Early Childhood Homeschooling Made Easy

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

Yes, toddlers can be homeschooled too. It’s not just for older kids.

on September 9, 2012

My daughter, Kayla, at the penguin exhibit at Brookfield Zoo in Illinois.

Ever since my daughter was born, I’ve had people ask me questions about daycare.  Do I plan on putting her in daycare?  Will I put her in daycare when she’s X age?  Am I concerned that she will not learn as much since she’s not in daycare?  Am I worried she won’t learn how to socialize or how to share?  Most people did not seem to like my answers.

When I was working from home, people would ask me if I considered putting her in daycare for a few hours while I’m working.  My answer would be that the whole reason I’m working from home is so I can be with her more.  It would defeat the purpose if I sent her to daycare.  I wanted to work from home so I could eliminate commuting from my day, and so I could see her on my breaks and lunch.  I was still able to feed her breakfast, lunch, and dinner pretty much everyday.  That was really important to me when she was just starting to eat baby food.  I wanted to be there to feed her myself and watch her as she tried new foods.  I wanted to experience everything with her.  If she was having an issue, like when she got her first cold, I felt better knowing I was just in the basement if she needed anything.  My husband and my mom watched her while I worked.  We were easily able to work out a schedule that worked for all of us.  (And it was an extra bonus not to have to PAY for daycare.)

When I stopped working from home and decided to take some classes to pursue a new career, people asked if I thought about putting her in daycare while I studied.  Um, no.  I decided to go with an online school so that I wouldn’t have to be out of the house for classes.  I wanted to be able to study from home so I wouldn’t have to be away from my daughter.  My mom agreed to watch Kayla if I needed some study time.  Otherwise, I was able to study while Kayla took naps, when she was playing with her toys, or after she went to bed at night.  I worked my schedule around her.  People seemed shocked that I didn’t even consider putting her in daycare a few days a week.  My question to them would be, why should I spend the money to put her in daycare when I’m at home?  It seemed silly to me.

Now that my daughter is about to turn two soon, I am again getting the questions about daycare.  Do I plan to put her in daycare some to get her ready for preschool?  Do I plan to put her in preschool when she’s 3-years-old or 4-years-old?  They want to know if I’ve given it any thought because they don’t want her to be unprepared for kindergarten.  Sigh…

I think the issue here is that people don’t understand that I am teaching my daughter at home.  No, she is not attending daycare, but she is being homeschooled every single day.  And no, I probably won’t be sending her to preschool outside of the home because I will be homeschooling her.  Will she go to kindergarten outside of the home?  Maybe.  I really don’t know for sure yet.  She’ll be almost 6-years-old when she would be allowed to start kindergarten, so we still have 4 years before a decision has to be made.  There is no rush to make a decision like that right now.  For now, I have taken my child’s learning into my own hands.  I am happy to say that she has a very large vocabulary, and she seems to be developing very well.  She is on target or advanced for her age in all areas.  That’s not just my point of view, that is what I’ve been told by her doctor.  She is doing extremely well for her age, especially since she was born a month early.  She has never been behind developmentally at all since she was born, which has been a relief.  It is a daily adventure watching how much she changes and the things she picks up.  She is around her cousin, who is 3-years-old, a few times a week.  She has been around him a few times a week since she was born, so I am not worried she is not learning to socialize and share.

I read to her every single day.  I’ve been reading to her since she was born.  And ever since she was about 8 months old, we read 10-15 books before bed.  No, they are not super long books.  Just your regular board books and toddler friendly books.  She also brings me books throughtout the day to read to her.  This has contributed a lot to her large vocabulary.  I do flash cards with her.  She watches educational shows like Super Why, Sesame Street, WordWorld, etc.  She has a ton of learning toys.  We match pictures from memory games.  We go on early learning websites.  We do arts and craft projects together.  We go to the park.  I take her in her kiddie pool.  We decorate cookies, make smoothies, and have our own garden.  We sing songs together, dance together, do fingerplays, and do yoga.  I take her to the local libraries and to storytime.  I have signed us up for classes to take together, like Music, Movement, and Me.  We’ve taken her to the zoo, to a kiddie amusement park, to the county fair, to carnivals, and festivals.  I take her to Chuck E Cheese’s and to other kid friendly places.  We go shopping, out to eat, and we run errands together.  I talk to her constantly, and have since she was born.  My husband used to look at me like I was nuts when she was a newborn and I was talking to her and asking her questions.  I told him that is how she will learn.  It is essential to talk to your child.  I have a stockpile of craft materials, learning tools, books, flash cards, computer games, DVDs, etc.  You would think I was seriously starting a school out of our home.  I actually order stuff from stores for teachers so I have the proper tools to teach her.  My child is attending school.  She is attending a homeschool.

My best friend is a teacher, and her mom is a retired teacher, so I have also received materials and advice from them on ways to help Kayla learn.  I’ve done extensive research online, and even own a book or two about toddler activities.  I am a planner, a researcher, a reader, and a writer…so I am all over this.

I think people tend to forget that anyone can do the things that are done in daycare.  You can teach your own child to sing songs, to do fingerplays, and to draw pictures.  You can use flash cards at home.  You can buy the same books they read at daycare, and read them at home.  You can buy brightly colored, toddler sized furniture.  You can teach your child sign language.  You can buy a kiddie yoga DVD or book, and teach your child how to do yoga.  You can sign your child up for for fun classes in your area to get them out of the house, involved in something, and around other kids.  They don’t have to be in daycare to learn to socialize.  They don’t need to be in daycare to learn.

If you are a parent who has to work and you don’t have family/friends who can watch your kids, then yes, I completely understand why daycare is your choice.  But for those of us who have the option to stay home with our kids, we have the unique opportunity to teach our kids at home.  Think about all the bonding you will do with your child by teaching them at home.  Toddlers learn just from playing.  Buy a tea set and have tea parties.  That teaches them about pretend play.  Buy some blocks and build together.  Cut up some fresh fruit and let them put it in the blender for you so you can make fresh smoothies together.  This is great for starting to teach them about a healthy diet, as well as, about the names of different fruits.  Kids learn from the world around them, so why not take advantage of that?

I am not trying to be preachy in any way.  I simply believe that kids learn everyday from regular daily activities, from playing with toys, and from being introduced to new things.  These are all things we can easily do at home.

So the next time someone asks me if I plan to put my child in daycare, and they seem concerned that I am not considering it, I will tell them all the ways I teach my child at home.  Even young children can be taught at home.  And who can possibly be a better teacher than you?

Kayla and my nephew, Alex, doing kiddie yoga.

Another day where Kayla and I were doing yoga together, just the two of us.

Kayla at Brookfield Zoo. She absolutely loves monkeys.

Kayla and I petting a horse at the county fair.

This picture is from 2011. My nephew, Alex, decorating cookies. He was 2 1/2 at the time of this picture.

Kayla doing a holiday craft project in December 2011. She was almost 13 months old in this picture.

Alex doing a holiday craft in December 2011 with help from one of my friends.

How do you teach your toddler at home?  Why did you decide to keep your child at home, instead of sending them to daycare or preschool?  I would love to hear from other parents out there.

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