Homeschooling a One Year Old

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Let me start off by saying that there are those who don’t consider what I’m doing to be homeschooling. Many just look at it and say, “Oh, that’s just how you should be parenting your child.” No, there are many ways to parent your child. In my opinion, if you have actively looked into preschool activities for your child, and you wish to consider it homeschooling, by all means, call it homeschooling.

We didn’t actually start actively “homeschooling” until our little one was about 17 months old. Before that, she was more likely to put things in her mouth than to play with them in almost any other way.

That being said, here’s what you are all wondering: What do I do to homeschool my one year old?

Read Together

This is the number one thing that you should actually start before they even turn one. Even if they aren’t sitting calmly by you, hearing the stories will expand their vocabulary before they can even talk. If you start reading to them early, as they get bigger and more active, they are more likely to sit still for story time because they have been exposed to it for as long as they can remember.

It has been proven time and time again that future ACT scores aren’t higher in those that studied their butts off in high school with flashcards or worksheets. No, they found that it’s higher in those whose parents read to them from a young age.

As you read, point out different things in the picture: colors, counting, what’s going on. In addition to teaching them, it also helps keep their rather short attention spans on the book in front of them by keeping them engaged.

So, read, read, READ!

Play Outside

Kids learn best when they are playing. This includes indoor and outdoor play. Taking them outdoors lets them explore the world around them. It offers valuable gross motor skills like running, hopping, and throwing balls. You can use it as a counting lesson by counting leaves or sticks. Tell them to find a stick or a leaf or a flower to bring to you. Point out any sounds, smells, colors that you see. Anything and everything can be a learning moment for your toddler. Remember, the world is still brand new to them.

Independent Play

This is so, so important! As tempting as it is to direct all of your toddler’s activities into “educational” moments, remember what I said in the last point. Kids learn best when they are playing. Even if you don’t think it’s very educational, it is. It really is. Many times, if you allow them access to various “educational” activities, even without you right there with them, they’ll gravitate to them.

It’s generally during independent play that their imagination begins to grow. It’s fascinating to watch them play when they think no one is watching. You can practically see the connections forming in their little brains as they put everything they’ve learned so far together.

Sensory Bins

If you have never heard of sensory bins before, they are one of the best teaching tools for toddlers in my opinion. They are simply a container filled with objects designed to give your child a tactile experience. Usually there is a filler of some sort (water, beads, sand, salt, beans, bird seed, pebbles etc.) taking up the majority of the container with other objects inside as well.

Sensory bins let your child discover practical life skills such as scooping, pouring, dumping, sorting and filling. I also use it as a simple way of teaching my toddler how to pick items up and put them where they belong if any of the pieces stray away from the container. It allows toddlers to explore multiple senses as the play: touch, sight, sounds, and sometimes even taste and smell.

Most of the sensory bins in our home are sorted by color, so we use them as a way of learning colors as well.

This is one of those things that I recommend for any parent because it is useful in other ways as well. Since my now 19 month old can be entertained for a good 10-20 minutes with a sensory bin, I’m able to do a quick load of dishes while she plays.

Use Their Interests

Just like with homeschooling children at any other age, use your one year old’s interests to your advantage. Find ways to incorporate them into learning.

For example: my daughter loves animals and nature. So, we have various children’s books that teach about different animals. There’s some with secret flip pages for her to discover. There’s some that incorporate feaux fur and leather to give her a tactile experience. There’s even some that make animal sounds. We have animal puppets and stuffed animals for her to include in her play. We count the different animals in the books as we read them. We point out the different colors as well. We sometimes go through the alphabet and point out which animals start with which letter.

It just makes learning even more fun for them than it already is.

Life Skills

Honestly, any kind of learning can fall under homeschooling if you think about it. Older homeschoolers do it, why can’t the parents of toddlers?

In our house, we put emphasis on learning basic life skills that we can continue to build on as they get older. Our one year old knows how to throw things away, wipe up a spill, do the dishes, put away (light, non breakable) from the dishwasher, stir a pot of food (while supervised at all times and away from hot surfaces, of course), turn on and off light switches, close doors, being gentle with babies and animals, zip and unzip zippers, put toys away, etc. We are always sure to keep it simple and safe enough for her to handle, and she loves being able to help.

So Basically…

Almost anything that you would do with any preschooler you can do with a one year old. It’s just a matter of simplifying some things a bit.

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