The Ontario Federation of Teaching Parents

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Homeschooling the Early Years

You’re considering homeschooling, and your child is not yet school-age. If you have a 2 or 3 year old, you might be wondering about when to start homeschooling, or if you can homeschool preschool.

The short answer is: you’re already homeschooling.

Homeschooling is, in essence, an extension of your parenting.

Children are always learning. In fact, you’d have to work hard to prevent them from learning! So when your toddler and preschooler are playing, they are learning.

You don’t have to do anything different!

However, many parents who are new to homeschooling might be wondering about preschool curriculum, structured learning programs, schedules and deliberately working with their child on academic subjects.

While it might be tempting to start formal instruction early, there are many scientific studies that suggest that not only is this unnecessary, but it can actually be harmful to your child.

Recently, a long-term study on the effects of academic preschool was published, and it shows just how important play-based learning is for the future success of the child.

So how would we recommend you homeschool your three year old?

Simply continue doing what you’re already doing.

  • Read stories
  • Draw pictures
  • Build with blocks
  • Go outside and explore
  • Bake cookies
  • Cook together
  • Give them a bath
  • Paint
  • Cut and paste pictures
  • Run around
  • Dance
  • Nap

And more and more… All the things you do with small children, just continue to do them.

The most important thing you can do with your young child is to talk to them. Answer their questions. Have conversations. Encourage their stories. They will learn far more from your discussions than any directed preschool curriculum.

In Ontario, the compulsory age of education is 6 years through 18 years old. This means that kindergarten, typically ages 4 and 5, is optional.

While many parents are reminded to register their children for school around their child’s 4th birthday, if you plan to homeschool, you do not have to do this. You can homeschool kindergarten and beyond without registering with the school board.

If you have registered your child for kindergarten, and then change your mind, that’s ok! Simply tell the school (and school board) that you’ve changed your mind, your child isn’t going to be going to kindergarten and keep them home. You may be asked why you are choosing not to send your child for kindergarten, but you do not have to tell them you’re homeschooling.

Homeschooling in kindergarten does not have to be an academically focused program. Much like homeschooling the early years, child development experts recommend that children this age learn best through play. So you do not have to get any kind of curriculum or special materials to homeschool happily.

Not sure you’re doing enough? Reach out to our support team or join our community!