Tot School Zone

Tot School Zones

A common email I receive concerns the set-up of the Tot School “zone”.  I got one recently and it occurred to me that although I would love to offer insight, it would be better if I could connect us all in sharing-mode to gather ideas and insight.

So, I am opening up a linky for anyone to link up a specific post showing their Tot School set-up.  We personally have a schoolroom, but I know many of my readers do not.  I know some of you use your dining room, playroom, child’s bedroom, basement, and even more!  I’d love for you to write a post sometime within the next 2 weeks, come back here and link it up so we can all share.

In you post please include any or all of the following…

  • PHOTOS!!!!
  • Basic description of the location of your Tot School Zone
  • How you organize tools not currently in use
  • Whether or not you allow your tot to play with Tot School items outside of Tot School time
  • What you like/dislike about your current set-up
  • Any advice you think could help a mom who is just starting out {if you have been tot-schooling for awhile}

Here is our current Tot School Zone.  Ladybug is almost 14 months.  I use our 9×9 square shelf {from Target} but only have 3 trays out for her at a time, on the bottom.  IMG_8478It is in our schoolroom, you can see various posts about our schoolroom here { although it is not arranged that way right now}.  We are actually switching locations of the schoolroom for next fall, so I will be rearranging again, and will be sure to post when it’s all done!

You can see all of our Tot School Zones in our “Where to Begin with Tot School” ebook!  Subscribe here to grab the eBook for free!

Where to Begin with Tot School eBook

I am putting in a thumbnail linky, so you can attach an image to your link ;-)  I thought this would be a fun way to try out this new linky tool.  If you link up, all I ask is that you provide a link-back to THIS POST somewhere in your post, in order to share ideas!  You are welcome to link up and old post with pictures of your Tot School Zone, but be sure to go back in and add a link here.

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 months old~

We had a fairly normal week around here. I had trouble with my camera card, so I lost an entire day’s photos, bummer. Ladybug is turning into quite the “little girl” right before our eyes.

Tot Trays

I set up Ladybug’s first Tot Trays! She has begun to show interest in getting things off of the shelves to play with by herself, so I followed her lead and set up 3 trays for her on the bottom row! This week I put out dice and a cup, a chunky puzzle {which she had NO interest in}, and pom poms with a empty clear container.

She loved the pom poms and the empty container and got these out daily. She loved collecting the pom poms into one hand-as many as she could fit! She also learned to put them into the bottle by herself! IMG_8187

The dice were a big hit too! She loved certain ones though, it was rather humorous to watch! IMG_8097


Learning Toys

Now just because it wasn’t on HER tray, doesn’t mean it wasn’t fair game to be played with. Krash had Wedgits in one of his Star boxes for his Preschool Workboxes this week also, so she happily dug into those daily too! She loves Wedgits!


Just in case you think Ladybug is always all done up and matching-here’s proof that she can be quite the {still adorable} ragamuffin at times! She was half-dressed in this shot-is anyone else guilty of this? Somehow she had on her pants, but still her PJ top and socks.



Another favorite of hers is our box of musical instruments. She loves to dig through them and pull out her favorites!IMG_8194


Up in her room, she has a few Tot School toys so we work together there too. We worked with her Shape Hippo {from Target}. She has learned how to make the shapes fly out of his mouth and loves this!IMG_8209

She also loves to play in the boys’ room! We recently got out the cardboard building blocks. She wasn’t as impressed as I thought she’d be ;-)



She loves the Anamalz! IMG_8298

I LOVE her mouth full of teeth…IMG_8305


Pat-A-Cake is a big favorite right now. If you tell her to clap, she looks at you like you are crazy. If you say “Pat-A-Cake” she gets all giddy and starts clapping!IMG_8241


Moms FavoriteI could gaze into her eyes all day long. Oh how I’d love to dive into that little brain of hers and dig her thoughts out!IMG_8238


This Weeks Tools

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?


Tot School

~Ladybug is currently 13 months old~

Ladybug and I were gone for most of the week at my grandma’s funeral, thus our short Tot School post this week!

Learning Toys

Ladybug got this “new” wooden ball toy and she LOVES it.  I think my mom paid a big whopping $2 at a consignment sale!!!  Pac Man missed his girl a lot so was happy to spend time with her showing her how to put different sized balls into the holes.  She can’t quite get the balls that come with it in, so he found her some balls that went in easier for her!IMG_7921

She got it!IMG_7928

He also taught her how to open and shut the lids on her wooden walk toy/block holder {also a consignment sale find} IMG_7901

Look how proud he is of her ;-)  I love him.  IMG_7905


Techy TotAlthough I don’t have any photos of her, I must tell you that my iPod was a great traveling tool!!!  She has a few favorite apps, and I am so thankful for them {especially when the flight was just a bit too long and nap time was way over due}.


