Do you have a child 1-4 years old you’re thinking of homeschooling? That’s called Totschooling, and this post has all the details you need to know.
- What is Totschooling?
- Reasons to Totschool Your Child
- What you need to know about homeschooling your 1-4 year old
- Your Responsibility as a Mother of a Young Child
- How to Totschool your Child
- Examples and Ideas for Totschooling Toddlers
- How we can help you
What is Totschooling?
Homeschooling between the age of 1 and 4 years (before starting preschool) is called totschooling. If you’ve kept your child at home because you think they are too young for school, or you started schooling them before the age of Kindergarten, it is called tot-schooling — it is a short form of saying “schooling your toddler”.
Totschooling is when you intentionally play and read with your child at home in order to prepare them for future learning. It is about setting the foundation for your child to enjoy learning. It is basically planning playtime and teaching through hands-on activities.
Personally, I tot-schooled all of my children until the age of 3-4 years. It is one of the best forms of enjoying your toddlers, and an instant form of bonding and connection that I highly recommend that every mother should experience.
Reasons to Totschool Your Child
So, totschooling is homeschooling your toddler. It is about teaching your child at home but tots that age don’t need to learn just their ABCs and numbers. There is so much they don’t know and are excited to learn.
I often hear mothers tell me about how their toddler is getting in the way all the time or how they throw tantrums. Some mothers tell me that they are having trouble connecting with their little one after a new baby. They know the elder child needs more attention.
The truth is, our babies and toddlers need a safe place and method to explore their surroundings. Totschooling is just that. You are teaching them what they ought to know and how they can play and learn about their world safely.
You are also teaching them the words for things and how things work and feel. It is about teaching experiences. I am sure you have heard about Montessori education and Waldorf learning, etc. Totschooling is just ONE of those or… all of it! (You can choose to mix and adapt what you like.)
Whatever the case may be, totschooling is a great way to encourage your child to explore their world, gain confidence in their abilities and feel responsible.
What you need to know about homeschooling your 1-4 year old
I call this period the “wonder years“. As you know, our babies are learning things about themselves and their physical capabilities.
They want to explore the world around them.
They see us and other children doing things and get inspired and awed with desire to try doing it themselves. They want to touch, feel, taste, hear and experience everything.
There are things that they didn’t know they could do.
They can’t even wonder about it because they have never seen it. If you didn’t give them the opportunity, or they themselves never had a chance, they probably don’t know what is possible.
There are words and vocabulary to learn.
Our children are learning to communicate at this age. They are learning the names of things and they can only learn those words that they hear.
Learning words is a three step method. It means they have to first hear the word, know what it means and then try to remember it. That’s three things to learn!
Now, think about it for a minute: if they don’t practice what they are learning, they won’t know what it means or what it is called. So there has to be repetition, testing and practising.
They need opportunities.
We live in a modern age and most of us these days live in the city, in very clean homes and generally smaller spaces. The opportunities that our grandparents or their parents had in their childhood to explore, experience and learn are naturally missing for us and our children. This means that not just our learning, but our health is being impacted too.
Think about it: they don’t know dirt, fresh air, the smells of nature or how seasons feel … they rarely see animals and birds. There are so many things that we and our children will never get to experience if we don’t intentionally go out and seek it.
Then there is the fact that our modern living is impacting our children’s senses. All those machines that we have in our homes – air conditioner, refrigerator, dishwasher, washing machine, microwave and other such appliances … even your internet modem — the sounds and vibrations they create are all impacting our senses.
What most parents of toddlers and preschoolers don’t realise is that our children need opportunities to not just learn and explore, but also to combat the side-effects of modern living.
I’d like to share with you how I learnt this all because I am sure you may relate with me.
Why I started totschooling my children.
As a first time mother, I remember how overwhelmed I would feel when my son wanted to reach for everything. He would just take off running or keep getting in my way. I felt like my #1 responsibility as a parent was to keep him safe.
So, in order to ‘keep him safe‘, I tried keeping things out of his reach. I would try to cook when he slept or while he was distracted. I tried to make myself available for him during his wake hours… to the extent that I modified my own routine to suit his needs. I didn’t see anything wrong with this because he was my baby and as his mother, I was doing what was best for him.
When my son was two years old, we welcomed his new baby sister. They were exactly two years apart and my son, who was used to being the centre of my attention, started feeling neglected and angry to be sharing my attention with another little one. He didn’t want me feeding her so he’d get extra naughty when I was feeding or changing the baby- and all this after I had “prepared” him to welcome the baby for months while I was pregnant.
What do you do with a kid all day?
As a new mom of two, I was exhausted because now I had had to change my routine again to accommodate both my children’s schedules. The baby would keep us up all night due to colic and breastfeeding, while the toddler kept me on my feet all day. I was exhausted… and depressed.
It soon became evident that our routines needed some work. So, I started educating myself about tweaking routines and how to find the perfect routine for myself and my family. I read many books, attended online courses, took coaching and then tested out different types of routines.
While I was tweaking our routine and putting my kids on strict 7am-7pm routine, I found that I needed ideas to keep them busy. My question was: how could I keep two different aged toddlers preoccupied and entertained? I had a 3 year old and an almost 1 year old.
I started buying toys… and then books. But soon I realized they needed company, so we started visiting libraries, and parks, and going to meet-ups. Now, as a busy mother, you know that it is not possible to take your child outdoors everyday. Somedays, you just want to stay home. But kids don’t understand that mom is tired.
