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!
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