Archives for May 2010

The Advanced Tot

The Advanced Tot

Let me begin this post by saying that I have {so far} 2 completely “typical” children.  I don’t believe either are academically gifted, although they are not challenged academically either.  I have good ol’ normal school boys, and I love them just the way they are!

So, what is an advanced tot?

Recently I have noticed a few and they sparked my desire to share some insight about this {along with a few emails I have received about this topic}.  As always, these are just my opinions and are in no way correct in the grand scheme of things, just my opinions…feel free to completely ignore me!

I have watched little Nathan grow up through Tot School since he was 15 months old.  Here is his very first Tot School post.  Nathan is now 2 1/2 and is blowing my mind with what he is able to do.  Nathan is what I would call, an advanced tot.  You’ll see why below!

I don’t believe there are guarantees that advanced tots will always be advanced academically, it is often too early to tell.  Many children will all catch up to about the same level academically by about 2nd or 3rd grade {when taught well}.

I am NOT a fan of comparing children, but I do think it is beneficial to notice differences if it can help us better adapt our own homeschools for our young children.  What was right for Krash, certainly would not be right for Nathan at this point.  I say this to help you feel OK with the fact that your tot will probably not be mastering skills at the same rate as any other tot, they are all different.  This is why I say STAGES are much more important than AGES with the younger ones.  Exposure is key, not mastery…but what do you do if your tot masters things earlier than the rest?


So, why do I believe Nathan is an advanced tot?  Check out these photos below, and I will also share what I believe is a bit more typical for the same age {based on my experience as a mother and as an early childhood educator}

  • Here Nathan drew specific items with chalk {age 29 months}, which his Mom labels for you here on her blog,


More typically I believe this stage occurs closer to age 3.  Not a huge difference, but if I just compare my boys to Nathan, Pac Man didn’t begin drawing with purpose until over 3, and Krash didn’t begin until closer to age 4!  Obviously there is a wide range of what would be considered normal, and they all fall in that range.

  • Nathan also writes letters {age 29 months also}…

image More typically, this is a late preschool, early Kindergarten skill.  Krash at age 4 is just now beginning to learn to write letters and still doesn’t write any on his own.


  • Here Nathan {age 29 months} drew and A for Apple inside of his apple on a coloring worksheet ;-).  You can read more here.

imageI’d be lucky to get Krash to even color the apple, let alone identify a beginning sound and write the letter on his own!!!!


  • Here Nathan {at age 27 months} is sorting by shape and sequencing by size, using the exact toy we own!

image Krash didn’t master this toy until closer to age 4, this is one that most children would probably master younger than Krash did, but probably not quite as early as Nathan did {unless you also have an advanced tot}.

Those are just a few examples, if you browse through all of his Tot School posts, you’ll see different examples also.  Now, it is common for girls to be a bit more advanced than boys {typically, not always}, so many of you with girls may be at or even beyond Nathan’s abilities!  Nathan is a very advanced tot in general, another example I know of is Alyssa from Tot PlayRocker Tot from The Linton Academy is a bit older now, but he has always been advanced for his age too.  I am sure there are many more out there.  Those are just a few I have noticed.

So what should you do with an advanced tot, if you have one?

  • Go with the flow!!!!
  • Keep doing exactly what you have been doing, following your child’s lead.
  • You don’t necessarily need to do anything differently regarding the format of Tot School, just keep things engaging, fun, and reasonably challenging.

If you need a refresher about what I believe regarding teaching tots, you can read a portion of an eBook I am writing here.  I don’t plan to release this book for a long time {lack of time to actually finish it is the problem}, but will release portions if I feel it would be helpful along the way.

I think it’s important to move along with the academic growth of your child, while also being sure to not push too hard.  It is a beautiful thing when a young tot enjoys learning {those of us with more resistant tots are really jealous, just so you know}, the worst thing we as parents can do is to squash their zeal for learning.  It is a delicate balance ~ challenging our young children, while not pushing them to the point of frustration.

PBS Kids Child Development Tracker-is a great site for information regarding child development.  I compared Nathan to many of their stats and found that he is indeed, advanced for his age ;-).  I think it is the best site that I have found-meaning it’s both concise, helpful, and easy to read/navigate.

