Tot School is an idea that was created by Carisa and her son over at 1+1+1=1. Basically Tot School is structured play time. It’s not really school at all. It’s a time that I set aside everyday to just focus on my toddler. All distractions aside, no phone (except for picture taking), no TV, no folding laundry. Just me and my girl!
There is no set schedule. Sometimes our Tot School is in the morning, while other times its at night. And yes, sometimes we don’t even get to Tot School, like today. Sicily isn’t always cooperative, but that’s okay!
My Take on Tot School
During the toddler years, I believe playing is the main goal while focusing on social skills. During this stage, I am not worried about learning letters, numbers, colors, or shapes. I don’t care how high she can count. My focus is on motor, social, and basic skills. Through these activities, my toddler will be exposed to letters, numbers, shapes, and colors, but it is not our main focus. Above all else, I want my toddler to be playing. Toddlers learn naturally through play and by provide rich playing opportunities, the learning will follow.
Related: The Toddler Experience: A Hands-On Toddler Curriculum
We will have themes every week, but Tot School will be led by my Toddler. If she sees a garbage truck outside and is really interested, then we might spend a week on garbage trucks. My activities may not always follow the seasons or holidays. They will follow the child’s interests. Same goes for individual activities. They will be child-led. If my toddler doesn’t want to play with the tot tray I provided, so be it. We will play pretty princesses instead. Tot School is all about providing the opportunities. The rest is up to the toddler.
We will work a lot on sensory, fine motor, and social skills through Tot School. I think it’s important though to hit all domain areas.
Related: An Overview of the Early Childhood Learning Domains
For social skills, I want to provide my toddler with opportunities to interact with others, especially other children not in our family. In these situations, we will learn how to communicate, vocabulary, how to make friends, and sharing. We will also learn how to problem solve.
Sensory is a really important aspect of toddler learning. Toddlers learn a lot through their sense. Stay tuned for a post on sensory learning.
Related: The Importance of Sensory Play
Tot trays are a great way to provide fine motor and process art opportunities. Some fine motor skills we will be working on are:
Tot trays are simply a tray with materials that serve a purpose. For example, we learned about red the other day. I placed a red bucket on the tray along with red pom-poms, heart stickers, tissue paper pieces, and pipe cleaners. I modeled how to pick up the objects and place them in the bucket and out of the bucket. As she put something in the bucket I said “you put the red pom-pom in the bucket.” I’m building the concept of in/out and the vocabulary associated with it. She loved this activity and spent a good 10 minutes, which is a lot for a toddler, on it. I will be posting our tot trays at least every 2 weeks for you to use.
This is just an overview of Tot School. I will be writing a series in the next few months on different aspects of Tot School. You can expect to see posts about:
-Playing is Learning
Keep Growing With Us!