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Age 2 to 4

I love this stage – a stage full of curiosity, wonder, exploration, and yes, accidents (from time to time). Learning at this period in a child’s life is explosive. They are so eager to know how things work, to ask questions, to get their hands into everything. I’ve had two older boys pass through this stage and now I have a third son going through it.

My third son, Titus, is three years old. Very recently he expressed interest to do “work.” Work in our home is what our kids use to describe their homeschooling. “Mom, can I do work?” Titus began to ask me in the mornings. Or, “Mom, where’s my work? I want to work like Elijah and Edan.” I took this to mean that he was ready and willing to start “formally” learning concepts.

Previously, I read to him and talked about concepts (like shapes, numbers, sizes, letters, etc.), but for the most part, his first three years of life consistent of a whole lot of play – the self-directed kind.

However, ever since he wanted to be part of our daily homeschooling, I decided on an approach that would appeal to him. He is bright like his brothers, but his learning style is more kinaesthetic – hands on, to be specific. Therefore, he does better when he handles concrete objects and is given opportunities to use his hands to learn.

Homeschooling makes it possible for Titus to learn the way that best suits him. And this is the great thing about homeschooling. I have primary control over the methodology, content, and environment in which my children learn. If I were to send my children to a conventional school and entrust the responsibility of teaching them to an institution, the methodology, content, and environment in which they learn would be, for the most part, outside of my control.

Having primary control over these three factors is one of the reasons why I believe homeschooling is a superior education. Control allows me to customize my child’s education.

When people say to me, “Your kids are so intelligent. They know so much,” I think to myself, all kids are intelligent and all kids can know the same things my children do and more! The only academic advantage my kids have is a customized learning experience and a mom and dad who are willing to customize it for them. In fact, I know many remarkable kids and while genetics may play a factor, more often than not, their remarkableness is determined by the manner and kind of instruction they receive.

With homeschooling toddlers, individualized instruction is the key. So in the beginning it seems like a lot of preparation and creativity, but once your child gets it, they will become more and more independent. Educator John Holt says, a good teacher will “work himself or herself out of the job.”[1] I have four kids. If all of them were dependent on me to learn and didn’t eventually become self-directed learners, I wouldn’t last as a homeschool mom. It would be too exhausting!

Conversely, if my children are equipped to launch themselves and teach themselves, their capacity to learn will not be limited by me. My eight year old, Elijah, teaches himself by reading. He knows where to go to find the answers to his questions. His comprehension level is also very good which means I don’t have to explain new lessons to him every single time. If there is something he really can’t figure out or understand he knows I am available as a resource. But, his first option is to understand what he can on his own. Edan, my five year old is becoming a better reader. As he develops the skills needed to decipher bigger words and comprehend more difficult material, I have no doubt that he will propel himself as well. He is already able to finish his workbooks and materials without me having to explain everything to him all the time. Both of them are also very good at math.

Titus is at the same point my first two sons used to be at – learning pre-reading, pre-writing, and pre-math skills – the building blocks of every good education. He is still dependent on me at this point, but eventually, he too will need me to instruct him less and less. At present, however, my role is to help him master skills that will help him to become a good reader, communicator, and problem solver. Eventually, these skills will allow him to easily tackle a range of subject matter.

There are many checklists out there that are lengthier and more detailed, but I condensed them into the essentials. If parents want a more detailed checklist, they can refer to my growth checklist for ages 2 to 4. Growth Checklist _Ages 2 to 4_


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  • Vocabulary – Knowing the name of things.
  • Print Awareness – Noticing print, knowing how to handle a book and knowing how to follow the words on a page. (left to right)
  • Letter Knowledge: Knowing letters are different from each other, knowing their names and sounds and recognizing letters everywhere. Sing, Spell, Read, and Write – Alphabet Song
  • Phonological Awareness: Being able to hear and play with the smaller sounds in words. Titus and Pre-Reading Skills Part 1
  • Print Motivation: Being interested in and enjoying books.
  • Narrative Skills: Being able to describe things and events and tell stories.

