What Does My Child Need to Learn? (Age 2- Grade 2 Learning Objectives)

This is the first post in my new series:

What Does My Child Need to Learn? Age 2 to Grade 2

Click the image above to read the introduction and keep track of future posts in the series.

What does my child need to learn?

Before I could really go into the how; how to plan, prepare, and "do" school, I thought it would be beneficial to begin by filling you in on the what;  what learning objectives and/or school subjects are age or grade appropriate (i.e. What in the heck should I teach?).  I had a lot of questions about this when I first started, so I'm going to share with you my experiences and opinions.  You may or may not agree.  My goal here is not to claim expertise (because I don't have any), but rather to provide some inspiration and a little background info for future posts in the series.

Simple is best!
Seriously.  Can't stress this enough.  I'm better than anyone I know at making things way harder than they need to be, so I am coming to you as a woman who has lived and learned (the hard way).

Simplicity is important.  So is your time.  It is far quicker and easier for you to plan and prepare a few simple activities that only work on a few skills.  More importantly, it is far easier for your child to focus on just a couple things at a time.  So while I list several learning objectives for the younger ones, I don't think you need to include every one of them every day (or even every week).  The more simple you make it, the happier everyone will be.

I know that makes sense so I won't go on any more and end up making it more complicated than it needs to be.  'Cause I tend to do that.

Young Preschool (about age 2-3-ish)
I believe that all children learn best through play, but in this age range it is kind of a "must."  The primary objective for this age group is try to instill a love of learning by making learning fun.  Take the opportunity to expose little ones to various skills while playing!

What Does My Child Need to Learn? Age 2 to Grade 2

Here are the concepts I aimed to familiarize my 2 year old with this year.  We approached them through games, puzzles, learning toys, crafts and sensory play:

Fine motor.  We all want our children to someday form letters properly and use scissors correctly.   Fine motor "workouts" will give them a better ability to master these objectives later on.  Play dough, beading, lacing, squeezing clothespins, etc. all get those small muscles ready for the "big kid" stuff of writing and cutting.

Pre-Math.  Count out loud, work on number identification, practice 1:1 correspondence (one object represents the number 1, etc),  learn basic shapes and colors, and sort objects by size, color or type.

Letters.  Letter identification, the alphabet song, and teaching the sound that each letter makes.

Reading Comprehension.  You've heard it said again and again, "if you want to raise a reader, read to your child daily."  I would like to also add that getting your child to interact with books is an equally important goal.  Ask questions, encourage them to point to pictures, ask what they think is going to happen on the next page, leave out familiar words and let them chime in, intentionally mispronounce a familiar name and let them correct you.  Get them as involved as you can with the books you read to them so they develop reading comprehension skills naturally-- not to mention a love of books and reading!

What Does My Child Need to Learn? Age 2 to Grade 2

While it's is not a typical week for us (we packed in a lot for this particular unit), the activities Corinne did for our Dr. Seuss week is a good overview of many of the listed objectives in action.  Since the activities were related to Dr. Seuss books, they promote reading comprehension while simultaneously working on other skills.  I'm amazed at how often we can find ways to multi-task learning objectives-  love that!

Preschool (approx. ages 3-4)
This is the age that various Pre-K packs really came in handy for me.  I used them a lot with Max last year and this year (from age 3 to almost 5), and will be using them again with Corinne next year.

The packs include appropriate skills for the preschool level.  Here's a list of what most of the packs include.... many also include activities that are more or less challenging than the following, but I've found most packs have these activities in common:

  • Letter sound activities
  • 1:1 correspondance (numbers 1-10)
  • tracing/pre-writing practice
  • cutting practice
  • counting/ordering numbers 1-10
  • upper/lowercase letter matching /identification 
  • sorting 
  • shadow matching
  • beginning patterning
  • size sequencing
  • 3 part cards (activity that involves matching pictures and words... i.e. picture to picture, word to word)
We still include learning toys and puzzles, as well as crafts and sensory play in addition to the printables for our preschool learning time.

What Does My Child Need to Learn? Age 2 to Grade 2

Our F is for Fire  (Fire safety and Firefighter) week will give you a look at a fun hands-on preschool unit using pre-K packs along with crafts, sensory play, pretend play, etc.

