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How to Create a Curriculum for a Toddler
Toddler Curriculums and Lesson Plans
If you would like to start teaching your toddler, it is very easy to create your own homeschool curriculum and lesson plans. The toddler years are a great time to start creating a love of learning and interest in knowledge. Everything you introduce now will be taught at a very basic level. But these basics will help give your toddler a foundation for later learning.
You should never force a small child to learn anything. Present what you teach with colorful pictures, funny voices and songs. If you make learning enjoyable your child will not only want to participate but will likely ask to do it. If you have a preschooler, see How to Create a Curriculum for a Preschooler.
How to Begin a Toddler Curriculum
The first thing you need to do is brainstorm. Write down a list of everything you would like to cover. Once you have finished brainstorming, go over your list and work on creating themes. By sticking to the same topic for several days or weeks your child will build up better knowledge and understanding. It will also make planning and material preparation much easier for you. I'll use seasons as an example.
Day 1 - cover all of the seasons.
Day 2 - teach about winter.
Day 3 - teach about hibernation
Day 4 - teach about animal migration.
Day 5 - teach about winter clothes
Day 6 - teach about spring
Repeat the same process. Creating themes like this will make curriculum development much easier. As you drill down, you will find that you can easily treat many topics on your brainstorming list as subtopics of a larger theme. Possible themes are:
Continents - teach all seven continents first. Then choose a continent and teach things like native animals, major celebrations, major landmarks (Great Wall of China, Grand Canyon, Amazon Rainforest, etc.).
Plants - break down into trees, flowers, desert plants, how seeds grow, etc.
Water - break into oceans, rivers, lakes, ponds, streams, etc. Cover the kinds of plant and animal life that can be found in each.
Nocturnal animals - cover owls, raccoons, etc.
Farms - cover farm animals, farm machinery, crops, dairy, etc.
Zoos - cover zoo animals, what zookeepers do, etc.
Construction - machinery, construction workers (bricklayers, plumbers, electricians), architects and drawing plans
Health - brushing teeth, washing hands, illness, etc.
Solar System - sun, earth, moon, planets, comets, asteroids
Create a schedule for each theme and what you will cover every day. When you have almost completed a theme start planning the next.
Make sure you hold onto your list. You can use it as the basis to create a preschool curriculum later on. You can reteach all of the same material but in more detail.
When you teach toddlers, you shouldn't sit down for one long learning session. Teaching should be broken up throughout the day. Have a checklist for each day's schedule. Check what you have covered. You may be covering the same concept several times throughout the day. You could make a check mark each time you cover that topic.
Gathering Learning Materials
You have to put together a list of materials you want to use to teach. The following is a list of suggested materials:
Books - Since you will have a schedule you can choose books at the library based on what you will be teaching for the week. If you can't find toddler books for a certain topic, don't worry. You can get books aimed at older children. Just look at the pictures and explain them and pick out only the simpler sentences to read.
Flashcards - many early education specialists dislike flashcards. However, they can be very effective and fun if used properly. You can easily make your own flashcards in Microsoft Word using the Tables feature. If you are teaching about seasons, you can make one or two flashcards for each season. Simply download pictures from Google Images. After you have shown all the cards you can play a game. Spread the cards on the floor. If you have a flashcard with a snowman on it, you can say something like "We build snowmen in winter. Which card is the winter card?" If the child, needs help, you can point to the snowman and say "This is the snowman. So, this is the winter card." You can also make PowerPoint slides if you don't want to make paper flashcards.
Songs - songs are a great way to teach. Just make up your own short, simple, and repetitive song. Sing your song throughout the day.
Online Materials - YouTube can be a great source of videos to bring concepts to life. Search for appropriate videos in advance of your teaching and save them in a folder in Favorites. Make sure you rename them in your Favorites, so you can remember their purpose. Look online for other materials like pictures you can print or even simple worksheets that help explain the concept you want to cover.
How to Teach a Toddler
The information you will provide to a toddler (approximately 18 months up to 3 years) will be very basic. If you are teaching continents, you might show a picture of Asia and say this is Asia. Then one by one show pictures of animals that live in Asia. You can read a book about Chinese New Year celebrations or show pictures of Children's Day in Japan. You could find a short video of Indian dancers on YouTube. Constantly emphasize that they are from Asia.
Reading and Math
You should cover letters and math everyday. Do a letter, number, color and shape of the day. Put the letter, number, color and shape of the day on the fridge and point to them regularly. To prepare your child for reading, you should teach both the letter name and the phonetic sound. Use the starfall.com ABC section each day as part of your letter of the day.
For the number of the day, regularly show your child objects of that number. If the number of the day is four, you can count four of things you encounter throughout the day. If you are taking a walk, take four leaves off a tree and count them. At snack time, count out four crackers.
You should also teach basic patterns like blue, green, blue, green or big, small, big, small. Sort things by size, shape or color. Teach concepts like big and small, long and short and high and low.
The infant and toddler years are a great time to teach reading. Toddlers can easily be taught to read with regular exposure to words and phonics. If you would like to teach your toddler to read, see My Experience Teaching My Baby to Read.
The Goal of Toddler Learning
Your goal with your toddler should not be to have them memorize a bunch of information. The idea is continual exposure to knowledge over the years, so they will have better reading and learning ability later on. You shouldn't test them to see if they remember everything you are teaching them. They aren't going to understand everything you are telling them. You are building a foundation for later learning. The basics you are teaching now will make later learning much easier because your child will already have some basic familiarity with a lot of different concepts. Don't pressure them with tests or unrealistic expectations. It is very important that you make learning fun. The toddler years are the beginning of a lifetime of learning. There is no need to hurry.