I was a full-time teacher before my children were born. I loved teaching in a classroom and I love teaching my kids at home now. However, sometimes the important job of teaching and training your kids can be a little overwhelming, especially when you have more than one in the preschool age with you at home. When my first was a baby, I came up with a plan to make sure I was teaching him everyday. It’s simple, it’s easy, it hardly takes any planning, and it can be accomplished naturally throughout your day.
When is the best time to teach your baby/toddler?
Of course all of life is a chance to learn. We know that we should talk to our babies and toddlers all day long and teach them as we go. Absolutely! But, this can be a little overwhelming. That’s all day trying to teach! I remember looking at my 3 month old at 11:00 am thinking, “I can’t think of anything else to talk about right now.” Then the second baby came along and I was thinking, “Have I spent enough quality time with you and your brother today?” Dang you, Mom Guilt!
I remembered a conversation I had with an experienced mom before I had any children. She mentioned how she loved being in the car with her son. She said she loved it because it was a precious time where she had his full attention and they had some of their best conversations and teaching moments in the car. Now, several years later, I began to think about the moments when I have my baby’s complete attention. I started to pay attention to those times throughout the day, and those became my moments to be intentional with teaching him. I found four moments throughout my day that I had my child’s attention and could naturally talk to him and instruct him.
1. The Changing Table
Okay, think about it. How often is your baby/toddler on the changing table? A lot! It may be for only 1-2 minutes but that’s all you need. If you aren’t in the changing table training stage (yup, you know the one where they roll and toss and try to get away? yeah…), this one minute several times a day can be a really sweet and special time.
2. The High Chair
My first child is a slooooooow eater. When he was a young toddler he loved to sit in his high chair for a long time, and since he was my first I could just sit there and talk to him the whole time. Meal times became such a sweet time of talking, singing, memorizing, reading, and giggling. I love to use meal times as a chance to introduce new books to the repertoire.
3. The Car
The babies are strapped in and can’t go anywhere. I love to use this time to talk and teach about what we see, instruct and prep for where we are going, play Bible music and scripture songs, or play audio books. Just as that wise mom once told me, I too have come to find this to be precious time with my kids.
4. The Bath
The bath is not usually my go-to instructional time, but if it’s been a long and busy day, sometimes it can be the perfect place to let them relax while you read a story, do some memory work, sing, or review. It might be your perfect time where you have your child’s full attention.
What do you teach them?
This is the fun part! Whatever you want to teach them!
Yes, you heard me correctly. What is most important to you and your family? That’s what you talk about and teach your children every day. Once you have figured that out, pick one teaching point a week and add on as you go, remembering to repeat them all because little ones LOVE repetition.
So here is a little of what it looks like in my home.
In the one to two minutes it takes to change my 18 month old’s diaper, I recite his Bible verse with him, ask him his children’s catechism question, and point out his tummy (or whatever body part we are learning this week). The next time I change him, we sing our ABC’s and I tickle him and tell him how much I love him.
When we eat lunch, I read a book, usually a Bible story. I will re-read the same one all week. We also recite our family scripture together, or the baby listens while I recite.
If we are in the car that day we will listen to scripture memory songs, hear audio books, sing nursery rhymes, or use that as uninterrupted time to talk and spend time together.
I also read to them every day. Sometimes one book and sometimes 10, depending on their moods and interests.
When you read it here, it may sound like a lot; but if you try it you will see it’s fun, easy, playful, and it doesn’t take any extra time for instruction — it is just using time you already have with your children in an intentional way. Sometimes we do all of what you read above, sometimes just one of those, and sometimes, if they are really interested, we do more. These little moments of intentional time have really helped me to know my second child isn’t getting less from me in his education than I feel I gave my first child. It’s also really fun to see how much they can memorize when so young, and even before they can talk! As a family we have been memorizing Psalm 19. We started when my 18 month old was 11 months old and couldn’t talk at all. He has heard it so much that as he learns to talk now, he already has it memorized! All from one minute
a day most days.
I change up the instruction as needed. Some things change each week, and some things we keep working on for weeks.
If the thought of educating your children overwhelms you, don’t let it. Pick a couple things you want them to learn this month, find a good time of the day when you have their attention, and repeat them routinely and enthusiastically. No flash cards needed! Just a little planning, a little intentional time, and a whole lot of fun!
Share your tips below for educating your little ones at home!