It’s August, and I can tell that getting back to school is on everyone’s brains. Even though I finished college years ago and my oldest is not even three, I can’t help but be influenced by the beautiful Back-to-School supplies set up conveniently near each check-out line. You see, I absolutely love all-things ‘schooly’. I was homeschooled myself growing up and had a really positive experience with it, so perhaps that has something to do with it. But I think it’s more. It’s the brightly colored notebooks, shiny pencils, and patterned binders that seem to call out my name… “Use me for something! Think of the possibilities!”
Even though we don’t follow the public school schedule, the season has inspired me to rethink and revamp how we do things around here. I’ve been looking things up on Pinterest, Google, youtube, etc, just to see what I could be doing better, how to make it more fun, or more effective. And I’m not the only one. In the last week alone, I’ve had three different requests from other mothers of toddlers to pass along what I’ve been doing school-wise. So I’ve decided to embark on an entirely new series. I’m not sure how many parts it will be, but the first will be on my philosophy of teaching toddlers, so you’ll know exactly where I’m coming from.
First off, there are several different trains of thought when it comes to schooling toddlers. Some people are adamantly against it at all. I’ve been counseled by some to just let kids be kids and not try to structure their day too soon. I should say I really, really appreciate getting input from others. I know that I’m still young and have a lot to learn from those who have come before me. I really value input (so bring on the comments, hint, hint!), but after I think over what you have to say, I’ll end up doing what I think is best for us. If there is anything I’ve learned about raising kids, it’s that people and families are different.
My family thrives on structure. No, seriously, we really thrive. For us, if there’s anything that will ruin the atmosphere of our home, it’s waking up to absolutely no plan and bumping into things as we go along. Now, that doesn’t mean we’re busy all the time. Some days, especially sick days, the actual ‘plan’ might be to sit around and watch movies all day, drink hot tea, and cuddle on the couch. Also, I should point out that we follow a routine and not a schedule. We do things in a certain order and know what to expect throughout the day. I do not have everything set in stone, or written down to the minute somewhere. I also try not to let myself get stressed if we don’t get to everything.
Life has a way of not going exactly as planned, and life with little ones especially requires flexibility. So expect interruptions. Not only expect them, but embrace them. To quote a popular pirate, these are “more like guidelines, than actual rules“.
I’ve been ‘schooling’ my toddler (in a very relaxed manner) since before he was two (he’s almost three now). We’ve had great results and it’s become a part of our routine day. I love teaching, Gabriel soaks things in like a sponge, and we both have fun doing it. Routines just work for us really well. Personally, I believe there is nothing wrong in teaching children from a young age, or even ‘scheduling’ when and how you teach them, as long as:
A) They’re enjoying themselves
B) You’re enjoying yourself.
If both of those are not happening, stop what you’re doing, reevaluate, and find something that works better. More important than cramming actual facts into your toddler’s head, is introducing the love of learning. Your child will eventually learn his colors and shapes before adulthood, but your attitude about learning now will influence them for years to come.
In my next post, I’ll start off by sharing how I structure my toddler’s day…