Dear mama of littles, your job is a big one and it is one of monumental importance. Caring for your children, loving them, and teaching them is your number one responsibility while they are in your care. Do you realize what a great opportunity you have in front of you?
May I gently challenge you to consider something monumental? It is your responsibility and privilege to educate your child. That task does not belong to the school system, and you cannot afford to wait until your child is “school age” to begin their education. Their education begins when they are born, and you are their teacher. They will learn from the world and people around them, and yours is the unique privilege of being their tour guide.
Whether your child is going to attend private school, public school, or whether you will school your child at home, this is a responsibility that you cannot afford to take lightly. They may have many teachers throughout their lifetime, but you are the one they will learn the most from.
I never thought I would be a homeschooler. But here I am. I may not homeschool forever, but for now I am so thankful that I have chosen to do it for this part of my life. Because it has changed my perspective. I see things now that I never would have seen before, and I see ways to encourage you in your journey as a mom.
I see that you CAN DO this! You can impart valuable knowledge to your children that will help prepare them for life. Don’t leave it up to the preschool, daycare, or kindgergarten. Teach them at home!
Now let me clarify what this does not mean. This does not mean that you will have a lesson plan for every day of their young life, teaching them the 3 R’s in the traditional sense. This does not mean that they will sit down and do a pencil and paper lesson with you at the kitchen table. (Many children are not really ready for that kind of focus until they are about six years old.)
So how do you accomplish this monumentous task? You simply look for opportunities to share the knowledge that’s already in your head. To educate in the simplest form of the word means to impart knowledge. I love what Dr. Seuss says in his book Oh, the Places You’ll Go.
“You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself in any direction you choose.”
Mama, whether you work outside or inside the home while your kids are little, I’m sure you would agree that caring for your family is your most important occupation. While your children are small, one of the most important things you can do with those brains in your head is to pour that knowledge out for your kids!
Look for the opportunities to share what you know, and the opportunities will find you. Talk about the colors, shapes, sounds, and letters that are all around you. Count things as you play and do life. The little moments will add up, and you will find that your child is soaking up so much knowledge.
Here are five simple ways that you can intentionally share knowledge with your children as you do life together.
1. Read to them every day. Before they can talk, read to them. When they are babies, read to them while they play with little toys or do “tummy time.” When they are too little to sit still, read to them while they play with blocks. Read board books, read nursery rhymes and poems, and when they are able to sit still, read picture books. If you miss a day (or a week) don’t beat yourself up about it. Just read the next day.
2. Take them outside. Go on a walk and explore the world beyond your house. Take them to the porch swing or the lawn chair in the back yard. As you push your baby in a stroller, talk to him or her about what you are seeing, feeling, and hearing . Describe colors, shapes, and sounds. Let your toddler explore the yard. Talk to them about the trees, the bugs, the flowers, and the birds. Talk to them about the colors of the grass, the sky, and the clouds.
3. Let them create. Okay, so I don’t recommend giving a six month old baby play-doh, but as soon as they are old enough, let them create things with their hands. I’m not the mom who loves to do big craft projects with the kids, but I do love to get out the watercolors and paper and just let them go with it. Whatever your personality type, you can find ways that you can let your kids create.
4. Encourage active play by limiting screen time. Okay, okay. I know in this day and age it’s near impossible for kids not to watch some TV or play a app on your phone, and they do learn from those things. However, they learn a lot more from active play. Turn off the TV, hide the iPad, and give them some blocks.
5. Let them “help” you do things. I know it’s tempting to say no, but when they ask to help say yes as often as you can. Sure it will take you longer to make those peanut butter and jelly sandwiches if your four year old helps, but before you know it you’ll have a child who can make peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. Sure the shirts won’t be folded exactly the way you like them if a three year old does it, but before too long you’ll have a capable child on your hands that knows how to do it right.
Mama, you are the most valuable resource in your child’s education. You know more than you realize, and you can give your child the head start that he or she needs to succeed. Don’t wait—start today and open up a world of possibilities for your child!