Pre-K/K transition (approximately age 4.5-5.5)
Max was in this category this year.  He had outgrown pre-K packs for the most part, and needed more of a challenge.  Yet his fine motor skills still needed some work and he wasn't quite ready for Kindergarten.  If you feel that your child is "somewhere in between," you be the judge of what skills he/she needs to focus on.  They may or may not look like the ones listed below.  Just go with what challenges (but doesn't frustrate) your little squirt.  It may be a trial and error endeavor.

Transition skills for Max included:
  • Rhyming words and word families (for example, the -at word family includes words such as cat, sat and bat)
  • Beginning letter sounds 
  • Introduction to sounding out simple CVC words (CVC= Consonant Vowel Consonant)
  • A few beginning sight words (a, the, and, see, I)
  • Fine motor skills
  • Simple math (recognizing teen numbers, simple addition with counters and patterning)
  • Science and social studies concepts learned through books and sensory play
  • Whatever he happened to "soak in" by sitting in on big brother's school time!  
Many of the wonderful bloggers who create pre-K packs either offer a separate download with more advanced activities, or include them within the pack.  (Likewise, many of them also offer lower-level "tot packs" within the same theme.  So if you have children close in age, it's fun to learn together within  a theme-- and explore science or social studies concepts in the process).

What Does My Child Need to Learn? Age 2 to Grade 2

Our Bean Unit highlights several objectives Max focused on this year. 

Kindergarten (age 5-6)
If you homeschool, this may be the time you want to purchase more "formal" curriculum and begin taking school at home a bit more seriously.  I personally don't think a formal curriculum is absolutely necessary for Kindergarten, but it is nice to have.  Max will start Kindergarten next school year, and I do plan to use purchased curricula for him.

Kindergarten is typically the time that children begin reading (if they haven't already).  For us, this will be the primary work of Kindergarten.  Here's a look at what we will cover in the category of "reading":
  • sight words
  • learn to blend letter sounds to "sound out" words
  • learn to distinguish between the beginning, middle and end sounds of basic CVC words 
  • learn some more word families 
  • practice reading aloud (beginning with BOB books and the printable easy readers that go along with our curriculum, and moving onto more difficult books from there)
  • comprehension- answering questions such as, "Who are the main characters?" What happened in the beginning of the story?"  "The middle?"  "The end?" "What was your favorite part of the story?"  I personally like to do crafts and activities that go along with books to aid in comprehension (and to help develop an overall love of reading). 
**All of the above is totally doable for free with books from the library and free printables.  I  choose to use some language arts curricula that Max has responded well to as he sat in on Sam's lessons, so I'm going with what seems to work!

Our whole Kindergarten syllabus will include:
  • Reading with Ready2Read and All About Reading 1 (just the first half of the curriculum)
  • Math
  • Handwriting
  •  Science (no curriculum, just books and online resources
All About ReadingReady2Read

* Anything I link back to (curriculum-wise) are things we have already tried, love, and are planning to use.  Like All About Reading and Ready 2 Read.  Just love them! :)

First and Second Grade:
Sam, my first (soon to be second) grader has ADHD and Sensory Processing Disorder.  He is/was a struggling reader.  He hates to write.  I found that anything more than the "three R's" turned out to be just too much for him.  He used up so much time and energy on just reading and math that anything beyond it was overwhelming to both of us.  And after some struggling (for both of us), I learned my lesson on keeping it simple.

What Does My Child Need to Learn? Age 2 to Grade 2

I think a solid foundation in Reading is absolutely top priority.  And that was what we focused the majority of our time learning this year.  Other subjects will be much easier to incorporate once he's a fluent reader.

You can judge your child's ability and decide from there, but I'm gonna go ahead and still suggest that the three R's (and some fun science experiments and exploration) are enough for the Primary Grades... particularly if (s)he is not a fluent reader.  That's just my opinion.

And honestly, if I would have read this advice this time last year.... I wouldn't have taken it.  I was convinced that if I wanted to give my son the best possible education, I should include some sort of introduction to all possible school subjects (history, geography, foreign language, art, and music in addition to reading, writing and math).  But it turned out that the best education for my son was to focus primarily on reading and math.

