When my two oldest were young we started our research into homeschooling. Once we made the decision to give it a go, I was ready to get started! That’s how I work, once I have made my decision about something I’m ready to jump into action.
I loved reading about what other homeschool moms were doing and blogs were nothing like they are now in terms of shear volume and there was no Pinterest! I can’t even begin to fathom homeschooling without the internet 😉
Even then I enjoyed researching curriculum and book lists. I guess that’s why I still enjoy blogging after all these years, I need an outlet for all the stuff in my head and all the ideas I come across.
Anyway, I was eager to start doing “real school” with my oldest. Not because he was gifted or pushing for real work, and not because I was interested in pushing him either. Looking back what I longed for was a bit more structure in our days. Truthfully the days can feel a bit endless when all the children in your home are under 4 or 5. Frankly, and I’m being very honest here, it can be a bit boring! I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world, I loved having that time with my kids, having 4 kids 5 and under was a little wacky and some structure was good.
While I wanted more structure in our day, I knew that workbooks and drilling ABC’s/123’s were not the way to go – at least not for us.
Ideas to Nurture Learning in Young Children
Start building a good routine – meals, snack time, nap time and regular time to do simple chores. Â It pays off to start building good habits when our kids are young.
Go to Mass – mass during the week is short and a great training time for little kids. It helps our children to know that church isn’t something that is just on Sunday. Start teaching short prayers like the Hail Mary. Celebrate Feast Days!
READ – take weekly trips to the library. I didn’t know about Five in a Row when my kids were very young, but Before Five in a Row is a great resource for book suggestion and simple go-along activities. Our 10 Favorite Read Alouds,andÂ Books Worth Reading Pinterest Board also have suggestions for books that we have loved as a family.
Simple Arts & Crafts – make play dough often, finger paint, paint with shaving cream on trays (in the tub for even easier cleanup!) I’ve never been one to be into elaborate crafts, remember it’s the process more than the finished product. Easy baking or other simple food ideas.
Field Trips – take weekly trips to the park, nature parks, go to the zoo – meet friends or go by yourselves, either way is good.
Sensory Bins – I didn’t know about these when my older kids were young either, but we have used them a bit with the younger kids. The ideas are limitless!
Honor and Appreciate Their Interests
It won’t be long and your children’s interests will appear. Follow their interests and let that be your curriculum. My oldest loved Thomas the Tank engine and all sorts of trains. He still loves trains! He had a train set, we searched out places to ride trains, and I can’t tell you how often we would drive around looking for trains. We read books about trains. Watched movies about trains, you name it we did it.
Our second oldest has always had a love of animals. One of his very first words was “kitty”. He loved going to the zoo, nature centers, really anything outside exploring. We have been able to nurture this love of nature in pretty simple ways over the years.
When it was time for Jacob to begin kindergarten I ended up using a boxed curriculum. It was good and “bad”. Good because it gave me a level of confidence that I wasn’t missing anything, but bad in the sense that I didn’t really need to purchase anything, we could have just kept going with what we were doing.
However you choose to start schooling your young children, have confidence that while friends, family (and blogs!) are well meaning, you know your children best. Don’t feel pressure to sit down with workbooks or do elaborate activities. Running errands, preparing dinner, playing with siblings and other family members, reading good books, their play is their work.
More Beginning Homeschooling Resources
A great resource is Homeschool Made Simple – I highly recommend it!