Getting our Toddler Started with Homeschooling

Homeschooling – never in my strangest dreams did I have a hint that I’d give this a try until God changed my heart about homemaking, being a stay at home mother, and really setting my heart to becoming intentional in nurturing my family.

One of the things that my husband really pushed me (and still continues to do until now) is homeschooling, or well at least consider it. I think it’s still early to say that we are officially homeschooling Oona, but since I’m always with her, I figured it might be a good time to test the waters and try it out little by little. And so, when she finally turned two – I thought perhaps this is a perfect time to start engaging Oona in play learning, something that would be similar I think to our future homeschool set up. By this time, I started becoming more intentional in setting up our environment for learning, getting her learning-inducing items, and purposefully injecting learning ideas in our daily scenarios. I agree that it’s not all just about toys and material stuff, learning can still be at its optimal state when we become intentional in doing it – spending quality and undivided time with our children and just enjoying our time with them. No matter the physical set up, facilities and materials utilized, and environment present, learning can still be enjoyed.

I know some people would have some issues and hesitations about homeschooling and I totally respect that. To each his own. Whatever works for you and us, so be it. As for our side of the fence, this is something that’s working for us (as we see Oona progresses) but at anytime we feel as her parents that something else would be more favorable for her, we definitely would not hesitate to embrace a new set up. At the end of the day, I pray that we’ll all be supporters of each other’s preferred learning method.

Okay, so for this blog post, I will be sharing some activities and practice where we are able to intentionally guide Oona into play learning or inject learning into play and day-to-day activities. By no means I am a teacher or a professional for this topic; all of these are anecdotal and part of our experience raising our toddler. I think as a parent, you’d be able to perfectly tell what type of learning activities would best fit your child. So yeah, feel free to read through and gather as much ideas as you can and are relevant to you.

Note that these activities do not happen one after the other throughout the day. I try to squeeze in activities for her if I can but generally, we do not force it on her. Best thing we do is just try to enjoy moments with her and just be present with her.

Activity #1: Daily walking and playing around the neighborhood. This practice helps us introduce to Oona the common things that are around us like plants, houses, airplanes, babies, children, etc.

Activity #2: Name that thing thing during car travels. Oona loves car rides and we make this as an opportunity to play the name-that-thing game. ALWAYS. We introduce to her things that she can see around her like cars, trucks, bikes, animals. This is also a good opportunity for us to show her varied colors like red car, white truck, so on and forth. A back story, one time we were driving and we saw a huge truck with pigs inside, Oona was completely fascinated that she wanted us to keep trailing behind the truck and not lose sight of the pigs. From that point on and whenever we ride cars, she would always shout, “Pigs, where are you?” Really funny for all of us. 🙂

Activity #3: Food preparations and cooking. I don’t know if this comes with gender, but Oona is naturally drawn to cooking. As in, anything about cooking. Perhaps because she sees me do this a lot. A lot of times I would catch her stirring makeshift ingredients together, pour milk over a cup, or eat from the toy plate. Having noticed this, I started allowing her to help me stir while I cook (safety observed of course), or hand her over some real cooking utensils so she can pretend play alongside.

Activity #4: House cleaning I think a lot of you would agree that kids are very curious when it comes to holding brooms, dust pans, feather dusters, and the like. So the best way for us to encourage her to do this even more is to ask her to help me out and involve her in the cleaning. She likes to help out when I do the vacuuming, or when I fix the bed, change sheets – pretty much all the house work that she sees me do, she tries to be involved with it. And that I think is a good opportunity for us to introduce/model/teach her house work.

Activity #5: Grocery shopping We love doing this with her. In fact, we intentionally make it an activity for all of us to do the grocery shopping together. Through this activity, we are able to encourage her to make her own choices (food for example), say what she wants, say what she does not want, and ask for permission for the things that she wants us to buy for her.

Activity #6: Daily dancing, singing, and instrument playing. She must have gotten it from me – her adoration and love for dancing, singing, and playing of musical instruments (she loves to do drum tapping). I remember when she was a baby, I would sing and dance in front of her and to her amusement, she’d give me her loudest giggle. Hahaha I know you’d imagine me looking silly. But, it must be that practice that made her love singing and dancing. On a daily basis, I’d play her favorite songs, rhymes, teach her actions, and get on a dancing and singing session with her. She loves it so much that she’d ask me to do it over and over again. Another opportunity for me to train her to say “Please” or “Thank you.”

Activity #7: Buying things (counting items) – this doesn’t have to be the fancy kind of buying things. For us, this can be our time to buy Taho (Soy Milk), Puto (Rice Cake), or things that we normally buy. Involving her with our simple purchases allows us to introduce counting while we model to her giving thanks to God for all the blessings that we receive.

Activity #8: Daily conversations (introducing terms) – we are totally surprised with how talkative and vocal Oona has been with her feelings. Like when she does not want to watch a certain TV show, she’d say, “Ayaw, Elsa.” And say, “I want Baba Sheep.” This may be because we tried talking to her as if she’s a grown up kid. No baby talking or anything, just plain language that we want her to learn. So when she turned 1.5years old and started blurting out words, we took it as a chance to be intentional and careful (at the same time) with our words. Sometimes, though, we have word slips and lapses here and there, that would make her mimic our exact words. Guilty mom here. Not good, but we try to be as careful as we could with all that we say in front of her.

Activity #9: Talking to friends / other people. Oona isn’t the type of kid who’d barge in in any playgroup and feel at ease with it. She’s more of the shy type of kid at first then loosen up as she gets more comfortable with the people around her. In as much as I want her to learn to feel comfortable with other people immediately, I respect her timings and cues. So for this round, we just bring her along in almost all activities – whether we have friends to meet, meetings to attend (well, I do bring her mostly to my meetings), play dates, and pretty much everything else that we do – we want her to see how it is to deal with other people. Of course, with respect for elders, courteousness and humility in our words.

Activity #10: Engaging with other kids and feeling disappointed (character building). In as much as we want to control her environment and spare her from the harsh reality, there’d be instances when other kids would not treat her the way we want them to. Naturally, as parents, our initial reaction would be to keep her away from those types of kids. Well, honestly, I’ve always been tempted to do that, but at the same time, I also want to see how she’d respond to those instances. We’re blessed to have a kid who won’t retaliate or hit back when she’s aggravated. Although sharing is a struggle for us at this time, I think it comes with a certain degree of challenge in their age. But nevertheless, unless it’s really a need for us to take Oona away from a group of kids or a certain kid, we just let her figure our the environment around her. We want her to be able to experience disappointments, failures, because we can’t spare her from these things as much as we want to.

So far, it’s been fun for all of us to help Oona get a good feel of her environment and learn her way around things. We’re happy that she’s able to learn things and familiarize herself with some concepts at par to her age. But apart from the concepts, we pray that this whole desire for homeschooling would allow us to disciple her, build character, and point her to God even more. That at the end of the day we will be able to teach her the love of God and that she too, in God’s perfect timing, would understand and love God with all her heart.

Deuteronomy 6:5-9
5 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. 6 These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. 7 Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. 8 Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. 9 Write them on the door frames of your houses and on your gates.

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