Home Education With A Two Year Old
My eldest is getting ready to turn two. And with a newborn in the house, it’s easy not to get anything done at all in a day. I want to start some good habits now, to be sure we are ready and disciplined enough for grade-school homeschooling when the time comes. For that reason I’ve put together a list of material to work on teaching my toddler. The point of these subjects is not to put pressure on Little Fox, but to have fun learning together. Most of the topics I’ve chosen just require me to talk to her about a subject, so it’s fine if she’s running around and playing with other toys.
Toddler Math Topics
Shapes is one of the topics we’ve already started working on. Little Fox has one of those puzzle toys where you push shapes through, and each shape only fits through its proper corresponding hole. We also have a book that makes animals out of shapes, and I name the shapes as we flip through and she points that them. Her favourite shape is the oval, and it’s really cute to hear her say “oh-woll.”
Since Little Fox already enjoys pointing at shapes to get me to say the name, I decided to make some large shape flash cards. I’m printing them on 8.5×11 paper and laminating them. Then we can read through the shapes like a book. And we spread them out over the floor and talk about whichever one Little Fox points at. Or I can put one shape up on her magnet board and we can search for other toys and objects in the house that are the same shape.
Numbers (Recognition and Counting)
Recently we bought a Melissa and Doug wooden puzzle which has the numbers 0 through 9. It has pictures of objects matching the number underneath where the number goes. So far I’ve mostly just been naming the numbers as Little Fox plays with the puzzle, which is going to help her recognize each number. But there’s a lot more we can do to help her feel familiar with numbers.
One of the things we are going to do is spend time counting her toys. Little Fox likes to hand me toys throughout the day, and when she does I’m going to start counting them aloud to her. When she becomes more familiar with counting, I’ll bring in the concept of adding and taking away. “I have three cars and you’ve brought me one more. Three plus one more is four.” I’ll also try asking her for a number of objects. “Can you bring me two toy foxes?”
After that, we’ll work on the concept of more and less. I’ll make two piles of toys and ask her which has more toys in it. Once that becomes familiar, I’ll bring in the concept of equal. One way we’ll do this is by asking her to share a pile of toys between her and a plush toy. I’ll tell her we want them both to have the same number of toys. Then, we’ll divide up the toys together and talk about how her and the plush animal have an equal number of toys. Of course, we can also count the toys and work on adding and taking away at the same time.
We are also going to work on the concept of sizes. First there’s recognizing big, medium, and small. Then there is the concept of bigger and smaller. Just like with numbers, our toy collection is going to be the main source of material for this topic.
First I’ll collect toys that come in three sizes. Then I’ll talk with Little Fox about the size of the toys. “This is a big car! And this is a medium sized car. Oh and look, this car is very small. Once Little Fox starts to become familiar with the words big, medium, and small, we’ll start comparing the sizes of objects.
Patterns and Sorting Colours
The last math topics I plan on working on with my toddler are patterns and sorting colours. We’ll probably start with colour sorting. Again, toys are a good material for this. But I also think we’ll use food. Little Fox loves fruit gummies. So we’ll have fun sorting those.
Patterns might be a difficult topic early on. So we are going to start just by talking about patterns and recognizing them. So when we are out and see a striped wallpaper, or if we see books piled alternating blue then red, I’ll point out that it is a pattern and what the pattern is. When patterns start to become familiar, we will start talking about what comes next.
Math is one of my favourite subjects. And it’s important to me that my children are comfortable with math. Exposing them to mathematical concepts early will help their confidence.
The first way I am working on teaching language arts to my children is by reading aloud to them. This starts when they are born, and isn’t something I’m just adding now that I have a toddler. Reading helps build children’s vocabularies. I read large books to them, such as The Lord of the Rings and A Little Princess. Even when Little Fox and Little Badger are too young to understand, they get used to hearing the sounds put together in the vocabulary words of the larger books. And now that Little Fox is older, she gets excited when she hears a word she knows. Like the other day she got excited about the word elbows and had to show me hers.
In the last few weeks, I’ve started singing the alphabet to Little Fox. We also have several Abc books. And I’ve been reading those to her since we got them. I decided she was ready for working on the alphabet once I realized that she recognized the letters A and B.
When we do the alphabet books now, after saying the letter we talk about the sound that letter makes. “This is A. A says a, a, a. A as in apple.” Talking about the letters and what sound they say is no more complicated the talking about what an animal is called and the sound an animal makes, and toddlers love that too.
Finally, Little Fox spends time drawing. This pre-writing activity helps her with fine motor development. Also, we’ve taught her to hold pencils and pens correctly from the start, so she doesn’t have to relearn later.
While mathematics, reading, and writing are important skills, the most important knowledge we can pass onto our children is the faith. I wrote an article a few weeks ago about ways to build the foundation of faith in small children. You can read it here. Now that my eldest is learning to talk, there’s a lot more we can do to pass the faith on.
The first and original way we are passing the faith on to our young children is icon corner time. There we spend time praying before our icons every day. This time includes prayers, hymns, and bible readings.
Icon corner time is the template for our continued passing on of the faith. We are going to spend extra time singing favourite hymns, repeating prayers, and leaning bible passages. This repetition will help our Little Fox learn the following list by heart.
Prayers and Hymns
- Glory Be
- Guardian Angel Prayers
- Heavenly King
- O Joyful Light
- Our Father
- Christ Be Our Light
- Here I am Lord
- Holy God We Praise Thy Name
- Immaculate Mary
- Litany of the Saints
- Tantum Ergo
We will also spend time looking at individual icons and talking about the meaning of the image. Over time Little Fox will easily have the prayers and songs memorized, especially because they are sung. The icons may take some time for Little Fox to individually recognize, but the important part for me right now is just laying the foundation. Little Fox recognizes when she says crosses and holy images on medals. So I think she isn’t far off at least knowing when an icon has Jesus, Mary, or someone else.
Putting it all Together
There are lots more subjects that I could have included on this list. But Catholicism, English, and Math, are definitely the priority for subjects early on. After this I’d probably put music. We just got a keyboard piano, which Little Fox loves to play for us. But a lot of her music learning fits under Catholicism right now since she’s learning to sing and play Christian hymns.
Besides English, we also want to lay the foundation for Spanish and Ukrainian. We already do this by singing songs in those languages. After Little Fox learns the English Alphabet, we’ll start on the Ukrainian and Spanish alphabets. For some reason, Little Fox already likes to say just all the vowel sounds for Ukrainian and Spanish. It’s rather cute!
I want to keep science rather informal for the preschool years. We will encourage Little Fox to observe what she sees when going for walks. Plus we’ll let her explore different textures and substances in memory bins.
History and Art are combined into earlier subjects. Reading aloud will cover some history, and drawing will also work on Little Fox’s art skills.
As Little Fox gets older, I’ll consider adding more structured learning time. But I’m happy with our plans for now.
The Byzantine Life
If you enjoyed this week’s article, you might also be interested in reading 5 Simple Ways to Teach the Faith to Young Children, or What I Learned from my 1st Homeschool Convention.
Don’t forget to follow us on social media. On our Pinterest we have boards full of baby and toddler activities! New posts are always shared to Facebook, and my husband runs our Twitter (@LifeByzantine) and Instagram accounts (username: thebyzantinelife)! And if you want to support our work at TheByzantineLife.com, consider joining us on Patreon. For as little as $5 a month you can get exclusive access to special posts, photos, and updates from our family! https://www.patreon.com/thebyzantinelife