My Toddler’s “Home-School” ‘Lesson Plans’

I like using emojis in my posts, but I feel like they have a tendency to come out looking a little “Lucky Charms Essay.” Also it’s a lot of work to copy and paste them from the website I get them from when working from a desktop, so I haven’t really been doing it as much.

Anyway.

Hello, my Gals!

Since I am blessed with the opportunity to be a SAHM and to be able to do some work from home, I have been trying to make the most of it by giving my son some kind of enriching experience every day, and make every experience an opportunity for learning.

So having said all that, I thought I’d have this update’s topic be our “Home-School” plan. Keep in mind, every child is different and this is what worked for us. But if you’re looking to home school your little one(s), I hope that you find this post helpful in one way or another!

Never Too Early

I concentrated more so on fine motor skills with Vinny during his baby months. He’s always been just ahead of the curve when it comes to fine motor skills, and he was more or less walking by the time he was 10 months old (I might do a separate post on how I worked on fine motor skills using Mikey, as he’s going through all of that now).

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I did enroll him in an ASL class for Babies when he was about 9 months old, as well as a few music classes and play groups here and there

However, I never realized how early I could really start him on learning all of the basics like colors, shapes, etc! I feel like a lot of parents don’t realize how early you can introduce their babies to these concepts, and how fun and (relatively) easy it is to do so!

So here’s a little more on how I got Vinny to master his shapes, colors, numbers 1-10, and the entire Alphabet by 20 months old. Which may be impressive to some of you, and maybe to others, as Hillary Duff would say, “So Yesterday.”

Here’s some videos of Vinny identifying some letters and shapes back in January, when he was 17 months old (they came out huge and sideways and I just don’t have the time to fix them so I’m sorry!)

But it’s like I read somewhere, you can’t compare the Sun to the Moon to the stars–because they all shine on their own time.

Intro To Learning

I feel like reading to our babies is so, so, crucial to not just their academic development, but their social and emotional development, as well. I’ve read that studies suggest reading to your child helps to strengthen empathy, as they’re hearing about and relating to the characters in books, and hearing the emotions come alive through your voice.

I started reading kids books out loud that we got at our baby shower while I was still pregnant with Vinny. And when he was a young infant, about 3-4 months, and he wasn’t trying to crawl/walk/run everywhere, I would read him mid to late elementary school reading level chapter-books. I knew he wouldn’t retain anything I read from them, but I like to think that he was watching my mouth movements and enjoying absorbing words.

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Vinny’s Currently “Reading” List. The top four that we read at least 5 times each each day. I highly recommend all of them! Check out your local Library or Mom and Pop bookstore!

Of course I would read him the cardboard baby books as well! The pictures and easy-to-absorb stories are essential for babies, I feel.

We started doing some type of definitive lesson “Plan” when Vinny about 15/16 months, with activities games geared toward different subjects. But before that, once he was walking around and a little more interactive, we did a lot of learning through reading and play.

When we played when he was younger, I always pointed out what colors and shapes certain things were, to kind of build a foundation of these concepts. And I still do now. I know this kind of goes without saying, but I think it really does make a difference in how they pick it up later!

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A little independent “reading” time with some classical music.

Now, Vinny is obsessed with books! He could sit there and listen to someone read to him for hours. And each time we read a book, I try to point out different colors, shapes, animals, etc. I always look for something in the pictures to teach him about.

One of his favorite books is “Bubbles Bubbles,” an interactive Sesame Street Book we got for his first birthday. This is how he learned half of the body parts he’s able to identify, because we’ve made it a game each time we read the book.

Now when I read any of his other books (often 3-5 times each day), whenever they mention a body part, i.e. “Little Nutbrown Hare stretched his arms as wide as they would go,” I reach for Vinny’s arm and emphasize that that is his arm as I read the book. Once we do this enough times, I’ll quiz him after I read a sentence with a body part and ask him, “Where are your knees?”

Our “School Of Learning”

I have been looking into different learning/teaching techniques, such as Unschooling, Montessori, and Waldorf to see what would best fit not only Vinny’s unique style of learning, but my own capabilities and strengths as a home-teacher.

In as small of a nutshell as I can come up with, Unschooling focuses much more on real world and practical life skills than academic skills (think balancing a checkbook vs. Mitochondria is the powerhouse of the cell), and both Montessori and Waldorf focus on child-led learning, with the teacher being more of a coach and celebrating the child’s independence as he or she explores skills and education.

