Ever since Huff the Tot was about a year old, I’ve been looking for ways to help her get a head start, academically. When my sisters and I were kids, my mom would do flash cards with us of various phonics and sight words and both of my parents would read to us. (I credit all of this with helping to cultivate a love of reading with my sisters and I.) So as soon as I felt HtT was ready, we’ve started “Tot School”.
My oldest sister is a SAHM/homeschool mom. She’s absolutely amazing at it and her kids are crazy-smart! I would love to have the skill and patience to be a homeschool mom, but I just don’t know if I have it in me to plan hours of curriculum and make sure we actually accomplish said curriculum instead of just sit around in our jammies all day watching Netflix (which, to be fair, sounds like an amazing day!).
BUT, Tot School is definitely something I can accomplish daily! After some consulting with my sister (and Pinterest) I came up with a “teaching plan” that fit our schedule and Huff the Tot’s attention span. So I thought I’d share with you some of our favorite Tot School activities.
Alphabet Flash Cards
Like most little girls, Huff the Tot is obsessed with Frozen. These alphabet flash cards helped her learn her alphabet and recognize/name letters before she was two years old. And, bonus!, the fact that the flash cards were characters from her favorite movie kept her attention! You can get them here from TotSchooling.net! If Frozen isn’t your kid’s fancy, you can get superhero, animals, or Disney characters!
Letter Sound Worksheets
Once I saw that HtT could recognize letters/sing the alphabet song multiple times without any mistakes, I knew it was time to progress to some early-reading encouragement and work on letter sounds. These printables from 1+1+1=1 have been so incredibly helpful! Each week, Huff the Tot and I cover one letter. We’ll do one different worksheet a day and every day we’ll sing a song I learned from my nephew’s Letter Factory toy! For example, on the days we do the letter A, I’ll sing (to the tune of “The Cheese Stands Alone“): “The A says a. The A says a. Every letter makes a sound, A says a!” We sing that song a few times a day and it really helps her to remember which letters make which sounds.
For a long time, I thought sensory play had to be this deep, meaningful, expensive time where I would buy a sand or water table and we’d talk about the intricacies of science and all that jazz. But you know works great? Play Doh! I just hand her a few tubs, one of her Play Doh sets, and while I cook dinner the kid goes to town! She keeps her hands busy and I keep my sanity! (See, tot school doesn’t have to be some elaborate thing!)
Fine Motor Skills
Again, helping your wee one learn fine motor skills doesn’t have to be some long, involved process. A few chunky beads and a shoelace and you’ve got yourself a fine motor skills activity. Bonus? I got Huff the Tot’s in the Dollar Spot at Target!
Don’t get me wrong, there are many days that I feel as though the only educational activity we’ve done is watch three hours of Little Einsteins. With two kids, its tough to squeeze in Tot School everyday. I try to set aside time during little brother’s naps to go over as much as we can. But just because Huff the Tot and I aren’t sitting at the table doing a letter worksheet doesn’t mean there’s no way to pop education in throughout the day. I love the LeapReader Jr. my sister got for Huff the Tot and Starfall is a great site/app that facilitates learning (and also keeps the kid entertained when we’re at a restaurant or the doctor’s office waiting room!) There are so many blogs and websites out there (hello, Pinterest!) that can give you a ton of ideas that work for you and your kiddo!
Do you do Tot School with your wee one? What do you do? Are there any sites you find helpful? Share in the comments below!