Being a Mom is tough. I truly believe that in the last two years since becoming a Mom, I’ve learned to trust God and believe his Word more than I ever had in my 25 years of life combined. I can’t count the number of times that I’ve recounted “Sorrow may last for the night, but joy comes in the morning” (Psalm 30), “His mercies are new every morning” (Lamentations 3:22-24) or “Therefore, do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, with Thanksgiving, present your requests to God…” (Philippians 4:6) and so many other Scriptures in the last two years. Most of them were recited during the wee hours of the morning or during some new “leap” Titus was beginning.
Lately, God has been hammering home truths from Ecclesiastes 3. I had most often heard this passage read at funerals or memorial services and had never paid much attention to it. However, this passage has been such an encouragement, motivation, and a place for me to find grace in my journey of motherhood. It reads, “For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven.” The writer goes on to give many examples of the different seasons of life. While none of these verses specifically say, “There is a time when you will feel great about your decision making and parenting” and “There is a time when you will cry in the kitchen floor because of the 45 minute nap intruder”, you get the gist of the truth, which is that God has perfectly ordained the seasons of our lives. Understanding this and experiencing different seasons has given me motivation to keep pressing into Jesus and loving my family to the best of my ability, knowing that whatever difficulty I’m encountering today will not be forever.
So, to my Mom friends, tot school might be great for this season of your family’s life. For those of you who are overwhelmed or struggling to make it through the days, find grace for yourself in this season of your life and do not fall into the world’s expectations of having to be the perfect (tot-school) Mom.
That is where we are within this season of my family life. Tot school in the way I originally started it is just not feasible. Moving into a new house and preparing for a new baby has led me to transition our tot school a bit. I wanted to share this post not only to encourage you but also to share some other ideas that are a little less demanding and require less preparation.
About once a week, I’m planning a themed tot school day for Titus. This means that one day a week, we do several activities that are “themed". In this, I’m still using lots of books and resources that we already have.
Here are some themed days that we tackled and some ideas for you to try:
Shapes Theme Day: We pulled out all of the shape oriented toys and books. We read and played with these toys for a decent amount of our morning.
Food Theme Day: Titus really enjoys playing with fake food, so we brought out that tub for this day. We have a fabulous Usborne (shameless plug for this publisher) book that teaches about all of the different food groups and where they come from. I also planned a lunch that Titus could be a part of making.
Colors Theme Day: Again, I set aside our books that deal with color and any activities that we have for coloring. I have used our markers, crayons, colored pencils, play-doh, and even stickers for this day. Usually, I’ll let Titus pick the colors of his clothes, cups, plates (etc). on this day. I work to focus on the colors of things all day regardless of what that entails.
Exercise/Sports Theme Day: I always try to plan this day according to the weather. We have a ton of books about football, basketball, baseball, etc. We spend a lot of time outside practicing some of the skills Titus reads about and discussing the different pieces of equipment. Titus absolutely loves to “tackle.”
I will be honest and say that some of my ideas of these theme days actually have come from Mickey Mouse Clubhouse. We don’t watch much TV in our house at all (usually one episode of 30 minutes per day), but being 37 weeks pregnant, it’s been great to incorporate the episodes of Mickey that relate to these topics. “Mousekersize” is one of Titus’ favorites.
There are many other options for theme days. I’d love to know what ideas you have? Would you comment and share on this page?
I hope this post encourages you to incorporate tot school when it’s the right season of your life and not to feel discouraged when you must alter it. My prayer for you, Moms, is that you would embrace the season that you’re in and give yourself grace when it doesn’t look like the seasons of other Moms and families around you. Dig into God’s word so that you might recount it during the difficult seasons. In addition to the tot school theme day ideas that you have, I’d love for you to share any Scripture that you’ve clung to as a Mom. What "truth" is God teaching you through motherhood?
Today in Tot School the great ideas continue! I hope you are enjoying using these and all the other learning games Allyson and Titus are sharing with us. I know I am.
