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i'm reading link after link...article after article...and i'm nowhere closer to knowing how to "get started".

i have posted before...we plan to homeschool as long as it works for us and the kids. i have no intention of sending them to traditional public school at any point. we have 2 kids...DD is not quite 2.5 and DS (who has some special needs) is not quite 7mos.

i am most concerned with "preschool" for DD. I would like to give her a good foundation to build on for learning when she gets a bit older. I have no idea how to accomplish this.

as far as learning styles go...i have no idea! she seems to listen and repeat until she knows it by heart...this is exactly me as a learner...i think they call that "auditory".

as far as goals...i'd like her to learn how to learn....we can't do field trips yet (DS' special needs proclude it right now) so we're at home full time. she's not super in to reading books with me (though we do read every day). she doesn't seem to care much for art projects either. she loves to sing and dance. she also likes to pretend. any ideas how i can gear her likes toward my educational goals? i'd like her to be start recognizing letters (she currently knows about half of the alphabet by sight...capitals only). i'd also like her to learn how to count and dress herself. she's nowhere near potty trained either.

i'm overwhelming myself just typing this out. i guess my big fear is that i'm gonna fail to teach her the things she needs to know...tell me i won't miss anything!
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you won't miss anything! you'd have to work really, really hard in order to not teach kids as young as yours. just follow their lead - they are programed to learn. encourage their curiousity. Pre-school is not a requirement. Pre-school is basically daycare. Not that kids don't get something out of it - but your children will get even more by being home with you. Rest assured, kids without pre-school still learn to read, write and count.
 

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She's two. It's okay. Do you know how she's going to learn to count? By finding out that when mommy says "do you want two cookies or three?", 3 is more. Or by helping you at the grocery store. Or by stacking up blocks. Or by counting brother's toes. Letters? By recognising that the squiggles mean something, and being curious about them.

Learning at this age doesn't need to be sit down, formal work. It needs to be woven into life. Just talking to each other, and playing games, and running around, and playing pretend..the foundation for the academic years can be set so well with the beginning years being focused on play and exploration. What is reading? Exploring symbols. What is math? Exploring quantities. The foundation has to be there before she is ready to move on. There has to be that desire, that learning is just something we do because it's how we live, that we explore our surroundings every day.

I'm not an unschooler..today seems to be a pretty structured day here, but I wouldn't trade those early years for anything. Today, we're going to go explore air flow at a local park - with several different types of paper airplanes.
 

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I am so sorry, I know how it feels to be overwhelmed!


Most of all, I would say RELAX... 2.5 is really too young to be worrying about teaching her letters yet. If she has learned some on her own, great... let her keep going at her own rate in her own way. I also think that you can't determine learning style at this age. If I remember correctly, that takes some time to develop. At this age she is probably mostly kinesthetic, as most young children are. However, she probably learns somewhat auditorally and visually as well. The fact that she wants to sing, dance and play pretend is perfectly normal for her age, and a good clue to where she is developmentally. I would follow her lead and let her continue to do those things. You could provide some open-ended art/other activities for her to participate in if she chooses. If she doesn't want to do them, put the things away and try again in a few months. She may be ready for them then.

Even if you do not have an unschooling philosophy, it is probably the best approach for the early years; you can always add more structure later. If you feel you "must" have some activities There is a preschool "curriculum" called Slow and Steady Get Me Ready. I seem to remember that it had lots of developmentally appropriate activities in it. Also Linda Dobson has a book: Homeschooling The Early Years 3-8. Actually, many of her books are full of good general information and a great place to start. Rahima Baldwin's You Are Your Child's First Teacher is a good book also. Even if you are not into the Waldorf philosophy, there is lots of good information and ideas in the book. For more activities, look at your library/amazon for books with toddler activities, and pick the most open-ended activities in the books.

I also wouldn't worry about potty training yet. Waiting another 6 months could make a huge difference in her interest in it and how ready she is.

Some of the mamas on this board could probably address this better than I, but I think that giving her a good foundation for later learning would involve lots of free-play, pretend play etc. There was a recent post about the book Reclaiming Childhood. You may want to look that over. I just got the book, and it is great... it gives you a lot to think about.

Wishing you all the best,
 

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I think everyone here has said it all very well!