Click here if you want to see an awesome real-life Montessori playroom my SIL at Becoming Rivera has set up for my brilliant little niece!

The style I’ve personally gravitated the most towards is Waldorf, which involves a lot of teaching through storytelling (perfect since Vinny loves reading and being told stories so much), fantasy, art and music. It’s also very nature-focused, with a lot of their teaching material and journals being colored with natural watercolors and doodles, instead of the sterile, primary-colored, artificial aesthetic of typical schools.

However, the parts of Waldorf I don’t agree with are that full-fledged Waldorf teachers don’t believe in having a child learn to read before age 7, and they are completely anti-technology and screen-time.

Personally, I would love it if Vinny was interested in learning to read before this age, and I do rely on videos (sometimes more than I should) in teaching Vinny certain content, especially when I need to get work done and don’t have a sitter.

Utilizing Media

When I was pregnant, as much as I hate to admit, Vinny would sometimes get up to 2.5 hours of screen-time a day! *cringe* Now I try to limit it to 1 hour a day, split up throughout the day if possible. On days I have to work, he sometimes gets the whole hour at once. Maybe a little bit more…but, I always try to keep the sources strictly educational, forgoing the mind-numbing Saturday-Morning type cartoons.

Our favorites are Jack Hartman, Bounce Patrol, Scratch Garden, Simple Little Songs, Go Noodle! Rachel and the Treeschoolers, Story Bots, and of course, the classic, tried-and-true, good old Sesame Street!

Some examples of “Brain Break” media that I like that are still enriching and educational but I don’t consider to be teaching tools necessarily are Puffin Rock, If You Give A Mouse A Cookie, and Hilda.

PSA: Please be sure to properly vet all of the content your children may see! Apps like Netflix and PBS are easier to trust, but YouTube can be extremely sketchy. If you use a lot of YouTube like me, please make sure the videos you show are from verified channels (not ones that have random numbers in them, etc). Try to make playlists for your children with videos that you’ve already approved, and turn auto-play off so that you don’t run the risk of any bad videos getting through!

Daily Routine

Before Mikey came along, and before I had read about Waldorf’s “Block” system of teaching (more on that later), I had Vinny on a sort of daily/weekly home-school schedule. I personally think that this was helpful in accelerating his understanding of his shapes, colors, numbers, and letters at such a young age.

Here was (and still is, just modified very slightly for block learning) Vinny’s daily schedule. We try to keep up as much with this as possible, while still accommodating to Mikey’s feeding, tummy-time, diaper changes, etc. Most days we are successful! A lot of the time I can have Mikey do tummy time or play in his gym while Vinny and I are doing “lessons.”

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Mikey at 2 weeks learning to play on his gym.

7AM Wakeup, refresh (diaper and outfit change)
7:30 Breakfast (peanut butter toast and scrambled eggs)
8:00 Free-play and video playlist with subject of the day (Mom works during this time)
9:15 Story time, read books dealing with subject of the day, or use picture focus on subject of the day (what color is this? What shape is this? How many X are there in this picture?)
10:00 Playtime again, listening to music (Mom tries to get some chores done)
11:00 “Snacktivity” Time. Vinny gets a snack of bananas, fruit bars, or crackers.
11:15 Activity dealing with subject of the day
12:30 Naptime
2:30/3 Lunchtime (usually some kind of nitrate/nitrite free lunch meat, cherry tomatoes, cheese stick)
3:30 More free-range playtime and story time, reviewing subjects of the day
5:00 Dinnertime (Some kind of protein and veggies, like shredded chicken and broccoli)
6:00 Bedtime routine begins (bath, teeth brushing, etc)
7:00 Time for bed!

Monday: Colors
Tuesday: Numbers/Counting
Wednesday: Shapes
Thursday: Alphabet/Letters
Friday: “Science” (One “Science experiment” found on Pinterest)
Saturday: Music/Art (Water pad drawing, play-dough, play instruments, etc)
Sunday: Bible Study (Readings from Bible for Babies and child-friendly bible videos)

To save this post from being too long, I am going to refer you all to Pintrest for themed activities for your kids, since every child learns different anyway! For the majority of our activities, I literally searched, “Teaching Shapes/Letters/Etc Toddlers” into Pinterest and came up with tons of fun things to do! So just search what you want to teach for your age level and have fun!

