How to Homeschool a Toddler and Preschooler

 

Full disclosure: Rohan is not homeschooled full days. He attends a p/t Montessori place where he basically learns through play with a bunch of other adorable 4 year olds. Kaya is thoroughly jealous of Rohan going to “school.” She stages sit ins at her own personal picket line every time I bring her to drop off or pick up. It’s to the point now that I just drop her at my gram’s house, go pick up Ro, then scoop Kaya back up…just to avoid her protests. But, we felt sad that she felt left out so we have started “homeschooling” her. That wasn’t enough. She still begged to go to school, so she now attends “Library School.” (And she will tell you about her school, proudly.) It’s tricky having two different ages/stages to handle while helping them learn through play.

 

Here is how I handle homeschooling my toddler (2) and preschooler (4):

Remember that everything is homeschooling:

This is key for me. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Everything you do at home is homeschooling whether you label it that or not. Our lilspongeybrained kids are always watching and soaking up what we do, say, and don’t say. Play and interacting with us as parents is about 99% of their days and that’s how they learn. So I intentionally make everything a learning opportunity. Whether it’s decorating the bathroom, or doing laundry, we find a way to make the task fun and educational. I also narrate my moves telling the why behind what I’m doing and ask the kids for input on it to get their wheels turning. (Most recently Kai asked me why I was going outside to shake the dirt out of a rug, I asked her why did she think I was doing it outside? She said because the rug is too cold in this house. -… I took the hint and turned down the A.C. hahaha)

kaya peek

Make a dedicated school zone:

Our old kitchen table has been moved to the family room and has been dubbed the “activity table” where we do our arts and crafts and “school” work. I help one kiddo at the table while the other one uses The Touch & Learn Activity Desk™ Deluxe by VTech®. We then will do an activity like clay play or kinetic sand together. The Touch & Learn Activity Desk™ Deluxe by VTech® is a hit in our house. Rohan absolutely loves the desk and calls it his “station” and it really is. It’s an interactive play center that has nursery rhymes, games to teach him concepts, reading, math and more as he goes along. It also transforms into an art center with an easel that he can use chalk on, or clip paper to, and it can even be a music center as well. Kaya likes “the station” and when it’s just the two of us at home she will pull it over to wherever I am and start doing her “school”work. (It’s very light but very sturdy.) It’s also easy to switch out the activities so the kids can be independent and play on their own.

Be creative (or…just lie.):

Remember that “Library School” Kaya goes to? Yeah…well that’s just story time at our local library. They lead a group of kids in singing songs, reading a few stories and doing a craft. It’s twice a week but when it’s not in session (or when we’re late) Kaya and I go and she does “puzzle class” using all the puzzles in the kid section, and we discovered the computer area for younger kids so she’ll start “computer class” too (Basically whatever computer games they have while mommy uses her laptop to do some work beside her.) So….yeah…we got a little creative with the titles… or maybe we just straight up lied to our two-year old… either way, she’s happy and learning through play!

library school

 

Have special items for each child:

We share a lot in our house and try to instill sharing as a value with Rohan and Kaya…to an extent. We also know it’s important for them to have their own special items. So, with The Touch & Learn Activity Desk™ Deluxe by VTech®,  we let them know that they have to share it. They each get a set amount of time with it each day. However, we also made it special for each of them by giving them both their own proprietary extension packs. Rohan has the Getting Ready for Kindergarten pack and Kaya has the Getting Ready for Preschool pack. I’m going to buy the Math pack for them both to share, though. They have 8 extension packs to choose from for ages 2 through 5 so it’ll take a long time before your child “ages out” of the desk. This was one of the best educational toys purchases I have made in a long while. I really love that both my 2 and 4 year old are able to get so much out of it. I really love that the volume has more than just high, low and off like so many other toys that talk and sing. The kids know to keep the volume lower when they’re using it next to mommy while she works. #win. Another great feature is that the legs can come off without too much effort. Kai prefers to sit down and use the desk as a laptop toy. Rohan likes to sit at the desk “station” using the stool that’s included. So not only can we customize the skill level, the subjects and transform the desk to an easel, we can also cater to each kid’s comfort preference.

Check out The Touch & Learn Activity Desk™ Deluxe by VTech®! If you have a curious toddler or preschooler I am certain they’ll love it and learn from it!

 

What subjects do your little ones love to learn about?

 

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Teaching Kids (and Adults) Through #SciFi – #battlefieldearth #lronhubbard

rohan okdani

So Rohan is 4 years old. A couple months ago actually about a month before he turned four, he came over to me from where he’s playing and asks “Mommy, can I see the Kiber Belt please?” I said “huh?” He said “The Kiber belt, I want to see a picture. Can you show me?”

