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Homeschooling your one-year-old?

post #1 of 13
Thread Starter 

Is this a thing? My son is 19 months and I'm starting to feel like I need to transition to some more structured learning time. We do our alphabets and learn songs and read books and I'm always looking for teaching moments here and there, but I'm kind of feeling like my son is ready to do sort of... school things. He is really focused and way into it and clearly just wants to learn everything.

 

Both me and my husband work from home, and we end up spending a lot of time with our kid in the room, sort of ignoring him and trying to do work. Maybe we just need more structured kid time in general? I don't know.

 

What do you guys do with your toddlers?

post #2 of 13

Relax, there isn't any need for structured learning time at that age.  If he is interested in something, let his curiousity explore it.  At that age my kids would:

explore art (fingerpaints, chunky crayons) 

we would read together (depending on kid, the books might be a random moment or an actual sitting down)

we had music playing-- we danced, we played with toy instuments, we made our own instruments

we stacked blocks and knocked them down

they were introduced to simple puzzles

they had a soft baby doll and a sling

playdoh

pretend play started up in our house around this time, they would give me a cup to "drink" from or nurse the doll

 

 

My oldest was interested in schoolish things earlier than her sisters.  I don't know if it is because she is gifted, she is the oldest, or if it is just her nature.  Her fine motor skills were still that of a toddler however.  My dad let her sit at his extra desk in his office and he gave her a self-inking stamp.  She would go to town stamping a piece of paper.  She loved it.  She also found great joy in reading (with me and just looking at the books herself), pretend play, dancing, and finding the block with an A on it.  She had a longer attention span than her siblings at that age though and would spend a lot of time on a task, making balls of playdoh or whatever.  

 

My middle and youngest loved it if I would set up the laundry bucket with different things.  I would change it out every 3 days or so.  I would put scarves, chunky books, a stuffed animal, etc in the basket.  They would play for a long time that way.  We listened to the Laurie Berkner band and I would act out the songs with them.  After a while, I noticed that they would pretend to row the boat too.  It really helped when I had more than one child because a 4 year old loves to act out the "rowing the boat" and the boat would be the laundry basket, and the toddler followed along.  

 

They also liked to collect things.  We would set the easter eggs (plastic ones) out around the house or a room and let them collect them.  

 

Good luck!

 

Amy

post #3 of 13

At 19 months you don't need to do "school stuff" Here are somethings you might want to try-

 

* take a walk

* sing songs

* listen to music

* look at books

* Go to storytime

* hike

* PLAY with anything

* play in the bath tub

* play with blocks

* play with noodles/ rice/ beans/ in a big bowl OR water table

* play with flour and water

* listen to audiobooks- even above reading level as time goes on

* find things outside that are interesting

AND SO MUCH MORE

post #4 of 13

Oh my gosh, that is so young for structured stuff. 

 

I would just keep doing what you would normally do with a kid that age, homeschooling or no. 

 

Take him places, read books together, draw together, my kids start using a computer at that age to learn their A,B,C's. But it was always activities that they wanted to do and I never thought of it as "schooling". DD loved using the computer and she loved the ABC program, it wasn't any desire of mine for her to learn that stuff so young. 

 

Relax, mama. :)

post #5 of 13

I'm unclear if you are planning to homeschool, or if you are asking homeschoolers for advice as a parent.... this post mostly assumes you are planning to homeschool....

 

If he's craving more time from you (is he?)-- what can you do to include him?  Is he wanting to do what you are doing?  Or playing something similar in tandem (like, if you are camping and building a fire, he can play with some kindling nearby).  Or simply keeping you company doing his thing, you doing yours?  All three have happened at various times for me (and still do).  I often set myself up with a task that is thoroughly interruptable while they play nearby.  They love that.

 

If you feel like he's craving some one-on-one attention, then do set aside some time to do what he wants-- but it doesn't have to be set academics.  Fine, if he loves the alphabet puzzle, but does he love it because he wants to learn the alphabet?  Or because it's just a fun puzzle?  If he wants to read with you, if he wants you to point to the words, is he really wanting to read?  Or does he just like it when you point?  Does he like doing "schoolish" things because he wants to learn these things or because that's how he gets your attention?

 

 

What I did with my time when the girls were little but I knew that I wanted to be a homeschooler was use this time to cultivate habits that would make me a good homeschooling parent-- and, coincidentally, a better "AP" parent as well.  Tuning in to their interests, making "tools" available, (both by bring new ones into the house and also by giving them access to the ones I have), allowing them to help pretty much no matter what, making everything as "hands on" as possible, allowing time for exploration and a good dose of spontaneity.  (And trying to beat off the guilt trips and the comparisons and the what-ifs!)  Reading together (if he likes), working and doing together, playing together--that's the key right now.  And, of course, ample free time.  That's homeschooling a 1.5yo-- really, just parenting a 1.5yo.  

post #6 of 13
I haven't used it, but Flowering Baby seems to come up on other homeschool boards. There's also the book Slow and Steady, Get Me Ready which introduces age appropriate activities. I'd suggest getting it from a library if you can to see if it's worth buying.