Main Lesson Blocks

While I’m psyched that Vinny has picked up all of these concepts relatively quickly, at the same time I worry that I’ve overwhelmed him, and I don’t want him to burn out. To keep his love of learning strong, while at the same time not exhausting him, I’ve decided to gear more toward using Waldorf’s Main Lesson Blocks.

Main Lesson Blocks are based around topics that suit the child’s developmental stage and interests. For example, since Vinny knows all of his letters, and is completely obsessed with hearing the ABC’s being sung, I’m gearing our current Block towards phonemic awareness to help introduce how letters are used in words and to help him build his own vocabulary and say words properly.

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My version of a Lesson Block Plan. As Vinny gets older, he’ll be filling out lesson books like these, but for now, I’ll try to get the hang of the Waldorf-style watercolor learning aesthetic.

Blocks are taught on rotation, and each “Block” lasts around three to six weeks. During this time, one subject is the primary focus, as mentioned before. The main lesson blocks are taught in the morning, with the rest of the day open for free play and other activities.

Here’s a helpful article that I found helpful in understanding Block style teaching.

I’ve also come around to weekly fine motor and life skills activities, something I see a lot of with Montessori. Truthfully, I probably should have started with fms activities sooner, but better late than never! And it’s still plenty early to do life skills activities.

Most recently, I’ve taken a Xylitol container and cut a slit in it for him to put all of my old credit cards into. He LOVES this, and took to it very quickly!

We also work on some day-to-day skills and get him involved in chores. Vinny loves wiping up messes he’s made at the table and sweeping, and his favorite chore is to help me empty the dishwasher. It’s so cute!

Another huge and sideways video of him when we first started with the dishwasher chore when he was 19 months:

Big Things Ahead

The daunting life skills challenge we have ahead of us is potty training! Dun Dun Dun!
Vinny will be 2 in August. We’ve already gotten him off of the bottle and the pacifer, so this is the next step!

My goal is to have him potty trained by two, or a little bit after two. So for a few months now we’ve been trying to get the hang of his bathroom cues, have him sit on his potty clothed and praise him for doing so, read to him potty training books and show him potty training cartoons from vetted YouTube sources. We’ve also had training underwear we’re excited to try! I’ll have a separate post on potty training when/if I’m successful. Pray for us!

But potty training is something basic around this age (more or less–of course every child is different! This age just happens to be the average, from what I’ve seen). My other practical life skill I’d like us to focus on this “block” is learning to recognize emotions and develop empathy.


So that’s all for now! I know it was kind of a lot. I’ll keep on experimenting and see what sticks! I’ll most likely have an update post later on on how Block learning has been working so stay tuned!

Are there any seasoned home-schooling Moms out there with more words of wisdom? Let us know in the comments!

Thanks for reading, my gals! 😘😘

👀If you’re new here, and this content or any of my upcoming content interests you, make sure you add your email and follow so you don’t miss any updates! 😁😁 And if you’re already following, thank you and bless your heart and soul! 🙏🏼🥰🤗

📋 Upcoming Content: How We Avoid Marital Burnout With Multiple Kids (Babies), and Two Vs. One: How To Survive 2 Under 2

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This Momz Needs A Time Out

📖Story Time…📖

December 29, 2018

Today was a bit of a rough day.

It wasn’t a bad day, per se, but it was definitely rough.

3AM

🚽I had gotten up to pee for like the millionth time, and Vinny was up playing with his new Leapfrog talking Scout puppy he got from his “Old Man (my Dad)” for Christmas. I could hear it cycling through its various phrases and nursery rhymes, picturing Vinny grinning each time it responded as he pressed its paw. I decided to just go back to bed and wait to see if Vinny would just fall back asleep. I drifted in and out. 💤

4:30AM

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plz.

🔊Over the monitor I could still hear, “I’m feeling…happy!” “Let’s play together!” “🎶Old McDonald Had a Farm…🎶” I had to go in and take the dog from him so he’d go to sleep. He was not pleased with that, but after Dad came up to help soothe him he went to sleep. 😴

I, however, did not, despite my very best efforts.

7AM And On

🌞The beginning of the day went fine. We had breakfast, played, went for a walk at the Mall and played at the indoor playground. He tried to run out of the play area, so I had to herd him back in, to which he responded with the beginnings of a tantrum. 😪😪 In order to avoid a category 5 meltdown, we unfortunately had to take our leave. It was more or less his nap time at that point, anyway.

