Overview: Toddler’s don’t need a curriculum or goals to achieve, but as parents we feel lost without having a plan and being organized. Learn how to be successful by setting Tot School goals for your toddler in a child-led environment.
Tot School can be an overwhelming process for some of us. If you’re anything like me, you want things organized and planned out way in advance, but you know that’s not the best for your toddler.
You know that the best thing you can do is follow your toddler’s lead and plan around their interests. The farthest out you should be planning is about a month because a toddler’s interests are ever-changing.
But deep down you get this strange, heart racing anxiety because you don’t have a plan of where you’re going next month with their Tot School. I struggle with this every day.
Related: How to Plan for a Child-Led Tot School
I’m a planner! I LOVE to plan things out in advance. If it was up to me, every day for the next year would be planned so I didn’t have to worry about it.
I could work ahead and get materials ready, and just feel less stress overall. And this is exactly what I did when I started Tot School with Sicily.
I planned way in advance and started preparing materials. I felt in control of our school days. But as we progressed through my plans, the less and less Sicily would do. She had no interests in the things I was planning for her. She wouldn’t even touch the materials I spent time making.
Because they didn’t follow her interests. Once I started following her interests, her learning increased on autopilot. I barely “teach” her any more because the activities I plan are related to her interest, so learning comes naturally.
Related: The Secret to The Toddler Attention Span
But I still feel like I need to plan. This is where goals come in. Even though I could see Sicily was learning, I felt like the activities I was planning were all over the place. There was no system in place to ensure I was reaching all those skills she needs.
That’s when I sat down to create some goals. By setting Tot School goals, I am able to plan activities around her interests that meet the learning goals I want her to achieve. These goals give me the plan I need to feel in control, but still be flexible enough to follow her lead.
Importance of Setting Goals for Tot School
Have you ever just drove out of your driveway with no plan on where to go? If you did, you probably ended up lost or wasting a lot of time.
The same happens when you start Tot School without goals. You get lost in all the fun activities and your toddler misses out on important skills. Goals help keep us on track, so our toddlers can make progress towards being the person we envision them being.
Setting goals helps keep you accountable. One challenge I hear often in our Facebook group is not being motivated to do Tot School on a regular basis. Things get in the way and you forget to do Tot School for a few weeks. There’s no consistency.
Toddler’s thrive on consistency and a predictable routine. Goals help you stay accountable and motivated. When you plan goals and set a road map for learning, you are more likely to stick with it and be consistent.
Goals help you see growth. I knew Sicily was learning before we had goals, but it was hard to see the learning because our activities were all over the place. I wasn’t consistently planning activities that built on top of each other.
When we have goals, we can sit back and think logically about how we can reach that goal. Breaking down your Tot School goals into measurable tasks, helps you systematically build those skills.
Goals help you determine which activities to focus on. We follow The Toddler Experience Curriculum for our Tot School days. The curriculum gives more than enough activities to fill a two-week theme.
Knowing our goals and where I want her to be at the end of the year, I can choose activities from the curriculum that fits our goals.
Types of Goals
It’s important to know your vision. What type of education do you want for your child in the long run? What are your plans for homeschooling? How do you plan on teaching your child as they get older?
Knowing your vision helps you set goals that will lead you towards that vision. When I sat down to plan our first goals, I set an overall vision for our homeschool.
I thought about what I was the most important things to learn and how I plan on getting her to learn those things. Tot School wasn’t the only thing on my mind. The whole educational journey needed to be considered.
My Vision: I want Sicily to be a curious individual that asks questions and seeks answers on a daily basis. I want her to know how to use different resources to creativity discover answers through problem solving and critical thinking. I envision Sicily being a person who loves learning and seeks learning opportunities.
Once I set the vision for my daughter, then I started planning Tot School goals that would help us reach the overall vision. Then I planned out general goals, academic goals, and motor goals.
I also kept in mind that Sicily is still just a toddler, and learning in the early years is a long slow process. It’s not wise to force her to learn these skills, especially the academic skills. I still want to follow her lead and make sure she is ready to attack these goals.
General goals are Tot School goals that help her develop her whole self. Character goals, self-help goals, and good habits fall under this category. These are the goals we will focus on the most in Tot School. If you follow my Tot School layout, these goals will be achieved on an every day basis in your free play and intentional activities.
Sicily’s General Goals:
-I want Sicily to be able to dress, undress, and put on her coat by herself.
-I want Sicily to expand her knowledge of the world through real life experiences.
-I want Sicily to use her imagination and be creative.
-I want Sicily to be curious, ask questions, and begin to seek answers on her own.
Academic goals are related to math and literacy skills. For Tot School, this is the exposure to letters and numbers, sorting, matching, colors, and shapes. Remember, this is Tot School and your child is just a toddler. The learning process from birth to age 5 is a slow process, so take advantage of the time.
I set academic goals, but they are very low on my priority list. They are also small goals, so we can spend lots of time focusing on the skill.
Sicily’s Academic Goals:
-I want Sicily to sort and match objects by one attribute.
-I want Sicily to count to 20.
-I want Sicily to identify and name 10 letters.
-I want Sicily to identify her name.
-I want Sicily to know all of her colors and shapes.
The last type of goal I set is motor goals. This is another one that we focus on a lot in our Tot School. Motor skills set the foundation for later skills and learning. I focus more on fine motor skills when planning goals because most of our gross motor skills are learned during free play.
Sicily’s Motor Goals:
-I want Sicily to draw a circle, horizontal line, diagonal line, and a square.
-I want Sicily to begin using scissors.
How to Set Goals
Setting Tot School goals is simple, especially once you figure out your vision. I created a goals worksheet for you to help you go through the process of setting goals for your toddler. You can download it by clicking the picture below.
Step 1: Identify your overall vision. What do you want for your child’s education as a whole?
Step 2: Figure out where your toddler is right now. You can use the skills checklist I’ve added to the goal worksheet to figure out what your toddler can and cannot do at this point.
Step 3: Determine which skills are the most important to you.
Step 4: Remember that learning in the early years is a long, slow process. Create small goals that help your toddler reach the skills on the list you want them to accomplish by the time they are 3 years old.
Step 5: Post your goals where you can see them during your planning time. Use them to help you choose activities that follow your toddler’s lead, their interests, and your goals.
I think these things are really important, so I wanted to mention them again before leaving you to set your goals.
1.Academics in the early years is a long, slow process. Take the whole 5 years to master the academic skills. They are the basis for everything else, so you want to make sure your child has a really good grasp on them.
2.Take small steps to your overall goal. In my academic goals, I specified how many letters I expect Sicily to identify by the time she is 3 years old. Be specific and keep them small.
3.Focus on building character, a love of learning, and self-help skills in the toddler years.
Setting Tot School goals doesn’t have to be a long, stressful process. But setting goals for your toddler will help keep you on track and plan activities that benefit both of you. Download the Getting Started with Tot School Guide which has a goal setting workbook included by clicking the image below.