So being the good mommy I am (::look::) I go on google and enter Kiber Belt.  Rohan’s face is bright and beaming, excited to see what’s to pop up on my laptop screen. Google catches an attitude and is all: Did you mean Khyber belt? Did you mean Kuiper belt?

Rude!

Ummmm I don’t freaking know, google. It’s an accessory I think…it holds pants up. My kid wants to see a belt, that’s all I know. Sheesh.

Turns out:

kiber belt

So of course I ask Rohan how he knows about the Kuiper belt and he starts singing me a song about the solar system, and explaining the suns pull on the little asteroids… and I’m there, mouth agape… realizing my son is already smarter than me. (how am I gunna homeschool him again?)

Ha!

So with our learning through play we do let Rohan have screen time (sometimes more than I’d like, but I digress) and he is obsessed with anything space right now. Solar system, all the planets, dwarf planets (did you know that was a thing? I didn’t) galaxies…all of it. He plays many solar system songs over and over on youtube too. We’re both learning a lot about outer space! hehe

Library trips used to be all about finding books with trucks and cars…not anymore. He’s looking for anything with a planet on the cover, or a rocket. My little brother was big into space stuff and transitioned into science fiction books. My mom recently brought down some of his old sci fi chapter books and Rohan and I are reading those together. Since there are no pictures he can only stand it for a few pages at a time before the questions start rolling in (i inevitably ave to google for answers) and all hope for reading is lost.

I know kids go through phases, and I’m sure he’ll be on to something new soon, but I’m also certain the space/sci-fi/solar system phase is going to come back around again and I can’t wait until it does.  This time I’ll be ready!

PS: Did you know that they found organic compounds on an comet like a month or so ago? There’s life out there guys! *gulp*

On that note….

battlefield earth

L Ron Hubbard’s Battlefield Earth originally came out in 1982 and has been relaunched this year. It mixes actual historic events with an exciting fiction story that kids/teens/adults will enjoy. Once a kid is interested and passionate about something they’re more likely to want to read about it and learn about it. (click here to visit the Battlefield Earth Facebook page)

I went through a sci-fi+horror phase in reading as a preteen. I am 1000% sure Rohan is going to want to read this in a few years.

Kids are fascinated by space travel and the probability that intelligent life exists beyond our solar system. Feeding this natural interest and curiosity with a modern classic novel is a great way to get, or keep, your teens interested in reading.

Real Life:

In 1977, NASA launched the space probe Voyager. One of its missions was to answer the question is there intelligent life beyond our planet. Residing on the Voyager was golden disc containing voices, music, images of plants and animals on Earth—it also contained an interstellar map to Earth. Since at least 2010, Stephen Hawking, famed physicist, has spoken publicly about his fears that an advanced alien civilization would have no problem wiping out the human race the way a human might wipe out a colony of ants.

Sci Fi:

In his international bestselling novel, Battlefield Earth, author L. Ron Hubbard outlines the scenario of getting an answer from outer space, where the Voyager was picked up by an alien probe which resulted in Man becoming an endangered species.

Battlefield Earth was reissued with expanded author notes by Galaxy Press on June 14, 2016, along with CD Audio Set. (Click Here to purchase a copy today)

What would YOU do if aliens came to earth? (After peeing your pants I mean.)

You can have fun discussions with your kids about Science Fiction, and encourage them to write themselves, as some of their ideas may someday become reality, like automatic doors conceived by H.G. Wells, voice controlled computers conceived by Arthur C. Clarke, submarines conceived by Jules Verne, handheld devices to read books conceived by L. Ron Hubbard!

If you’re still working on your #52booksin2016 challenge, check this book out. Read it alone or with your teens!

Have you read Battlefield Earth?

This is a sponsored blog post. While all thoughts above are mine, consideration was paid to me by Galaxy Press to review this book

Laundry Homeschool – Learning Through Chores

“This post was sponsored by NEW! Tide purclean as part of an Influencer Activation for Influence Central. 

cute mixed toddler holding bottle of detergent with a smile

You know I often share my Learning Through Play posts, but today we’re switching up to learning through chores. I’m a believer that with children, everything is learning. Even before Rohan could speak we’d do little games to teach him his shapes, colors and concepts on the low. Well I did the same with Kaya and one of the ways we work on colors and matching is through laundry!

Here are 4 ways Laundry can be a Homeschool activity:

Colors

Having the kids help separate laundry is great as a time-saver for me, and helps with learning colors. I started them with lights, darks and brights. They enjoy helping, and I enjoy not having to do it myself! As they get older they can start to separate further when items have multiple colors, or don’t fall exactly in one of the categories.

Matching

After the laundry is clean it’s awesome to have a little helper match up socks, or make piles of white tees or blue jeans. It’s fun for them, they love to help. And it also teaches them how things happen to make their way from the bathroom floor to clean in their drawer/closet. I like that my kids know that work goes into keeping up the house, and clean clothes don’t magically appear in their rooms.

