Is my tot ready???

I got this comment and thought I would answer in a post in case anyone else was interested…

I have a question for you Carisa.

I am thinking of starting my Tot on ABC notebooking. I’m concerned that I’d be starting him too soon. I’ve heard that it’s better to slowly work into formal learning with the little ones.
I started my oldest a bit too early I feel and then at about 3 1/2 he wanted nothing to do with ABC or Numbers etc, till the age of 5. At that time I didn’t know about Mason and other styles, so my approach was probably a bit off. I guess I’ve learned tons since my first one was little. I just don’t want to think I’m gradually introducing it then all of a sudden he reacts negatively. I’m probably thinking way too much on this, and not giving myself enough credit of knowing my little guy’s interests and abilities.

Do you know a good indicator that a tot might give to be ready to start, based on your educational background knowledge?

I first want to say, that I think you are right on…YOU know your tot. THAT is the best indicator. Other than motherly instincts, I will give my advice. I recently was contacted about participating in an EBook that is being written and I answered some questions for them, here is a portion of what I had to say in my “interview” for that, which I believe relates to this question.

Learning at a young age should be child led and immersed in PLAY. If K becomes uninterested, we stop! When I begin to force my teaching on him, he begins to resent my teaching all together. Eventually he will pick the skills up, it is not important that he learn them early. I believe in exposing him and letting him learn at HIS pace.

Learning should be fun and exciting, filled with many different experiences. I try to make sure I give him opportunities in all of the many areas of development on a regular basis. I use my leadership as mom and teacher to alternate items I choose for Tot School each day to help with this. Some days we do music, some days art, some days ABCs, some days physical games. I try to bring balance, while also letting him repeat activities often that I know he really likes. For example, we have this GlowBright drawing board thing that he LOVES. I naturally wouldn’t even bring this out much, but because it is something HE loves, it comes out a lot and is used to expose many different skills: shapes, letters, colors, etc.). HIS interest leads that. I just stem the learning from his interest.

Do not overwhelm the child!! I do NOT believe in drilling facts, teaching to acquire and master a skill, or anything of the sort. If K picks up letters (which he has), that’s great, but I will NOT drill him and make him color 50 Aa sheets until he gets it! P couldn’t identify any letters until he was almost 4, that was fine with me…he’s reading well above his grade level (if he were in traditional school) and knows them all now!!! K on the other hand could identify over half before age 2! They are just different kids.

Kids are different. I do the natural comparing as all parents and teachers do, but I don’t do it to push anybody. Sure, we comment on things P could do, or things K can do that P couldn’t but it is NEVER to compare in a negative way. Children learn differently and I believe in relaxing about this.

Don’t know if any of that helps (sorry if it was more info than you wanted) :), but it all leads into my answer, which is to use your Mommy instinct and go at your tot’s pace. I knew K was ready to begin an ABC notebook when he became very interested in the written word. He began pointing out different letters (at first naming them incorrectly) on clothing, in books, on TV, etc. This was a big sign for me to know he was ready to begin a bit more in the area of teaching ABCs. Once he began to show natural interest I jumped in and followed.

My other son, P, did not show any interest until close to age 4. Everything (which wasn’t much) we did ABC related was entirely at my leading! The good news… he too learned all of his letters within just a few weeks-once HE became interested! P’s learning style was different than K’s and I had to teach in a more physical way with him (jumping on the letters, running to tag them, etc.). He also used the Leap Frog – Letter Factory DVD, which I truly believe is what sealed the deal for his letter ID knowledge! This video is amazing and so accurately teaches letter sounds. I only wish I would have had this when I taught public school, it would have helped so many of my struggling students.

I hope that answers your question, thanks so much for visiting our blog and trusting me enough to ask me for advice :).



