

The options for activities that can be made at home for toddlers are limitless.  Almost every day, I see something in my house that gives me an idea for another task to make for Charlotte (but I never seem to have time to make them all).  How do you incorporate your toddler into your homeschool?

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