A special thanks to Nathan’s mom Katie for allowing me to use her precious son as my example for this post! You can visit her blog, Wilson Ramblings, here.

Edited to Add ~ Here are two other posts that might be helpful {these were written after this post, about my daughter, Ladybug who ended up being a bit more of an advanced tot than my boys were}

Following the Lead of the Child Following the Lead of Your Preschooler at Home



Tot School

~Ladybug is currently 13.5 months old~

Tot Trays

Again, Ladybug had 3 trays out for her. This week I had: stacking cups, 5 plastic lacing shapes and a string, mini fish erasers and a clear empty bottle.IMG_8478

I didn’t used to allow Krash to play with his Tot School tools outside of official Tot School time, but I am adjusting for Ladybug. It seems to work better to just allow her access most of the day. She loves going into the schoolroom when it is open and playing with her tools. IMG_8485

I don’t leave the small items out though, we play with those things during official Tot School time. Here she is putting tiny fish erasers into an empty plastic bottle. She had the most fun learning how to get them out. I added the flip top to the bottle the next day to bring in more of a challenge for her.IMG_8378

No, Ladybug is not a genius, her genius big brother laced all of her shapes for her before I could step in and stop him. But, ti all worked out OK…IMG_8405

Funny thing about her new trays, look who likes them just as much as she does {and yes she is playing with K’s puzzle he had just completed with me!}.IMG_8397

Learning Toys We got out K’s old Mickey Mouse riding toy and she was so proud of herself when I put her on it!!!IMG_8468

We had puppets out and Krash was showing her the glove {hand-made…NO clue where we got it}, she loved it!IMG_8455

She loves the magnet set we have on the dishwasher right now…IMG_8475

She also loves to dig around other parts of the schoolroom on her own…IMG_8523 IMG_8529

Krash had cutting food, and again she thought his star boxes were for her too 😉 IMG_8532

Magneatos were extremely interesting also. IMG_8550

She spent a bit of time watching Praise Baby, she loves these DVDs, so do I!IMG_8423

Of course, LOTS of reading!!!!IMG_8428

Techy Tot

She continues to love the iPod, Hide and Seek is still a favorite, IMG_8587 as well as Tickle Tap-Sound Shaker {see review and iTunes giveaway here}IMG_8491

See more of our favorite apps for tots here.

Moms Favorite

This girl LOVES her Daddy 😉IMG_8566 IMG_8562

This Weeks Tools

I get asked often about her necklace, it is here from our wonderful sponsor, Hazelaid! We love it!

READ THIS for more details about linking up to Tot School. If your blog is not linked back here to Tot School, and your post is not specifically a Tot School post, your link will be deleted to help Tot School surfing moms.

Please put your tot’s age (in months) after it, like this: 1+1+1=1 (41 mos)

If you are NEW will you please leave a comment letting us all know so we can be sure to visit you?

Members Only is OPEN!

I am finally ready to open up my Members Only portion of my website!

1 members only

I must share my heart with you all and let you know that offering a paid portion of my site was not an easy decision to come to and has been prayed over a LOT. My husband and trusted friends have been helping me behind the scenes to make decisions like this and to truly seek God’s will for my online life.

As I am sure most of you know, I spend HOURS creating printables which I offer for free and I love doing it. When I began making PowerPoint learning shows to go along with my new Raising Rock Stars Preschool program, God seemed to pop the Members Only section into my head. Honestly I ignored it for awhile. I brought the idea to my husband first and asked him to talk it through with me and then we just prayed and waited. I continued to create the shows and let God iron out the many details spinning around in my brain.

After much time and prayer we did decide that offering a paid members only section seems to be the next step in my journey online. The main factor in deciding this is that we are 100% faith-supported missionaries, which means every dime of our paycheck comes from individuals who sponsor us. We do not have an organization or a church that pays a large portion of this. We stepped out in faith over 6 years ago and haven’t looked back since!