💤Naptime itself was fine, as it typically is (#blessed🙏). When he woke up, he was pleasant. It looked like all he needed was a little more shut-eye! 😌

Then it was dinnertime…

🦖🦕He refused to eat his dinosaur chicken nuggets 🙅‍♂️😤 (yes, I broke down and gave him chicken nuggets…but at least they were made with cage-free chicken and weren’t loaded with additives and whatnot, so the box said 🤷‍♀️). I fought him for what felt like an hour. Then finally I melted some cheese on top them, and he ate them. 🧀🙄

🧙‍♂️The rest of the evening (aka the witching hour, the period of time after dinner leading up to bedtime when he’s at his peak potential for crankiness) was spent trying to do things he knows he’s not supposed to, and having a fit when he was told to stop.

I might have lost my temper a couple of times… 😫😤🤬

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#theanthem

When he went to reach for one of the (admittedly) poorly placed Christmas decorations we still had out for the fiftieth time that day, that was when I snapped. I grabbed his arm, and he turned to look at me.

“I. Said. NO!!” I shouted, my voice cracking upwards five octaves. I glared at him, pulling him away from the object he was trying to meddle with.

“What is wrong with you?” I hated the words as they left my mouth, but couldn’t stop them…I knew it was my fault for leaving that stupid thing there. He had more or less left it alone before, but I really should have known better. 😓😓😓

And then he just looked at me and said, “Mumma, Mumma,” and hugged onto me.

😔What kind of monster am I? 

🍼About this time was the time for his evening milk, which I supplement with probiotic, DHA, and vitamin D in, so I like for him to drink all of it. Of course on this particular day, he refused to drink the last two ounces. 🙅‍♂️😤

This infuriated me.

I brought him up to bed in an angry huff. When we got into his room, just as I was about to place him in his crib, he clung to me, again said, “Mumma, Mumma,” and began kissing on me. He just kept nuzzling and hugging and kissing my face, leaning back to look at me and saying, “Mumma…”

I looked at my child, whose large brown eyes glistened in the low pastel light of his humidifier. I could see him smiling sweetly at me, his face the complete opposite of a mirror image of the ugly angry troll face I more than likely wore. 👹👺

💔I broke down and started sobbing, clutching him to my chest, and he just kept on loving me. I rocked him back and forth until I could get it together, kissed his forehead, gave him his pacifier, white noise giraffe, his “babies (two teddy bears),” and his Leapfrog dog…turned to off mode, of course.

🌅Tomorrow would be a new day, I thought. And indeed it was, as is every day.


I don’t deserve this child. He drives me crazy lately, but some days I really feel I do not deserve him…

😔😪I’ve been in a funk lately. I’ve had work deadlines looming with daunting projects I’ve yet to piece together, 📑📩⌚ deadlines I’ve missed completely that luckily I’ve gotten extensions on, 😰😰😰 family and social issues,  😓😬😔a house that’s an absolute mess that I can’t seem to keep up with,  🧺🧹🗑🧼🍽🧽 a bedroom that at my 35 week milestone finally had a newborn station set up, 🚼🧸🤱 and the aforementioned bedroom still needs to be Marie Kondo’d TF out of, 📦🛏👚👕 and of course a hormonal roller coaster that rivals the worst of all of my years of PMS since age 12. 😣😡🥺😬😪🤬😂🤣😫🤯

I know none of this is any excuse. But I just can’t seem to get it together some days…


Where am I going with this?

🤱👩‍👦👩‍👧I see a lot of Moms in my life and on social media that seem inseparable from their children. They talk about how they cannot be without their babies even for a day, how they’re incomplete without them, and how they’re their whole entire reason for existing, etc, etc…

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#cantrelate

😍🥰Don’t get me wrong, it’s sweet to see how loving they are with each other and how they enrich each others’ lives. I have absolutely no judgement towards these Moms. I legitimately admire them and their relationships with their babies. 💯👍💖

I just personally don’t feel the same way. 🤷‍♀️ Not to say that I don’t absolutely love my sons, they are still very much my world and my focus, I just have about a few days tops of being around my oldest son round the clock before I feel like I might need to be committed. 😵😵😵

Furthermore, I wouldn’t say that my son is my sole purpose for living. And obviously I know this is a figure of speech. But even so, I still don’t feel completely fulfilled just being a Mom and honestly get a little depressed when I go a few days in a row doing #justmomthings.

And because of that, I wonder what must be wrong with me.