Tickle Tap…she LOVES the “Sound Shaker”image


Alpha Baby…she loved making new letters/photos/shapes/etc pop up and she knows how to sling them all around the screen and thinks it’s really funny! image

Animal Hide & Seek…She LOVES the tiger!!!!  She points to animals that are hiding in the scene to make them come out!image


Life School

We traveled to Sioux Falls, SD for my grandma’s funeral, just me, my mom, and Ladybug. The best part of the journey was seeing her in the arms of my uncle and my cousin who I actually haven’t seen in over 10 years myself.  It was wonderful to be reunited and to introduce them to her.  She also really enjoyed the indoor swimming pool at the hotel!




Moms Favorite



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?


Raising Rock Stars Preschool ~ Introduction & Unit 1


Raising Rock Stars Preschool

Preschool. Whoa. It seemed so far away and yet now here we are, our first official preschool post!

In my normal fashion, I had to reinvent the wheel so it would turn the exact way I desired it to for my little guy, so I have something brand spankin’ new to share with you…

RRRSP header copy

Yup, it’s a whole new preschool program for Krash {and for anyone else who wants to tag along}. I have spent months preparing it not only for Krash but also for you, as you will see from the website. The website itself will explain the many basics, which I will highlight here briefly. You can start here if you are interested in reading more about what it is, why I did it and so on. I also started a FAQ page here, which I began by answering some basic ?s I know I am sure to receive.

Why did I need to reinvent the wheel? In a nutshell, I had certain goals in mind for preschool in my home. I wanted something simple to pull out each week, while also being sure to expose the basics, with a strong Biblical foundation. I wanted our program focused not only on preschool skills but on Christian character values and God’s Word. I wanted music as a integral part, Christian music! I wanted to highlight Christian character qualities every single day, not just as a side note. I wanted our books to be focused on this idea rather than a general theme {like I had been doing}. I brought these together in the best way I knew how and this is what God brought out of my many thinking and brainstorming sessions!

Each week I will share the unit we are on, and also make the printables available for you, free of charge. I am also almost done with a members only section of my website which will offer interactive Power Point shows to go along with these units. I am not done with this part yet, so even though it talks about that on the site-the links are not available yet as I iron out some last minute details. I promise more to come on that soon!

We completed the first unit of our program about a month ago as I wanted a test-run before I worked on upcoming units. I ironed out kinks and added what I wanted. I am finally pleased with the format!

Unit 1…

This is the main board, which will be changed out for each unit. I needed something simple to mesh well with my teaching style as well as K’s learning style. I explain each component of the board in DETAIL here on the Sample Lesson Page, which is based on this particular unit. I am also working on getting some videos uploaded to show different parts in action, for you visual/auditory learners!

RRSP Board

Krash jumped right into preschool-mode and knocked my socks off with his pre-writing skills…image

He did well with his mini book, reading it to me every day. Some days he wanted me to be more involved, which was fine. He didn’t quite grasp the concept of his sight word {see} but that’s completely fine. He DID thoroughly enjoy reading on his own though and has since had a heightened interest in learning to read.image

He colored his verse… image

He cut most of the beginning sound cards out himself {again knocking my socks off}… image

He worked on a few L’s each day…image

He loved cutting his long verse out…image

and using TAPE by himself… image

We measured the verse next to him! image

I cut out the cut, color & glue craft and he colored it.image

We stuck it on together. image


Krash DID memorize the entire verse, which actually shocked me. I figured I was expecting too much, but apparently I had my expectations a tad too low.

After we finished our unit, put it all into our RRSP notebook {photos of this coming soon} and K enjoyed looking through it all together. It took us about 2 weeks to complete the unit, I imagine that will change from week to week depending on his attitude ;-) and our family schedule. I am going to be flexible with this.

In addition to RRSP, we will be using many preschool learning tools, including store bought toys and also printables. I hope to plan for a theme each week {like the types of themes we have been doing}, but who knows-I am not putting pressure on myself in that area. If we have a theme great, if not…oh well! I am making new preschool printables but mine are focused on concept rather than a theme so they can be used over and over again at any time {also reducing the need to print and laminate new items each week}. We will still do some theme printables, I am sure, but not as many as we had been doing.

Starting next week I will share about our preschool workboxes also, along with our RRSP unit!

If you find something wrong on any of the new preschool webpages, please let me know. I tried to proof everything one last time, but I just know I probably left something unlinked or spelled wrong! There were so many pages to create and I have been working on them for months!

More Preschool Links…

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