Friday, February 11, 2011

Toddler lessons

Do any of you out there plan lessons or home school your toddler?  No, I'm not crazy here, I mean it seriously.  I don't sit down and try to teach my 2-year old like he was in school - I mean it more vaguely that I have activities and "lessons" planned for him.  Slowly over the past year I've found myself planning "lessons" for Dominic.  At times it feels strange since he is only 2 but it has been helpful to me to have a weekly plan and keep him on a regular schedule.  And, I fully believe that as a parent I am my child's first and most important teacher.

It started by accident when he was a little over a year.  I found that we were going to the library every week for story time and that he liked to take books home afterward but I didn't like just wandering around and randomly picking books off the shelf.  So we started picking "themes" for our books.  Usually I'd have him pick an animal and we'd find stories that involved that animal that we would read at bedtime for the week but it slowly evolved into also picking out non-fiction books about those animals.  We keep the books in a drawer in the kitchen and he pulls them out on his own all the time to "read" them or ask me or Will to read them to him.  He's picked up a lot of information this way and we can't go to the library without checking out new books now.  It has developed over time into picking "topics" for the week and finding books about our "topic".  (For example, since Valentine's Day is next week we picked out a bunch of books about Valentine's day when we went to the library this week or the week in December that we went on the Santa Train we found a bunch of books about trains). 

Mostly my plans involve going to the weekly library story time, reading the books we checked out, going to our weekly Kindermusik class, a weekly craft, and doing some sort of playgroup.  But, I'm finding that the older he is the better off he behaves when I have activities pre-planned for him.  I can tell him at breakfast that today we will be doing X after he naps and he looks forward to it and asks to do X when it is time.  Mostly, these planned activities are special craft projects (we made Valentine's to send to the Grandmother's this week and the week we went to the aquarium he was so fascinated by starfish that we made a bunch of starfish and hung them on the wall in the kitchen) or trips to various local parks.  I try to incorporate things that are educational into the activities to make them "lessons" (discussing colors when we paint or make play dough or asking him to point out letters and numbers on signs when we are out for a walk)  But, I think it's time to expand on my options of what to do with him that is fun for him, easy for me, and also educational (especially since we will have #2 coming soon I want to have a bunch of options around the house).  So, what do you all suggest?  What type of activities do you do with your toddler/preschoolers?

I have ready lots of craft kits and craft supplies (finger paints, coloring books, simple maze and puzzle books), sticker story books, and new puzzles to open.  Will will be taking him to his regular music class and story time for the first month or so after Sweet Pea arrives so he'll be getting out of the house a little bit.  I also printed off the words to a bunch of kids songs that I'm going to try to teach him and the "rules" for a bunch of simple games to teach him that will involve physical activity for him (like teaching him to sing "head, shoulders, knees, and toes" or play Simon says) but I think I need more.  A lot of these are things we already do a lot so I want to have something different for him that will challenge him a bit so he's not bored and "getting into trouble" when I'm trying to adjust to having a new baby in the house. 

Thanks in advance.  =)

(On a related note, what are your kids favorite toys?  Dominic plays with his legos and wooden trains on a daily basis and loves them both.  I generally believe that "less is more" when it comes to toys but I know with two in the house things are going to multiply and I'd like to have ideas to share with the Grandparents (they are asking what we want) that will be successful and not just accumulate more stuff to have sitting around.)

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