It can be overwhelming trying to get started with homeschool at any stage, but especially with young children. If you are feeling stuck or unsure where to start, I hope you find encouragement in the following tips.
1. ESTABLISH A ROUTINE
I wrote all about routines here. Primarily the predictability and repetition found in routines teach children how to manage themselves, helps them make sense of the world around them, and allows children to focus more on playing and learning. And itâ€™s helpful for the parents to have some structure to rely on when running a home.
2. READ! READ! READ!
If you take away one thing, let it be this. READ! Reading to your child is critical in building language and literacy skills, along with a long list of other amazing benefits, including but not limited to exercising imagination, bonding experience between you and your child, learning about the world around them, and building listening skills. I could go on and on about reading, but thatâ€™s for a later post. To help your child form the intrinsic motivation to read, pick books around their interest and model reading to them; show your kids that reading is an enjoyable experience and not a chore.
3. HANDS-ON ACTIVITIES
Children learn in all sorts of ways, and for most preschool-aged children, tactile learning is beneficial because it allows them to learn through various senses. Hands-on activities combine cognitive and physical education, providing methods that improve children’s concentration and learning capacity. This type of environment not only helps with social and fine motor skills, but it also endorses learning through play, as the activities are engaging and interactive, making children more willing to participate.
I cannot stress the importance of allowing time for your child to play. Iâ€™ve mentioned in other posts, and my children play about 90% of the day. We have our routines, but we are very flexible when it comes to a schedule. I like to allow my kids to play freely, without any time constraints (unless we need to get out of the house for a commitment) because there is so much to explore through their play and imaginations. I rarely interrupt them, and once they take a break, I come in with our lessons and more structured learning. The more they play, the more I see their curiosity grow, and the more they are eager to know and learn.
5. FOLLOW YOUR CHILDS CUES
There are some days when my kids are just not interested in doing school. With my girls, if they are showing signs ofÂ boredom or disinterest, I try to get them more involved with the lesson (holding the book, leading a song, playing the teacher, etc..) If my kids continue to shut down, I will do the following; with Penny (3), I will usually just let her go off and do her own thing as long as she is not a distraction. When I struggle with Amelie (4), because she is a little older and developing better listening skills,Â I will just shorten the lesson or activity.Â If your child continues to show disinterest multiple days in a row, look to switch up your approach or material. Take into account other factors like tiredness or hunger, and maybe work around times that will best avoid these issues. There are some days where nobody is in the mood (myself included), and we just skip altogether. I don’t do this often, but sometimes mental health trumps all. Remember, itâ€™s supposed to be fun, and if you and your child are not enjoying what you are doing, don’t be afraid to change your approach to meet your familyâ€™s needs best.Â
Music offers so many incredible benefits to early childhood development. Music is a fun way to enhance your child’s growth from literacy and language skills to coordination and sensory development. Plus, I don’t know about you, but it always seems to lift their moods whenever I put music on for my kids. We especially love to do all of this by making music praying twice, as it includes a mixture of tonalities, meters, music styles, voices, movement, dance activities, and instruments.
7. INCLUDE YOUR CHILDâ€™s INTEREST
Itâ€™s simple; just like with reading, if what you are teaching your child relates to their interests, chances are they will be more receptive, and even excited to learn. The curriculum we use Playing Preschool includes themed units. I supplement our lessons with topics my kids love to learn about ( Amelie is very into horses and princesses, so any chance we get to incorporate those into our lessons she is pretty excited.) To learn more about our preschool curriculum check out my post here.
8. USE YOUR HOME AS THE CLASSROOM
I know many families operate best with homeschooling in a designated area; for us, thatâ€™s not the case. We end up doing our lessons all over our home (usually in the kitchen, playroom, or living room.) Also, learning at home goes beyond just structured lessons, see everyday tasks and moments as learning experiences. Whether its an argument between siblings, helping with dinner prep, or chores around the home – those are all valuable teaching experiences and life lessons to consider.
9. MODEL THE BEHAVIOR YOU WANT TO SEE
Parents are a child’s first teacher, and one of the biggest pros of homeschooling is that your child is learning from mostly from YOU. And as most of us know, its monkey see monkey do with young children, so we want to make sure that we are good role models. Display the virtues you want to see in your child and curiosity, and eagerness to learn. If you want your child to love reading, then read! If you want your child to be kind and polite, then be kind and polite! If you want your child to be excited about learning, show excitement for learning! Thatâ€™s a lot of pressure on parents, and we are all human, so nobody is going to be perfect, but we can teach our children to strive for the goodness we wish to see in the world by demonstrating it right in our homes.
10. HAVE FUN AND RELAX!
Remember, learning is supposed to be an enjoyable experience! Toddlers will throw tantrums; they will have big feelings; things will not always go according to plan – don’t sweat the small stuff and relax. Don’t worry about getting every detail aligned or the perfect Pinterest craft done. If your kids see you enjoying yourself, they will follow your lead (most of the time.) Read, play, and hands-on activities – do those three things, and you’re rocking it!