Baby Strawberry is already 20 months old. I don’t notice homeschooling a toddler as much as homeschooling an older child because the things the toddler learns appear so simple. But as I watch her progress from hour to hour, I am amazed at how her every moment provides learning opportunities that will build on each other.
When my son was that age, I was going through a rough time. My husband was traveling weekly, my son was completely unintelligible, and I faced long days alone with a screaming toddler. I had no intention of homeschooling him, and I lived for the days when I knew I’d have a break.
It wasn’t until Raisin started reading to me (at age 3) that I began to think of homeschooling. I had read to him by the hour some days, and I had nurtured his natural ability to learn, but I had never considered keeping him home, and I’d never considered myself as a teacher.
Now that I am actively homeschooling Raisin, I see toddler Strawberry in a completely new light. Of course, my situation is a little different (my husband is around every evening, for example). But as I teach my daughter sign language and then hear her begin to speak words, I see her development in the light of education. I see progress from day to day. I hear her learn a word one day and use it in conversation (one-year-old conversation, that is!) the next. Being able to watch her learn is a blessing.
One day we were playing with our wooden blocks. Our blocks have letters and numbers on some surfaces, but other surfaces have pictures of familiar things: a car, a bird, a banana. As Strawberry played with the blocks, she was delighted to find the things she loves drawn on them. She began finding ones that looked alike and showing me: “Train! Train!” she said, with two blocks, one in each hand. I realized that these little skills, the skills of recognizing and comparing images, are beginning reading skills. It’s only a matter of time (i.e., another year or two) before she starts recognizing letters too! And then she’s reading! What a fascinating process learning is! Each of these seemingly basic moments build on each other as she learns.
With my son, his education is not always discernible day to day. It’s fascinating to hear him talking and explaining things to himself. Then, one day, he multiplied the face of two dice to figure out the greatest possible number one could get by rolling the two of them together: that was when I realized how much he had been learning all these days!
There is something rewarding in watching my son learn over the course of weeks. But it is even more rewarding to see my baby girl learning from hour to hour. It is a reminder that, even though the progress may not be discernible, it is always happening. What a delight that I can be here daily to watch that progress, as I watch a child learn line upon line.
Note: the image is not of my daughter but it certainly is a cute picture of a young toddler beginning to learn!