Concepts

Big vs small. Mommys vs Daddys. Wrinkled vs Smooth. Dirty vs Clean. ….heck even Stinky vs Smelling good! As you handle the laundry, seperate clothes, match them up and put them away there are plenty of opportunities to have little ones learn the concepts above. Simply asking “who’s is this?” and then “why?” can help them learn big/small or who things belong to.

Gym Class

When we’re finishing up the laundry I have Rohan run through the house to do a final check. I ask him to find any clothes that may be on the floor or on a bed, and bring it back to the laundry room. He gets a good workout and feels like an extra special helper (since it’s usually his job and not Kaya’s.)

target shopping cart filled with food supplies and tide

We recently started using Tide purclean (it’s new to the market but you can find it at Target stores) to clean our clothes because it’s a greener option. It has 65% bio-based ingredients. I feel better about having the kids help with the laundry when we’re using something less toxic since they take turns pouring (and always….all. ways. spill.)

If you want to try Tide purclean you can save $1.00 using the neckhanger and also save 10% on Cartwheel (you BETTER be using the Cartwheel app when you go to Target.)

tide logo purclean at target

Do your little ones learn through chores too?

Summer Camp at Home – Health & Fitness For Kids

7 WEEKS OF

I’ve joined forces with other mom bloggers to bring you the Summer Camp At Home series to inspire you on how to make an interesting, educational and (most importantly) FUN week by week “summer camp” while your children are home for the summer.

Here are the other subjects in our Summer Camp At Home series:

Check them all out when you get a chance.

Today’s subject is Health & Fitness!

Health & Fitness is an important subject for kids of all ages. The resources below are how to get kids active and teach about the body/food, as it relates to health and fitness, in an age appropriate way for young children. I broke it down by the different “times” we have each day in our house:

my 2 kids

Story Time:

Here are some books that can help teach health and fitness to kids:

healthy nutrition books for kids

Snack Time:

Snack and meal times are great opportunities for teaching the principles of healthy eating, and how food impacts the body. For young kids you can tell them how what they’re eating helps them.

Being specific helps, instead of saying “eat your greens so you get big and strong” you can say “this milk has calcium which helps keeps your bones hard and strong!”

Here’s something you can use to help facilitate that, mom:

foods in your body what foods do in your body

For days on the go, or when you want a quick healthy snack you can pick up treats from FreshKids (one of our fave brands for nonGMO snacks for the kiddies), or have fresh fruit and veggies readily available. We always have “grab and go” fruits available like berries, grapes and peeled sliced apples.

Making smoothies, fruit salads and bento boxes together is a fun way to make snack time an enjoyable learning opportunity.

fruit salad

(click here for fruit salad recipe)

greensmoothie lunch bento box

(bento lunch ideas here)

Be sure to talk about each ingredient and the benefit it has on your body as your child adds it to the dish. Great crossover learning opportunity with colors, textures, measurement, weight, etc.

Time to hydrate!

summer fun outside okdani

 

Drinking water is crucial for kids and adults alike. I’m grateful that my kids will chug whatever I give them (for now at least) but if your little ones are not fans of water, have them make their own fruit infused water. Get them their own infusion bottle to make it more special.

(click images below for details on each bottle)

                 

Lesson Time:

Making learning fun is key to having lessons absorbed and retained in little brains. Learning through play is everything at younger ages.

b65951d73ec24ead3e4bfc34fc202d4f

(Get them all HERE)

Screen Time:

I used to be against TV and screen times but I have loosened up a lot. I’m glad we have screen time (in moderation) because Ro has learned so much from youtube. You can find fun active games and activities by a simple search. Also you can find learning songs about nutrition, the human body and any health subject you wish!

shaun t fit kids

Shaun T’s Fit Kids Video – Perfect for rainy days or too hot for outside play days. Shaun T takes kids through fun “workouts” helping them stay active, learn to love exercise and enjoying every minute of it. He emphasizes the importance of staying fit and healthy and teaches as he goes.

Play Time:

Here are some fun playtime activities to help kids get active for increased health & fitness:

Things we do in our house: 

trampoline

Old School Games: 

  • Tag / Freeze Tag – indoors or outdoors
  • Duck Duck Goose – indoors or outdoors
  • Trampoline games
  • Playground time
  • Hopscotch – You can do this indoors using tape on the floor on really hot days
  • Roller Skating / Bike Riding
  • Neighborhood walks

My kids see me working out a lot so one of our favorite games is to let each child take turns being the “personal trainer” and leading the workout class. Whatever silly move your child makes up, you have to do it. Everyone gets more active and your kids get to be creative and feel empowered.

