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Curriculum for toddlers?

post #1 of 15
Thread Starter 

I've recently left my job as a high school teacher to become a SAHM. My son has been in daycare since he was 3 months old, and they done a great job with the curriculum there and he's really learned a lot. Now that he'll be home with me, I want to make sure that the learning process continues and that we don't get sucked into a negative routine. I'm just curious if anyone has any experience and/or suggestions on "curriculums" that are appropriate for toddlers - specifically a 2 year old. Thanks.

post #2 of 15

I don't have any personal experience with these since we don't use a curriculum at that age, but I have heard the following mentioned/recommended:


Little Acorn Learning

Before Five in a Row

Peak with Books


Maybe Little Garden Flower and Oak Meadow have a preschool program, but probably for older kids. 


There is a free online thing called something like Letter a Day that might work depending, and wee folk art also has cute seasonal ideas, again probably for slightly older kids. 


good luck! 

post #3 of 15

I'm also interested in finding some teaching tools for toddlers. For now I've just been browsing blogs and pintrest finding neat activities and Montessori inspired things. 

post #4 of 15
Originally Posted by maydaymom10 View Post

I've recently left my job as a high school teacher to become a SAHM. My son has been in daycare since he was 3 months old, and they done a great job with the curriculum there and he's really learned a lot. Now that he'll be home with me, I want to make sure that the learning process continues and that we don't get sucked into a negative routine. I'm just curious if anyone has any experience and/or suggestions on "curriculums" that are appropriate for toddlers - specifically a 2 year old. Thanks.

I think that if you're concerned about a negative routine, I would focus on creating a positive routine.  Pick a good time of day to go outside to play everyday, become regulars at storytime at the library, read a lot, come up with a plan for what your son can do while you make dinner etc...


Honestly, I wouldn't dive into any structured learning right now-- this is going to be a big transition for both of you, and you don't need the extra stress of feeling like you need to cover some arbitrary lesson plan.  Take at least the summer to just hang out together and figure out how you two work best together, and then if you feel you need more going on, add in something like Before 5 in a Row.  But make sure the curriculum is working for the two of you, instead of the two of you working for it.  It's supposed to be a tool, not a taskmaster.  Also, keep in mind that as a SAHM, you have a lot more time with your son than his daycare teachers could, and so you will likely need formal curricula less because you will naturally teach him things and discover things together in the course of the day.  

post #5 of 15

littleacornlearning.com by far has the best programs for pre-k .. with a 2 year old you will have to do most of the work and he just kinda join in but you can do it again the next year. :)  carolsaffordablecurriculum.com has some ready made packs that are fine and i used on days i didn't feel well but wanted to get something done.


there is another one but the name is escaping me at the moment... I will find it and come back :)

post #6 of 15



you can skip the bible parts if you are not religious. has a great book list and lots of fun crafts!

post #7 of 15

Kumonbooks.com has some workbooks for that age...my girls have all loved their stuff. Right now my 3yo is doing the folding books, which is like origami. They have some other basic skills like cutting, pasting, etc... and then move on to basic writing, reading, math, nothing too intense. 


Timberdoodle.com has stuff for the toddler and preschool crowd, a lot of hands-on things. 


A good selection of books, both picture books and longer chapter books to read-aloud or on audio are always great. 


A nice abacus is a good tool. At that age he would probably mostly be playing with it, but my 3yo is starting to do more counting now.

post #8 of 15

At 2 I would honestly not be thinking about a curriculum, just do lots of outdoor time, reading, and playing.  If you want to be more structured, you could plan a special activity for each day of the week like Mondays you could act out a puppet show with stuffed animals (just something simple reflecting the seasons), Tuesdays you could do sensory play with playdough or rice or something, Wednesdays you could do a special song with motions, Thursdays you could fingerpaint, Friday you could do some sort of easy cooking project or play a special game.  I would make sure you get lots of outdoor time every day, lots of rest, and just enjoy each other.  At this age, it's really to early to work on letters or counting in any sort of non-natural way (like workbooks).  I'd just count steps or beans and read a lot for those things.  I think the far more important thing would be to focus on creativity and discovery.  We've used Little Acorn Learning for kindy, and I personally don't think I'd use it for a child that young unless you really take a lot out of it.  At 3 and 4, it would be great, but not at 2.  Seasons of Joy is the same way, as well as the Wee Folk seasonal curricula.

post #9 of 15
Originally Posted by maydaymom10 View Post

Now that he'll be home with me, I want to make sure that the learning process continues and that we don't get sucked into a negative routine. 


He's 2? All you need to ensure that the learning process continues is a loving, responsive adult and a safe environment for free exploration and play. The more institutional setting, the more structure is required, because that individualized loving responsiveness is much harder to achieve and the freedom to explore and play must necessarily be curtailed in the interest of managing groups of children with disparate needs. At home you don't need the structure of a curriculum. Of course there are plenty of people who sell curricula who will be happy to tell you how badly you need what they offer. But it just isn't so. Your child is hard-wired to learn. You are hard-wired to love him. It's more than enough. 