On this day, Titus had fun making shapes with purple Playdoh and building purple towers with Legos. Allyson had also picked up a book about the color purple called Harold and the Purple Crayon. You could also use The Purple People Eater book or one of my personal favorite purple books is I Love You The Purplest. (I have used lessons out of that book many, many times throughout child rearing years to boost my children's confidence in how much and for what reasons Greg and I love them! Sometimes children just need to be reminded.) I'm sure there are many, many more appropriate "color" books as well.
"Every day you have with your children is a gift you can never repeat. Laugh often, snuggle much..."
Here's a lesson you may want to use:
Tot School continues with the number "3". This week they sorted blocks into 3 different containers. They could review some previously talked about colors and numbers as they worked with their blocks. Of course, you could use anything to sort... toy cars, their own shoes, Goldfish crackers, crayons, etc. If your child loves outside like Titus does you can even use rocks or sticks. If your daughter likes to pretend to cook in her little play kitchen, you could sort the plastic fruit or spoons into pots. The ideas are endless so whatever captivates junior is the perfect thing to use! The only requirement is to just write the number "3" on a piece of tape, paper or container (as Allyson did above) so they will associate the symbol with the correct number of objects. It's going to be a fun day for you!
We are already at the end of WEEK 2. Time has certainly flown!
Here's what Allyson had on the agenda for today:
Titus used his train to stimulate learning for "i" as in the "ice cream" that you see adorning his train. Then they used these great alphabet books as well. The ideas are endless. Chances are you also have lots of toys and items around your house that either directly stimulates for a specific letter or you can use to make up a learning game to correspond with what you are teaching. Build an "igloo" out of blocks, act out being an "indian" or count the "ice" in a glass.
We will be posting more of Allyson's ideas on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday of next week with Friday being a blog in which Allyson gives some great advice to wrap up of this portion of her series on Tot School. If you are a young mom (or even an older mom with young moms you love), i don't think you'll want to miss it. Keep looking for more of what has proven to be a very popular idea page for young mothers and after next week we will look forward to catching back up with Allyson and Titus after they welcome baby Max into the world! Have a great day with your precious little ones and enjoy being moms who are in the process of building the next generation of great cathedrals for Christ.
Allyson, thanks for sharing a little of yourself with all of us!
Walking the road with you,
Here's an additional Lesson for Tot School:
Allyson picked out some great books for Titus to stimulate for the letter "D". Dog books were always a favorite and how much do you think Dad loved having a book about him and his favorite little guy! (Especially one by Jimmy Fallon! You know it has to be hilarious!)
Playing a "drum" was great for Titus but we aren't sure if that was one of Allyson's favorite days because the noise level may have increased just a L-I-T-T-L-E.
She also wrote the letter "D" on paper and let Titus trace with help. Then he got to color it in, well, kinda. Don't you love it!
Titus is off to such a great start in life thanks to mom's love and a little creativity.
We would love your ideas in the comment section below. Have a great day.
This day looks really fun using "YELLOW" as their target goal.
Here's what went down in Tot School on this day:
Allyson's creativity even excites taste buds. Titus had a yellow snack, did finger painting with yellow paint, made yellow lemonade, played with a multitude of yellow toys, and read books in which they pointed to yellow items as they read. Simple tasks with already available items. Just raiding your child's toy box and the pantry can give you an unlimited supply of ideas! So easy for your child to be learning when they think they are just having fun with mom!
"But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed:perplexed, but not in despair: persecuted but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus' sake, so that his life may also be revealed in our mortal body" -2 Corinthians 4: 7-11
"Let's just admit it. As moms we definitely don't have it all together. All of our power to love and mother our children comes from God." -Allyson
So... you are back in a routine after the Christmas sugar high, right? You saw on our last Mom2Mom post that Tot School can be fun and really very simple. We would LOVE for you to send us an update as to how you may have adapted Tot School to your little guy or gal. Readers are eating this stuff up! You can easily do just that under the "comment" section below. Who knows, maybe your household will be featured in week 3. If you include your email we can work on getting pictures of your Tot to post as well! As promised we have a sample of what Allyson and Titus did for week 2.
Here's what they did...
Monday: "B" I wrote the letter "B" on a piece of paper and included different words that started with "B". I had Titus repeat the words after me. We also explored a bucket of objects that started with the letter "B".
