It has to be said.
When I was a brand new mom with a young toddler, I was all about homeschooling. I wanted to dive in immediately. I didn’t want to miss a minute or end up with a child who was “behind!” I knew she would love learning and there was so much out there and…gosh…it was time! Everyone else was sending their kids to preschool and bragging about how many letters and numbers they knew and if they were learning to write their names. I needed to start homeschooling!
My oldest child is 9 now. My fifth child is almost 2. I’ve “been there, done that” with the toddler/preschool years a few times now. And I’ve learned…there’s no point in pushing it in those early years. There really isn’t.
Mama, please just don’t do it. Please.
Please Stop Homeschooling Your Toddlers
When my oldest was 2, yes — I tried to “homeschool” her. Well, kind of.
I didn’t buy curriculum, but I did sit down and try to ‘teach’ her things here and there. It was frustrating. She wasn’t interested, and my baby needed me.
Even when she was 4, I’d try in my spare time when I wasn’t obsessing over is bubble cash legit or not. I’d have a sit down lesson prepared, with worksheets and a white board and a game. My 2-year-old would mess with stuff, and my baby would want to sit in the center of it all. My 4-year-old would fight me and argue and not want to do any of what I had planned. It was all quickly abandoned.
I hear lots of moms sharing similar stories. Yet, they persist, because they “don’t want them to get behind!”
Mamas, there is no benefit to pushing academics on your toddlers and preschoolers. None. There is no value in trying to make a child who isn’t ready learn letters, or numbers, or writing skills, or anything else. None at all!
Yes, I know, it seems counter-intuitive. But it’s not. Kids at this age are supposed to be exploring the world around them. They are supposed to be jumping, running, and moving, to gain a sense of their bodies in space. Experimenting with different materials (like mixing dirt and water to see the mud they make!) to figure out how it all works. They learn best in a hands-on way, being creative and solving problems.
If they’re sitting at desks and being asked to learn sight words, recite the alphabet, or do math problems, they’re missing out on opportunities to do these things.
And, yes, it seriously matters in the long run.
Basically all kids will learn to read, write, and do math at some point. They may naturally do it at 4, or they may do it at 9 or 10. Most will do it somewhere in between. But they will get there.
Unfortunately, we often train our kids not to be curious, creative, or solve problems very well. These are skills a lot of adults are truly lacking. Skills that all children inherently have, but lose over time…because we teach them to sit down, be quiet, and do what they’re told, exactly how they’re told.
Mama, your job in these young years is to foster that spark of creativity, that drive to learn, that desire to test and play and enjoy.
There will be plenty of time later for sit-down lessons, focusing on reading and writing and math, and other academic pursuits. Although frankly it isn’t that necessary even later, either — at least not until they ask for it.
But I Want to Homeschool My Toddler!
Relax. You’re not actually “homeschooling” anyway. Life learning, perhaps. That happens from birth. But you’re really not “schooling” your child yet, and you don’t need to.
I get it, though. You want to enjoy your toddler, do things with him/her, and have adventures. And there are things you can do with your toddler that are more age-appropriate than sit-down academic lessons!
Try some of these:
- Play with play dough (try a variety of tools or fun themed mats)
- Sensory bins (beans, rice, sand, water beads,slime, etc.)
- Reading books together
- Dance to different styles of music, or march to it
- Make mud pies
- Take a nature walk and pick up interesting things
- Do art — paint, clay, crayons, etc.
- Play a selection of small child-sized instruments
- Go to the park and play on the playground
- Do crafts — make hats, holiday ornaments, color eggs, etc.
- Raise butterflies from caterpillars
- Bake muffins or cookies
- Grocery shop and count the produce you need (and get something new to try)
- Make a fruit salad together
- Use a camera to take pictures of fun things
- Make your own silly videos
- Fill the bath tub with a small amount of water and just play
Really, just explore the world! Your child will learn so much from these things at a young age. There is no need to force academic subjects yet. Your child will learn science from experimenting with mud and water, or from meeting interesting critters outside. She’ll learn math by helping you count items you’re buying or measuring items to dump in your muffins. He’ll learn reading as you read together (in books or as you point out signs around you).
Learning in the early years is so easy that as long as you are hands-on with your child — and honestly, usually even if you’re not — your child will learn readily. You basically can’t stop a child from learning!
You’re doing fine, mamas. Your child is meant to explore the world and learn naturally. Pay no attention to the people who are going nuts about wanting “baby enrichment” classes and trying to give their babies an edge — those are not proven to help and are really not developmentally appropriate (and honestly so ridiculous!).
Your child will get there. S/he will reach school age, and want to learn, and it will come before you know it. My third child will be 6 this summer and officially school aged, and my fourth will be 5 in the middle of next school year. It comes FAST. So enjoy the early years while you have them, and PLAY! Later on, you’ll be glad you did!
If You Need Resources….
If you’re not the creative type and are looking for “something” to do with your little ones, try the Early Learning Bundle at the Build Your Bundle Homeschool Sale. It’s geared specifically towards the little ones, with coloring sheets, play dough mats, and other age-appropriate activities to guide you.
If you also have older kids — and seriously, don’t even think about this for kids under 5/6! — check out the Elementary Bundle or the Unit Studies bundle. It’s also Buy 2, Get 1 FREE, so you can stock up for the whole family for an amazing price. 🙂