Skills list age two
Remember that your child has an entire YEAR to accomplish these skills!
It is important to instill a love of reading at this age. You should read aloud to your child every day. Pick a special spot in the house like a cozy rocking chair or a comfy couch. Your child will pick up on your enthusiasm if you pick up a book with a smile on your face and you are genuinely excited about it. Make the stories come alive with facial expressions, voice inclinations, gestures etc. Discuss the book together to increase reading comprehension. Talk about the feelings of the characters, choices that they made etc. Look at the pictures and talk about them. See if the child can tell a little bit about the story by studying the pictures. Try to vary your reading selections. Mix poetry (nursery rhymes, for example), with stories. Your child needs to see YOU reading during the day as well (your Bible, the newspaper etc.)
Start out with very short selections as it takes time to develop a child's attention span. Don't be discouraged when your child wriggles and squirms and loses interest. This is perfectly normal. Soon your child will settle down and become more attentive. If you read to him every day, in the same cozy location, he will soon regard your reading time together as a calm and comforting event.
A great way to increase your child's vocabulary (besides reading a lot of books to him) is to be very deliberate in your speech. Talk to the child using a lot of descriptive adjectives, synonyms, superlatives and comparatives. Encourage the child to talk. Have him elaborate and clarify things. Gently correct his grammar. (Do this by repeating what he says as a question. "I goed in my room." "You went in your room?")
- Understands that books are special and that we take very good care of them. The child handles books gently.
This skill needs to be tackled right off the bat. The rough handling of books is unacceptable. The child should be allowed to pick up and look through any book as long as he treats the book properly. You should have a special place to keep all of your books and you should provide a good example by not leaving books lying around.
- Can say the alphabet without singing it.
You can start out by teaching him the alphabet song. After he can sing it correctly, start having him repeat the alphabet after you without singing it until he can say the entire alphabet by himself.
- Memorizes several short poems, (nursery rhymes).
Your child will do this automatically after hearing you read these repeatedly. Children love repetition. They enjoy hearing familiar stories and poems over and over again. You will soon notice your child joining in and saying the poems with you.
- Understands that reading is down from left to right and is able to turn the pages for you in the right direction.
Allow the child to hold the book and turn the pages as soon as he is able to do so. This is a treat for the child and will help build his enthusiasm along with teaching him an important pre-reading skill.
- Enjoys being read to. Points to pictures in the book when asked questions about the pictures. "Where is the dog?" "Where is the blue ball?" etc.)
This develops over time as the child's attention span increases. Try and extract as much detail out of the pictures, which helps develop the child's power of observation. Ask the child what color objects are, what size they are, where they are located etc. instead of just asking what the object is.
- Enjoys the library
The library will become a very important part of your homeschool experience. Most libraries sponsor wonderful preschool programs. These are especially geared to 2-5 years olds. At our library, they show the children a short filmstrip, read a story aloud, and then do an age appropriate craft that they can take home. This once a week activity is definitely on our list of favorites. Besides being fun, it is an important lesson on how to behave in public, specifically how to behave in a library, and how to behave in a social gathering. The child will also learn lessons about authority other than their parents (the librarian) and how to follow the lead and direction of that authority figure. Our library occasionally sponsors a bedtime story, which is also fun. It is done at night and the children arrive wearing their nightclothes, robes and slippers. They bring their favorite doll of stuffed animal and the librarian will read them a special bedtime story. Puppet shows are another favorite library event. Sometimes the library will bring in special guests like a zookeeper complete with some interesting animals. Please take advantage of these wonderful free programs.
At this age, your focus is developing the small muscle coordination required to write. One thing that you need to be aware of is that girls develop this skill earlier than boys do. (As a matter of fact, girls tend to excel in all areas over boys until about age 8 when things start to even out).
- Holds a crayon correctly when coloring.
Gently correct pencil hold. However, some children (and adults) have a non-standard pencil hold that works for them. To evaluate this, see if the child is able to accomplish his age appropriate tasks with the non-standard pencil hold and make sure that this particular hold is not putting a strain on his hand muscles causing fatigue. Left-handed children should not be allowed to write with the infamous "hook" pencil hold! This is one pencil hold that needs to be corrected early on. The "hook" will cause problems later on with penmanship (ink smears on the paper, improper slant etc.) Left-handers can have beautiful penmanship but the "hook" makes this very difficult. I am left-handed and write without the "hook." My husband writes with the "hook." No matter how hard he tries, he can not avoid ink smears and an uneven slant. His penmanship is legible but not pretty. Because he has written this way for so many years, he is unable to correct it. That is why it needs to be addressed early on. At least one of our children is left-handed. We don't know about the baby yet! DO NOT try and make the child write right-handed if he is a left-handed child. This is a serious mistake. In years past, parents would try and switch their children if they were left-handed; this was especially true in Europe. I was born in Germany and the teachers where I attended school tried to switch me. My father went to the school and put a stop to it. My mother was also born in Germany and the teachers would strike her hands every time they saw her pick up an object with her left hand). This can cause a lot of emotional problems in the child. His brain is wired differently and shouldn't be tampered with. If God made your child left-handed then your child is left-handed. Don't try and change that.
