The typical age for children to begin formal schooling is either 4 or 5 years of age, beginning either preschool or kindergarten. The definition of “school” is simply obtaining knowledge in a structured environment. Many children obtain knowledge before they reach the age of four, whether it is a structured environment or not. I have already been doing activities that promote motor skills and social abilities with my little one (see my Weekly Activity Plan for Baby’s First Year!), but starting this Fall I am planning on being even more intentional with the way that I teach and train her. She reached her first birthday last month, and though it may seem too early to begin “homeschooling” her, I believe that children are more aware and knowledgeable than most people realize.
One morning a few days ago my little one and I were having our Bible time together, reading from 1 John 1, which compares living and not living according to the Bible as walking in the light and walking in the darkness. I read the chapter, and then began explaining what it meant to Lilly. She continued munching on her breakfast, but about the third time I said the word “light” she stopped and pointed to the light above our heads in the kitchen. I said “Yeah, that’s a light! Walking in the light is like living according to God’s Word. Good job!” For the rest of our Bible time every time I said “light” she would point to the light. This is not something we’ve really taught her (but we have told her what lights are), so I was pretty surprised to discover that she knew that word all on her own.
Too often have I heard moms say, “My child understands more than I realized” and then go on to tell a similar story of how their child surprised them with words they understood, emotions to express, or commands to obey. I think that because we can’t always understand or know for sure that our kids are learning something because they can’t communicate with us yet, we assume that they aren’t learning or growing cognitively (I’m guilty of this too!).
So really, it would appear that kids are homeschooling but parents are not. Any healthy growing child is committed to learning and developing, but not all parents are. So if your child is going to soak up anything you give him like a sponge, wouldn’t you want to be intentional about the toys and activities you present to him, the way you speak and interact with him, etc.?
This is homeschooling. Taking the world around us and learning from it. Being intentional about gleaning information and knowledge from our experiences.
Saying that I’m homeschooling my one-year-old is really more of a standard for me than it is for her. I don’t have any expectations for her other than she learns, grows, and has fun. But I as a parent need the accountability of “homeschooling” to make sure that I regularly introduce new ideas and concepts to her in repetition. I also need more of the structure side of schooling, so that I have a plan for each day and don’t waste time or use it in a way that’s not beneficial for her.
That being said, I still believe that the best thing you can do for your child is to love them. At whatever age, a child’s schooling should really be more about the experience of learning over what they actually learn. If we want our children to grow up to be adults that value learning and growth, then we should make learning fun and a part of life.
With my child starting homeschooling in a few months, I’ll be releasing a homeschool curriculum soon with printables, activities, and a game plan for working with your toddler! If you’re interested, be on the lookout for it this Fall! Once my little one reaches her 2nd Life Day in August (see why we celebrate Life Day instead of Birthday here), we will begin our homeschool.
I’m excited and eager to begin this new journey with my daughter! If you have any questions or comments about about how this “early homeschooling” can or did work for you, let me know!