Times are crazy, eh? All jokes aside, the conversation around schooling our children right now is very intense. There are a lot of feelings, heated debates, opinions, and concerns over in-person and virtual schooling, due to COVID health concerns. No matter if you’ve decided to send your child to school or you’ve kept them home or anything in between, you’re doing what’s best for your family. Every child and every situation is unique and we’re all considering all of those factors into our schooling decision making process. I’m simply sharing mine today!
Deciding To Not Enroll My Toddler In School This Year
Before I explain how I’m homeschooling Luca, I think it’s first important to explain why I’ve decided to do this. To start, Luca entered a 2s program here in Jersey City at a Montessori school. He actually wasn’t even 2 when he started there, he was a couple weeks shy of 2. I mainly put him in school because I wanted him to have his own independent thing with his own friends and his own attention, as Roma was only about 3 months old at that time. And of course, I thought it would be good for him to learn practical life skills, learn in a more structured way, be around kids his age, and so forth. We applied, got in, and enrolled him in a half day program for the 2019/2020 school year (8-11am.)
Then, 6 months after he started school, COVID hit and the school shut down. They offered virtual school for the rest of the year and we did it (barely.) Luca hated virtual school, it doesn’t suit his learning style and just frankly doesn’t work for him or us – it was a mental (and physical) struggle to get him to do school every day and he wasn’t even getting much out of it at his age. We finished out the school year and then the school required us to fully (financially) commit by Memorial Day and they said they would only be offering virtual school for his age group, since they didn’t feel confident in the ability to social distance and enforce mask wearing at that age.
Thus, I decided not to enroll him at that school or any other schools who were offering in-person learning for the following reasons:
- Virtual schooling would probably have broken us – it was not mentally healthy for any of us and frankly, at Luca’s age, he wouldn’t have benefitted from any of those virtual lessons.
- At his age, we didn’t find school necessary and were confident that through learning from his environment every day and a little bit of homeschooling, we could achieve the basics.
- We were scared to send him to school with COVID still very present (and now, rising back up again.)
How We’re Homeschooling Our Toddler
Now that we got our reasoning for not sending Luca to school out of the way, let’s talk about what we’re doing at home for homeschool. I’ve decided to do a little hybrid between Busy Toddler’s Playing Preschool program and a few other activities. First, let’s chat Playing Preschool (PP.) PP is a program designed by a former Kindergarten teacher and Instagram sensation @busytoddler. I started following her once we sent our nanny home on a paid leave when COVID hit and we all had to quarantine. She has so many great projects and activities for kids at home.
Then, when September hit and everyone started going back to school (virtual or in-person), I felt like I needed to do something with him to give our days a little bit of structure and also have some one-on-one time with Luca. So, I went back to Busy Toddler and found her Playing Preschool course. I’m not going to go into the specific specifics because you can find that all on her website, BUT basically it’s a school program thoughtfully designed by a Kindergarten teacher and aimed at preparing your toddler (2.5 years old+) for Kindergarten by learning basic principles like sorting and counting.
The classes take anywhere from 30 to 45 minutes and we do them after breakfast, so usually around 8:15-9am is our window. We sit at the kitchen table (I have this vinyl tablecloth for any artsy/messy activities) and do “school with mama.” It’s such an easy program to follow, it’s all laid out very easily and simply. The course is a downloadable PDF and I had it printed in Black and White at FedEx and coil bound, which cost me about $45. Each day, I open to that day’s lesson (Monday-Friday) and we start the same way every time – a song, our calendar, and then we read a book.
In terms of supplies, a lot of things we already had like construction paper, glue, paint, and so forth and then other supplies I just ordered online ahead of time (she lists the supplies you’ll need for that two week unit, so I buy them two weeks out!) The most expensive part is all the books, but you can also check them out at the library if you don’t want to purchase. I decided to purchase them because I felt like our book collection needed more variety anyway!
Many of you asked me, “How long does it take to set up the class for the day?” It takes me usually 5 minutes, rarely any longer than that – it’s very basic prep and it’s mainly just gathering supplies. It’s very manageable and I like that everything is spelt out, outlined, and very easy to use. Luca has loved it so far and always tells me, “I want to do school with you mama!” in the mornings. There have definitely been a couple lessons that I’ve had to drag him through, but that’s less the course and more Luca just having an off day. I will say that some of the lessons are super basic and not advanced enough for him, but she offers optional extensions with a lot of the activities to make them a little more in depth, which is nice. I should’ve started this when he was 2.5, when COVID first hit!
In addition to Playing Preschool (which lasts a full school year, basically), I’ve added in a few things to supplement, like:
- Bought this alphabet hanging to help reinforce the letter learning in the homeschool lessons. Before bed, I ask him to point to the letters we’ve learned in school so far and we sing the ABCs.
- Subscribe to Tinkertots boxes, which make educational, interactive arts & crafts projects for his age range (use code INSPIRALIZED for 15% off!)
- Constantly finding arts & crafts projects that are developmentally beneficial at his age (just on Pinterest, etc) – I try to do one each weekend, that’s my goal!
- Bought this early writing workbook that he loves to do. We do a page Monday-Friday, right after our Playing Preschool lesson.
Overall, I’m happy with homeschooling right now and most importantly, it’s working for both of us (me and Luca!) He looks forward to it in the morning, it give us some time together to bond and work together, and I watch him understanding concepts better. I never focused on teaching him letters and numbers, because I figured he’d learn that in school (like he was pre-COVID), so this gives me the tools I need to teach him what he should know at this age.
I pray that this fall is a better situation and we can enroll him in school, since he’ll be preschool age (4!) Until then, I’ll be his teacher for the rest of the “school year.”
And just to say, if you are not doing any of this and you have a child Luca’s age, I hope this doesn’t make you feel like you’re not doing enough, because you are. At the end of the day, all these kids need is our love and acceptance. Everything else is icing on the cake!