You can try googling for sensory play with toddlers. Two blogs I like to read are http://play-trains.com/ and http://www.funathomewithkids.com/.
post #7 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by MichelleZB View Post

Is this a thing? My son is 19 months and I'm starting to feel like I need to transition to some more structured learning time. We do our alphabets and learn songs and read books and I'm always looking for teaching moments here and there, but I'm kind of feeling like my son is ready to do sort of... school things. He is really focused and way into it and clearly just wants to learn everything.

 

Both me and my husband work from home, and we end up spending a lot of time with our kid in the room, sort of ignoring him and trying to do work. Maybe we just need more structured kid time in general? I don't know.

 

Yes, absolutely - I think what you're feeling is the need to be setting aside more focused time with him - but there's absolutely no need for any of it to be prep for things he doesn't have any need for until years from now. He has no current need for the alphabet or numbers or practicing being attentive. There are untold other things in his environment for him to be learning about that will all come quite naturally if you simply set aside time to play with him and do some of the things others have suggested here. Nursery rhymes, singing, and hand games are great, walks and swinging and just being outdoors will expose him to what will seem to him like an amazing world. Learning fun things he can do with his body as he grows is amazing for him. I'd strongly suggest forgetting about "school" things at this age - he's way too young for any of it to matter or contribute to his present life. Take a look through the articles and the links to activity websites listed below the articles on this little (nocommercial) preschool page I put together - lots of fun stuff for growing and learning, but none of it having anything to do with "school." Have fun!   Lillian

post #8 of 13
Thread Starter 

I guess I didn't explain myself very well. We do singing songs and nursery rhymes and playing with blocks and walks and swinging and bathtime fun and all that already.

 

It's just that he likes sitting down and doing more structured school things. He already knows all his alphabets and numbers and has started recognizing some words that I write, like "MOM" and "DAD" and "HUG". If I give him a blank page with crayons, he says, "Letters! Write letters, Mom! Write words!" and I write them down for him and he tells me what they are. I was wondering if I should be doing more of that with him, and if so, what on earth the next steps are with a one-year-old, but really I should just be following his clues and sort of doing whatever he's into.

 

I guess I was wondering if I should be more scheduled about it, like, oh, 10 o'clock is the time we do 'school'. But it sort of seems like I probably shouldn't do that. Right now we just hang around all day, and one of us takes him and plays with him, and the other tries to do work, and it seems pretty unstructured.

 

Whether or not I send him to public school (haven't decided yet) of course we will homeschool! School runs from 8:30-2:30 here. What else would you do those other hours except learn stuff?

post #9 of 13
I'm of the mind set that if they ask, show them. You don't need to have a set structure at this age. If you find them wanting more, then follow their lead. Write letters on paper, in sand, in foam, in the air. Chant sounds or count the number of various things. Just do it when they ask rather than "everyday at 11am, we review the alphabet." I think that would work much better and still leave plenty of time for creative play.

FWIW, while not typical, 2.5 yo readers do exist. I'd try to keep things light but go with what the child is asking for. Seek out blogs aimed at sensory play for toddlers and adapt for your needs. You could look at something like the book The Well Trained Mind to get ideas for the preschool crowd and adapt to your needs. Or look at Montessori methods. Maybe pulling from a variety of sources will help you find a middle ground. smile.gif
post #10 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by MichelleZB View Post

 

I guess I was wondering if I should be more scheduled about it, like, oh, 10 o'clock is the time we do 'school'. But it sort of seems like I probably shouldn't do that. Right now we just hang around all day, and one of us takes him and plays with him, and the other tries to do work, and it seems pretty unstructured.

 

I think this is fine for now.  Write him letters if he asks.  It sounds like he is enjoying it.  But don't change things around-- you are doing great.  I also think that there is some rhythm in there that he is familiar with that doesn't look like a proper schedule but he recognizes nonetheless.  You have the great beginnings of a child-led education, if you want to follow that path. 

post #11 of 13

I think it's enough for now too. And if you're asking yourself "why not add more structure if I've got the time and energy for it?" my answer would be that at this age, when you take control of the pace, timing and direction of learning away from the child by creating your own structure it's very easy to get it wrong. When the child has rudimentary ways of expressing needs, little experience of the range of options, when his learning style and developmental trajectory is so much in flux, it's so easy to head off in a direction that turns out to be less than optimal, and not really recognize the fact until your child has developed some mistaken assumptions, some emotional baggage or resistance, or assumed an unfortunate attitude to particular types of learning. 