You won't find many people who feel there's anything you should be trying to teach a 2.5 year old in the way of the 3Rs - unless there's something she's particularly asking to learn about any of it, which is unlikely for most children that age. There are some children who happen to develop intellectually at very early ages and want to pursue some of those things just because that's the way they're oriented, but that doesn't mean they'll always be "ahead" of those who develop more slowly or that they have a better foundation - it's just a different rhythm. The advice you'll find over and over again is that it's by playing and following her own interests and curiosity that she'll develop a good foundation for learning when she gets older.

Do take some relaxed time to read some of the articles I've collected for this page on preschool and kindergarten learning activities:
preschool/kindergarten
There are some very highly respected researchers and educational specialists among the authors - and some of the articles are excerpts from their books. Then, underneath the box of articles, you'll find annotated links to websites that are jampacked with great activities you can do with your little ones.

Right now, she doesn't need to be doing anything other than exactly what she's doing - singing and dancing and pretending are exactly what's serving her best right now. Those are her learning activities. She is learning how to learn - that's exactly what she's doing. That's precisely what those articles mentioned above will tell you, and some of them put it in pretty passionate terms, because they feel so strongly about it.

Learning letters and numbers is not going to teach her how to learn. Not only does it have nothing to do with anything that pertains to her world right now, but it isn't going to get her any readier to learn to read later than if she didn't learn a single letter or number within the next few years. Learning letters and numbers is not a foundation for later learning - it's nothing more than learning letters and numbers, and from what you say, it would all be pretty meaningless to her at this point.

In fact, you mentioned that she isn't even particularly interested in being read to all that much yet, so letters would have all the less importance to her. Although I'd make sure that all the books you do share with her are simply beautiful little picture books that appeal to her rather things that are geared toward teaching her something.

Learning how to dress herself is something you could put your energy into instead - and potty training. Those are thing that actually do pertain to her life. You mentioned singing and dancing and pretending - maybe some simple and silly singing can be used in the course of teaching her those things, and the use of reassuring words, since she seems to respond to auditory cues.

Again, you really don't need to worry about missing anything. That just isn't going to happen. Things will begin to fall into place when the time comes - but it will all feel quite daunting if you try to start teaching her things before she's developmentally ready or interested.

Lillian
 

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Whoops
- I just went back after my rant and saw that you didn't mention teaching her numbers - only to count. And, as LilyGrace, pointed out, there won't be much to that - it will happen pretty naturally.

I sure hope you can soon feel a lot more relaxed and assured. The last thing in the world a mom of a young child needs is to feel pressured or overwhelmed. This should just be a time to just thoroughly enjoy - they're not little for long.

-Lillian
 

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I have a 2.5 year old, too, and I've been really fascinated watching the way she learns about the world. She is interested in letters, counting, etc., but I'd have to say that, hands-down, the most educational experience she's had this month was watching some contractors fix the cornice on our house.

We spent a couple of hours going up and down the stairs to look at them from windows at different heights, or sitting on the neighbors' steps and studying their every move. She learned about tools, task sequences, cause and effect, work habits, safety principles, and probably a half-dozen other topics I don't even know about.

Weeks later, she'll come out with statements which make it clear how much information she absorbed and how busily she's working to fit them into her mental model of the world. "The house fixer had a tattoo. Does it wash off?" "Look, there's an orange crane. Our crane was green. What happened to my green crane? Where did it go?"

I bring this up not to suggest that hiring a general contractor is the best way to educate your toddler
but to say that, at this age, the richest education that you can provide them comes from just living an interesting life in an interesting world. So much that we take for granted is all new to them, and is all valuable material as they try to make sense out of the world.
 

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First, I want to totally agree with everyone else...you really don't need to worry about it at this age.

However, if you want a few concrete things that may make you feel better, here are some things that I did for my DD around that age.

I made labels for her dresser drawers...I drew a picture of what was in that drawer, and wrote the word. That enabled her to be able to pick out necessary clothing (underpants, a pair of shorts, a shirt). Neither of us cared much if it matched, but it felt good to her to be able to find what she needed.

Have letters around...fridge magnets and such. Try to get a set that includes capitals and lowercase. You don't have to do anything with them, just have them around. You can talk about the first initial of various family members if you want.

I made a calendar of our schedule for the week and marked the current day. I bought a pocket-style weekly calendar at a teachers store. Under the day of the week it had a pocket for the weather - I used that pocket to put in a photo/drawing of what we had planned for that day.

My DD was interested in art, so I just made the materials available for her. My younger DD (currently 3) is mostly interested in squeezing out piles of glue and putting tape on everything ;-) , so I try to make those available.
 
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