Monday, August 8, 2011

How do I start "Tot School?"

I have received several e-mails and Facebook messages from Mommies just like you who are asking, "Tot School looks awesome but I'm so overwhelmed! How do I start?" I'm no expert, because I just started myself, but I am an expert on being completely overwhelmed! I looked into Tot School for about 2 months before I started anything. I would hop on the computer and peruse my favorite sites like 1+1+1=1 and Chasing Cheerios and think, "Man, what they're doing is awesome but how do I start?" After awhile I would get so overwhelmed that I would just ignore it all together. Then repeat the same process a week or so later.

So, I'm guessing that your overwhelmed by some of the same things I was:
  1. I don't have any of the tools needed to start.
  2. I don't have any money to buy any of the tools needed to start.
  3. What am I even supposed to do?
  4. Where's the Motrin? I have a headache.... 
Let's address each of these:

First of all, "I don't have the tools needed and I don't have the money to buy tools." I'm not going to tell you that you don't have to spend money. You will have to spend a little but when I say a little, I mean, a little. I figure I spend about $5 a week on things for Tot School and that may not be necessary for everyone. Most of the tools I have used, thus far, are cheap. I peruse the dollar section at every store I go to and I visit the dollar stores. When you see something cheap, colorful and fun think, "What can I do with this?" The Target dollar section has become my best friend. Also, you can buy lots of fun stuff from Oriental Trading for really cheap. But what do you really need? Let's look at the next question...

Where do I start???
My best advice is to just start. If you're like me, you are probably on information overload. These ladies on these sites that you're visiting have been doing Tot School for quite some time, your Tot School will not look that great on your first attempt. Do you remember my first Tot School post, only 6 weeks ago? The pictures were taken with my iPhone, Makenzie was in her pajamas and the activities were fine, but nothing super cool. My best advice: choose one or two fun activities and do them! Do a collage with things you found on a walk or at the beach; play with play-doh, exploring the textures that household items make; get a big plastic box and play in the water, if you have older kids find things that float and sink and try to guess if an object will float or sink before you put it in; bust out some pudding or yogurt painting; pour a bag of rice into a container, hide mini pom-poms under the rice and let your little one use a spoon to excavate them; the list could go on and on. As soon as you start doing something, anything, you will get excited, your creative juices will start flowing and you'll be thinking of new things all the time. Eventually, after a few weeks, you can start focusing on a theme and getting into a routine but for now, just start! Remember the whole goal is to play! The objectives and "lessons" will come later, just play!

Now, about that headache. I hope that I have helped to ease some of the overwhelming sensations you were feeling. Getting ideas is great but where do you keep them all??? Start a Pinterest!!! I have more invites to pass out so if you need an invite leave a comment on this post with your e-mail address and I'll send you one. Pinterest is great because as you're perusing the blogs you can "pin" a photo which will in turn save that photo directly to a board you've created on Pinterest. When you're looking for activities you can just go on your Pinterest and see what you've already pinned. You can also search for kid's activities as well. Pinterest is now my first go to source for anything from "What's for dinner?" to "What should I wear?" to "What should I do?" and on and on and on. I LOVE Pinterest!!!! Here is a screen shot of part of my Tot School pin board on Pinterest.

Lastly, here are some of my favorite blogs for getting ideas:
Chasing Cheerios
The Imagination Tree
Childhood 101 Playopedia
Delightful Learning
The Crafty Crow
I Can Teach My Child
Play Create Explore

I am in no way trying to be an expert on Tot School, I have a long way to go but I thought that if there are a few people with questions, then maybe there are more people with questions. If you have more specific questions I'd love to try to answer them for you, just comment or click on my profile to shoot me an e-mail.

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