Helpful Resources:


  • Hand Muscle Strength (Ex. Being able to hold, squeeze, pinch, pull, push, press, etc.)
  • Hand Dexterity and Hand-eye Coordination – Use hands to build and make things, manipulate objects like puzzles and toys, lace beads, tear paper, handle tools like measuring cups, spoon and fork, paint brushes, roll and pass a ball, etc.
  • Drawing, Scribbling, Coloring, Tracing, Copying
  • Hold A Pencil Properly

Helpful Resources:


  • Knows shapes and can identify shapes in his environment.
  • Identifies numbers (1 to 10 or more) and understands that numbers are symbols that represent how many. For example: * * * is 3.
  • Makes comparisons (ex. fewer or more)
  • Understands positions (inside and outside, left and right, left, middle and right, above and below, top and bottom, under)
  • Classifies based on attributes (ex. sorting by same color, same size, same texture, etc.)
  • Can follow a simple sequence or pattern
  • Familiar enough with local currency to identify 25 cents, 1 peso, ten pesos, etc.
  • Differentiates between size (long and short, tall and short, light and heavy, holds more or less, wide and narrow)

Helpful Resources:

How much time do you need? If you set aside at least 30 minutes to 1 hour each day, you can create opportunities for your toddler to learn these skills.

Keep tasks short (between 5 – 10 minutes) and fun, and give lots of breaks. Concepts are best learned when a child is doing and given lots of opportunities to repeat and practice instead of just listening or watching. Of course, encouragement and positive reinforcement are very important as well!

I like how educator, John Holt, put it when he said, “We learn to do something by doing it. There is no other way. When we first do something, we probably will not do it well. But if we keep on doing it, have good models to follow and helpful advice if and when we feel we need it, and always do it as well as we can, we will do it better. In time, we may do it very well. This process never ends.” [2]

It does take some creativity and patience to homeschool the toddler stage, but it is a lot of fun!

As often as possible I document the activities I am doing with Titus to give moms an idea of what they can do with their own kids who are this age. These pictures and videos will be available in entries that I write for Homeschooling the Toddler Years. I hope these pictures and videos will help give you ideas for your toddler. And who knows, you might surprise yourself and discover that you can homeschool after all! 🙂

[1] John Holt, Instead of Education (Sentinent Publications edition: Boulder, CO 2004), pg. 66

[2] Ibid, pg. 62





68 thoughts on “Age 2 to 4

  1. Hello, Joy! I saw the Growth Checklist you made for ages 2-4 🙂 My son, Gabriel, turned 2 last July. He’s very independent. He learns quickly from everything he sees. He also remembers a lot of what he hears. From the checklist you made, he gets 5 for almost everything on the Classifying part. He knows 3 colors: red, blue, and orange. He knows shapes, too: circle, heart, and star. When he was 1 year and 6 months, he counts straight from 1-4. Now, he counts randomly but when assisted, he follows. When asked to identify colors, numbers, shapes, he’ll say, “Don’t like.” or not answer at all and continues with what he is doing. Is this something to worry about or just right for his age?

    Btw, I love how he likes “reading” the Bible and all his other books. Every day he opens them and tells me, “Mommy, Gabe reading books” 🙂 Do you have advice on how I can make him for familiar with letters? So far, he’s sure to know which one is the letter B; he saw it from is B-A-B-Y bag key chain :))

    I am learning a lot from you! Thanks for having a helpful blog 😀 God bless your family more!!

    1. Hi Lorraine! I will answer your two questions…
      First, you don’t need to worry about his numbers, colors, or shapes. He is still very young and he will perfect them soon enough. My third son was kind of like that but he eventually got it all a little bit before he turned 3. 🙂

      As for your question about letters, you can identify letters as you see them in the
      environment, like what you are doing already with things like the key chain. (This goes for numbers, colors and shapes, too) When kids understand that all these things are a part of life and not just things they need to learn, the meaningfulness makes them more motivated to learn.

