Months before I started our ToT School I searched pinterest and googled, aimlessly looking for tot school curriculum packets and kits. I searched for books and how-to guides. I got really confused, then got clear again and minutes later back to confused. What did I need to really help Big D learn? Did I need to search outside my home or did we have everything right here already paid for and with us? There are a ton of options out there and really great ones too, but I couldn’t find what I was after. In a lot of ways I had no idea what I was looking for. I thought homeschooling had to be very structured and I thought I would need to do the same with ToT School. At this moment I am glad I was wrong. The beauty of homeschooling is the freedom. There really is no right way, only the way that works for you and your child. And that doesn’t ring more true than for ToT School. The freedom to change course with any hiccup or actual tummy ache. And with a little forethought and initiative you can build your ToT School curriculum and activities from the items in your home.
I don’t have a budget for ToT School. More accurately, I don’t have extra spending money to acquire the kits and packets that are available. Plus I didn’t want to use resources from other piggy banks on something my son might not enjoy. So instead of waiting for the money to magically appear, I decided to make do and plan. Week 1 actually started just after new years with planning our course, the four things we would concentrate on this week. And on Sunday night, just after the kids went to bed, I started sorting and gathering toys, books, building blocks, mega blocks, puzzles and flash cards. I pulled out all the things that matched the color we were focusing on. Then all the things that were the shape of the week joined the color bin. The Letter and Number would be more verbal, and coloring or painting activities. Next thing I knew, I had a toy bin full of one color and the right shape. I placed all other toys in different rooms. That created a whole other side effect that was wonderful. Keep in mind ToT School is FUN. F . U . N. fun. So a lot of what you do is united through playing. I knew I could engage him with wooden building blocks and mega blocks for a bit by making big one color towers, or teach him about circles as we rolled all his cars across the floor, off the table and around the dog. Jake got the best car massage any dog could ask for that day.
At one point I ran out of printer paper, from printing out new planners I am designing, which meant I needed to draw up some coloring pages for Big D with the letter of the week and animal to match. He loved it. He climbed onto my lap to watch and asked a lot of “wahs daht?” We talked about what I was drawing, well I talked and then as he colored I talked about what he was doing. It was definitely bonding for the two of us.
The one idea about homeschool that I personally had to give a little on was keeping a strict schedule. Now I know some people cannot function without a schedule and I use to be the same, some days I miss it, until I had a baby when my first was only 13 months old. Little K turned our world upside down with her sleeping and nursing non-schedule and it is still being flipped. So while the Type A person inside screams a little the rest of me has learned to relax, which has been good. This week we probably got to 9 of the 15 activities I had planned.
Today will probably be spent reading and painting, followed by a bath. So you could say we accomplished 11 of 15. Not bad for week one, a toddler who was not feeling top speed and a baby who is teething giving me only 4 hours of sleep a night. My point here is take it easy on yourself, on the ToT and do what you can.
If you don’t have a printer, to print out all the freebies you see on other blogs, draw them. If all you have is a box of noodles – pinterest will give you tons of ideas that a toddler would love. Use what you have, your toddler will be excited because you are there learning with him. You don’t have to purchase kits or spend a lot of money for tot school. I used toys and lots of talking and repetition. Only one color existed in the living room for a week. We talked about how all his cars and trucks have circles = the wheels. And we colored T’s and Trees and Turtles when things got slow. In between all that, he helped put away dishes and feed the dog. On Friday we reintroduced all the red toys to the rest of the toys in other rooms. This was the test to see if what we did worked. And it did. He gave his little sister all the red balls when asked and brought me the red cars when asked. By Thursday he could find all the T’s on the chalkboard. And pointed them out in the book I read him this morning. He learned red. T. and is starting to recognize circle. It wasn’t until this morning that I realized we didn’t cover the number 1 very well. I am going to blame that on no sleep. But we have a whole new week coming up to work on it.
Moral of this very long story – Be nice to yourself, use what you have and play with your toddler. Tomorrow is a new day.
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