5 Simple Things to do NOW to Prepare your Toddler for Kindergarten… no preparing or special books or stuff required! 🙂
Plus, why homeschooling your little one is easier than you might think!
There’s no denying it. Being a mom is hard work! Being a mom in the 21st century, where we have instant access to all kinds of information, makes it even harder.
Conflicting information, self-doubt, it makes it easier to compare ourselves to others and wonder if we’re enough, doing it right, and so on.
So, why is homeschooling your toddler or preschooler easier than you might think? Why would you want to add one more thing to your already full plate? Isn’t it easier to send your little one off to preschool and let someone else teach them?
It might be easier to have someone else teach your little one, but is it what’s best for your child?
Let me ask you this: why do you think you need to send your son or daughter to preschool?
Is it because it’s what your friends are doing?
What everyone else seems to be doing?
Is it because you drive by a preschool each time you go to the grocery store?
Does it seem like it’s what you’re supposed to do so that your little one is ready for kindergarten?
Are you a “bad mom” if you don’t send your child to preschool, because you’re not giving them everything you can?
IF we don’t have to send our little ones because of work or scheduling needs, the most common reason parents send their little ones to preschool is because we doubt our own ability to teach our little ones and because we think we’re supposed to.
It’s what everyone else is doing, so we feel like it’s what we should be doing too. Not in the same “if your friends jumped off a bridge would you do it too?” type speech we go from our parents in high school, but because it seems like it’s what we’re supposed to do, like it’s the natural progression of things. Have a baby. When they’re 2 or 3, send them to preschool so they’re ready for kindergarten when they turn 5. After kindergarten comes 1st grade…
But, that doesn’t make it right.
There are plenty of studies that show that kids who attend preschool are no better off than kids who don’t. And, if it’s not the right preschool, then the effects of preschool can be detrimental. Our kids are going to spend the first 72% of their lives in school (13 years out of 18). Why should we increase that time spent sitting in a chair doing somewhat meaningless tasks?
Now, I don’t mean to diss or insult teachers of any kind. I am a teacher. I spent my time in the classroom, but if we’re being perfectly honest, most of the lessons we do aren’t for the kids (thank you, mandated curriculum and standards), and if we’re lucky enough to do activities and lessons for our specific set of kids, we’re still not able to reach them all and tailor each day to individual kids (thank you, large class sizes and huge workload). So, young children do not need to spend more time in a traditional classroom environment. If anything, they need LESS time.
You are qualified to teach your toddler or preschooler.
How do I know?
You can read (you made it this far into this article, after all, so I know you can read). 😉
You know your colors. Shapes. Numbers.
You can count and you know the difference between 7 and 5.
You know the alphabet and what sound each letter makes.
You’re the parent. You want what’s best for your child. You know your child better than anyone.
This makes you qualified.
Now, that might not mean you want to teach your little one or that you have time to teach your little one, but that’s a different issue.
In the United States, we’re made to feel that we must send our kids to preschool or we’re doing them a disservice. We’re bad parents who don’t care about our children or their futures if we don’t send them to preschool, which simply isn’t true.
How do I know?
I’ve received the same criticism, even from people who know I’m a teacher, that I resigned from teaching in the public school system after my kids were born. Yes, you read that right. Even though I went to COLLEGE for an extra year to get a teaching credential, passed test after test to become a teacher, and am qualified by the State of California to teach CLASSROOMS of other people’s kids, some doubt my ability to teach my own TWO children at home. Or, maybe they’re just used to the idea that “everyone” sends their kids to preschool, so the thought of doing something else never occurred to them.
So, I get it. And, it’s got to be even worse if you don’t have a background in education like I do. I mean, gosh, as a secretary, nurse, or police officer (or whatever occupation you had prior to having kids), how could you possibly teach a child under the age of 5!? (Where is the sarcasm font?!).
Knowing you’re qualified doesn’t make the thought of teaching your little one any less daunting, especially if you’re not an educator by trade.
So, what can you do?
How can YOU teach your toddler or preschooler at home without losing your mind?
- Talk to them. Learning opportunities are everywhere. Explain what you’re doing. Talk about your next steps and why. Ask them questions. Just talk. And, while you’re talking, talk to your little ones like they can understand you. They understand more than we give them credit for. And, using “big” words will increase their vocabulary, which is one of the greatest predictors of success.
- Involve them. Let your little ones help. This goes back to #1 and talking with them, but teaching life skills and letting our little ones learn by doing and helping us incorporates so much. Part of doing laundry is sorting. That’s a math skill. Cooking and baking are science… trust me, there’s SO much learning and teaching involved when you simply include your little ones in what you’re doing instead of letting them play by themselves or sit in front of the TV.
- Read. This is 3rd on my list for a reason. It’s important, but it’s not the most important thing. Young kids are on the move, so if you focus on #1 and #2, you’ll get more mileage than if you focus on reading. But, reading is important. And, there are ways to make it a great learning experience and teach reading skills that will make reading easier for your little ones down the road, when they’re ready.
- Let them be bored. Yes, this may sound contradictory, after all, if you’re skipping preschool, shouldn’t you be spending every waking moment making sure your kid’s learning something? No! There’s lots of learning in being bored. Lots of creativity, problem-solving, and oh so much more. Trust me, it’s good for them. Give them open-ended toys (blocks, dolls, toy vehicles, balls, etc) and let them create their own fun. As an added bonus, this gives you a few minutes to enjoy a hot cup of coffee. 🙂
- Play and have fun! Do what works for you, but research supports that children learn best through play and by DOING. When they’re young, there’s lots of learning involved in play. Use that to your advantage! I take the mystery out of it and out of coming up with fun activities to do in my signature program, The Academy. When you join The Academy, you get access to me and other like-minded moms for support, accountability, and so much more. If you’re more of the DIY type, grab your copy of Learning at Home today! It’s inspired by The Academy, but as an ebook.
My complete approach to teaching toddlers and preschoolers at home is a lifestyle. It’s a way of being and doing, but that doesn’t mean you can’t use it, which is why I have The Academy, which is similar to a monthly gym membership and Learning at Home, which is more like buying a series of workout DVDs. But, if you want the whole thing, please take a peek into my daily life by following me on Instagram or Facebook, or connecting with me in my FREE community group. You can also work with me and we can create a plan and approach specifically for you and your family. 🙂
Have a few moments? Check out some of our favorite learning toys and tools in my shop (affiliate link).