Behind the Scenes ~ Following the Lead of the Child

I thought it might be helpful to give you a peek inside of my heart and mind as Ladybug grows and I make decisions for her educationally.  The path we are on together is much different than the path I was on with Krash at this age and I am thankful that I now have experience with 3 different toddlers of my own to compare to better share experience with my readers. image

For those of you who don’t “know me” well, I graduated college with an Early Childhood degree with a certification in Birth-Kindergarten.  While in college I completed internships with a concentration on young children and also Montessori.  After college I taught public school Kindergarten for 4.5 years.

I have been writing an eBook for years, just have never felt God nudge me to pour the hours needed into finishing it.  I have published a portion of it, on my website, which outlines what I believe about educating young children. If you have read that, you will see that I don’t mention worksheets for tots in ANY way!!!  Then why in the world do I have a Tot Time Notebook, a Tot School Printables program with many “worksheet” type of activities, and now a new Animal ABC program with a set of worksheet extras?

The answer is very simple…I am following the child’s lead.

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Ladybug shows interest in these types of things and even though I do my best to direct her towards toys, hands on experiences, and what I feel are more “normal” and developmentally appropriate tot activities-she gravitates towards a writing instrument and something to write on.  It is something I resisted at first but finally followed along and I have had a MUCH happier tot since then.

Most of my Tot Packs and Preschool Packs contain items that are more hands on.  An example would be the Heads and Tails matching game included in the Brown Bear Pack.  Ladybug would NOT enjoy this.  If it looks like cards or something more hands on-she resists.  However, if I put the same idea into more of a worksheet form-she embraces it and has fun!

She boggles my mind and has given me the ultimate lesson in following the child’s lead.  I used to think that meant holding off on stuff like this until later and not PUSHING the young child.  Now I also see that it can go both ways.  It also means not holding a child back.

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Do I think Ladybug is some sort of genius child? NO!  She is very advanced in a few areas, and has been since early on.  She was “professionally assessed” when she was around 20 months {back when she was struggling with her walking and they were evaluating her for services}.  You can see her specific results here, noting that she scored highest and beyond her age in both cognition and fine motor-both areas she has continued to excel in.  She is in the normal range for language and is still below for gross motor.  I am certainly not pushing her, quite the opposite actually.  I don’t want my baby girl to learn too quickly-I love this early childhood stuff!  I want this stage to last as long as possible, she is moving a bit too fast for my personal taste to be honest!

Ladybug spends more time at a table than I ever thought possible for a tot.  She BEGS and even cries to do school if she hasn’t for a few hours.  To her-doing school means sitting at my desk with me and working with me, or by herself.  IMG_9622She created the term “doing school” now it has become a common phrase and request from her.  She hates days off and I will often allow her to “do school” on off days just to make her happy!

When Krash was a tot, I wrote a post entitled, The Advanced Tot, which addressed tots who were more like Ladybug and advancing beyond what their moms expected!  Now I have one of those and it is weird!!!   There are some really great comments from moms on that post too, so if you are intrigued by this topic, be sure to scroll down and browse!

Does Ladybug still play like a normal tot?  YES!  We are on the floor engaged much more than she is ever sitting and working at a table.  She LOVES to read and be read to, way more than the boys ever did-so we spend tons of time cuddled up with our noses in a book together.  IMG_3144

She really enjoys puzzles, play dough, blocks, sensory bins, stickers, painting, drawing, and more intricate fine motor activities.  A few hands on things she really enjoys…

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This is also the little girl with 2 older brothers who she follows.  She sees them writing, so she wants to.  She sees them sitting, so she wants to.  She follows their lead and in turn I follow hers, while also trying to encourage her to stay young and enjoy the lovely things of tot-hood!IMG_6600

Part of the reason I wanted to take the time to write this post is because I used to be the mom with the wild and crazy tot who wouldn’t sit still to color, read, or anything at this age {that would be my sweet Krash}. Krash is now moving along at a very steady pace-not above or behind for his age.  I am very pleased with his progress and academic abilities! I also had a tot who wasn’t quite as wild and crazy {PacMan} but who still could have cared less about anything resembling school until well after age 3.  A tot who didn’t learn to identify letters until closer to 4, and didn’t draw a recognizable picture until almost 4 too!  PacMan wasn’t really into books, didn’t enjoy anything with a paper and pencil and much preferred the hands on world of toddlerhood.  He is now excelling in 4th grade!

When I was parenting the boys as tots, mostly Krash, I would read blogs of moms who had tots more like Ladybug and get a pinch of jealousy.  I never want anyone to read my posts about what Ladybug is doing and think that this is what I believe is correct, normal, or preferred for children her age.  When I wrote about Krash at this stage he fit right in the crowd, but now, I imagine I have a few readers who wonder if something is wrong with their own toddler who won’t go near a pencil and paper!  I assure you there is nothing wrong with your child-not simply because they aren’t interested in anything resembling what you would consider school!  Most tots prefer to be active, loud, and totally hands on.  Most tots learn best that way.  There are a few out there like Ladybug-some even way beyond her.  Those few prefer a different learning path and we just follow them.  It is a delicate balance to follow along while not pushing or holding back.  I pray that’s what I am doing for all 3 of my children and now especially Ladybug at this young age.

I know in this land online it is even more difficult than before to NOT COMPARE OUR CHILDREN, but really-don’t do it!  There is healthy comparison-just to make sure everything is OK, and then there is the type of comparison that makes you feel badly.  That’s the type I encourage you to stay far, far away from!  Let your own tot guide your path for Tot School in your home.  Gather ideas from others but don’t force them upon your tot.  There will be plenty of time in the future when your child will need to do undesirable school assignments!  It just isn’t that time yet at this tender age.

As homeschoolers, we are more able to follow the child’s lead.  In a classroom setting you follow the lead of the class as a whole and focus on what is developmentally appropriate for the age range you are working with.  At home, it is much different and this has been a difficult adjustment for me as a former early childhood educator.  I am so used to the “norm” and with Krash he followed that norm.  Ladybug is not the norm so following her lead is more of a challenge.  As you plan for your own tot, please remember to follow the lead of your own child.  Most important-have fun!

See more Behind the Scenes Posts here!


I have a post in the works going deep into Developmentally Appropriate Practice and what this looks like for us as homeschoolers!  Stay tuned if this sort of thing interests you!

If you are a certified/trained early childhood teacher with classroom experience AND homeschooling mom who is teaching or has taught your own young child{ren}, would you please email me?  I would love to get your thoughts on my upcoming post about DAP and homeschooling, and also ask you some questions!