      With letters, however, it is better to teach him phonetic sounds. Letter names are good to know but won’t help him to read. He needs to know the sounds they make. So, you can play games like, “This is the letter A. It makes the sound “a-a,” like “A-a-apple” or “A-a-ant.” “Let’s go around the house and look for things that begin with ‘A-a.'” I used Sing,Spell,Read, and Write with my kids and it worked very well. They learned both the names and sounds of letters using music and visual aids. Music helps alot. 🙂

      I watched Gabe’s video. He knows a lot for a 2 year old. You are doing such a great job. It looks like you are such an intentional mom. 🙂 Keep it up!!! And since he likes books, if you keep reading to him, he will learn letters, shapes, colors, numbers, etc. Getting your child to love reading is key and you are already doing that. 🙂

  2. Joy, I was just praying about what I should focus on teaching YESHUA next. This is super helpful and an answer to prayer. Thanks

  3. Hi Joy! God is truly good! Your site is an answered prayer to me. I’ve been trying to call TMA but looks like school is busy today. My son just turned 3 last Oct.31. I enrolled him in Julia Gabriel when he was two for two terms. We go there every Saturday but then I got busy/exhausted at work and felt like spending my Saturdays at home. So we didn’t continue w/ the program since March this year. I was thinking of homeschooling him. Does TMA have a program for 3 yrs old? He can read a few words already. I made a Creation theme last month, he memorized Gen 2:3, although I didn’t really plan to push him to memorize it. It’s just that we posted all his work on the wall. He colors the pictures I print. He got to plant (monggo seeds) when the lesson was about vegetation. But I wasn’t consistent, so we just finished it today ending it with a 3D snake craft. And he told me, “we shouldn’t listen to snakes”. His stage is very exciting. What I need are materials that I can leave at home. I prayed to God to be someday a full-time homemaker. His answer by faith is on its way. In the meantime, He gave me a caregiver who is a Christian too which makes me feel a bit at ease leaving him to her everyday. She enjoys making crafts too. Hope you can help. God bless you & your family.

    1. Hi Gen! Sounds like your son is very motivated to learn! TMA does have a program for 3 year olds, but honestly, given that he is so young, he doesn’t really need to enroll in a formal program. Please try to read to him a lot, dialogue often, teach him character, focus on his heart, and you can start introducing math and language concepts. But you don’t need to make it too structured. I think 30 to 45 minutes a day is plenty. He should really be playing and exposed to the outdoors. If you want to get him a reading curriculum, you can get him Sing, spell, read and write. No need to do the workbooks yet, just let him listen to the music and use the charts and cards so he can master phonetic sounds. You can go to their bookshop along Quezon Avenue and ask them about their SSRW kit for parents. It comes in a box and covers level k and level 1.

  4. Yey! at last i’ve found this blog! (after doing one GLC session online, i decided to finally search for it) God really is amazing and knows the perfect timing! Up to now i still am on the defensive side (me defending homeschooling) because my in laws are not sold out to this idea so I keep on researching about homeschooling. They even asked us if we know somebody who does this and personally know them. And by God’s grace I had a friend who told me about TMA and so that was one of the reasons why we now attend in CCF and the rest is history.So now I get to know a lot of parents who homeschool their kids and have a lot of inputs about homeschooling that the next time they’ll ask us if we’re serious about our decision we can confidently say “yes because its worth it” and we believe we can maximize our God given potentials through homeschooling. I even resigned from my work last year so I can prepare. My son is now 2 years old and he is just like Titus. He’s excited to do our “lessons” and have managed to familiarize himself with the alphabet. But as I am not formally trained in teaching I’m clueless about the milestones I need to check/observe/see from my kid. Thanks to this entry I can at least gauge Rui (my son) and see what I can try from this point on before I will start using some modules and stuff like that. I’m both excited and scared (mentally, financially, physically). But I’ll trust God will guide me. I am trully thankful that He brought me to the CCF family. :-)..Thank you Joy. God bless your heart as always. ♥♥♥

