Generally, parents are mastering “teaching” their children from day one as they point to colors and make every animal noise sound under the heavens. We want to show our children the world and help them experience everything they can. It seems to be quite normal to pass a parent in Target who is carrying around a six month old chatting away to them about the items they plan on buying or even asking the baby what they may want to take home themselves.
Although I share these same desires to teach my son, it doesn’t quite come naturally to me. In addition, as a part-time educator, I tend to get a bit creatively burned out when I am home. I need inspiration for keeping my toddler busy, learning, and having fun. More importantly, I am finding that having a few planned activities during the day gives my son and I more meaningful quality time.
Cleaning isn’t being done. Errands aren’t being run. Electronics are all turned off. It is just him and me.
Reality Check: we don’t all have time to extensively plan for activities and crafts.
And, none of us have all the time.
THREE TIPS TO A LAID BACK TOT SCHOOL
FIND YOUR FOCUS.
Since my son is only 18 months old, all I care about is exposure. There are no expectations for his performance. I don’t expect to be able to assess him and see where he is at. That just isn’t the point. This also makes it really easy to plan for just a couple of activities during the week and if you can’t get to them – no big deal. Once you find your focus, you can keep that as your personal standard and not allow other expectations to get in the way.
There were a couple of activities that we attempted to do that simply did not work. In a quick minute, my son moved on from these particular activities to pulling out things from our dishwasher and throwing them everywhere. Clearly, he just wasn’t interested or, he just didn’t get it. In these cases, failure is just an opportunity to see more clearly. Sometimes, I underestimate my son’s abilities, and then other times I shoot too high. Just consider these growth opportunities.
DON’T RECREATE THE WHEEL and KEEP IT SIMPLE.
It’s easy to get involved in something like this and feel totally overwhelmed by all there is you can do. Thankfully, we live in a world where Pinterest has been invented and bloggers all over have done the hard work for you. I’ve really enjoyed getting inspired by Let’s Tot School and have gathered good information from the 1+1+1=1 website. Utilize whats been created and then modify it for your needs. Although I only plan a few activities a week, I scheduled each week to fit a particular topic or theme.
It has now been a couple of weeks since I started tot school with my son and we have had so much fun together. We gather books from the library based on what we are learning at the beginning of the week, we try our best at crafts, and I get to teach him about all sort of things. I’ve made countless sensory bins and he’s made a lot of messes. I’ve sung silly songs and he’s stared at me like a crazy person. We’ve spent less time circling around each other and more time on the floor side by side.
Needless to say, we’ve both ended those days with smiles on our faces and that is all that has mattered. So far, tot school has been worth it and it couldn’t have come at a better time. What else would we do on all those impossible snow days?
How do you teach your toddler at home? Do you plan activities and crafts throughout your week? Have you ever heard of tot school? Would you consider trying it for yourself?