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Starting Tot School with Nicholas was probably one of the smartest decisions I have made as a parent.
The progress he has made over the past 2 months blows me away every time I think about it. In everything from his speech to his sensory issues, I have watched him learn and grow faster than I ever thought possible.
Once we decided to homeschool, the next logical step seemed to be to just get started. But where? How?
The possibilities seemed endless and, to be honest, overwhelming.
Now that we have a couple of weeks worth of Tot School under our belts, I thought I’d share with you a few of the things I have learned since beginning this little adventure as well as some tips for starting your own Tot School for your little ones.
1) First and foremost – PLAY!
Tot School is really just a form of structured play for toddlers. From letters and numbers to colors and shapes, toddlers learn through play. What you might see as a game, they see as hard work. Their little brains are working overtime to process all of that new information and believe me, they’re like mini-human sized sponges, they’ll just soak it up.
2) DON’T over think it!
Seriously, just start! There are a ton of websites, books, and pins out there and they all have a lot of great information but you really don’t have to try them all. Just pick one thing, one simple activity that you and your little one can do together and start with that.
The first activity that I put together for Nicholas was a simple plastic bin filled with dry beans, spoons, and a few measuring cups.
With something as simple as that, he learned and worked with a new texture (helping him with his sensory issues), worked on his fine motor skills by learning to scoop and pour and started learning numbers as we counted the beans together.
3) Follow your child’s lead!
Each child will learn at his/her own pace and if you try to force a new concept before they are ready, they’ll wind up resenting your teaching and you’ll both end up really frustrated. Just go with the flow, follow your child’s lead an you’ll do just fine.
4) Use what you have!
You don’t need to go out and spend a ton of money on supplies. Really! Just use what you have around the house. I’ve bought things to use during our Tot School time only to have Nicholas want nothing to do with them, yet I pull a colander out of the cupboard and some pipe cleaners out of our art supplies and show him how to thread the pipe cleaners through the holes and he’s entertained for hours.
Tot School doesn’t need to be expensive. There are hundreds of free printables out there and I bet a majority of the toys you already own can be used in some learning activity. Just get creative!
5) Have fun!
Again, while Tot School is a slightly more structured form of play, it is still play. That’s how toddlers learn and you would be amazed at what your little one can pick up in a short amount of time. Just pick out a single activity, get down on the floor, and play with them!