We often hear this question from parents: how young is too young to start homeschooling? This is a valuable question to consider, but we first have to stop and reshape the expectations around this question.
To set off on the journey of homeschooling means rethinking what it looks like to learn and teach. If you’re gently correcting your toddler’s grammar, reading aloud with your kiddos, or singing the ABCs, you’ve already begun the process of homeschooling. It’s quite simply never too early to encourage the natural love of learning in your child.
However, the question still remains: when do you begin formal lessons for your child that go beyond educational playtime? To answer that more challenging question, here are a few tips for how you can know when it’s time to transition into focused lessons:
When your children are very little (1-4), everything they do has a learning curve. From learning to walk to sounding out basic phonetic combinations, your child is taking in everything and retaining more than seems possible. Enjoy this learning stage and encourage the natural desire your child has to learn.
At some point between the ages of 3-5, you should notice your child start favoring one of the learning styles. Here are things you can look for with each of the learning styles:
Visual learners might show a special love for puzzles or drawing. They might get especially distracted by visual stimuli. They may struggle to follow spoken directions but can copy you exactly when an action is demonstrated. Visual learners may also request quiet time when focusing.
Auditory learners may show a special affinity for music or memorizing lines from books and movies. They will follow spoken directions well and might struggle staying quiet for long, even more than other kids their age. Auditory learners might show a proclivity for acting or putting on a performance.
Kinesthetic or hands-on learners will struggle more than the average child at sitting still. They may be drawn to sports, especially dance, gymnastics, or martial arts that really focus on body movement. They may enjoy being focused on a task while there is loud noise or loud music around them. Legos or other toys involving construction may interest them more than drawing.
The time to start looking for these learning style differences is around the same time you notice your child asserting their independence more. They may insist on doing things themselves, and, if you have older children, you might hear your little ones expressing a desire to “be like the older kids.” This is a great time to start your child on a more focused learning plan, setting objectives and goals for your child’s progress.
Knowing what to teach and when can be difficult for beginning homeschoolers, so when you’re starting out, consider getting a complete curriculum like Horizons Preschool that can guide you as you incorporate essential math and language skills into games and activities your little one will love.
The important thing to remember is that it’s never too early to start homeschooling. You are the expert on your child, so determining when to jump into more structured lessons will be up to you. Watch how your child interacts with the world and listen for signs or requests that he or she is ready to jump into more structured learning.
Founded in 1977, Alpha Omega Publications is a leading provider of PreK-12 Christian curriculum, educational resources, and services to homeschool families worldwide. AOP follows its mission every day by creating and providing quality Christian educational materials to thousands of students through curriculum, support services, and an accredited online academy. Visit Alpha Omega Publications online or call 800-622-3070 to learn more.
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