Tot School

This was P’s first week with official school off, we all are really enjoying the break. With 1st grade taking a break, everyday Tot School is even more fun! We all are enjoying our time together, here are some highlights from our week…

The boys continue to enjoy our We are . . . The Laurie Berkner Band DVD on an almost daily basis, we have now gotten the instruments involved…

K learned how to wash the dog…
We worked on a bit of throwing with our cool dart ball game (we got ours a few years back from Lilly’s Kids, but I found one like it…Dart Ball)
Both of my boys always love when this cool toy comes down. We got it for about $1 at a consignment sale and it has provided years of entertainment (here’s one similar to ours…Mini Roller Coaster)
And, who says Cuisenaire Rods are only for older kids? We had a great time counting and talking about colors. I just had to make sure he didn’t eat the white ones!!!
We finally played with our new Color Mats
K actually did better than I thought he would with them.
My mother in law saved my husband’s old cars and accessories, and both boys love this particular mini race track thing. Here K is counting the cars, we also used them to work on colors that day!
And *The King* was a great way to teach “Too Big” he wouldn’t fit through the little opening!
We still love our ABC floor puzzles, K is getting much better now at helping to put them together.
By far my favorite activity of the week was playing with our wonderful Magtastik set (they are recalled but Magneatos are still available and almost exactly the same). K plays with these on his own a lot, they are a toy I don’t keep put away like many of our other Tot School toys. This day he was playing and I jumped in with him and we made things together. Here’s a letter V…
And he asked me to make an E…
I made him a square and he thought it should be a hat…
He helped me make an X (at his request)…Here’s our triangle…And finally, I made a B for him (also his request). This was super fun to do and we played for quite awhile!
And finally, our week ended with a thrilling evening for all of the men in my home. Daddy got a new TV (he’s been waiting about 10 years) and the boys enjoyed the bubble wrap… And here’s a lesson in *dog-ear-biting* just in case you’d like your kids to try this too…Ha ha! Hope you all had a great week!

If you have a tot (approximately ages 1-3) at home, join in the fun and share what you’re doing with your tot! Here’s how to get started if you’re new…

You can read this post for more details if you’d like, or if you have any ideas you’d like to share, link up your exact post to Mr Linky (if you have questions about how to do that, let me know in a comment or email). Provide a link back somewhere in your post to this post so your readers can see other ideas too!



Tot School

We had a week mostly focused on tot school around here, as we are relaxing and leading into the summer with P’s schooling. Tot school is just everyday life though, so there’s still tons of it!!!

We began our week with a beautiful day to play outside. The boys worked together to develop and use a plant watering system. P invented, and K tested…K got a new We are . . . The Laurie Berkner BandDVD (our old one is lost), and I think we have played it every day this week! Both boys LOVE it, I highly recommend this!! Here they are marching to the Dinosaurs song…We are working on K’s name, now that he can identify the letters, we are working on saying them in order and identifying is name. Here he is using, LeapFrog Word Whammer™ Fridge Phonics® Set and Melissa & Doug Six Block Name Board Puzzle

We are moving along in our ABC notebook, now on the letter Yy He liked our new Hands-On Learning: Match, Trace and Write the Alphabet Mats by Teacher’s Friendand even scribbled all over the Y’s saying “Y” (I drew what you see in the pic…just to show him)Outside that afternoon, I saw P drawing Y’s on the wall for him with chalk and K copying him!
Our Noah’s Ark Shape Sortercomes out almost weekly now, this time we worked on finding the matching animals…He tried Lacing Beads, but didn’t last long, it’s still a bit too difficult for him…I introduced him to Starfall (thanks for the idea Sako!), and he loved the ABC part!!! I put a little sticker on the mouse where he is supposed to click, he’s not very good at it yet, but he’ll get there. He does NOT want my help though, telling me “camera, camera” to get me to go away and pick up my camera so I will stop touching the mouse. It’s funny.Outside, P created a “ball pit” for them to play in…K got a good lesson in turn-taking… (see him throwing a fit when it wasn’t his turn)And, finally, the fun is his…My parents got him these great word puzzles (I can’t find them anywhere on the web, they got them recently at Costco) for his birthday, he had fun playing with them and naming the pictures.We had outdoor science, finding all sorts of great creatures on this dig…K held his first worm!

We ended our week with Dot Paint, since K got more new colors for his bday.He had just as much fun stacking the caps and trying to name the colors as he did painting!

If you’d like to see more Tot School posts, click here. And, be sure to check out the Tot School webpage for more ideas and links. And if you have a tot at home, join in the fun and share what you’re doing with your tot! Here’s how to get started if you’re new…

What are you doing for Tot School lately? Let’s define a “tot” as an 1-3 year old. I would say anything before a formal Pre-K curriculum. You know, the stuff we do with our little ones to provide opportunities to develop their love of learning and maybe teach them a few things. If you have any ideas you’d like to share, link up your exact post to Mr Linky (if you have questions about how to do that, let me know in a comment or email). Provide a link back somewhere in your post to this post so your readers can see other ideas too!