Our dream is to become more financially self-sufficient so we can focus less on fund raising, and more on doing ministry here in the inner-city. We’d also LOVE to be able to redirect the donations we receive for our personal paycheck towards the recovery ministry my husband leads, which is currently in need of funding to renovate the Redemption House so it can house recovering addicts. Having a bit of my site that brings in a small income would be a way for me to use my gifts and talents to not only bless others in my online community, but also bless my family financially. My husband is my biggest supporter and prayer warrior when it comes to my online life. He stands behind me and is in full support of all that I do-I would NOT do it if he wasn’t. He is my partner, my teammate, the God-given leader of our family. I am so grateful for his strong, compassionate leadership and guidance.

I DO NOT plan to put the printables in the paid section, they will still be free, as it truly is my heart to help others. I also hope you know that just because I am selling something now,I am still the same person. I never want any of my readers to feel like I am a saleslady ;-), I am still just plain ol’ me. I don’t have big advertising plans, just want to trust God to bring the right people to support us in this way and benefit in return from the materials I offer only to members.

Right now the Members Only section will be focused on PowerPoint learning shows, which are something new I have been making and working hard on! You can see an example of the shows that go along with RRSP here. I have been using these shows with Krash and they are amazing for him. I don’t know why I didn’t think of this idea sooner! He LOVES the computer, and loves the shows. It is a great way to not only teach him new concepts, but provide an intense and regular review ~ that’s also fun for him! As we move along, I hope to bring the shows in more and more as I create new ones!

Each Raising Rock Stars preschool lesson will have it’s own show, focused on teaching the new skills and also reviewing the past skills. I am also taking various Preschool/Kindergarten skills and making individual shows {ABCs, phonics, math, colors, etc.}.


I am also making shows now for our family Raising Rock Stars time too! I have the first one up, based on the Armor of God.IMG_8351

I even have a few shows in the work for Pac Man. One is focused on USA geography and I am about half way through with it. It interactively goes through each state alphabetically, focusing on the capitol, abbreviation, and location. Needless to say, this one is taking me awhile!USA.Alabama

As I state on the Members Only info page-if you don’t have PowerPoint, or know how to use it, please research that first. As much as I would love to provide individual help, I simply do not have time. I won’t be able to provide technical support unless there is a problem with a show from my end. Simple questions of course, will be welcomed-I just don’t have time to teach individually the how-to’s of running a PowerPoint show. Someday, maybe I will, but for now-Google will have to teach you! 😉 Honestly if you have PowerPoint, or the PowerPoint viewer, and you know how to “click to view in slideshow mode”, and can press the arrow key-you’re set! I do all of the hard work from my end, you just scroll through the shows with your child! You can also print individual sheets straight from the shows if you ever want to.

This whole PayPal/Members Only thing is all new for me so there are bound to be mistakes I have made. if you notice anything, especially in the payment, redirection, emailing process-please let me know.

Want to learn more?

Visit the Members Only information page here!

Raising Rock Stars Preschool ~ Letter Ii

~ Krash is currently 4 years, 1 month old ~

Rock stars This is the main section of our preschool posts-focusing on what we do for our Raising Rock Stars Preschool Curriculum. I am not sharing photos of each part every week, just what I happen to catch! We do the entire unit even if I don’t show it here in the photos!

Our Letter this week was Ii, our verse: I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. Philippians 4:13.

Here Krash is pointing to our letter of the week, we point to things a lot.IMG_8165

He always loves cutting his long Bible verse out. IMG_8170

This week he made a belt out of it after we measured it against him. IMG_8172

I had a feeling he would enjoy the “Strong Man” craft and I was right. Anything with muscles is a big hit in this guy’s eyes.IMG_8222

We got out his notebook and reviewed all of his vocabulary cards. Already , after just 4 units, he loves looking back through his notebook. I designed this program with reinforcement in mind, so that a review is happening often. Getting the notebook out is a perfect way to do this.IMG_8124 IMG_8129

The PowerPoint lessons also provide a great review at the end of each show, going back over the basic skills and verses from the previous units. Krash has a new favorite portion of the show, counting the shapes. In this portion of the show, he pushes a button and the rectangles flash one at a time to practice counting. He has learned how to push the back arrow to make it repeat ;-), he loves it!IMG_8104

You can see a video here showing a PowerPoint lesson. You can learn more about the new Members Only section here.