Children have a right over their homes and environments
There are so many different things that I could teach them that weren’t covered in books, toys or playdates. They needed to master skills that helped them thrive intheir home environment too.
I started doing crafts and planning activities so they had opportunities to try different things. But soon I realized, it wasn’t possible for me to be creating activities all the time. So, looking for inspiration, I turned to reading about different approaches to learning – including the Montessori method and others.
My research on what kind of curriculum I wanted as well as observing my own children helped me realize that children at this age needed to learn how to live independently. The purpose of all these activities and play was to teach them how to master the skills they needed to thrive in the world.
You can search this blog for evidence of our (mis)adventures but those were some really fun times we shared together. What worked with my first two kids, I repeated with the next two. But all in all, I learnt the most important lesson about raising children.
Your Responsibility as a Mother of a Young Child
Our responsibility as their parent is to help them experience the world SAFELY. But in order for them to have those experiences, we need to ensure that they have the necessary OPPORTUNITIES to learn and explore.
We can spend money creating a safe home and ‘a safe place to explore‘ for our children but they will outgrow all that very fast. Think about it this way: ‘you can’t carpet the whole world, you have to teach your children to put on shoes‘.
Also, we can buy a lot of things – toys, books, experiences, gadgets… but is that what they really need?
What your child needs from you is your time and attention — an OPPORTUNITY to get to know you and make memories. Because it’s these memories that will shape who they become, what they embrace and how they live their life.
How to Totschool your Child
In my opinion, totschooling is quote fun and easy. It is just play-based learning and involving your child in everyday activities.
In the beginning, when I was homeschooling my toddlers and preschoolers, I used to feel that I should plan kids’ activities and playtime for them to enjoy learning, but after four kids, I realized that that’s not entirely true.
Kids don’t care whether you have planned activities or not. As my kids have told me many times since they grew up, they don’t remember all the things we did. It is only when the pictures pop up on my phone or the memory box is opened that they see evidence of what mommy did with them.
Totschooling your child is all about giving your child a right over their world – the right to explore and play in a safe environment. It is about giving them permission to enjoy their home and everyday.
Toddlers are my favorite age of children. They are so fun to be around and they say the cutest things. They only want to follow you around and do everything you do. They also want to be independent and crave the freedom to experience things. If you totschool your child, I recommend that you give them this freedom rather than planning endless activities for them.
And the best way you can do that is by #1 adapting them to an ideal routine. Click here for an example.
Start by fixing their timetable (routine)
Children who sleep, wake and have meals on time are better behaved. There is no disputing that. So, the first thing I recommend you do is fix their routine.
I write a lot about routines on this blog, so I will not repeat myself much here but I’d like to remind you that a 7am-7pm routine is best because it is their natural clock. Also, it is the easiest way to prepare them for schooling – whether you choose to public school or homeschool.
- Preschooler routine – Sample routine for 3 year old.
- Summer routine – How to create a fun summer routine
- School aged children routine – Sample morning, afternoon and bedtime routine.
- Stay at home mom routine – Sample routine for managing home and kids
- Cleaning routine with children – How to clean your house in 30 minutes or less
What makes up a good totschool experience
Once you are agreed that routine is important and are trying to actively fix that, here’s five more things you should include in your totschooling:
- Sensory play – Sensory play has an important role in your child’s development. Not only does it help your child engage their five senses—sight, smell, hearing, touch, and taste—but it also boosts their language skills and motor skills. Sensory play also promotes exploration, creativity, curiosity, and problem-solving.
- Age-appropriate toys : Toys stimulate a child’s cognitive abilities, fostering problem-solving, critical thinking, and creativity. Building blocks, puzzles, and educational games are excellent for nurturing cognitive growth.
- Printable activities – Printables are proven to help your child learn about math concepts, colors, and shapes. These are ideal for toddlers and preschoolers, and can also be used in conjunction with a variety of outdoor activities.
- Books – Books create warm emotional bonds between adults and children when they read books together. Books help kids develop basic language skills and profoundly expand their vocabulary as well as their imagination.
- Outside play – Outdoor experiences can provide an opportunity to explore, discover and appreciate the natural world, as well as be active, strengthen fine and gross motor movement skills, test physical limits and get messy. Time spent outdoors should be an important part of the daily routine for all children, including babies.
Examples and Ideas for Totschooling Toddlers
Need examples of Totschooling? Here are some posts from when my children were younger that I hope will help you in your journey.
- Super Simple Crepe Paper Stars
- Easy Edible Finger Paint Recipe
- Breakfast Dough – Edible Playdough Recipe
- Just Two Ingredients Pumpkin Play Dough Recipe
- Games to play using old Calendars
- How to make Playdough, Slime and Cloud dough with conditioner
- The Rose Scented Rooh Afza Play Dough!
- ‘How many Dates’ Count and Write Printable Mats | Ramadan Activity
- Origami Frog Craft for Kids
- Easy Ice Cream Craft and Sorting Activity for Preschoolers
- Kite Craft using Gift Wrapping Paper
- Paper Sloth Crafts to Celebrate International Sloth Day
- Make a Fish Craft Using Crepe Paper Hearts
- How to make an Origami Crow Puppet
- Lantern Telling time Activity Cards
- Five Pillars of Islam Printable Counting Cards
How we can help you
Here on Jeddah Mom, I have some fantastic resources for you to help you with all the things we recommend. Whenever you are ready