😤😤😤Why do I lose my cool so easily? Why do I want, no, “need” to escape if it’s just been me and my son for a couple of days? Why do I feel so easily “trapped?”

🤳😘#️⃣I know I shouldn’t let Insta Moms and my FB Mom friends make me feel “less.” I know a lot of times (most of the time, approx. 99 percent), people embellish their lives for social media. We’re all guilty of it. And I also know that comparison is the thief of joy. But it’s so hard sometimes not to compare myself to other moms when I feel like I’m doing something wrong every day. 😥


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#selfcare

☕🧘‍♀️Aside from needing my “MOM-ents” for self care (and we all need them), I also feel most “myself” when I have time to “work” on my freelance writing and blogging.

But when there’s a shifty toddler running around trying to get into everything, and who can’t be contained in a “baby corral” for more than about half an hour, it’s hard to focus, let alone conduct interviews or do proper research or whatever needs my attention to get an assignment or post done. 😬😵

Furthermore, if it’s just been us for a while, I start to lose my mind a little. Like I mentioned, my threshold for being at home (even after going out each day) alone with my son is about 3-4 days before I need an “escape (at the point in the story above, I think we were going on day 4. 😨)”

And you know what? I’m starting to realize that that’s OKAY. 💯

🙏I’m very lucky in that I have parents and in-laws who are generally able to take my son off my hands once a week. And I’ve found when I get a break, I can recharge, and it helps fill my Mom cup so that I can pour the best of me into my son for another 3-4 days.

Because when it gets past that threshold…I become a Mommy monster. 👹👺🐲🧟‍♀️

I feel guilty asking for help. I hate admitting that I need help. I hate the thought of putting people out. I hate the thought of depending on anyone for anything…

But I’ve been told multiple times to get over it.

I am blessed to have people in my life who love my son and want to spend some time with him. I need to know that it’s okay to let him get a change of scenery and get socialized, while I do what I need to do to be my best self, for him.

It’s true when they say that it takes a village to raise a child. And I have a very, very good village. 🙏💗💯


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Any Moms “Ridin Solo (jay-SON De-RU-Looo),” You Got this! #ilovethisstupidgame #bestworkouts

I realize that not every Mom has the luxury I do, but I do feel that it’s a necessity (more so for some than others, maybe) to get time to yourself to be the best parent you can be to your child(ren). Whether that’s going to work, the gym, or just getting errands done alone, we all need a little space once in a while.

There are resources available for Moms who have to go it alone for one reason or the other. This website lists aid for single Moms by state, including resources for childcare grants and scholarships for Mamas to be able to work and get things done.

Contacting local churches, YMCA’s, and other nonprofit organizations could also be great way to find free or low-cost childcare.

For example, if your form of self-care is an hour to sweat it out on the treadmill, a lot of YMCA’s offer in-house childcare while you workout with a membership, and they can often help with fees if you are struggling financially.

These are just a couple of examples, and I’m sure there’s other resources out there, but where there’s a will, there’s a way! Don’t lose hope if you’re flying Han Solo in the journey of motherhood.

🗣If you’re just feeling lonely or like you need an ear, try joining some online Moms Groups for solidarity and further tips. I’m a member of at least 5 of them on Facebook.

Remember–You. Are. Not. Alone. 💯🤗


So, at the risk of this post being too long, (I’ll most likely have a follow up to this coming soon, though, about my SAHM Guilt), I’ll end it right here, knowing that me taking care of myself is just one of my ways of taking care of my baby.

And it’s okay that we’re not attached at the hip. We’re attached at the heart. 👩‍👦💞🥰

I’ve also started a “Home Nursery School” for him which has been helping with my previous feelings of monotony, and it’s brought us a little bit closer. Seeing him excited to learn and grow really helps me see how much of a blessing it is that I get to devote this time to him. But I’ll have a post on that in the near future!

💬How many of you feel like you need a break? How many of you can’t be separated from your little loves? Either way, you’re all excellent Mamas doing your best. 💪💪💪

Thanks for reading, my Gals! 😘😘

👀If you’re new here, and this content or any of my upcoming content interests you, make sure you add your email and follow so you don’t miss any updates! 😁😁 And if you’re already following, thank you and bless your heart and soul! 🙏🥰🤗

📋Upcoming Content: My (Stay-At-Home) Mom Guilt, My Son’s “Home-Nursery-School Curriculum,” and My Bedside Nursery Corner (Second Baby)