Tot School Week 1
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Why Tot School?
Here we go! I know some people think I am crazy about starting tot school with a newborn but I think it is just the ‘right amount of crazy’. Since Isaiah was born we’ve been watching WAY more TV than I like, I feel like my time with Arianna has been shortened, and our routines have gone out the window. While I know that is just par for the course with a newborn, us Harveys THRIVE on the structure. I don’t think you need to have a strict and rigid schedule with your kids but, I do believe that routine is good for them. It allows them to see the predictability of the day and helps them know what to expect. And for someone like me who battles with anxiety, the routine is the best cure.
As a former teacher, I’ve been thinking about doing tot school with Arianna for a long time and even gave it a try right before she turned one. Honestly, I think she was too young, I was getting frustrated and we were just not ready. But as I see her love of learning and how quickly she picks things up I knew that 21 months was a perfect time.
Tot School also is giving us time together when the baby is napping where it’s just us. We can fit it in throughout the day and it really has just filled us with such fun and joy even only after a week. I am using the curriculum provided by ABC Jesus Loves Me to help structure our weeks. It takes me about an hour a week to look at what they provide, completes a ‘lesson plan’ for myself, checks Pinterest for extra activities, and get my materials together. I do this on Fridays so that I can have the weekend to go to the store for any supplies we need. I have also been getting all of the books from the library for 3 weeks at a time. My local library allows me to borrow them for 3 weeks so I can put them on hold from a different library and just go pick them up which works great because as much as we love the library, we might not get there each week.
Week 1 Activities
With ABCJLM, you get different bible stories, themes, and activities that you can complete. It also includes all the printables for FREE which I love! This week our themes included; Creation, the color RED, and the shape CIRCLE. Most of the activities that we did came from their website but I supplemented with some fun stuff I found on Pinterest.
One of my favorite things we did this week was starting to learn our Bible song and read the Creation Story. By the end of the week, Arianna was requesting to read the “Bible” with breakfast and even reading some of the stories! Whenever I said “On day one God said…” she would respond with a resounding “LIGHT SHINE!”
Part of the curriculum this first month is to create a ‘creation book’ where she does crafts to show the story from the Bible. This was super fun this week as we got to introduce using glue and ripping paper, two prior skills she didn’t have. While the glue was tougher for her to do, the ripping paper was RIGHT up her alley! My mom came to visit this week as well so she got grandma to help her create some of her books!
For the circle theme, I simply drew a circle with smaller circles on the rim and had her place circle stickers on each one. Though she wasn’t able to always put it right on top of the corresponding circle, I found stickers of any kind to be the winner of the week! She loved peeling and placing them on papers. I did learn that I should only give her the number of stickers I want her to use, because when you tell a toddler “stickers all done” and there are still stickers on the sheet, expect a meltdown!
We also did a motor skills activity where she put cheerios (our circle) on spaghetti sticks that I stuck to the table with play-doh. This included introducing the play-doh rules (please, please, please don’t put it on my couch!) and kept her busy for 20 minutes! I plan to do this activity again even when it’s not circle week!
We did a lot of red painting and coloring to this week. The worksheets from ABCJLM were so helpful and I even had some leftover so I’ve created a file system so that I can pull them out when I need an activity for her. This helped so much whenever I was trying to make dinner or do household chores. I felt good as a mom knowing that I could have learning activities for her that she enjoyed if I had to do things around the house. My mom’s guilt can be strong and this was one way I was able to ease it because of mamas… life HAS to get done but it’s up to us to decide how. I am making a concerted effort to say less “Ari do you want to watch Elmo?” and more “Ari do you want to color?” and I can already see a change in some of her behaviors!
Other ways I embedded the theme into our daily life was by eating red snacks (raspberries, tomatoes, bell peppers, strawberries etc…), exploring a red color box full of things I found around the house, doing red and circle walks whenever we were out in public and having her find things that were red all over the house. This was super helpful when I was trying to get dressed and watch the baby since I could have her look through some of the toy boxes we have in our bedroom for things. It kept her occupied just long enough for me to get ready super fast!
All in all I’d say week 1 was a success! I didn’t think I’d love homeschooling as much as I do and while I don’t know if we will continue it in the long run, it’s perfect for her at 2 years old!