Yesterday was the first day back to school for our 11 year old student… that means it’s time for all of us to hit the books and study countries and cultures, the topics of our curriculum this year. But that could mean that there’s a one year old feeling left out because attention is taken away from him. And that’s why, much to the frustration of many other parents, I’m starting him in a homeschooling study, too.
Let’s get one thing straight. When referring to the little one, I’m using the term “homeschool” very, very loosely. His homeschool consists of the following:
-Some reading time, both with mommy and by himself
-Some music time, both dancing to the rhythms on a CD, and making our own music with store-bought and homemade instruments
-Art time, allowing Zach to color, paint, look at paintings and photographs, and explore messy art activities (like shaving cream bath paints)
-Structured play, such as play involving sensory boxes, his sand and water table, homemade crafting, sensory games using taste and smell, and more activities that we play and work on together.
-Free play, where he can do whatever he likes (provided it’s safe!) both indoor and outdoor, whether he’s climbing or crawling or playing with the dogs, or choosing to spend more time making music long after our lesson ends.
Zach won’t be in any formal structured schooling for more than 45 minutes each day, split into 4 short lessons to keep his attention span, with plenty of free play, napping, and time with momma in between. For our homeschooling, we take inspiration from several books, from Pinterest, from other homeschool families and bloggers, and from my own creative inspiration.
I am not going to have lessons where I say “Okay, Zach, time to sit down and do math for 15 minutes.” Instead, I pose an invitation, such as “Look, Zach! Here are some pom poms and tongs. Can we put some pom poms in this muffin tin with the tongs?” I’ll demonstrate the activity, and then give him an opportunity to try it, or to make the task his own, or to work on a different task. If he turns down the invitation for an activity, we just move on.
It’s all about following a child’s leads and helping him have a positive learning environment, and giving him invitations to learn.
But why, you might ask. Why am I taking time to homeschool a one year old?
Because, kids get bored with free play. Zach likes to play with his cars and climb on his playset and spin around in circles, and roll balls across the floor. But after a certain amount of time, this makes him fussy and frustrated. Giving him structured activities throughout the day show him that mommy values him, and values learning, and wants to give him a new experience or activity.
Kids also look up to other kids. Even one year olds have their idols and heroes. Zach’s uncle is his hero, and crazy enough, if his uncle is working on a writing project, Zach wants that pen so he can do his own project. If Jeffrey is working with clay, Zach wants some clay. Learning is a very good skill to encourage him to emulate. I want him to know that it is very cool to mimic Jeffrey’s learning.
And, honestly, it gives Zach a chance to practice the skills he’s already good at, stimulating his self-esteem and sense of accomplishment. It also gives him a chance to be challenged and learn new skills he doesn’t yet have, which will help him develop.
When homeschooling a one year old, you have to remember that it is all about play. It’s about play that is just for fun, about play that helps teach new skills, and about play that really enforces skills we know. It’s about staying consistent, but also moving forward.