I received an email from a friend, this post is my response.
I have a question. My son is only 10 months old, but I know I need to teach him things. Now I do not know if I am going to homeschool or not...something I am considering. However, I know that regardless I will (and am) be teaching him things even now, letters, numbers etc.
Her questions in bold print.
1)What age do I expect what things of my child prior to school age?
Each and every child is different. You know your child better than anyone else in this world. As a general guide I would say 2 and under read, read and read. In natural conversation use adjectives to discribe things. "Can you bring me the red ball?" "Your food is hot." We are going upstairs." Natural conversation is huge at this age. They learn colors, opposites, textures, shapes and basic language just from talking. Reading adds comprehesion. What mommy is saying matches what is happening in this picture. Those black things on the page must mean somthing too. Also lots of singing songs. Songs are amazing. I have made each of my kids names into a song and they learned how to spell it early on. As well as the ABC song, they have learned names of letters.
3-5 are capable of workbooks. Simple ones that emphasis the basics. colors, shapes, letter recognition, numbers, writing skills. Not to be pushed but kids usually love to do them.
2)When do I expect him to count, and say alphabet and stuff?
If you count with him, he will count before age 3. DD counts to 13 and sings ABC's. She is 2 1/2. Thanks to Little Einsteins she can count down from 5 to 1. Some boys are a little later, do not compare your child with those around you. Every child is on his or her own time table. You can encourage your child in areas of weakness but that does not mean they will grasp it before little Susie down the street.
3) Any suggestions on crafts or ideas for such young children?
Make hands on things available. Playdough, crayons, puzzles, rice to pour, these are easy things to add to a day. Paint on occasion. Freedom is necessary for this age. Do not expect them to do things the exact way you think it should be done. Everything is exploration and important, whether the end result looks like anything or not.
4) What homeschool materials do you use?
Personal library, public library, art supplies, puzzles, workbook.
Last year I used Saxon Math with DS. It was as much for me as it was him. It helped me to get organized. It was very hands on with manipulatives. (counting bears, pattern blocks, geo board...) This year I was given a complete curriculum by a friend. I will be sitting down next week and making our fall plan. One thing I know I will be using for sure is 100 Easy Lessons to Read. We started it last year a little too soon. He is so ready to do it now. He asks when we are going to start.
5) What made you choose it?
It is something the Lord showed me in my prayer time our first year of marriage. I knew 3 homeschooling families at the time. At this time we had no children, yet as we discussed it, it became certain that this is what we would do. My husband grew up next to a homeschooling family. I praise God for this. He saw homeschooling in action. It dispeled every myth one could think of. These kids are very social, smart, active in the community..... The oldest graduated this years and his accomplishments are astounding. He flourished at home. He had a PERFECT score on his writing for his ACT. Early on I did my research. I went to homeschool conferences, checked out support systems. So my reason is simply, God directed, we are obeying. Must say there are many added benefits along the way.
6) What does it consist of (for instance lots of reading, or minimal reading etc)
I have had different seasons. There are times we have read constantly. There have been days we have not even opened a book. Kids love stories. They love time with you. Reading is a win-win. Under 3 child directed table time. When they are done, they are done. 3-5 simple tasks can be performed. A workbook page can be discussed, colored and completed. Most of the teaching is truly being a part of the family and in the home. They are learning all the time.
I will close saying this, you are your child's first teacher. Whether you homeschool or not, be an active part of your children's lives. Read to them, play with them, talk to them. They are ever learing, when they play with blocks it more than entertainment. When they put pieces into a puzzle it is learning. Splashing water in the pool, a visit to the zoo, a walk in the park...allowing different experiences enriches their lives.
Addition: http://babyparenting.about.com/cs/activities/a/playdough.htm This site has many recipes for play dough. The kool-aid one is my favorite as it adds color and scent. There are also additional links on the page for activities to do with young children.