Early Childhood Homeschooling Made Easy

Taking teaching and your child's future into your own hands.

Teaching your child at home

on September 5, 2012

When it comes to learning, I like to think outside the box.  I don’t think learning is just about sitting in a classroom with a teacher and 10 – 30 other students.  I think learning is something that can be done in a variety of settings, in different ways.  I want my daughter to be able to look at the world around her and see all the possibilities.  I want her to be excited about learning something new.  I want her to be able to learn about things that interest her, and spend less time on things that we are just expected to learn.

In our society, we tend to be very hung up on the traditional way of learning.  We all went to school five days a week and were taught in a classroom setting.  It is reinforced to us year after year that this way of learning is the “best” way to learn.  From the time our kids are toddlers, people start to expect us to send them to daycare or preschool.  We are told that this is the “best” way to be socialized, learn to share, and learn to follow directions.  We all accept the strict guidelines set in stone by our local schools.  We don’t question whether this is the best situation for our children.

I am a strong believer that learning should be an exciting experience for kids.  Kids should want to learn.  They should enjoy learning, and seek out more information.  Kids should be able to explore subjects that catch their interest.  They should be able to have lots of hands-on learning experiences.  Kids should not have to be stuck in a classroom setting everyday.  I believe parents can teach their kids just as much at home, as they would learn in a traditional school environment.  We have the power to teach our kids so much more by giving them individual attention, and by using the world around us.

Why should kids have to sit in a classroom watching a video about animals, or just reading about them in books?  Why not take your kids on trips to a petting zoo, to a farm, to a horse riding stable, or a big zoo?  Your kids don’t have to be limited to one or two field trips a year.  You can take your kids on weekly/monthly field trips to places around where you live.  Your kids don’t have to be limited to subjects taught in traditional schools.  If your kids loves nature, you can sign them up for a class at your local nature center.  If you’re worried about your kids not having enough socialization, you can sign your kids up for tons of classes offered locally.  Some of them may not cost much, or may even be free.  We don’t have to limit our kids to doing what is done in traditional schools.  We can sign them up for dance classes, horse riding lessons, and junior farm camp.  We can take our kids to the local library for storytime where they get to sing, dance, read books, and do crafts.  You can sign your child up for classes through your local park district.  Some towns have special groups for kids who are being homeschooled.  These groups offer special activities, outings, and field trips.  Our local libraries even have special resources for homeschoolers.  There are a vast number of ways a child can learn, and it is up to us as parents to find new ways to teach our children about the world around them.

I was never someone who understood traditional school.  I was fortunate enough that I had a stay-at-home mom, so I didn’t have to attend daycare or preschool when I was little.  When I entered kindergarten, I liked my teacher and some aspects of school, but I found the experience stressful.  Your day is mapped out.  You do activities at a certain time, read books at a certain time, sing songs at a certain time, etc.  I was a very happy little kid, and quite the ham when I was at home around family and friends.  But I never did like having to speak/read in front of a group of people.  This has been a source of stress throughout my life, and I remember being 5-years-old and stressing about having to read a book outloud during circle time.  Learning should be fun and exciting.  It shouldn’t be stressful.  It shouldn’t give a child anxiety.  Learning should be something kids want to do.  I went through school constantly dreading things.  Don’t get me wrong, I was a good student.  I got good grades and was always on the honor roll.  But I dreaded school.  I hated giving speeches.  I hated being called on in class.  I hated taking subjects that I knew I’d have no use for in everyday life.  I hated spending so many hours a day in school, then going home and spending a few more hours doing homework.  I hated that the things I was interested in weren’t offered at my school.  I even hated gym class.  I was a petite girl, so I was expected to be good at gymnastics and running, etc.  I am not very athletic.  The things I was good at, aren’t things that are taught at traditional schools.  You don’t get to take dance for gym class when you attend a traditional school.  Instead, you are expected to play baseball, run track, do gymnastics, etc.  If you aren’t good at those things, it will affect your gym grade.  I hated all of those rigid guidelines about what and how you’re supposed to learn.  They didn’t suit me at all.

I was lucky that my parents allowed me to be homeschooled for my second semester of 8th grade.  I went through junior high (middle school) telling my parents how much I hated my school and classes.  I would literally be sick to my stomach in the morning before school everyday.  I felt depressed.  I was no longer the happy kid I used to be when I was younger.  I eventually started suggesting that they let me stay home and be homeschooled.  At first, they thought the idea was crazy.  We had never known anyone who was homeschooled.  It was something you’d hear about, but no one seemed to actually do it.  I kept pushing the issue.  The night before I was supposed to return to school after Christmas break, I begged my parents to consider it.  They were worried I would miss my friends and that I would change my mind after a few weeks.  They were worried that I might not be where I need to be academically for entering high school the following year.  I promised that I had given it a lot of thought and believed I could do it.  They listened.  I never went back to school for the rest of my 8th grade year.  My parent’s went up to the school and talked to them about homeschooling.  They agreed to let me be homeschooled through the school.  They filled out paperwork, sent in information to the state, and brought home textbooks and lesson plans.  Since I was being allowed to do it through the school, they provided the textbooks and provided some ideas of lesson plans to follow.  They basically let us know what things would have been covered if I was still attending my regular classes everyday.  Together, my mom and I sat down with the lesson plans and decided what were the most important things to cover.  We put together an outline of subjects and what I would cover in each subject for the rest of the school year.  We also decided on other, less traditional, things for me to do.  I was able to sign up for a dance class at a local dance studio.  My mom agreed to teach me about cooking and baking.  I was allowed to pick books that I enjoyed reading to do book reports.  My mom, who babysat kids out of our home, informed me that I would be involved in daily hands-on childcare as part of my homeschooling.  I cannot tell you how much these non-traditional ways of learning benefited my life.  I enjoyed being homeschooled.  I wish I had done it from an earlier age.

