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Homeschooling a 3 Year-Old, Part 1

July 25, 2022


Let me first say that in no way am I attempting to present a comprehensive curriculum for a three year old. If you are looking for such a curriculum, I would direct you to BJU Press or Abeka. But if you are anything like me, you might be looking for something a little “out of the box” and a little more conducive to the home environment.

I remember with my first child, I started making fairly comprehensive lesson plans when she was just two years old. I chuckle to myself when I think about making those lesson plans, but honestly those lesson plans were just as much if not more about me learning to be a homeschool teacher than my child learning an intense K2 curriculum.

By forcing myself to write down ideas for teaching, I discovered what style of teaching I enjoyed and also what style my child gravitated to. I read key books about homeschooling that shaped my thinking and helped me arrive at an approach to homeschooling that seems to be working for our family. I will say that homeschooling is an organic process, and everyone involved continues to learn, grow, and evaluate.

All that said, I am not attempting in this 1,000+ word blog post to present a complete K3 curriculum, but I hope to give you some ideas. Personally, I do not believe that a homeschooling parent needs an official curriculum for K3, and a little common sense and creativity and a lot of patience and love will go a long way in setting your child up for academic success.

Today’s post will focus on some language arts ideas to do with your 3 year old, and then next week’s post will focus on developing fine motor skills and the importance of outside play.


Read, read, read

Develop a reading relationship. What do I mean by a reading relationship? By this term I mean that a parent and child develop a love of reading together. Both parent and child see the importance of reading and learning together. Both parent and child value their time reading together. The goal is for the child (and parent!) to look forward to reading. There should be joy in reading.

If you can lovingly encourage your child to love reading at this age, you are well on the road to educational success. Reading greatly increases a child’s love for learning and stirs his already curious mind.

A few common sense tips about reading with your child

  • Make your reading time together special and cozy. Find a comfortable place to read.

  • Find books that speak to your child’s interests.

  • You can read books beyond your child’s own personal “reading” level. I generally do not pay attention to age recommendations on the back of books. I know my children well enough to know what interests them and how long they can focus.

  • If a child struggles to focus on a book, try another one. It is not wrong to switch books if your child has no interest.

  • On the flip side, gently push your child to read books outside of his own interests. Try reading books that are beyond your child’s age level, and you will be amazed at how quickly your child will comprehend.

  • Developing a strong reading relationship with your child lays the ground work for “official homeschool,” and the transition to more formal learning will not be as dramatic for children who enjoy reading. Children who have not been read to will struggle sitting still for school lessons.


Work on letter/sound association

Did you notice that I did not say work on memorizing alphabet letter names? Many parents, myself included, have bought alphabet flashcards and dutifully drilled their children on the names of the alphabet letters.

Before you quit reading this post and think that I’m crazy, let me explain. The most important thing to do is to teach your child the sounds the letters make. Sure, in time children need to know the actual names of letters, and honestly, they will pick up the letter names fairly quickly.

Let’s take a look at a few letters that can be confusing to children if you only focus on letter names and not sounds.

Consider the letter “C”. We pronounce it “see”. Some children may think the letter “C” only makes an “S” sound. In reality, the letter “C” does make an “S” sound. But more often than not, the letter “C” makes a hard /k/ sound. When showing my child a C flashcard I would say /c/ as in cat and /s/ as in snake to demonstrate that C makes two sounds.

Let’s also consider the letter “G”. My daughter struggled with this letter for quite a while, and often when I held up a G flashcard, she would say /j/. If you say the letter G right now, you will hear the /j/ sound. This is confusing to young children.

All this said, when I show my child a G flashcard, I say /g/ as in gold or garden and also /j/ as in giraffe.

If you are looking for some flashcards to teach your child the letter sounds, I would recommend Wanda Sanseri’s 70 Basic Phonogram Flashcards and her coordinating 70 Basic Phonogram Sounds CD. You may then be interested in her Spell to Write and Read program which I am currently using with my oldest child.



Talk with your child

Perhaps this seems like an overly simple statement, but talking with my children is something I have to remind myself to do. I tend to be a very quiet, introspective person, content not to talk a whole lot, but my children need me to engage with them.

As I go about the day, I need to explain what I am doing to my children. I need to ask them questions. At the supper table, we need to have family dialogue to learn one another and to help our children develop.

If you are in the midst of prepping to homeschool a 3 year old, I hope you gleaned at least one valuable nugget of wisdom. Stayed tuned for next week when I discuss some ideas for developing little hands and encouraging active bodies.



How Wee Learn—an excellent website with lots of ideas for keeping little people busy and learning

The Toddler’s Busy Book by Trish Kuffner—lots of simple ideas from a busy mother

Slow and Steady, Get Me Ready by June Oberlander—an academic approach from the first week of a child’s life all the way to kindergarten

150+ Screen Free Activities by Asia Citro—I love the ideas for manipulative play in this book.

70 Basic Phonogram Flashcards by Wanda Sanseri, Back Home Industries

70 Basic Phogram CD by Gary Sanseri, Back Home Industries

Educating the Whole-Hearted Child by Clay and Sally Clarkson—this book has been foundational in shaping my homeschooling paradigm. Though I do not agree with the Clarksons on everything, I appreciate their heartbeat for raising godly children. This book is full of ideas for every grade and subject.

Before Five in a Row by Jane Lambert—a sweet collection of books and coordinating ideas for little people

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