One of the reasons that my blog posts have been a bit sparse lately is that the twins and I have embarked upon a new adventure…school!
Several months ago, I read an article asserting that one of the reasons twins often lag behind their singleton peers developmentally is because their parents are more likely to operate in “survival mode,” leaving less time for focused play and stimulation. The article gave me pause, because I often feel like I am doing well just to keep the babies alive, fed, and (mostly) clothed for an entire day! From my work as a speech-language pathologist I do know how important it is to take time to play and talk with your children on a daily basis, but sometimes that’s easier said than done at our house!
I do try to keep the twins busy with playgroups, outings, story time at the library, etc., but I felt like I needed something a little more organized to ensure that they are getting enough stimulation from me and to keep us from getting into a rut. There are preschool programs available in our area for young toddlers, but I’m not quite ready to let them go (or pay the hefty bill) just yet. I began looking online for homeschool preschool programs for early toddlers, but wasn’t impressed with a lot of them, and I had tons of materials and ideas for activities that I have collected over the years already at my fingertips. I just needed a way to organize them! Then, one of my friends from high school, who also happens to be a mother of twin toddlers, told me about “tot school” and I was instantly excited. And so the fun began!
Tot school was originally introduced by a homeschooling mom of three who wanted to be sure that she was spending quality, one-on-one time with her youngest each day, exposing her to early learning skills through play. She developed a method to accomplish this goal and began blogging about it, and the tot school phenomenon was born. You can check out her amazing website by pressing the button below…it tells you all you need to know to begin your own tot school at home!
I like the concept of tot school because it is not a curriculum, but rather a method, so I have the freedom to choose my own goals and activities based on the twins’ needs and interests. As the weeks have gone by I have slowly added more structure to our “school time,” organizing our activities around themed units and starting each session with a very short circle time, consisting of a welcome song, weather check, and short book. Since the babies are so young, I don’t expect them to sit and listen the entire time, but want to expose them to a routine similar to what they would see if they were in a preschool program. To make it even more fun, we partnered up with a good friend and her son who is the same age as the twins, so we are able to switch off each week for a group school day and then carry the activities over at home for the rest of the week. I refer to our version of tot school as “Little Minds,” since that’s what we are working to develop!
The goal of Little Minds is simple: to support cognitive, linguistic, motor, and social-emotional development by providing fun, play-based, developmentally appropriate activities for our children. I will talk about this a little more in a future post…there is a method to our madness! Most importantly, we follow the basic premise of the tot school method…we expose rather than force learning, so that the children will enjoy our school time and begin to love learning at an early age. We plan lots of activities, and if the kids don’t like ’em, we stop and try something else! It’s all about being flexible when nourishing Little Minds!
The purpose of this post is to give a little background information on Little Minds and show you a few of our early activities. If you follow our tot school posts from now on, you will be able to watch how our sessions became more structured over time as we saw what worked for our little group. We’ve tried lots and lots of different activities…the pictures below showcase some of the most successful…meaning that they kept the babies’ attention for more than 30 seconds 😉
Young toddlers learn best by using their senses, so we try to include many activities that expose the babies to a variety of sights, sounds, textures, and even smells! Most people who post about tot school include the ages of their children so people who are looking for inspiration can get an idea of how appropriate the activity might be for their own tots. I will include both the actual age of my babies and their corrected age, which is where they are developmentally since they were born almost two months early. Believe it or not, two months can make a lot of difference in babies and early toddlers!
Early Little Minds Activities*Please use common sense when doing any activity with your baby or toddler that involves small pieces that could be a choking hazard!
Actual age: Almost 15 months. Corrected age: 13 months.
The next set of pictures are from the first day that Mama Tex hosted at her house. This was the day we started the tray system, which you can read about on 1+1+1=1, and had our first real circle time.
*Find more about this idea at I Can Teach My Child.
I hope you enjoyed this little introduction to our new adventure. I have enough pictures for about five more Little Minds posts to catch us up to the present, so look for those in the next few days if this has peaked your interest.
Until next time,