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I know a lot of you probably clicked on this wondering why in the hell you’d even try to homeschool a 2 year old. I get it and I really thought that too. It turns out, there are tons of far-reaching benefits to starting homeschool early if you plan to homeschool later.
First, why are we choosing to homeschool?
I’ve wanted to homeschool my kids since I was a little girl. School was an awesome experience for me, I loved my friends and loved the environment, BUT there was a lot of “keeping up with the Joneses” that caused me a ton of stress growing up in a low-middle class family.
Second, bullying. Kids are mean! I know it’s always been this way, but even as recently as when I was a kid, you got to go home and escape it. Now, social media makes it impossible to escape the mean buillies in your school if you’re one of the unlucky ones who suffers at the hands of insecure kids.
Do I judge people who choose to send their kids to school? Absolutely not. I am a firm believer that we’re all on a journey and that there is no one-size-fits-all solution for everyone. This is just what we are choosing to do with our kids, and the earlier you start the better.
So why start homeschooling so young?
Obviously, at this age, homeschooling is completely play-based. Kids learn by playing and that’s absolutely how it should be. I would never try to disrupt or control that.
For us, homeschooling starts by me getting our little one all worked up about starting school. I make it sound so exciting that we get to do school tomorrow and that we’re going to learn all kinds of awesome things about the alphabet and shapes and colors.
We start at the same time every day and stick to a very basic schedule.
When I pull out a new pack of flash cards to play with or some magnetic letters and a cookie sheet, his eyes light up and suddenly “school” equals fun.
What we’re trying to do here is create the neurological association between school and hapy memories, school and fun, school and excitement. There is absolutely no harm in teaching kids early that learning is fun.
Also, I try to set a basic structure for school, as basic as can be. I tell him we’re going to start school now, so we’re going to sit at his little table. We never sit there for some reason even though we own it, it’s literally in the middle of the room, and it’s an adorable table. I decided to start associating it with school time.
When we sit at the table, it’s school time and he focuses on whatever I put in front of him – for a solid minute or two.
I have extremely low expectations at this stage. My only goal is for our toddler to start to get excited about school and learning and to start getting some basic homeschool routines in place that will help us out when the real homeschooling starts in a few years.
Luckily, homeschooling (if you can even call it that) at this age can be extremely cheap or even free. I have an addiction to the Dollar Tree, so I used homeschooling as an excuse to go buy all kinds of fun things that are new and exciting to both of us. I’m linking all of the items I got in my recent Dollar Tree haul below, but I’ll also link Amazon equivalents for those who aren’t lucky enough to have a Dollar Tree near by (or who just don’t want to order 25 set of flashcards…let’s be honest).
Quick Tip – If you want to order from any of these Amazon links, consider a free 30-day trial of Amazon Prime if you don’t already have it. You get FREE 2-day shipping! I couldn’t live without it! Click here to start your free trial!
Here we go!
First, I grabbed a bunch of packs of flash cards. Right now, we’re just focusing on associations, so I could have even made these myself.
I loved how adorable these Mickey Mouse ones were so I picked up one of each
We picked up these alphabet flash cards:
This might be my FAVORITE purchase of all! Dry erase workbooks! I swear I’ll never buy a coloring book anywhere but the Dollar Tree because they’re scribbled in and tossed. These things last and last because you can let your little one go crazy with a dry erase marker and then just wipe it off and it’s good as new!
**Mommy tip – you can do this with just about any laminated book, but I’ve never had the marker come off as easily as it does with these books**
Early Learning Workbooks
These are a little advanced for our purposes right now, but for association activities, they’re fine. When you’re shopping, look for the purple banner at the top that says “Early Skills”. These ones are perfect for your toddler to use now and grow into in the coming months and years (not that they’ll last that long in the hands of a toddler, but you never know)
Miscellaneous Coloring Books
Anything with a dog, cat, or construction equipment (known affectionately as “dimmits” in our house for some reason) on it is a huge hit in our house. Nugget gets excited by the cover of the coloring book, so I stock up anytime I recognize one that we don’t have yet. Let me tell you, we burn through coloring books at a record pace in our house.
Arts & Crafts
If you haven’t tried paint with water books yet, what are you waiting for?? They’re basically mess and stain free. If you find them at your local dollar store, stock up! You won’t find a cheaper price anywhere.
We use Play-Doh all-the-time in our house. It’s especially useful when Nugget is having a meltdown for one reason or another. Play-doh is the always-exciting toy that I can bust out and distract him. I’m not proud to admit I even keep a couple of jars in my car to pull out during shopping trips if necessary.
This is one thing I wouldn’t buy at Dollar Tree. It’s one of the few things that is actually a waste of money if you buy it there because it’s half the price at other places like Walmart. Walmart sells larger Play-doh jars for just 50 cents each.
Pick up a cookie sheet for playroom use or just use Play-Doh in a high chair to make it as low-mess as possible.
While not the best quality, we have and absolutely love this pack of play-doh tools . It comes with a pair of scissors, a rolling pin, and multiple cookie cutter shapes. We play with these constantly and I’m almost due for another pack because we keep losing pieces in our travels.
Here is a similar pack from Amazon:
This is one thing I would recommend stocking up on. We use these exact stickers for potty training, but I plan to use them as Nugget gets older and accomplishes school-related tasks on his own. They’ve got cute designs and are a hit with him no matter how many times he earns one.
More cheap sticker fun…
Anything from Priddy Books is a favorite of mine. We go to a local 99 cent bookstore and stock up on tons and tons of Priddy brand stuff. They’re colorful, sturdy, and absolutely perfect for early image association activities.
For favorite brand, it’s a toss up between Priddy and Melissa and Doug. This sticker book is a winner because it’s reusable.
Miscellaneous Learning Tools
Magnetic Letters and Numbers
I was so excited to find cheap magnetic letters at Dollar Tree. I was just looking at a pack at Target and they were 4x the price. We use these along with a cookie sheet to play with all things magnetized.
Also – keep an eye out for Dollar Tree holiday refrigerator magnets! They make for a cheap and clean travel activity in the car!
Fine Motor Skills
We absolutely love pipe cleaner activities in our house and they’re perfect for fine tuning fine motor skills.
We use them to make bead bracelets, we practice putting them through the holes of a Dollar Tree colander, we make shapes out of them, letters, sorting them by color…the list goes on and on. Pipe cleaners are such an amazing (AND CHEAP!) learning tool at this age.
Do you plan to homeschool your kids? Why? Would you like to hear more about our homeschool routine? Let me know in the comments!