Looking for ideas of things to do at home. She is very bright and full of energy. I'd love to get a head start and start homeschool before the new baby comes... Any advice is appreciated! Thanks
At 18 months, she's actively learning like crazy anyway - walking, talking, coloring, dressing, routines - everything is a learning experience for her because she's so new to life. I don't think it's really necessary for you to do anything differently than you already do.
If you really want to do something with her that feels more like "teaching" or "school", I'd look into simple, easy things like crafts or maybe watching some educational kids TV. Read to her. Keep it simple.
Good luck, and congrats on the new baby!
I love this age! When I'm in charge of a little one this age, I generally just follow them around making sure they are safe while they do their thing. Usually they'll empty and fill containers, line things up, pour things, stack and nest things, develop their motor skills (climbing, sliding) etc. Since you aren't able to be super active, you can do things like set up a rice bin with plastic measuring cups. It's a very exploratory age:-)
I tend to think of unschooling as the extension into childhood of the natural learning that kids do when they're infants and toddlers. Think of how your little one is learning to talk: not by instruction, not by exposure to carefully controlled and sequenced vocabulary, not by daily prescribed practice times, not by working with trained educators, not motivated by levels and grades ... simply driven by her natural curiosity, motivated by a desire to become increasingly competent in the world, supported by a caring adult who responds to her needs and includes her in her daily life. This is unschooling in a nutshell. Unschoolers simply choose not to replace this effective child-driven, in-the-course-of-life model of learning with a more structured artificial model as children get older.
So you are already unschooling. You don't need to do anything special. Just observe, love, respond, nurture, live your life and include your child in yours. It is enough. It is unschooling.
Mountain mama to two great kids and two great grown-ups
Your already ARE unschooling! If you want to do more, just expose your child to new things! Make a "Sensory Box" to play in, visit a children's museum, and READ READ READ. Even if your child isn't paying attention, read some books aloud during the day. Just live life and try out lots of new things with your child. The biggest things we did (my son is now 3) is make our home more montessori like so that he could do more on his own. We made an accessible snack area, have shelving that is open with some easily removable trays and baskets he can carry to his table. We have lots of books toys and art supplies around for him to use.
The biggest things we did (my son is now 3) is make our home more montessori like so that he could do more on his own. We made an accessible snack area, have shelving that is open with some easily removable trays and baskets he can carry to his table. We have lots of books toys and art supplies around for him to use.
Accessibility is also important with regular items around the house as well, IMO. With some age-appropriate limits, the house is a child's as well.
Kitchen cupboards with pots and pans, drawers with rolling pins and cookie cutters (which could be sharp--know your child!). Tools under supervision-- I know that an 18 month old would be in exploration mode, not actually creating things yet. But still, they can experiment with measuring tapes and sand paper (again--you know your child and how well they can handle some supervision). Their world expands if you can spend some time and supervise at times. So, many more special things can come out when daddy or mommy come to play. And when they can't, there are still fun things to explore.
I think it is important to invite children to explore and experiment as far as you feel comfortable. It gives them a sense of ownership-- the house and the world is theirs to explore. It is also an exercise for the parent to trust their children. Again, as far as you feel comfortable, which could be very different from the family next door.
You know your child. My oldest was just fine with a measuring tape at 18 months, and many other things. She didn't put every blasted thing into her mouth and was reasonably gentle for a toddler that age. DD2 came along, she put everything into her mouth and she climbed and launched herself off with abandon. My friend's kids were different still and required very high levels of supervision--any thing that could go wrong with an object usually did. You know your child. Give your daughter as much freedom to explore as she is safely capable of.
Let her join in with your activities as much as possible, even if it takes you longer to complete. Some 18 month-olds can slice a banana (or try, safely). They can "fold" laundry and play alongside. They can sweep and play with wood scraps, they can "help" set up tents and play with kindling on the side, making their own "fire". They can dig alongside in the garden, they can plant seeds and plants (with some adult follow up) or play alongside. They are capable of so much beyond 100% safe toys made age-appropriately for 18 month-olds. The landscape for toys for toddlers is really quite bleak if you think about it.
Speaking of Montessori, For Small Hands has a great catalog of child-sized, real tools and other great toys and books. I love this company, even though I don't follow the Montessori style. Many kids love to have something "real", real tools to do real work, toddler-style.
"Let me see you stripped down to the bone. Let me hear you speaking just for me."
Yes, to add. We didn't exactly montessorise the house but we worked on those lines. What we did was to make it possible for our kids to access as much adult stuff as possible. So giving them stools to reach real counters, having a space at the table the rest of us draw at, and a high chair that they could themselves climb into. My kids did always use real, sharp, small knives but that's very personal.
OTOH to add something else. I had a 22 month gap between my first two, and just over two years between my second and third. There was no homeschooling going on for a very long time.(well I'd say they were way too little but regardless) What actually happens in most houses as far as I can see is that the TV goes on a lot. We didn't have a TV and yet we found ways to watch dvds. Also, audiobooks. It was a sanity thing. Don't beat yourself up if, like most parents, you end up in a period of downtime before and after the baby is born. That really is life and I am personally very glad we slowed down and got to know each other as a family rather than worrying about education. There is so much time ahead for your daughter's education!