Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Tot School: Back in the Saddle, Again

Tot School
~ Peeper is 42 months old ~

A Note To My Regular Readers: I may be repeating some photos or stories that I've already published, but I want to put all our learning activities in the one post that's part of the Tot School link-up.

Tot Schoolers: Welcome! If you enjoy this post, please feel free to stay for a while, and have a look around. I'll give you a fair warning that much of my blog is PG-13, but my Tot School link-up posts will always be G-Rated.

Hey, we're still here and we're still learnin' stuff, more or less!

After we wrapped up our Letter of the Week curriculum, we didn't do anything really structured for a while.

Then we had a rather unsuccessful run at Mother's Day Out, and came to the conclusion that we don't need to go off to no stinkin' preschool for now.

Whether or not Peeper might have handled it better if we'd eased into a little more slowly, or whether she might have gotten okay with it, if she'd made her keep going, since that experience, her separation anxiety is through the roof, even when we tell her she's going to visit her grandparents, so she's certainly not ready for that right now!

So, we've decided that we are definitely not sending her to preschool in the fall, and that's as far out as we need to make any decisions for the moment.

We've told her that if she's not going to school in the fall, then we'll "do school at home with Mama," and she is down with that idea.

Up until now, I've presented her curriculum as more just games and crafts, although she definitely knew that we were working our way through the alphabet and doing the same sorts of things each week.

Now I'm actually referring to it as "doing school" or "school stuff" to sort of get her used to the idea of "school = learning fun stuff" as opposed to her current definition of "school = I miss Mama and Mommy."

For both of us, I want to try very hard to be more structured with it than I was with the letter of the week, in the sense of having specific things I want to cover each week or two, trying to do a bit each day, and possibly even setting aside a specific time of day for "school stuff."

On the other hand, I don't really have a set curriculum in mind at the moment, but I'm still working on putting that together and sorting out what she needs to be learning at this point, what are the next skills in the progression from where she is now, how best (for her) to approach it, and so on.

I've done a lot of googling for three-year-old curriculum, and much of it is about letter recognition or basic letter sounds, counting to ten, colors and shapes.

Yeah, we got that covered.

Then I look at the four-year-old stuff, and it seems more on target with the pre-reading skills, but then there's a whole lot of it that's about writing and pre-writing, and she is still pre-pre-pre-writing.

She mostly scribbles, with some circles and lines. Lots of vertical lines, these days. We've tried some tracing (lines and waves) but yeah, not so much yet.

So, whatever I do, I'm probably going to be making stuff up and pulling stuff together, as opposed to working through a curriculum that someone else has designed.  (For some other kid. Funny that.)

I started thinking that unit studies might be a good approach. I've got tons of "themed" printables, but those are just using the theme pictures to cover basically the same sorts of basic skills that she's mostly got down.

I want her to actually learn about the thing that the unit is about, in addition to using it as a unifying theme for various basic (and less basic, as time goes on) skills.

But what units? What should we cover? What's most appropriate for her? What would she be most interested in? How do I figure that out?

And then, it occurred to me that perhaps I should consult with the ultimate expert on What Interests Peeper:


One evening, as we were sitting at the table, eating dinner, I told her "Hey, you know how you're going to do school stuff at home with Mama? Well, you can learn about whatever you want. What do you want to learn about?"

Without a bit of hesitation, she said, "Bears."

"Okay, we'll learn about bears. What else?"

"Bees. Because I am a bee." (She was wearing her bee hat at the time.)

"What else?"

"Ladybugs." (She's always been a fan of ladybugs.)

"What else?"

"Carrots. And fruits and veggies." (She was eating a carrot. Sort of. And we've been very into talking about fruits and veggies and "eating a rainbow" lately. Actually eating them, not so much.)

"What else?"


At this point, I've realized that she's looking around the room and telling me things that she sees.

So I told her, "Now, close your eyes and thing about things that you want to learn about."

"I could open 'em, Mama?"

"Yep, open them."

Her eyes popped open and she says, with wonder, "Giraffes!"

(Actually, what she said was "Ga-waff-es" which is much cuter.)

I don't know where that one came from, but she sure said it like she meant it.

She closed her eyes again and came up with "Bunny rabbits."

Then she added "Lights" (Hmmm, back to looking around the room, I believe.) and "Mouses."

I said, "Okay, we'll learn about mice."

"No, I wanna learn about mouses!"

Okay, then. Mouses, it is. Lesson Number One: Mouses are called "mice."

We decided to start with bears, and have been learning about them for several days now. I figure we'll spend about two weeks on this unit, at which point, I'll blog all about it.

I've just decided that our next unit will be on gardening (ie "carrots, and fruits and veggies") and I think I'm going to go to the library and pick out books for that tomorrow.

Wish us luck, and check back in a week or two to hear all about our bear adventures!

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