Agh! My baby is turning 2 soon! I can hardly believe it, 2! Shock is the last thing I should be feeling right now, she is our 4th child after all. I should be use to how quickly they grow up, right? Nope, these milestones sneak up on me, 4th child or 1st, it all just speeds by so quickly. Time needs to slow down already!
While I have tried to slow down and cherish all of the baby moments with our last baby, I recently noticed a major change. She’s not a baby anymore. I know, Captain Obvious over here. What I mean is, she’s a toddler and capable of so much more in her day. I’m not limited to that quick window of time between feedings when if I time it just right, and go to the store with the great mother’s room last, I think I can squeeze in both errands without a major meltdown. That type of scheduling is a thing of the past. Now, with just an afternoon nap to contend with we have so much more freedom! As long as I have snacks, all the snacks, and I abide by her nap time requirements we can really get a lot done in a day.
Lots of free time, that’s what. While I appreciate all of the unscheduled time now that she’s older, it’s only 9:30. Breakfast is over and cleaned up, the big kids are off to school, laundry has been started, and the morning chores are done. So…now what?
I decided 2’s school is our answer, here’s why.
1 – I want to be intentional with her learning. It’s easy to schedule up our day, or have a lazy day at home. Both of which are awesome (and will still happen, often)! Who doesn’t love lazy jammie days at home baking cookies? However, as we breeze through our days I’m noticing that I’m not stopping and dedicating deliberate time to her intellectual development. Sure, she’s with me the entire day, and I feel like most of those days revolve around her, however, I need to hone in on some basic skills.
2 – My pocketbook can’t handle it! Scheduling up our days with playdates, running errand, and taking mommy and me classes is expensive. Living in Minnesota we have a long stretch of time where we just can’t go to the park, it’s too cold, windy, snowy, unsafe, and closed for the season. We do try to take every opportunity we can to be outdoors playing in the snow piles, sledding, ice skating in the back yard, etc. However, most days I feel like the amount of time it takes to get the kids all bundled up, is longer than they are actually outside. For real, some days it hurts my face to be out there, those days it’s 5 minutes max before we’re headed back indoors. Then we are back inside quickly and requests for hot chocolate are being made. Sigh.
Luckily there are many places to play indoors and countless options for enrichment classes here where we live. Let me tell ya, they add up quick! I have purposely tried to limit it this winter to our local early childhood class (which is very reasonably priced and we love it), and a free story time at the local library.
3 – She is a sponge. Everything that she encounters is soaking in and she’s spitting it right back out. Why not have it be her shapes, letters, numbers, etc. that she’s repeating back to us? I feel like I owe it to her to invest in this stage and feed her brain with little bits of knowledge now and then.
What’s it going to look like?
It’s going to look like playing. Having homeschooled our oldest for Kindergarten and our twins for preschool I know that the most effective ways to teach them new skills was through play. Of course, there were plenty of times that we sat down and did table work. How else are you going to learn to write your name? When possible, I like the learning to be hands on and engaging. It’s more fun and effective for them to learn through play, and it’s more fun for me to teach that way.
It’s going to look like us running errands, being outside, and visiting new places. There is plenty to learn when you are on the go, especially if you are intentional with your outings. I found with the older kids, if I had lesson plan or an outline of what I wanted to teach them, I was able to more easily make references to what we were learning at home while on the go. Teachable moments happen all the time, and they don’t have to feel forced. Learning about the seasons? What better place to do that than your local nature center? Take a walk and talk about the changes that are happening. Note the leaves crunching under your feet or the buds on the branches, or talk about the animals that you hear or don’t hear because they have hibernated/migrated.
It’s going to look like messy art projects, singing, dancing, and all out silliness. Our youngest is by far, the goofiest of all four kids. Already at almost 2 she has quite the sense of humor, even if she doesn’t have the vocabulary to go along with it, yet anyway. If I don’t make it fun for her, she’s not going to want to do it, and quite frankly, neither will I. If we’re not enjoying the activities that I plan we will be more likely to skip our 2’s school time in favor of something else.
It’s going to look like us reading books, so many books! If you want to raise a reader, read, read, and then read some more. Our house is busting at the seams with books, we LOVE books! In every bedroom there are books, in most of the shared living spaces there are books. I pull out books that are appropriate for the season and placed them in a special bins so that they are easily accessible and not just sitting on the shelf waiting for someone to find them. We go to the library all the time and get new books. We go online and request books on subjects we’re interested in learning more about. Our youngest actually cheers when we pull into the library parkinglot. I call that a parenting win right there!
It’s going to look like giggles, snuggles, and lots of fun! Hopefully, most days.
What am I going to teach her?
My next step, now that I’ve committed to 2’s school, is to make a lesson plan. First I’m going to make a list of objectives that I want to teach her. Here are some items on my working list:
- beginning letter recognition (focusing on the letter in her name first)
- fine motor skills
- count verbally 1-5
- count objects 1-5
- colors – red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple
- shapes – triangle, circle, square, star
Second, I’m going to pick the themes that we will be working on. I like doing themes because I feel that it switches things up easily. Within each theme we can do new songs, obtain new books from the library (or pull them out from our shelves), create art projects to match, and even add in some fun science, history, and geography every now and then. Here are some themes on my working list:
- fairy tales
- Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter
- Five in a Row books – specifically picking from the before five in a row collection
If you don’t know what Five in a Row is and you’re thinking about doing homeschooling in any capacity with your younger children, but you just don’t know what to do or where to start, I encourage you to check it out (ps – this is not a sponsored post, I just love it that much). First off, the books are amazing, you probably have half of them in your library at home or read them as a child. Second, they do a wonderful job laying out how to teach the lessons to your child, even if you have no formal teaching experience (like me!). It is really a great resouce.
Third, I will make an outline for our school year. On the outline I’ll put themes as they seem appropriate (we’re not going to learn about fall in the spring, for example). Then, I’m going to place the objectives where they seem to fit best within the themes. Lastly, I’ll find or make up projects that fit with what we’re working on during each theme (read: Pinterest). This should give me a lesson plan that I can work with and adjust throughout the year.
I’m excited to get 2’s school running with my littlest. I think we are both going to enjoy having a little more direction and structure to our days.
As I finalize my objectives, themes, and lesson plan I’ll be sure to share them with you here on my blog, check back often, or subscribe to my blog for easy email updates. I promise to also keep you updated on what we do at 2’s school, I’m hopeful it will be full of all the giggles, snuggles, and fun I referenced earlier!
Do you do 2’s school with your little? I’d love to hear what you do, what you found that works/doesn’t work in the comments below. Or drop me an email at email@example.com
x – Nicole