I agree with onatightrope. If you're concerned about establishing negative routines, make the conscious choice to establish positive ones that appeal to you and your child. Don't buy someone else's routines in the hope that you can absolve yourself of that creative responsibility and opportunity.



post #10 of 15

Love this:  http://www.besthomeschooling.org/articles/lillian_jones_ps_kdgtn.html


As another former high school teacher, I would advise that you AND your child need time "off" to break the mindset of a typical classroom.

post #11 of 15
I agree w/those that say to hold off on the structure. He's too little. At that age his entire day should be play. Everything and everyone in his life is a learning experience, especially at 2! No need to force feed. And you can actually turn kids off to learning if you start pushing it.

But perhaps you meant more like a routine? In which case I recommend looking into Waldorf education for great info on the importance of a rhythm to the day for children. I find little pearls of wisdom in many educational philosophies, even if I don't agree w/everything about them...Waldorf has been like that for me....I don't agree w/some of it but there are some great things still to be learned from it, and routines (or, what they call "rhythms") is a very big part of Waldorf and very well explained, I think.

You could set up your days and your week very naturally into a rhythm that works for both of you, and don't be surprised when he still learns new things all the time!

For example...you may want to have each day of the week be set as a special day....find out what your local library has going on for preschoolers (ours has story times every week) and have that day be library day....hook up w/a local playgroup (or start your own....super easy to do...I can help you w/that if you need ideas. I started one when my oldest was an infant and 11yrs later it's still going strong) and have at least one day a week be "playdate day.".... Make another day baking day and/or a laundry day...great experience to involve your child in your housework! Very educational!

And remember that you'll need to find time for the house as well. Something that can get extremely overwhelming.

There's so much to be learned in just daily living. Plan regular trips out and regular playdates (for you as much as him) and he'll continue learning....probably even more than at day care, because it will be one-on-one!

Homeschooling Mommy to Maeven (11.5yrs), Baelin (stillborn), & Tyren (TEERen, nearly 7!)
post #12 of 15
Thread Starter 

Thanks everyone. Now that I've had a week home with him I see we'll have plenty of "learning" activities simply in the everyday experience that we're doing. I think I'll keep the curriculum links and suggestions to use a little later or when we get "stuck". I'm just having to change my mindset a bit after being a classroom teacher myself and also having Liam's curriculum from daycare sent home every month. 


This is going to be a fun, new journey for both of us -- I can tell. Thanks again for all of the replies.  thanks.gif

post #13 of 15
Originally Posted by heatherdeg View Post

Love this:  http://www.besthomeschooling.org/articles/lillian_jones_ps_kdgtn.html


As another former high school teacher, I would advise that you AND your child need time "off" to break the mindset of a typical classroom.


smile.gif     Lillian

post #14 of 15

I also recommend the Play at Home Moms blog - http://playathomemom3.blogspot.com/


And if you decide that you want a curriculum, I pick and choose activities from this Letter of the Week program: http://www.confessionsofahomeschooler.com/letter-of-the-week


This site has lots of fine motor skills and other topics that are appropriate for young children and aren't "teach-y": http://prekinders.com/fine-motor-skills/


And google "sensory bins" or look it up on pinterest and you'll find lots of ideas.

post #15 of 15

***********************************************As a former public school teacher, frequent tutor for public school and other students, and longtime homeschooler (son is in college this year), I would say this:


Every child develops differently, so what works for one child that age will not work for another. My process was to take care to provide a positive, healthy, environment with rich educational and social opportunities and then be inspired by that environment. The environment includes what and who you allow in your home, your demeanor, the community as you expose your child to it, nature that you can access, museums, zoos, galleries, concerts, plays, enrichment programs such as gymnastics and music programs for toddlers and preschoolers.


Don't hesitate to take him to galleries as young kids can really get a lot out of them. They just can't tell us as much as they are thinking, or most of them can't. A two year old can understand basic concepts about numbers, colors, shapes, animals, people, nature, etc. Even reading him board books with these topics highlighted can help teach him these things. I read to my son since he was six months old, and he loved, loved, loved it when I took his fat little foot and went, "One, two, three," on the three blocks on the page in the board book, or pointed with his foot to the red block. Some books were stories, some had rituals attached to them, such as me hugging him when the book said the mommy hugged her boy, and he would turn around and look up at me and smile in anticipation. But, by the time he was 16 months old, he knew far more than you would imagine possible, and not just in relation to those books being read, but in real life. So, he could point to blocks and count, "One, two, three" when I asked him how many there were. It was a game to him. We weren't doing that all day long. We were exploring nature and walking to the creamery for ice cream and playing with other kids and so on. But, he did learn that from story time or from me asking him to give me three of something or two of something and positively reinforcing when he did. It sounds more rote than it was.


My point is that you can just wing it with things around the house and simple toddler and preschool toys and books. The basics of homeschooling are always reading, writing and arithmetic because if they can master those topics, they can master anything else academic. Homeschooled kids are usually prolific readers, especially if mom or dad keeps the TV off. They are usually okay at math, though some are geniuses at it because they are not held back and can go as fast as they want. Many need more practice writing. They have the advantage of being able to write about what they want rather than inane school topics.