- Can trace straight lines. (With a crayon, not a pencil.)
Start out by placing straight lines far apart on the paper and then move them closer together as the child gains skill. Start with shorter line lengths and gradually making them longer. Start out by guiding the child's hand and progress to him tracing completely by himself. You can have the child do this with his finger at first and then move on to crayons. This is an important pre-writing skill. It not only addresses the child's technical skill but it also works on his concentration. Do not allow the child to rush through and thus do sloppy work. (However, you certainly should not expect perfection out of a two-year-old. The most important lesson learned here is to take your time and try your best). Do not do this to the point of frustration. Let the child do a couple of lines then put the work away until another day. Remember to keep a relaxed atmosphere. Do not pressure the child or you will end up causing frustration and a dislike for schoolwork.
- Can trace curved and zigzag lines. (With a crayon, not a pencil.)
After the child is doing straight lines well, you can progress to curved and zig zag lines using the same methods as outlined above.
- Demonstrates proper posture while drawing/coloring.
Good habits need to be learned early on. Proper posture not only looks better, it helps prevent fatigue.
Make counting a game! Count anything and everything in sight. You should start this when the child is very young. "Katie has two ears, one two!"
- Can count out loud to 20.
Start out by counting to 5. Have the child look at your face when you are counting. Do this a couple of times a day. Pretty soon, the child will be joining in and counting with you. You can start leaving gaps for the child to fill in. You say one and then wait for the child to say two; then you say three and wait for the child to say four etc. You then count to 10, then 15, then 20.
- Can count objects to 20.
Counting objects is a completely different skill than counting out loud. The child is now making an important connection that is the very basis of arithmetic. We use brightly colored buttons and set of counting bears. Teach the child how to count objects simply by demonstrating. You can do this formally by using the buttons and bears and you can do it informally throughout your day by counting everyday objects. One of our favorite counting places is the grocery store. "Mommy needs four cans of green beans, one, two, three, four."
- Understands simple comparisons and superlatives like "Katie, is this box big or little?" "Kelly, which ball is smaller, the blue one or the green one?"
This is easily taught just by being aware of your own speech. Make sure that you use a lot of descriptive adjectives when you speak to your child.
- Can sort objects by color and size.
Your buttons and counting bears will definitely come in handy here! This is all a game to the child, a fun game, as long as you treat it as a game and not as a school assignment. The child doesn't need to know that he is learning an important pre-arithmetic skill. Take a relaxed approach and the child will learn this task easily.
All of your science instruction should be through observation, discussion and hands-on projects. Let him pick up a tree frog and examine it (gently please!). Let him take a deep whiff of a fragrant flower. Let him watch squirrels at play. Watch and listen to a rainstorm together.
- Understands that God made everything. God made all of the plants and animals and God made me!
Creationism should be the foundation of your science instruction. As your child gets older, you can relate everything they study back to this very basic fact.
- Recognizes a variety of domestic and wild animals as well as the sounds that they make.
This is easily taught through observation. If you live in a rural area, you can point the animals out and imitate the animal sound for them. Pretty soon, they will know all of the animals and their sounds. If you have a zoo nearby, a few trips can be a fun and valuable experience. Reinforce this with colorful picture books from the library. (This may be your main resource if you do not live in a rural area and you do not have a zoo nearby). Ask the librarian if they have any filmstrips or videos on animals geared for very young children. Our library allows you to borrow the filmstrip machine.
- Knows the names of outside objects, i.e. sky, trees, grass, sun etc.
Children love to spend time outdoors. Try and take your child outside as much as possible and just spend time talking to him about the things that he sees and hears. He will learn the names of the outdoor objects will little difficulty.
- Starting to understand the basics of good health principles. (Diet, hygiene, exercise, sleep etc.)
A lot of this is taught by example. It is a good idea to establish a routine early on in regard to washing hands before meals and after using the bathroom. Daily exercise can take the form of just running around and playing, a game of catch the ball, riding a tricycle, follow-the-leader etc. On bad weather days, you can use a preschool exercise video or just play a game of Simon Says. The main point is to make sure the child is active and gets some form of daily exercise. This is a good health habit to start early on so that it will become a natural part of their lifestyle.