Tot School ~ On the Road

This is how I believe K feels about his week of Tot School ~On the Road…He has been with his wonderful grandparents(both sides) this week down in NC and we have all had a blast! Here’s some of what we’ve done, or at least what I would see as *tot school* real life learning fun!!

A little outdoor physical education with a big open field, a tennis ball, and a Baba…what a great way to learn to throw and catch!We got a hands on transportation lesson with Baba’s LOUD Harley, K kept saying “cycle on, cycle on” he loved the rumble!!!He enjoyed playing with many of their toys, especially this train that he likes to take apart and put back together…And he loved the new ABC game we got himHe got a new Water Wheel Play Table for his birthday, it was a BIG hit, I highly recommend this one, especially for the great price!He really enjoyed my parent’s pool, here he is counting 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 to jump in to Daddy!
And he learned the proper way to eat birthday cake at his Nemo birthday party on Saturday…
Hope you all had a great week and holiday weekend!

If you’d like to see more Tot School posts, click here. And, be sure to check out the Tot School webpage for more ideas and links. And if you have a tot at home, join in the fun and share what you’re doing with your tot! Here’s how to get started if you’re new…

What are you doing for Tot School lately? Let’s define a “tot” as an 1-3 year old. I would say anything before a formal Pre-K curriculum. You know, the stuff we do with our little ones to provide opportunities to develop their love of learning and maybe teach them a few things. If you have any ideas you’d like to share, link up your exact post to Mr Linky (if you have questions about how to do that, let me know in a comment or email). Provide a link back somewhere in your post to this post so your readers can see other ideas too!



Tot School

We began our week with these great blocks. They are foam, so perfect for little people who tend to toss things sometimes!K is obsessed with scissors, he calls them “cut it.” Here’s his attempt at using them, we have a long way to go… We quickly moved onto coloring, which he thoroughly enjoyed this day. He kept asking me to write certain letters, and even wanted me to hold his hand and make the letters with him. He is currently really into the letter W, and also K and B–as you can see…Then we drew shapes, he likes circles the best…He enjoyed playing with our toy food boxes, and then turned the whole experience into a music session.We are still reading the book, Tumble Bumble which he is really enjoying the more we read it. Here he is re-reading it himself, yawning as the characters are on the page… He loves this great Melissa and Doug Latches Board. He got this for his birthday last week.
And, another one of his bday gifts, Melissa and Doug Shapes – Chunky Puzzle I was amazed as he put them all in himself on the first try and identified circle, square, star, and triangle!!
K has just recently started really enjoying this, Leap Frog – My First Leap Pad Learning System He thought this activity was really cool, since he got to stand up high to do it! He “wrote” several letters on this day.
Here’s P showing him what the letters really look like… And, who needs fancy counting materials when you get tons of free deodorant from CVS (if that makes no sense to you, you’ll have to visit this blog which I frequent–I am an avid CVS shopper). On this day K wandered up to these and began counting them, over and over again!!
He LOVED this and thought it was so funny, we loved it to, as it was the first time he successfully counted 1-5 without missing any numbers! He can go to 10, but misses a few :).The boys enjoyed playing outside one day with our Parachute…a great time to explore positional words (over, under, on, in)And they were hilarious working out to our Kick to Get Fit Jr. – For Kids dvd, here I believe they were doing push ups!And to finish off our week, K got to bottle feed a baby kitten. My great friend babysat the boys on Friday and she is fostering a group of abandoned kittens. My boys got to go with her to her house to see the kittens, needless to say, they loved it!If you’d like to see more Tot School posts, click here. And, be sure to check out the Tot School webpage for more ideas and links. And if you have a tot at home, join in the fun and share what you’re doing with your tot! Here’s how to get started if you’re new…

What are you doing for Tot School lately? Let’s define a “tot” as an 1-3 year old. I would say anything before a formal Pre-K curriculum. You know, the stuff we do with our little ones to provide opportunities to develop their love of learning and maybe teach them a few things. If you have any ideas you’d like to share, link up your exact post to Mr Linky (if you have questions about how to do that, let me know in a comment or email). Provide a link back somewhere in your post to this post so your readers can see other ideas too!