I did stick to my plan of attending high school with my friends the following year.  In a lot of ways, I would have preferred to continue being homeschooled, but there were certain things I was looking forward to in high school.  I was on the color guard squad, and later joined the pom pons squad.  I wrote for the school newspaper.  Most of all, I was scared that if I didn’t attend a regular high school, I would not be able to get into the college I wanted.  I’m not sure how much it would have affected my chances of getting into a good school, but it was definitely something I worried about back then.  (We’re talking the mid to late 90’s.)  I had some good times in high school, but I don’t think I learned anything there that I couldn’t have learned at home.

I loved my experience with being homeschooled.  I was no longer stressed out.  I had the freedom to pursue subjects that I was interested in, not just what the school decided I should learn.  I no longer had hours of homework to do.  I would read my lessons, do related activities and assignments, and do non-traditional lessons during the day.  Then I had the late afternoon and evening to spend time with my family and friends.

There were a lot of people in my life that were afraid that homeschooling would put me behind the other kids.  I entered high school in honors classes and had no problems keeping up.  I was on the honor roll throughout high school.  I could have graduated high school early because I had all the credits I needed to graduate by the end of my first semester of my senior year.

Now, I am 32 years old and the mother of a beautiful little girl who is almost two years old.  Since she was born, I have only worked out of the house.  I am pretty much a stay-at-home mom now.  I watch my 3-year-old nephew a few times a week, for free.  I have a passion for teaching my daughter new things.  I love the fact that she gets so excited about learning new things, and wants to learn more.  I’ve been reading books to her since she was born.  My husband used to think I was nuts for reading to a newborn baby.  I insisted that even though she didn’t understand what I was reading to her, she was still learning from it.  I was introducing her to new words and to colorful pictures.  As she got older, it was obvious that she has a true love for books.  She wants to be read to all day long.  If we have books out, she will keep bringing them to us to read.  At night, I typically read between 10-15 books to her before bed…and she still wants more.  From the time she turned one, I’ve been doing flash cards with her.  She will ask to do “cards” at night because she enjoys looking at the pictures and naming what she sees.  At about 8 months old, I started having her do some craft projects with her cousin, especially around the holidays.  At 21 months old, I started taking her on early learning websites to introduce her to new ways of learning.  I also started having her do puzzles.  She watches educational TV shows (as well as non-educational shows) some during the day.  We will sit together with matching games and put the matching cards together.  She is too young to play the actual matching game, but with all the cards facing up, she is able to pick out the matching cards and put them in a pile.  I like to sing songs with her, dance, do fingerplays, and even do yoga.  I take her to storytime at the local libraries.  And soon, we’ll be taking some classes together through our local park districts.  My husband and I have taken her to the zoo, to the county fair, to apple orchards, to petting zoos, to kiddie amusement parks, and to festivals.  I am constantly striving to introduce her to new things, and to reinforce things she has already learned.

My goal is to make learning fun for my daughter.  I don’t want it to be a source of stress.  I love to see her eyes light up when she’s just discovered something new.  I never want to see that light go out of her eyes.  I am constantly thinking of new ways to teach her, and researching places in our area where I can take her.  Learning does not have to take place in a classroom.  We, as parents, can find hundreds of ways to teach our children new things on a daily basis.  You can bake a cake with your child, and teach them about measurements and counting.  It’s that simple to introduce your child to new things in an interesting way.

I understand that some parents have to work full-time and don’t have the time to teach their kids at home.  I even understand that some parents don’t have the patience to teach their own children.  But if you are someone who has the time and the patience, please consider taking your child’s future into your own hands.

I started this blog to share some of my experiences with other parents.  I will be sharing personal stories, as well as activities I do with my daughter and nephew.  I will cover songs, fingerplays, craft projects, flash cards, yoga time activities, early learning websites, etc.  I will discuss lesson plans for young children.  I will share information about local classes offered for young children and their parents.  I will even talk about toys and TV shows that help with the teaching process.

This site is dedicated to early childhood homeschooling ideas.  I hope to hear from other parents who teach their kids at home, whether they homeschool their kids or do supplemental learning.  This is a place to share thoughts, ideas, and opinions about homeschooling young children.  We can discuss what works and what doesn’t work.  We can discuss why some kids love a certain activity, while another kid hates it.  This site is a place for parents to share experiences and learn from one another.  I am not a teacher.  I am just a normal mom who wants the best education for my child…I just happen to believe I can provide that education.

Let’s get our children excited about learning…and let’s start by teaching our children at home.


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