You can download the entire letter Ii unit here.

A note about future units…my plan is to release a new printable unit every week or so, with a few breaks this summer. I will only be posting a new unit as we complete it, so they will not be coming out every week. We do school in the summer, just not everyday, so some weeks will will complete an entire unit-some we wont. I will only have a preschool post when we complete an entire unit.

in the box{A few things that were in his preschool workboxes for the week, not all activities are pictured}

We will be incorporating a few letter of the week activities to correspond with our letter. This week I had Krash do a letter Ii sort. Instead of laminating the items, I printed on fast draft and just had him glue them on.IMG_7932

He also glued the correct number on to the leaf…IMG_8181

He worked on a 24 piece puzzle, with some help…


He worked on his color puzzles, a few each day…IMG_8134

star boxesThis is where I share the 3 special open-ended toys that were in our Star Boxes for the week.

Krash loves his Wedgits!IMG_8139

Also in Star Boxes this week: Automoblox, & Aquadoodle. See more open-ended preschool learning toys here.

game time

Krash got a new game for his birthday that has been on our wish list for awhile, Super WHY ABC. IMG_8145 We loved it! If your preschooler enjoys Super Why, I highly recommend it. It is a bit too advanced for Krash at age 4, but he enjoyed it and we helped him when necessary. You can see below the categories of questions for each character to see what I mean.IMG_8163

Skills we focused on while playing…

  • taking turns, and what was involved in your turn {spinning, finding the correct character card, moving spaces, etc.}
  • identifying upper and lower case letters. The Alpha Pig cards focused on this and K could do those on his own.
  • counting 1-4 and identifying #s 1-4 {the spinner featured these numbers}


  • for Krash-getting help when needed, for Pac Man-being patient when helping 😉


  • dealing with defeat, and how to be a good loser 😉

I play alone with Krash on day 1, with the boys together on day 2, and then they play alone {with me supervising close by} after that. See more of our favorite preschool games here.

Life SchoolThis is where I share games, toys, and life experiences that occur outside of our planned preschool time.

Krash asked to play Starfall a lot! I love that he is able to navigate around mostly by himself now!!!IMG_8109

He also got out his Leapfrog Fix the Mix toy a lot. I played with him tons and he got really good at it!IMG_8284

Moms favIMG_8272


More Preschool Links…

Be sure to visit Preschool Corner to see all of the other amazing home-preschool moms!

Do you have a blog post featuring this unit-RRSP Letter Ii? Link your exact post below, choose a thumbnail showing the program in action for your link!

~any non-RRSP Letter Ii posts will be deleted.

Happy Helpers

Helping is something almost all younger kids love to do. The problem for me is, I don’t always love the help ;-). It’s selfish, I know-but true. I am not one of those naturally patient mommas, I would much rather just do things myself. But I also know that when a child is helping-the lessons learned are invaluable.

When I used to teach Kindergarten, we did calendar time By about the second month of school I dreaded teaching it. Other primary teachers will give me an Amen I’m sure-something about it just gets old and draining. Once the routine of teaching was established each year, I implemented a calendar helper and the special student would lead calendar time, with me sitting off to the side to quietly guide. The helper always loved this job and I loved not having to do it all myself. I guess that was one area where I didn’t mind a child helping me out! 😉

Fast forward to homeschool and our morning board time. I won’t say I dreaded teaching it at all, I really don’t, but Pac Man began asking if he could teach it. At first I said no and then it dawned on me-this is a great learning opportunity for him! He already knows most of the skills being taught during this time, it would be great to develop his leadership abilities.

So, now we see this quite often….IMG_8211

I took the photo while sitting on the floor in Pac Man’s normal spot-as he leads us during calendar time. Krash is putting up the day of the week.

I guide Pac Man from below and he is one happy little helper.

Pac Man grows greatly by being the leader. He has learned so much from his role also as the eldest sibling for Tot School both with Krash and now with Ladybug. Pac Man may not learn many school skills from our game of the week for preschool time, but he is learning so much about patience, selflessness, and so much more. There are so many opportunities for an older sibling to be in a helper role, I just have to remember to let him!