I started homeschooling Brynlee right after she turned 3. Routine helped a lot, but “school” time was pretty short and not super structured. Lots of hands on, lots of visually stimulating books and activities. If you have older kids, your homeschooling day will look very different, but if you are just looking to start somewhere with your 2-4 year old, here is what we do:
After breakfast we always have calendar time. We use this Melissa and Doug one, which is simple enough for the girls and it doesn’t have a ton of pieces like a traditional wall calendar does.
We do exactly what Susie from Busy Toddler does in this video. Even my 1 year old loves to pull up her chair and sing along with the songs!
After calendar, we have story time. Our story either connects with the theme or letter we are doing for that week. Throughout the story, I ask Brynlee questions that relate to our theme, or I tell her to put on her “Super Reader Glasses” to find the letter of the week.
Once the story is over, we move onto the rug right in front of the easel. If it’s Monday, I write the upper and lowercase letter in the center of the board, and we (mostly me) brainstorm words that start with that letter.
I scored our easel second-hand for $15, and love it. Well ok, if I’m honest, it’s missing hardware and isn’t the sturdiest thing ever but it does it’s job. I have found Annabelle squatting on its little shelf a couple times and can’t help but think it’s going to collapse. I can’t seem to find our exact one online, but this one on amazon is super similar: whiteboard, chalkboard, shelf and rod for a paper roll on top. This one even has a spot for paint containers, and looks way sturdier!
While prepping for the day, either during breakfast or the night before, I get at least eight things in mind that make the same sound for that letter. For example, for “Gg” I could draw a gorilla, goose, someone running for “go”, grapes, and green crayon, but I would be careful not to include giraffe. Because she is just starting to learn about letter sounds, I don’t want to confuse her with hard and soft sounds. Even a year or two down the road when she is learning to spell, it is totally acceptable and expected of her to spell “giraffe” with a “j”.
With each word we chose, I draw a picture on the board that represents that word. When I prep, I make sure that I know how I am going to draw the words I plan to talk about. For me it is as simple as typing “elephant clipart” in Google Images and finding a simple enough drawing I can copy. Your pictures do not have to be perfect! As long as your child can identify what they are, thats all that matters. Make sure to never say that you are bad at drawing or can’t draw (or anything for that matter) because your littles pick up on that. The last thing you want is for them to be self-conscious of what they do and create. If B comes up with a word and is excited about it, I’ll let her draw it on the board. [See that little guy under the letter Dd? That’s her Uncle Danny!] I’m sure she will do this even more this up coming year.
After she can identify everything on the board, we move to fine motor skills. This could be letter or line tracing, scissor practice, gluing, coloring, etc. If at this point she is staying focused and wanting to do more, we will complete some addition worksheets. For all of these, I use free printables from Fun with Mama which are awesome! All you have to do is put in your email and you will be able to download a ton of resources. I’ve used them a bunch!
Next up is our special activity. This could be a letter craft (like in the picture above), a sensory bin, sorting activity, game, or anything else that is hands on that correlates with our theme.
I like to have a verse of the week, and the girls love to learn them in song form. We usually utilize YouTube for this, and they watch the video a handful of times each day of the week. Some channels we use for this are: https://www.youtube.com/user/therizers and https://www.youtube.com/user/hillsongkids . I am looking forward to this upcoming year to go deeper in the Word with more Bible stories.
I let the girls have a little iPad time (Brynlee is using it and Annabelle watches what she is doing on the TV via AppleTV) while I clean up or get lunch prepped. The apps she can go on are strictly educational during this time. Starfall and Homer are our favorites.
If I have errands to run and we get done with school early enough, we will do those now. Typically though, we are ready for a snack, some outdoor play, then lunch. After lunch it’s naptime and some much-needed peace and quiet for mama!
That’s about it for our school day!
Brynlee will be turning four soon, and we will be starting up school shortly after. Because she is a little older now and Annabelle will be two, somethings will shift a bit. More non-fiction picture books, more sensory bins, more things for Annabelle to keep busy with (stay tuned for a post dedicated to Tot School and how I will prep for that.) Thanks for tagging along on this journey with us! We are definitely learning as we go, and having a great time!