Tuesday: "blue" We built a blue Lego tower, made blueberry muffins together, created “blue foam” and searched for blue items inside of it, and read our Little Blue Truck books.
Wednesday: "2"- For the number two, I tried to pair objects that we were already playing with and while continually touching them with our index finger we counted “one, two.”
Thursday: "squares"- We used the same Playdoh from week 1 to create squares. I also drew some squares on paper and held Titus’ hand on the pencil as he tried as well.
God orchestrates everything that happens in our lives to somehow work for our good when we love him and are called for His purposes. His goal? ... to conform us and our children to the image of Christ. (See Romans 8: 28-29) Our job as parents? ... to allow Him to use us in reaching that goal. There's no better legacy that we could leave to our children. Enjoy your day!
As promised our friend, Allyson Sons, is sharing her "Tot School" ideas with you! Through these ideas, you'll clearly be able to see the passion she has for children and the love she has for the Lord.
Allyson developed her version of what she terms "Tot School" for her now 21 month old ball of energy, Titus. She and her husband, David, recently relocated to Lexington, SC to begin a new milestone in their ministry and at least for the time being, Allyson will be a stay-at-home mom.
She is always thinking of ways to stimulate Titus and excite him in the learning process as she prepares for her new little fellow, Maximus, who is due in February. It's so true that pictures speak a thousand words and you'll certainly be able to see and feel the love she puts into her time with Titus through each of them. Who said learning couldn't be fun!
Here's her story:
My name is Allyson and I am a new stay at home mom. I have 4 years of teaching experience that does not at all involve anything like Tot School! I taught 4th grade reading most recently. Titus is 21 months and an absolute wild man. Staying home with him has been an absolute joy but I found that, at times, both of us were bored. If I’m being honest, I also struggled early on with finding the value and worth in staying at home, feeling like I needed to do more. After all, I don’t have any test scores or reading levels to measure whether or not I’m doing a good job as a mother.
As I’ve talked with many other stay at home moms, I know that I’m not alone in this feeling. Before we get into the logistics of Tot School, let me encourage you, Moms, the work that you do each day is invaluable and is a high calling from the Lord. I’m reminded of this calling often when I read the book of Timothy. One of my very favorite and most encouraging pieces of scripture is found in the book of 1Timothy when Paul notes that Timothy saw his mother’s faith modeled before him in both his mother and grandmother. What a challenge for me to model my faith in Christ before my children.
I also love that we see a promise for us tucked away in Isaiah 40, “He will gently lead those that are with the young.” So, however you decide to structure your day at home with your little ones, remember that you are serving and working for the Lord. Tot school is simply a way that I structure my time at home with Titus.
The teacher in me decided to make a plan for some fun learning activities each week. Since my husband and I have tossed around the idea of homeschooling, I figured that starting a very simple type of “school” might aid us later in our decision-making. Because Titus is quite young, I really do the bare minimum for Tot School each week and look forward to being able to plan more for him next year. I chose to use a very basic plan that I can keep up without becoming overwhelmed.
On a week where we have minimal play dates and other events, I typically do Tot School lessons 3-4 days that week. Some other weeks, we may only get two days in. I make the letter days and the color days the priority on short weeks. This is simply my preference and also what I have the most age appropriate activities for.
My basic plan is as follows:
Mondays- letters (We started with "a" and learn a new letter each week)
Tuesdays- colors (I started with red and blue, the colors that I knew he was already familiar with, I’ve been choosing at random after that).
Wednesdays- numbers (numerical order)
Thursdays- shapes (I’ve been choosing at random).
I usually try to have 2-3 very brief activities planned for each day. Titus’ attention span is VERY short and all of the activities and learning combined last less than an hour. Some days this takes place in one consecutive time period and some days we do a little in the morning and a little in the afternoon.
A few pieces of advice: I’ve found that the most important thing is to plan activities and lessons around things that “fit” your child’s personality. For example, Titus loves to be outside and to run. Anytime I can teach something outside, I do. He really does not like to sit still or get his hands into strange textures. Therefore, finger painting is not something we do often. Since he is still very young, I want these experiences to be enjoyable and stress free for him.