    1. You are most welcome and I am happy that you have chosen to homeschool. I believe that God will surely bless you and help you to succeed. He will also be the one to speak to the hearts of your in-laws. For as long as you and your husband have agreed to do it, then go for it! Homeschooling is such an amazing journey and it takes a whole lot of faith to persevere, but like you said the rewards are worth it. 🙂 May God bless you in every way (spiritually, relationally, emotionally, physically, financially).

  5. Hi Joy! How are you? Great site!!! I was wondering – where in Quezon Ave can I buy the SSRW kit? Nate can read already, we used Glenn Doman and Your Baby Can Read plus I used Jolly Phonics program. I’m looking for more language arts curriculum for him. Hope you can help.

    Thanks and God bless! 🙂

  6. Dear Joy,

    I am so happy to have come across your site. I am seriously considering homeschooling my daughter. She turned 3 last October. When is the right age for her to start schooling? Where do I begin?i reallyhave no clue where to start. Another thing is, I work everyday, but flexi time so i can teach her before or after work. Will I be able to succeed homeschooling her?

  7. Hi! I found your blog while looking for the TMA website. Actually, I was looking for more information about the Homeschooling Conference to be held in May and stumbled into your blog by accident (or should I say, by divine providence). I wish I had seen a blog like yours back when I was starting out in the homeschooling journey! It is such a treasure trove of very useful and relevant information for anyone who wants to learn about homeschooling in the Philippines. I hope you will continue sharing your knowledge and experiences with the rest of the world.

    May our wonderful Lord continue to bless you and your family!

    1. Thanks Mary! Nice to meet you. How many years have you been homeschooling? If you have ideas to share, please do so!

  8. Hi Joy!

    I have an autistic daughter turning 5 years old this year. She has already attended a year of occupational therapy and a year of pre-school and as of the moment, she is very competent in most kindergarten level skills. I want to homeschool her independently this year for her Kindergarten year before I enter her into a DepEd-accredited homeschool provider. Will the decision to homeschool her independently give me a problem especially with regards to the Kindergarten Education Act (RA 10157)? Do you think she may have to repeat a kinder level “officially” if I teach her myself? She’s very capable and I have more than enough resources to homeschool her myself for this year without having to go to a homeschool provider to do it.

    Thank you for your reply Joy!

    1. Hi Lilac, I am so sorry I just saw your comment now! Anyway, the mandatory preschool level is the level right before grade 1. If you are homeschooling two levels before grade 1 independently, that is still okay. But preparatory level or what deped calls universal kindergarten is required before entering grade 1. 🙂

  9. Hi Joy,
    I know this is not related to the topic. But I was wondering why you let your children sleep by themselves aged one?

    1. Well, several people have asked me that. 🙂 Edric and I train our kids to sleep through the night by about 3 months, and then let them sleep out of our room when I stop breastfeeding. Usually that happens between 15 to 24 months. But with my third, he weened himself at 8 months. Edric and I want our children to know that our bedroom is for us, as a couple. They are welcome to hang out and be with us in the room. But at night, they sleep in their own rooms. Our children understand that our relationship as husband and wife comes first but it doesn’t diminish our love for them. There are many different ways to show children that you love them without having them sleep in your room.

  10. Hi Joy, I know this question is way out of the topic. But I have a 3 year old boy, Noah who is a very picky eater. And when he decides he does not like to eat it, he would be so firm and not do so. Do you have any suggestions how I can encourage him to eat other healthy food?