- Starting to understand basic safety principles. (We don't touch the stove etc.)
You must establish very strict rules in the area of safety. There is no compromising here. The child must be taught what is safe and what isn't. Safety training should be part of your overall discipline strategy.
Social studies at this age is geared to familiarizing the child with his immediate surroundings. All of the listed items are learned though observation and conversation. Be deliberate with your speech and use the proper names of items in and around your house. Informally quiz the child periodically.
- Knows all of the different family members names, mommy, daddy, sister, brother, aunt, uncle etc.
- Knows the names of common foods.
- Knows the names of the articles of clothing.
- Knows the names of things around the house (the different room names, furniture pieces etc.)
Bible and spiritual growth
Bible instruction and spiritual growth training during the four preschool/kindergarten years consists of a basic overview of the major stories and characters of the Old and New Testaments as well as the study of Christian character traits and basic doctrinal truths. Teaching the school subject of "Bible and Spiritual Growth" is not a substitute for daily, family devotional time nor Christian service/mission work.
Can say a short, memorized, morning prayer.
This is learned through repetition. After the child hears you say the prayer every morning, over time he will start to join in and say it with you. At this age, do not expect the child to pray spontaneously.
- Can say a short, memorized, meal blessing.
Again, this is learned by repetition. You can begin to teach your child about witnessing by praying over your food in restaurants. Christian families need not be ashamed to profess their faith in public. This is an important lesson to be taught early on.
- Can say a short, memorized bedtime prayer.
Bedtime prayers can be done in two parts. First, do a short memorized prayer for the child to learn. Then spend some time praying for individuals like family and friends. Ask the child if there is anyone he would like to pray for. Don't be surprised if he prays for the family pet or his favorite toy!
- The child should have his own children's story Bible and have a special place for it. Understands that the Bible is a special book and that we must take special care of it.
Even though the child is being taught that we take care of all books, a special emphasis needs to be placed on the care of God's Word. Designate a special place for his Bible and make sure he puts it there after he is done looking at it.
- Familiar with several major Bible stories and characters, i.e. Creation, Adam and Eve, Noah, Jesus' birth etc.
This is learned by reading these stories to the child over and over. Don't worry, he won't get bored. Children love to hear the same stories over and over again. Pretty soon, he will be telling you the stories which is exactly what you want.
- Answers a few simple Bible questions like, Who made the trees? sky? birds? us? etc. and Who is God's Son?
Spend some time just talking to your child about all that God has done. Whenever you go outside, make comments like, "Look at that fluffy white cloud God made!" "God made that oak tree and now the squirrels have a nice place to live."
- Memorizes one short Bible verse a week but probably will not be able to retain the verse for more than a week after that.
Say the Bible verse a couple of times a day for a week and the child will learn it with ease. Pick verses that are short and that do not have words that are too difficult. Have them quote the name of the book, chapter and verse after the verse itself. "In the beginning, God created the heaven and the earth. Genesis 1:1."
- Sings several simple Bible songs, i.e. "Jesus Loves Me" and "God Is So Good" as well as some praise and worship choruses.
You won't have any difficulty with this one because children love to sing. Music is a wonderful thing and you should be instilling a love of good music in them anyway. We play music in our house all the time. It makes for a soothing backdrop while going about your daily activities. We play lively praise and worship tapes while doing chores and more quiet and soothing music for reading time.
- Identifies the colors red, blue, green, yellow, purple, pink, orange, brown, black and white.
This is learned naturally by just using color words in your everyday speech. Instead of saying, "Please pick up that block over there." you say "Please pick up that red block over there. Even a child that hasn't started talking yet can learn to identify colors this way. I would play color games with blocks when my children were very young. They loved to play with the large colored Duplo blocks. Even though they couldn't say the color names, they would pick the correct color block when I asked them. "Katie, where is the blue block?" "Kristin, pick up the yellow block."
- Remembers colors from memory, i.e. "Katie, what color are peas?
Again, this is learned simply by saying the correct color name with the object over time. Every time you serve up some peas, make sure you say that the peas are green.
- Identifies the following shapes; circle, square, triangle, rectangle, oval, star, arrow, cross and moon, (crescent).
The best way to learn shapes is to play matching games. You can either buy shape flashcards or make your own. You will need at least two of each shape. (You can get fancy here if you want and have all of the shapes in all of the different colors so that you can play color matching games as well as shape matching games. One easy game you can play early on is this: Spread all of the cards face up on the table. Pick up one of the star cards and say, "This is a star. Can you find the other star?" After the child picks up the correct matching card reinforce that the name of the shape is a star. Do this with all of the difference shapes but do not do them all at one time until the child knows all the names of the shapes. There are many different games that you can make up.