Toys that promote health and fitness: 

balance board

Duck Walker – Agility Balance Board This helps kids with agility, balance, and it’s just fun. You can set it up as part of an obstacle course, or just have it as an item available for indoor/outdoor play.

ROX – This game is geared to #getkidsmoving and is tons of fun – Kids can use their imagination as well as their bodies to create many game varieties with the Rox pods. Find it Here

pods

Gonge Riverstones – Great for balance and agility, coordination, and can be used as part of a game like tag or on its own.

pogo

Kidoozie Foam Pogo Jumper – It’s a pogo stick….’nuff said. Let your kids jump themselves silly!

Fun Activities to Get Active: 

25bfe0c4d287e46677f8b6608f60cf48    bd3897b7642bacf1ecd84b1d6c0602c5

An alternative to making the paper dice above is to:

  • write different moves on pieces of paper and place in a jar
  • write different times on pieces of paper and place in another jar
  • have each child pick one piece of paper from each jar and do the move for the amount of time indicated

Nap Time:

blissful silence

Explain to kids why nap time is important and helps them stay healthy. Remind them that their bodies heal and grow while they’re asleep!

A couple books that can help with naptime are:

  1. Naptime
  2. The Rabbit who Wants to Fall Asleep

Doing a bit of yoga to wind down before nap is also a fun and healthy activity for summer and all year round. Choose 5 poses from the image below to get kids stretched out and relaxed before they head to dreamland:

As a quick before nap sequence I’d suggest: Standing fold – Standing bend – Cat – Cow – Seated Front Bend – Lie and Rest

kids yoga

If you have older children/teens you can expand the Health & Fitness “lessons” to include biology, anatomy and physiology while still being fun!

  1. Nutrition Lessons for ages 10+
  2. Digestive System for Kids

ENJOY!!!

How do you get your kids active during the summer?

6 Ways To Encourage Reading in Kids

My little readers and I are partnering with Speakaboos via Type A Parent for this post.

my 2 kids

My mom made both my brother and I into bookworms and I’m grateful for it. I want to do the same for my littles. I want to encourage a love of reading (and a love of words in general) in them and not just while they’re little bits. I remember turning down party invites because I was too close to the end of a good book. And then trying to force everyone I know to read it so we could talk about it. I hope my kids get big into reading and I’m doing everything I can to foster it.

If you’re down, here are some ways you can do it too:

Read to them often

Reading to them at bed time is almost a given these days. It’s great for bonding, and helping kids love books. Reading to them throughout the day is a great bonus. (random book-reading is one of the ways I bribe them for good behavior)

Have them to read to you

You’ve never heard “Go Dog Go” until my son reads it to you. There are dragons, volcanos, children eating dinner…no dogs. Haha. His imagination goes wild. Once in a while he will truly “read” the story from memory. I know with older kids, switching the bedtime routine from you reading to them to them reading to you is a great way to keep the night time bonding going strong as they grow up.

kaya loves speakaboos

Encourage them to read on their own.

We are about to start a literature-based homeschooling curriculum with the kids that has us reading tons of books over and over. We have a “quiet time” each late afternoon where we do our independent reading. They can choose books from the bins or use the education and/or reading apps on one of our tablets. We recently started using Speakaboos which is a great tool. The kids can read on their own and interact with stories, learn languages, or be read to. (Did you see my instagram vid of the two monsters getting along peacefully using the app?! *glorious*)

speakaboos

Use technology

I love using screen time to encourage a love of reading in Kai and Ro. We have the Speakaboos app on my phone, John’s phone, his tablet and mine just so we’re always covered to avoid a meltdown. Both kids can use the app on different devices at the same time, and they both can click on things that interest them. Sesame Street, Sid the Science Kid, Little Pim and Thomas get the most play but they’re starting to branch out. The app was really intuitive too. I just opened it and handed it to Ro to see what would happen and he immediately found his homeboy Elmo and picked a song, then some stories. It was great to see he (and his sister) could be independent with it.

3 lil pigs

Let them pick their own books

We head to the library often. I will choose a few books that I think the children might like, but for the most part they pick their own books for the week. Rohan’s almost always have vehicles, space or lego represented. Kaya picks anything with a picture she recognizes… We’ve gotten the same autumn hello kitty book over and over.

Let them see you reading independently

I’m always reading something. (You already know) and if the kids see me reading they will grab their books or a tablet and come next to me and “read” too. I also try to read out loud if I’m following a recipe (like almost never…but still) or reading the directions on something.

Any exposure to reading the written word is good for kids this age. I figure if I start early (like…we started at birth lmao) they’ll know no other life other than a life of reading.

And now…. a giveaway!!

speakaboos giveaway

Speakaboos 1 Year Subscription Giveaway

We are big readers here and embrace learning through screen time so I am excited to partner with Speakaboos for this post and giveaway. Opinions are all my own.