Okay, back to two-year-olds. A classic prereading activity is doing puzzles. It helps the child recognize shapes. So, get him lots of puzzles and if he has trouble, take one piece at a time and give it to him so he isn't overwhelmed with the pile of pieces. Nothing is forced, rote, or boring. You are just playing. My son when he was four took a subtraction game with him to church to show his friends for a playtime. Well, none of them wanted to play it, so he brought it back for me (mom, the pack mule) to hold while he went back and played. Before he left, he said, "Mom! You're not going to believe this! It says on the side of the box that this game is EDUCATIONAL!!!" Here he was four years old and having gone through four years of my intensive winging it style teaching, and he is just discovering that some of his toys are educational. He really didn't think about what we did as being anything other than fun and games. So, I would do it that way.


And, I know that public school teachers, okay, some of them, are so used to curriculum this and curriculum that, that it's just understandable to be looking for a curriculum for teaching just about anything. But, your curriculum is simply to gradually, as he is able to learn, build in him the skills so that when his brain and personality and body and spirit is even further developed, he can do the most he can do at that point too, not waiting for others to understand the stuff he knew last year, not waiting in line, not waiting for the TV show to be over, but right there at the cusp of the next thing. That's how kids learn to read "early" and love to read so much they get into trouble for it throughout their childhood. Really, this is me, to my kid at the library, "Let go of the book so she can swipe it, honey. Okay will at least put it over there and let her move it. You won't lose your place. Just look at the page number." Or, me leading him to dinner by the book. Or, me telling him that if he doesn't stop reading all night, I'm going to have to put those books where he can't find them. And, for math, it's all around you. Just do it mentally with him, using what is around you for props but not writing it down. Kids don't really need to write a lot when they are very young. Let their dexterity develop first. They will start writing things down at a certain point spontaneously. I showed my son twice how he could make letters by showing him me writing the alphabet through once each time. A couple of weeks later, he presented me with a letter to Santa. He had never written anything before. And, he became an outstanding writer, but I attribute that to his prolific reading, eight hundred pages per day of things like Tolkien by age seven. I didn't give him math homework or writing assignments. But, he wrote letters, stories, and "explanations of things" starting about age eight. His Standford educated AP English instructor was in awe of his high school writing though I will tell you it was less polished than it should have been. That lack of polish smoothed out when he went to college, and you could never tell he didn't do much writing when he was very young.


Again, it's about giving them lots of opportunities to "play" with knowledge and integrate it so that they are building skills and integrating knowledge as they are able. It's never a matter of comparing them to what is "age appropriate" unless they are truly developmentally delayed or differently abled and could benefit from early intervention. Age appropriateness is often a barrier to education. While we don't want small children reading sensitive teen topics, we need not hold them down to "age appropriate" reading skill levels. I once volunteered to lead a children's book club at the public library where I volunteered. The librarians who knew me well were thrilled and eagerly signed me up. When they asked me what grade level I would be targeting, I explained that I wanted to allow children of several ages to participate so long as all books shared were of topics that were appropriate for all children in the group. I had specific children in mind, including several children I had tutored for pay and who had a newfound love of reading. I wanted to emphasize that it wasn't about how well you read compared to one another, but it was about sharing your perspective and sharing stories you loved. Those boys had been thrilled when I asked them about their interest, as had their parents. There would be a young boy who read at a high level (my son), an older boy who read at a low level but who was quickly advancing, a dyslexic boy, a boy who had struggled with selective mutism at school but was able to speak in groups that I led, and so on. Unfortunately, the librarians absolutely refused to allow it because they said that they had to specify a specific grade level. I offered to do the group in an open area, but there was concern about noise. Today, I would probably ask one of the moms if we could have it in their home as these families often had large homes. But, I let it drop because I was pretty busy and didn't want to offend the librarians. The whole concept of age appropriateness destroyed a very positive learning opportunity, one that would allow my younger son to tell stories that the older boys would appreciate, one that would allow the older boys to share simpler stories in a supportive environment, one where a boy with selective mutism could speak freely with other students, and one where a dyslexic boy could share a story that he had help reading but still claimed as his own.


When we take away that restriction about age appropriateness, it takes away the question about what to teach a two-year-old. It's then all about what is appropriate for that child at that time and in that context. And, it makes life and teaching so much easier on mom and the child alike. Just always look for learning opportunities. Waiting in line at the pharmacy where there is a black and white checkered floor? Teach him chess moves with him moving from square to square (when he is ready). See blackberry bushes in the park? Teach him about ecology, nutrition, introduced species, digestion, plant structures, etc. See a cello player on the ferry? Learn about the physics of sound. That is your curriculum. A beautiful, complex, ever changing, exciting world. Expose him to it, talk to him about it, ask him about it, do things with it, observe it, interact with it. That's it. And, read him a lot of books. ( ;

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