A few months ago, I found this AWESOME website called Tot School. I wanted to do some kind of learning activities for Z this fall, without getting too serious or advanced for him, since, you know, he is only one. But I am just a teacher at heart, and when I see him starting to get interested in learning letters, numbers, colors, etc. my mind immediately jumps to preschool curriculum and intense learning times. Knowing in the back of my mind that he truly wasn't ready for those kinds of activities, I searched and came across this great website. It is chock-full of all kinds of activities and suggestions and resources for teaching your toddler informally at home! Tot School is basically activities that will help toddlers learn in an informal and fun environment. I have learned so much about teaching the different 'subjects', along with fun and relaxed methods, just from browsing the site.
So I wanted to share a little bit about what we do each week for our version of Tot School. In our daily schedule, when we happen to be home all day, our mornings are usually filled with cleaning up the house, watching Sesame Street (while I take a shower), hanging out and doing housework, and taking a walk to the mailbox. Then we have lunch and nap, and Z typically wakes up around 2:30 or so. After he wakes up, we read a book or two together, and then I try to have some kind of informal 'learning activity' planned. It can be something as simple as blocks or Play-Doh, playing with a puzzle or lacing cards, a craft like finger-painting or chalk drawing, or a specific time set aside to study numbers (from his favorite Baby Bop counting book), letters (from a set of stuffed letters that we were given - my FAVORITE teaching tool so far), or shapes (using a book or shape sorter).
Since Z is so very active, I like to do activities like coloring and Play-Doh on the kitchen floor, so that if he gets bored, he can get up, run around, and come back to our activity a minute later. If I had him strapped into a chair, he would not last nearly as long before asking to get down, but as it is, I usually have to cut off our Play-Doh or coloring time before he's even done (or when he starts eating the crayons or coloring on the cupboards). I also read a tip the other day to do finger-painting in the bathtub with your toddler in just a diaper, and that sounds like SO much fun, but I haven't had a chance to try it yet.
I would also add that absolutely EVERYTHING is a learning activity at this age. Our children are learning from every word that comes out of our mouths, and every activity we do together (whether it's washing the dishes, going to the bathroom, dusting, or going on a walk). But I know that my son has amazing potential and is very interested in learning, so I am trying to provide him with opportunities now...especially before our new baby arrives in JUST ELEVEN WEEKS!!! Because who knows how much time or how many brain cells, if any, I will have at my disposal during those first 3 or 6 months after she moves in! :)
I hope to do a Tot School post about once a week, highlighting different learning activities we do, (and hopefully including some pictures) and letting you all know how they work for us.
I also feel like I should update everybody on what Z's been up to lately...and our family. :) We are having a busy fall, but I am loving staying home for every minute of it. It is actually fall here in NY state, rather rainy lately, and we've transitioned to pants and sometimes even long-sleeved shirts - it seems to be happening so fast, it's hard to believe it's October already! And our little girl will be here 11 weeks from today!!! Yay! :)
Zachary is at a delightful stage of development, I really enjoy the new communication he's developing - even little sentences keep coming out. Yesterday was, "I goin' stinky. I goin' stinky in diaper." and things like "Elmo sitting on pillow." A couple of his cutest new words are: "wookin' " as in..."not wookin' " when a toy isn't turned on, and "wookin' " when it does start working; and "goo-ness", as in "Oh, goo-ness", usually when something gets dropped or he falls, and I exclaim, "Oh, goodness!" :) He's also started to tell me that he's "tired", when he really is tired, or when he doesn't want to do something. Yesterday at snack AND supper, he wasn't really hungry, and he kept saying to me, "I tired, I tired", and then he started fake-crying, and saying, "I cryin, I cryin" over and over. It was pretty funny. I eventually let him get down. :) He also has learned the word "like", so he'll tell me what he likes, "Like ta jump!" is a popular one (usually followed by a lot of jumping and "Jump! Jump! Jump!"), or he'll tell me what foods he likes. :)
I still can't imagine taking care of him, and also taking care of and nursing a newborn, but I know it will all work out, and before long, I'll be a seasoned mother of two. :)