Secondly, use things that you already have or that you can purchase inexpensively. Very rarely do I buy anything for our lessons.
Finally, our Tot School day always includes A LOT of reading. I try to match up at least one book for the day’s lesson but usually we take time to read many more than the one that I picked out. Because I am a former reading teacher, my biggest plea to Moms is to read to their young children. I will almost never turn down Titus’ request to read a book. Here's how we began:
Monday: " A " – We drew an “a” together and talked about words that we knew that started with “a.” I did most of the talking and Titus did most of the coloring.
Tuesday: "red" - We made red homemade Playdoh, explored a bucket of our red toys, and glued pieces of red construction paper onto a heart.
Wednesday: "#1" - Today, I just constantly counted with Titus. I also held up objects throughout the day and would show him that it is 1 item. I used his Legos and would ask him to find me 1 red Lego. We then had lunch at Chick-fil-a, so I told him that we would share 1 ice cream.
Thursday: "circles" - We drew some circles on our etch-a-sketch, recreated the shapes on paper, and then we used our Playdoh to make even more circles. This was Titus’ favorite day. He absolutely loved the feeling of drawing a circle. He still asks almost everyday to draw circles. I just put his hand on the crayon and then mine on top to help him draw.
**For Moms with older kiddos: There are some great free printable sheets on Pinterest for kids to color, write, or draw on (for shapes, colors, and numbers). Also, try going on a mini-scavenger hunt to find the different colors and shapes around your house! Most importantly, just have fun with it.
*More of Allyson's ideas to come in PSF's next Mom2Mom post! Check us out!
I wanted to be that mom who had it all together when my children arrived back in town for the holidays. I wanted to have the house smelling of fresh baked bread and apple cider and I wanted all the gifts bought, wrapped and displayed beautifully under the tree. Can I be honest? Instead of being in the kitchen and in my Domestic Diva apron I was stressed, unorganized and nursing a tension headache. I had such high hopes but life just wouldn't cooperate.
Can I see a show of hands from those of you who felt some of those same things during the high hopes of "maybe this year things will be different" Christmas wish syndrome?
My oldest son picked up on my stresses right away as he drove in from his home in Florida. He's a very intuitive and wise young man and although he doesn't always immediately verbalize what he is observing he almost always reads me and others like a book. In other words, mom can never get away with hiding anything although I had been trying my best.
As we talked one night toward the end of our family time together, when it was just he and I at home, he gave his mom some insight and wisdom. " I know you had some disappointments this holiday season but you are letting those disappointments steal part of your joy from everything that's good. My joy is good, the holidays were great, I love being home, but I can tell your joy is less than it should be because of your disappointments. Some things you just can't change, mom. It's out of your control, but it's okay because we ALL love you."
I had heard these words before but hadn't they been coming out of my own mouth as words of comfort to him or to my other two? Do I need to tell any of you other moms how deeply my child touched my inner being when he held my heart in that moment. He got it. He read me and he understood and gave me strength to move past the disappointments. He showed his mom love when she needed it most during the holidays and that's what family does. I am thankful for the obvious past times when he felt that in reverse from me and had remembered. The skinned knees, the broken hearts, the career setbacks, the deep, deep losses... we made it through... both of us.
Moms, as your children grow it's not a question of IF the deep disappointments will come for them and for you as well, it's a matter of WHEN. It helps tremendously to bring your children up to be able to read your heart and the hearts of others. Teach them to be adept at stepping back and viewing situations from different angles as others may be seeing them. Ask them to remind you of your words in the future when needed. After all, when they come home for Christmas from lives that are far away, they come as grown ups who are doing life their own way. They come as adults who have been raised to apply the wisdom you have taught them. So don't let the disappointments you may experience in 2016 make you miss the pleasures right in front of your nose. If you do, your grown son may just have to have a heart to heart with you as well.
Don't ever let the disappointments of life make you so distracted and inwardly focused that you can't recognize how truly happy and blessed you are. Have a wonderful 2016 and may this year bring you many wonderful and joyous moments that will truly become the great memories of your life. Happy New Year!
Walking the road with you in genuine love,
Mom 2 Mom
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