Overview: What does a typical Tot School day look like using a child-led approach? Come join us as we hike through a typical Tot School day at our house.
I get asked all the time,
“How do you fit it all in between the curriculum, virtual book club, and play calendar?”
The simple answer is…
Our Tot School is child-led in all aspects, so sometimes the activities on the play calendar and the virtual book club do not match with our current theme. Actually, we don’t use the play calendar at all. As for the virtual book club, we add it into our days as long as it fits with our current theme.
Related: How to Plan for a Child-Led Tot School
I thought I would give you a glimpse into what a typical Tot School day looks like for us. A typical day is usually Wednesday and Thursday because we don’t have anything to do on those days. On Mondays, we don’t do school because the kids go to their great grandmothers, so I can do some work. Tuesday and Friday are shorten versions of our typical day because we go to story time on Tuesdays and lunch with Grammy on Friday.
Our Typical Tot School Day
Usually, we start the day with getting dressed before we head downstairs for breakfast. We were being lazy this day, so we ate breakfast first. Sicily always helps make breakfast. Here she is cutting her sausage.
I use to just turn the TV on, but realized that she could be learning valuable kitchen skills if I turn it off and let her help. I’ve also noticed a big difference in her play since turning the TV off in the morning. She seems more engaged in her play now.
After we eat breakfast, we go to the kids table to eat and do our morning meeting. You can read more about our morning meeting here. Basically this is the structured part of our school day. I found doing it at breakfast keeps her more focused and willing to do the activities. During this morning, we were talking about Spring. For her tot tray, she was counting bees.
Related: Spring Toddler Theme
After breakfast, I clean up as Sicily heads downstairs to play…on a good day. We are still working on independent play. She does good on most days, and will play for up to 3 hours without me. I always have invitations set up for her to explore when she gets downstairs. These invitations don’t need my supervision, and I usually set them up the night before. For this day, I had a butterfly invitation to explore and a bug sensory bin set up for her.
During this time, I do house chores or try to get work done while I peak down on her every so often. When I finish, I head downstairs to just sit and wait to be introduced into her play or I’ll do some activities with Kade. Here are a few things that went on during our 3 hour work period.
Kade spent some time playing in his little floor set up where I have a mirror and contrast pictures for him to look at. I switch his position every few minutes from back, each side, and tummy.
She spent some time exploring the lights on her new butterfly wand.
We learned about trucks over a month ago, but they are still on our shelf because she plays with them everyday. Her interest has worn off enough that it can’t sustain a whole theme. She is very interested in lining things up lately, and that is what she does with the trucks and the reason why I leave them on the shelf. Sicily will line them up, move each an inch, and go back to the beginning of the line to move them an inch more. She does this every day, and will focus on this activity for close to an hour.
This toy was not out on our shelf. When I went downstairs to pull dinner out of the freezer, she tagged along and noticed this toy in storage and wanted to play with it. I always allow her to get out toys that are put away. You never know what ideas she has or what breakthrough she is about to make. She spent about 45 minutes playing with this toy.
Once I finished cleaning, I headed downstairs to sit and watch. I cleaned up the butterfly exploration invitation and set up an invitation to create. We had talked about rain during our morning meeting, plus it was raining outside. So we created an umbrella.
Since I wasn’t getting invited into her play, I decided to fold some laundry. She ended up helping me match the socks, which is a great example of learning math skills in everyday experiences.
Once we finished, she wanted to read some books. So Kade sat in my lap and she sat next to me for about 30 minutes as we read books.
She played for a little while longer after reading before it was time for lunch. Sometimes she likes to help make lunch, but usually she is tired. We do watch a show that “keeps our brain thinking” during lunch, so I can get some work done. She usually chooses to watch Super Why.
After lunch, we read a book and take a nap. Typically, we go outside before lunch, but today it was a bit rainy. I also wanted to spend some time exploring nature for signs of spring, which can be difficult with baby brother tagging along. Since it was nice after nap, we left Kade home with Daddy as we headed to a river a few minutes from our house.
We took a bucket and collected anything interesting that we found. It was full of flowers and rocks.
That’s pretty much the end of our day. We eat dinner and play for the rest of the night. Our days are very laid back and the majority of the activities are just set up by me and she takes control from there. Toddler learning should be very laid back and lead by the child. Trust that they know what they need and are ready to learn.
As she gets closer to 3 years old, I will start introducing more structured lessons in math and literacy that support her signs of readiness. But for now, she is learning a great deal with these simple invitations that support her signs of readiness and interests.