    1. Does he see you eating healthy food? That helped to get our kids into healthier eating. It was a bit more challenging when they were that age, but the older boys have really gotten better at eating their fruits and vegetables. We were partly to blame before. We would feed them junk food. So we have removed most of the junk food so they get hungry enough to eat what is on their plate. 🙂 Our 2 year old is still a challenge. So, I get those Tipco veggie drinks, which she likes. That kind of helps. Food has always been a big challenge in our home. But our kids are now liking the same things we do. Modeling good eating habits helps a lot. 🙂 And keeping away from the junk food keeps them hungry for the right stuff.

  11. Hi Joy, I thank God for your ministry, I know I will learn a lot from you. I want my daughter to be home school but she really wants to go to regular school because she’s so bored. I’m teaching her now before she enters K-5 and I’m enjoying reading all your post. I wish there is TMA here in Guam for sure if God brings us again the Philippines we will surely enroll her to TMA. God bless you more!!!

    1. Hi Cosette! Maybe you can connect with other homeschoolers in your area so you can have playdates with other families. We encourage families to do that here so kids can also connect with other children. Don’t worry, many kids start off feeling that way, but when they experience that bond with you, they will prefer to homeschool. 🙂

  12. Thank you Joy, we are still praying, but we are ready for it, our pastor here will help us find the homeschoolers association. Actually she is attending Awana club every Wednesday and its a big help for her. Thank you so much God bless!!!

  13. Hi Ms. Joy! I have a three yr. old daughter who have gone through a “baby can read”program that enabled her to read. Now, she already knows how to read, learned phonics, and numbers too. Everything basic for her age has been easy for her now like color identification, parts of the body, shapes etc.. Because of is, I do not know what to do next. I’m 5 months pregnant for my second child and would later find difficulty teaching my first child for the coming months so I also didn’t enrolled her yet to nursery or even started home schooling. We wanted to home school her because we are also pastoring a church. Please help me if you have advice for me for my daughter. And what activities are suited for her especially on the coming months that I will be more attentive to my coming baby. Thanks and God bless!

    1. Well the good news is you have already done a great job! How is she doing with her character? You can put more emphasis on that and continue to develop her love for reading also by exposing her to all kinds of appropriate books. My eldest was like this and he pretty much educates himself now because he is such an avid reader. And give her a lot of free play time. That’s very good for her brain, creativity, and development. When you begin to see her interests emerge, then help her to learn more about topics that she is curious about. Elijah liked dinosaurs so we did all kinds of research on dinosaurs and we would get all kinds of dinosaur toys and books. He learned alot about science this way. You can also encourage her writing skills by letting her do a lot of art, crafts, and drawing, too. YOu don’t need to rush her too much. Let her enjoy discovering things on her own. You can also invest in some manipulatives and logic activities that will develop her reasoning skills. Hope this helps!

  14. Hi, Ms. Joy! Thank you for the tips you gave about teaching your kids. I’ve been reading your blog for quite sometime now. 🙂 I have an 19month old daughter, she loves being read to. It’s just that everytime I try to introduce a hands on activity like color blocks, alphabet she grabs it and will not focus on the activity I intended to do with her like counting the blocks, naming colors. I get frustrated most of the time thinking maybe there is something wrong with my approach. I can really use an advise now. I really want to be intentional in teaching her. Maybe you can give me an advise on how can I keep her interested on hands on activities. Thank you Ms. Joy! God bless you and your family.. ❤❤❤

  15. Hi Joy, so glad that I bump in to your blog. This is very helpful. In this current situation we have I am considering homeschooling my kid who is 4 years old. She already went to school this school year (Nursery 1). I just want to do independent homeschooling before enrolling in to a curriculum based homeschooling. A background of my little one, she already knows how to recite, alphabet and numbers. But she can’t identify all of the alphabets yet. She knows colours and shapes. She loves painting, drawing and coloring.
    Can you suggest what kit of Sing, Spell, Read & Write edition should I purchase?

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