Drake is starting preschool this month. I’m distraught, I’m worried, and I’m going to miss him like crazy. I’m trying to stay strong and focus on the positives, the biggest of which is that I get to spend alone time with little Devin!
In order to make the most of our time together, I am starting a laid back tot school with little Mr. Devin at the old age of 18 months.
What is Tot School?
Tot school isn’t complicated. It’s like preschool for toddlers… age appropriate, enriching activities for your little one! Most people do this whether they call it tot school or not, and everyone has their own approach. Some people like to plan out a number of activities, which is great! Some people like to fly by the seat of their pants, which is also great! The main point is to do fun activities with your little one that support their development.
Why do Tot School?
I am doing tot school because I enjoy doing these kinds of activities, but I am not always good about following through with them. Tot school will keep me focused. We are also planning to homeschool once Drake finishes preschool and starting a schoolish routine with Devin will help in the long run.
While there are many great reasons to do Tot School, it isn’t for every parent or for every child! I tried with Drake, but he wasn’t into it. He learns in a more organic way and wasn’t into activities at that point. (He is now, but that’s a whole other post.) I think Devin will appreciate (and sit for) the activities I have planned and enjoy the routine.
What Kinds of Activities do you do?
This depends on your child and where they are at developmentally. With Devin, I plan to do coloring, puzzles, pasting, sensory bins, play doughs, blocks, and painting. Reading books is something that happens no matter what, but as we settle into a routine, I may add thematic books from the library. We will work on colors, shapes, letters, numbers, and counting over the next half a year depending on how quickly he picks them up. (I wouldn’t do letters or number yet except that he is interested in them.)
What do you need?
Not too much! Crayons, markers, paper, and a printer will take you a long way. Your recycling is a great resource. Empty plastic containers, paper towel tubes, newspaper and magazines can all come in handy. Educational toys are helpful like puzzles, books, blocks, and counting bears. Of course, there are people who have a collection of beautiful supplies that I swoon over, but living in a tiny space on a tiny budget means I stick to the basics.
How to start?
Well, I’m no expert, but this is what I’m doing… We are starting out slow. I am planning one activity a day and that can be as simple as coloring or doing puzzles together or more involved like making dough to play with. Devin is only 18 months, so there’s no need to overwhelm the kid! Free and independent play is important too. As he gets closer to two and things settle after Maddie is born, I’m sure we will do more involved activities. It all depends on what he is ready for.
The first step to planning for tot school is to get inspired. Get yourself on Pinterest and start pinning any activity you think is interesting. It doesn’t even have to be age appropriate. Pin it for later! Pinterest is a great source of inspiration! There are also many great books with activity ideas for young children, but I use Pinterest way more than anything else.
Make a reasonable plan and don’t expect your little one to do much at first. Drake, Devin, and I often sit down to color together. Sometimes Devin colors a little, and sometimes he watches and tries to eat the crayon, but watching and observing are great! They learn so much from modeling.
You could set some learning goals for your little, but I would encourage you to wait until you start up and see how your tot takes to the activities and go from there. This way you will have a feel for what you're doing, and you can make more appropriate goals.
If you’re introducing an unfamiliar toy or materials to your little one, let them explore it before trying to do an activity. Chances are that’s what your little one will do no matter what you planned..
And just jump in! Don’t worry if things don’t go as planned. I assure you, they’re learning anyway!
Welcome to the family!
We are a laid back, fun, family of four living on a dime in 700 square feet. Life might not be perfect, but every moment of every day, it is beautiful.