Wednesday, July 17, 2013

How We Tot School / How to Start Tot Schooling

I've had quite a few reader questions recently regarding Tot Schooling.  If you've followed the blog, you have probably seen me mention it in passing quite a few times, and may have seen this post from my tot schooling go-to, Nicole from The Kavanaugh Report, explaining what tot schooling is exactly.

If you're new to tot schooling, seriously check out Nicole's blog or the intro post above, but I'll briefly explain tot school before I go into how we started schooling.

Basically, in really simple terms, tot school is the process of helping your baby/toddler/small child to learn basic early concepts, shapes, colors, vocabulary, numbers, letters, etc. through play, fun, and some structured activities.

If you Google "Tot School" or complete a Pinterest search on the topic, you'll likely find a whole host of ideas, topics, and content to use with your child, and it can be seriously overwhelming.  When I began tot schooling, I was a bit dazed from all of the possible activities and almost stopped before I even started - because it looked like so much work.

I'm really glad I didn't stop though, because tot school has been a really fun activity for Little Man and I to do together - both for his learning AND our bonding.


Here's how we got started.

One day, I was feeling bored and Little Man had exhausted interest in pretty much all of the toys around our house.  I didn't feel like heading out to the store to find new toys or spending any money, so I looked up a few simple tot school activities.  After scrounging around our cabinets and closets at home, I realized I had the supplies to make the Rainbow Rice I'd seen on a post from Nicole, as seen below:

{For full instructions on how to make Rainbow Rice, visit her post here!}

After dying up some rainbow rice, I stuck it in an old, cleaned-out peanut butter jar, and we had a fun new toy that Little Man rolled across the floor, batted at, and shook as a musical instrument.  Through this activity, we made music, practiced fine and gross motor skills, talked about colors, talked about size and shape, and eventually {when we dumped out the rice into a bowl and went "fishing for toys" in it or scooping it} worked on sensory skills.

Out of just one small activity that seemed so simple, we gained a TON of new learning.  And - from there - our tot schooling progressed.

When you visit many blogs, you'll typically see lots of really well-planned separate learning areas or rooms, with desks, bins, trays, and really toddler-friendly storage.  And as a newbie, it's more than overwhelming to look at those photos.  Here in our home, I keep it to one simple bin.

{Here's a picture of ours from a few months ago}

As you can see above, it's nothing fancy.  Just one simple bin.  A folder houses all of the coloring pages, dot marker pages, or card activities I laminate.  A bin keeps all of the small manipulative items together, and a little extra space under the bin or to the side of the bin keeps any  larger toys I'd like to focus on for the week.  In front of the folder, I'll often also add in a book or two to read during the week to encourage his literacy as well.

There are plenty of sites that will explain further in depth of how to start tot school, but a few of my favorites are as follows:

- Tot School Essentials {The Kavanaugh Report}

- Tot School FAQ {The Kavanaugh Report}

- Getting Started with Tot School {The Mama Years}

- & one more Tot School FAQ {1+1+1=1}

If you're thinking about getting started with tot schooling your small child, there really isn't any inappropriate or "too-early" time.  You don't have to have entire rooms dedicated to schooling and you don't have to have a ton of time.  Just choose one simple activity, try it out, and go from there!

How did you start tot schooling?

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  1. + do you want to follow each other?

  2. Thanks for the mention Jayne! I agree - thinking about starting was so OVERWHELMING until I realized you can pick and choose what works for you. I love seeing how other mamas do it. It's great to learn from everyone!

  3. I never called it "tot school" but we did a ton of hands on learning and imaginative activities - and it leads into great family play as the little ones get older each year.

  4. My son will be 2 in October. I plan to start tot school in September.


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