Homeschooling the Three-year-old

Beginning the Downhill. Yes.

threeIf we tame the “two”, we enjoy good harvest, for a while.

The well-taught “three” is the amiable toddler, the cherub of our dreams. Beginning to acquire so much, so fast, often the homeschooled “three” can learn to recite little poems, count to three, and build three-block towers.

Expanding Reach

He allows other adults in the circle of self. The “three” masters a few small, polite manners. He has learned to love doing good because Mother has been diligently rewarding good deeds. He likes other children who are his size, welcomes them in his world, and sharing becomes a new game.


Although close watching and explicitly careful training continue paramount, the “three” at least does not cry for Mother if she steps out to sweep the front porch. The contentment, which can reign in this young life, is a beautiful reward for the previous months of faithfulness Mother invested.


The learning needs of the “three” involve third elements. The two hands can now manage the addition of a simple tool, such as a large crayon, blunt scissors, or a glue stick. These two hands also can manage play clay, chalk, large-sized math manipulatives, and many other of the more simple learning tools such as an abacus.

Some “threes” are beginning to recognize and develop basic comprehension of letters and words. This child loves to watch you draw pictures, loves help with cutting and pasting a “beautiful picture for Daddy”, and loves word games with concepts such as opposites.

The “three” is continually branching out beyond the diaper, beyond the crib, beyond Mother’s arms, and beyond the single ambition of self-gratification. He no longer feels the need for all that sameness.

His small world fascinates him. He wants to learn to name colors and shapes, to build a letter “A” from cookie dough, and to progress beyond walking to running or jumping or tricycling. It is a good age to teach acceptance of all foods. It is a good age to teach simple jokes.

It is a good age. Everyone likes him and wants to tweak his curls, and for once, it is okay with him, too.


Because the “three” is sleeping less and likes his world more, a lot of noticing and imitating happens in this small life. Being careful what we do becomes very important. Some things we do, such as plugging in an electrical apparatus, are dangerous for a three-year-old to copy.

No matter how we watch, there may be disastrous outcomes from even the appropriate activities of this age. We want him eventually to learn to climb stairs, for instance, but we want him to learn caution, too, a delicate balance that can easily go awry. “Do-by-self” must learn to give way to help. Our constant supervision becomes, if possible, even more necessary. Once he learns to run, the front yard becomes a minefield…


It is at this age Mother realizes the traditional temptation to smother and the need to let go a little. Mother must know the child, by now, and also know and heed the still, small voice of the Lord.

Also at this age the child learns to “love thy neighbour as thyself.” (Matthew 22:39 KJV) Practicing manners, moments with little friends, and sharing games are the methods that will teach this all important concept, if Mother only watches and is careful to impose them in a timely way.

How we wish more of the people around us had the advantage of a Mother’s tender and persistent homeschooling at this age!

More tomorrow.


Published by Katharine

Katharine is a writer, speaker, women's counselor, and professional mom. Happily married over 50 years to the same gorgeous guy. She loves cooking amazing homegrown food, celebrating grandbabies, her golden-egg-laying hennies, and watching old movies with popcorn. Her writing appears at Medium, Arkansas Women Bloggers, Contently, The Testimony Train, Taste Arkansas, Only in Arkansas, and in several professional magazines and one anthology.

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