- Sits quietly for a period of time, i.e. when listening to a story.
This is a skill that is developed over time. Do not expect your child to sit quietly for 15 minutes the first time you try and read a story to him. Start off with very short stories or nursery rhymes and increase the length as the child's attention span gets longer. You will find he will have more patience for stories that he already know well. Children love to hear the same stories over and over again. You want to teach him to be still and quiet while you read and that he will have the opportunity to speak and comment at the end (or whenever you break in the middle of the story to allow them to interject). What you don't want is for the child to repeatedly interrupt. This is a training period for the child so please have patience and don't expect perfection at this age. Your ultimate goal is for the child to lengthen his attention span so that when he is six, you will be able to read chapter books to him with his full attention.
- Follows a series of directions, i.e. "Please put your nightgown in the laundry basket, get dressed then make your bed."
This skill is learned as a part of your regular daily routine. This teaches the child to listen carefully and to obey. Start out by giving one step commands, then two, then three.
- Names all the different school supplies and is familiar with their different uses.
This is learned easily by the child by hearing you use the correct terms for all of the common school supplies and from you demonstrating their proper use.
- Takes proper care of his school supplies.
The child should be taught the proper way to take care of all things. This is learned by example (watching how his parents takes care of things), instruction (taking the time to explain to the child how to take care of something) as well as correction (disciplining the child for carelessness after he has been instructed).
- Is familiar with and uses a variety of art mediums, colors and textures.
The four preschool years should be a fun time with creative art projects. Children love to get messy! Use bold colors and distinct textures. Allow them to as much hands-on projects as you can.
- Takes care of his art supplies.
Again, this should be part of your overall discipline strategy. The child should be taught the proper way to take care of all things.
Your goal during the preschool years is to instill a love of music. Your child needs to see you humming and singing with a happy look on your face. This is a great
opportunity to show your child how you can praise God through music and song. Play music in the house as often as you can. Pick your music for the mood in the house at that particular time. For example, play lively praise and worship music while doing chores and play soothing music during quiet times. Expose your child to different types of music as well. A fun activity is to have the child sing into a tape recorder and play it back for him to hear. I guarantee your child will enjoy it!
- Listens to a variety of music.
- Enjoys singing and knows the words to several children's songs.
- Keeps simple time and rhythm by clapping hands.
- Uses simple instruments. Bangs on a pot, hits sticks or blocks together etc.
- If you have a piano in the house, enjoys "playing" the piano. (The child should be taught not to bang on the keys from day one!)
Your focus should be focused on coordination and balance (as well as having fun!). Children love to play outdoors and you should allow this whenever you can. Find a park nearby that has a swingset and play area. Playing ball is a great activity to increase coordination. There are several children's games that are appropriate at this age. Simon Says and Follow the Leader are a couple of good ones.
- Enjoys running, jumping, hopping, chasing, being chased etc.
- Enjoys dancing to music.
1-2 year-olds have a very short attention span and can get overwhelmed and frustrated easily; therefore, it is best to help them accomplish their tasks rather than to expect them to complete the tasks on their own. Children this age love to help their parents. Try not to damper their enthusiasm because it is easier for you to do the tasks yourself without their help. The attitude that they develop at this age will determine how willing they are to help when they get older. You want a child who understands his responsibilities as a member of the family and is happy to do his part. Children learn a lot from watching their parents so make sure that you maintain a happy attitude as you go about your daily household activities. If you grumble about your work you can be sure the child will grumble about his.
- Helps with picking up toys and puts them away.
- Helps making his bed.
- Learning to say please, thank you, you're welcome and excuse me.
- Learning to say yes/no sir/ma'am.
- Gets things for you and put things in the trash when asked.
- Puts his dirty clothes in the laundry room or in a hamper.
- This is only a short list. You should be including your child in most of the household activities. The child can throw the laundry into the washing machine (with the aid of a stepstool), help wash the car, help carry dirty dishes to the kitchen, help feed the pets etc.
A lot of what the child learns about personal care is learned by observing his parents. Make sure your personal care habits are good ones to imitate!
- Dresses self with minimal assistance. (Clothes are set out for the child and the child can put them on correctly. The child will still need help with buttons, zippers etc.)
- Potty trained but stills needs assistance wiping self after bowel movements. (NOTE: Although most children are potty trained by the time they turn 3, some children take a little longer to get the hang of it.)
- Washes and dries hands with minimal assistance after using the bathroom and before meals. (Stepstool in place by the sink, towel on the counter and soap in a pump dispenser within grasp. It is very important that the child be taught to only turn on the cold water and NEVER the hot water at this age.)
Reprinted with gracious permission from the author.
Copyright © Michele Lewis
All Rights Reserved.
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