So next year (for second grade) here's what we're planning:

  • Reading (fluency and sight words)
  •  Spelling 
  • Grammar (twice a week)
  • Writing 
  • Handwriting 
  • Math
  • Science (no curriculum, just exploration and what is able to be incorporated with reading and writing)
And that's my two cents on age appropriate learning objectives.  If you have any thoughts or questions, please share in the comments or send me message. Hope you follow along with the rest of the series!

What Does My Child Need to Learn? Age 2 to Grade 2

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  1. Tanya,
    I loved your post! I totally agree with keeping it simple and focusing on the basics. Hands on learning cannot be beat, in my opinion. I know that my children remember the hands-on activities from homeschooling above anything else. You have it exactly right- when you focus on keeping it simple and not overplanning, the beauty of homeschooling can come alive. Perfect learning situations just happen and turn out to be some of your best lessons- just because you aren't stressed out trying to do too much. Plus, it frees you up to ENJOY each day more. I miss my homeschooling days. Have fun!
    Kindergarten: Holding Hands and Sticking Together

    1. Carolyn, thank you!! You are so right about the lessons that "just happen." Really hard lesson for a Type A planner like me to learn though. :)

  2. I also agree with keeping it simple. We didn't start homeschooling until the middle of 1st grade, my daughter is ADHD/gifted and the traditional classroom setting was terrible for her. She also didn't like to write, and we got around that by letting her do much of her curriculum online. (We use www.Time4Learning.com). She read well, and did math well, but simply did not like to write. By choosing not to fight that battle, we saved energy for other learning. Now, as a 7th grader, she writes well content-wise, though her penmanship will probably always be a little rough. Keeping it simple, and choosing your battles wisely makes homeschooling such a pleasure. Enjoy your journey!

    1. Thank you so much Linda! Your comment is really encouraging to me. I read somewhere that children with ADHD have problems taking what is in their mind and transferring it to written words or numbers until about 5th grade. It's great to hear your daughter "grew out of it" so to speak. And you're definitely right about choosing your battles!

  3. I agree 100% with you! I have also always believed that children learn best through play.
    In our home, we do a lot of learning fun. For instants, LGFK
    ( http://www.learninggamesforkids.com/ )
    is a free learning game site, that we use all the time. Of course, we also do Play-doh, crafts, and even some interest led Unit Studies in our day to day. Not too long ago, my son was Super interested in all things "Train". He really enjoyed learning all he could about them :)

    Sometimes, I think we as parents, forget that kids learn best when they are having fun. I know as an adult, that I do. So, why should I expect any different from my mini me's ;)

    Anyways, Great Blog post. Enjoyed reading it!

  4. I'm a first time reader who also plans on home schooling. Thank you for this post! I'll be adding you to my list of blogs I read.

    1. That makes my day, Christine! Thank you! :)

  5. Just what I need!

    Thank you for sharing & linking up at "Pin it" Tuesday! This post will be featured next week!

  6. I am not considering the curriculum program at first but reading your post makes me realize how important it is for kids in different ages. I am just so fortunate that I've picked up the right safety preschool for my child. Thanks much!

  7. This is so helpful to all the beginning preschool and homeschool familes out there! I love how you broke it down so clearly!

    Thanks for linking up to TGIF! I appreciate you stopping by to share with all of us! Hope to see you again today!

    Have a great weekend,

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  9. This is a great article and very informative. I have never seen these types of learning techniques used on children. My son had some learning problems when he was young so we decided to home school him. It really helped him improve his attention and such. He decided to stay in a public school for high school and he did very well. However, we decided to get him a tutor to help him on the subjects he struggled in. After using a lot of services, tutoring in Chicago is a great option for him because they offer in-home services that really made him feel comfortable while learning.

  10. Childhood education programs are very interested in how to develop problem solving skills in children, and in how to build problem solving skills in general.


  11. Love, love , LOVE your share of information! You just gave me some inspiration and motivation. I just wrote quickly my own 'homeschooling' agenda for the weeks .. My son will turn this Saturday 4 and although he goes to preschool , he will start this September full time. So mornings he is still at home , and I usually try to do some homeschooling and on Sunday . New follower !

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