 

An example. My eldest seemed really precocious with all the pre-reading learning, and began spontaneously sounding out words with consonant blends and other complexities around her third birthday. In the most gentle, playful, low-key way, I began trying to work with her to enhance her learning. Almost immediately she lost all apparent interest in reading. She refused to do anything I suggested, and all the curiosity about reading that she'd had up until then seemed to vanish. It took a full 18 months for her to be willing to express interest in reading in my presence again. Luckily she had managed to work it all out on her own without my help and it turned out she was reading quite fluently. But she had responded to my subtle academic direction by taking her literacy development to a covert level for more than a year. 

 

Obviously in our case the results weren't disastrous. She ended up reading at very advanced levels very young, and her general curiosity continued to burn bright. But I'm convinced that whatever anxiety or faulty assumptions drove her learning underground would have been best avoided, that I "got it wrong" for her for whatever reason, and that I should have just let her continue to lead the process without my "active facilitation," without my implied value judgements and so on.

 

By the time my kids were 9 or 10 or so, they had the vocabulary and life experience to be able to articulate "I don't want to do it this way" or "I want a book to write in, like the wordsearch one, but for math" or "This feels like too much; I don't want to have lessons: I just want to try it and see" or "I want you to help me practice this every day." Then it was much safer to introduce a bit of structure, because I could count on my child to recognize if something was at odds with their best interests, goals and learning style, and tell me so. At age 1, they would not have been capable of that at all. Between age 1 and age 10, the capacity to respond in healthy ways to offers of structure developed. In my various kids it evolved on different schedules and in different ways. My brightest kid, who turned out to be profoundly gifted, was actually very slow to learn to articulate how she wanted to learn and what help she wanted from me. My youngest (now 10) became extremely adept at this by age 4 or 5 or so.

 

So to avoid getting it wrong I would just continue to let him lead at this age. He'll tell you, with his interest, curiosity and questions, what he wants to learn when. That's the failsafe curriculum of the youngest learner. 

 

Miranda

post #12 of 13

"What else would you do those other hours except learn stuff?"

 

I don't mean to be flippant, really I don't, but my answer would be, play. Now as well. And not just you playing with him, but him playing alone. 

 

But going back to your OP, you mention that you're trying to work around your young child. Now, I've done this. At this age, I'd say its not a goer, really, but if you genuinely have to do it, that's life. With the benefit of hindsight, I'd say if you can get someone else to come and take him out, or better still, take it in turns and be a little more present with him, that would be my preferred option. I don't mean to sound patronising and I've BTDT so I am guessing its a last resort rather than a prefered option. What I'll say is that not until I started getting stretches of time without the kids to work did I realise just how much easier it is, and how much more efficient an hour in a quiet place alone can be than three hours with half an ear out for the kids.

 

What I'd also say is that when you have time together I would not really be thinking about teaching.I'd be doing fun stuff like baking and going for walks and so on. Probably you do this anyway, just thought I'd flag it up. 

 

I think I would look at him and do what he seems to want to do to make him happy. You will not miss a window of opportunity with a kid this young for learning to read. My son didn't start reading til nearly age 8 and he's now a very proficient, compulsive reader, comfortable with adult-level books (he's 9 now) - any seasoned homeschooler knows a dozen more kids like this. I've never seen an advantage to early reading except that for some kids, that's what makes them happy and that's important. Also, I've know kids know their alphabet and numbers very young and then actually be rather late to reading and numeracy, because knowing your numbers and alphabet isn't that much related to reading and maths. My kids didn't know their numbers til quite late but are pretty mathematically inclined. There isn't much point knowing numbers as rote learning, or really, very much as rote learning, IMO, what you need is understanding. It comes out in the wash. The best advice I can give really is enjoy your toddler. I hate, hate, hate to say it but you will not regret not teaching him to read, you will regret wasted time not with him, though and any frustration with him, and so on.


Edited by Fillyjonk - 8/1/13 at 5:17am
post #13 of 13
Thread Starter 

This is all helpful advice. I will take people's experiences about overformalizing learning with a young child to heart. I, of course, don't want to scare him off reading. We'll just get there slowly and do what he likes.

 

I also thank everyone for the great book recommendations! I have checked them all out.

 

It is true that both me and my husband were brought up in households where our parents had the attitude where school was for playing, and after school was for learning. It was like, oh good, she's home from school--now we can teach her something. I can't pretend I haven't inherited their mode of thinking.

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