9 Tips for Relaxed Homeschool {Summer} Tot Time plus FREE PRINTABLE PLANNER

Our summer break is already under way.  The brigade finished their “official” 180 day school year last week.  I give the older boys a few days break but have them jump back into basics-math, reading, and writing.  They don’t fuss and I think it helps with retention of facts.

This summer, one of my goals is to do a Relaxed Tot Time with Bear (4) and X man (1).  My reasons for this activity include:

  1. more structured approach to preK for Bear
  2. build on the concepts Bear has learned this past homeschool year
  3. expose X man to more organized activities
  4. help Mommy become more organized with preK/toddler activities
  5. prepare brigade & Mommy for upcoming homeschool year by establishing “routine” for younger boys
  6. combine my two younger boys to help encourage positive interactions between them, as well as optimize use of time

Bear thrived using a daily folder system for his preschool work.  Each folder would include a prewriting or beginning letter formation paper, math concept, coloring page related to learning theme of week, and any extra activity that I thought might add to his learning experience.  At times, I just place a sticky note reminder to do an activity with him, like counting cubes or a puzzle.  He eagerly completed his daily work.  Often, he would ask for even more to do!  I plan to continue with this type of learning for him.

daily-folder-Beardaily folders for Bear

I started using “Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons” with him about two weeks prior to the end of our homeschool year.  Bear knows all of his letter sounds and was starting to sound out words.  He has always been at Smiley’s side for his lessons and reading time-I think that his brain just soaked up the information!

100-easy-lessons-readingThis book has been through 4 boys-
can you tell?

{Prior to using Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons, Bear completed Getting Ready Level 1 on Easy Peasy All-In-One Homeschool site.  (I can not say enough about that amazing site!)  He started the next level but I just didn’t feel like he was getting it with that approach to reading.  I had used Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons with Skipper and Professor; Smiley did not take to that approach.}

I am not pushing him as far as reading.  Bear is genuinely interested in learning how to read and I am just following his lead.  When he shows any boredom or disinterest, I back off.

I want to give Bear a fun experience with learning.  He tends to be quiet and keep himself busy-a blessing in this house of busy boys-but I have to make a conscious effort to make sure he gets his one-on-one learning time with Mommy.  He is definitely one of those kids that picks up information by listening and being in the area.

X man is young but I think he will benefit from more organized activity.  He tends to be into EVERYTHING now-constantly moving and mess making.  His constant busyness tends to annoy Bear.  I am hoping that Relaxed Tot Time will give me the opportunity to help them work together in a positive, learning environment. Also, it is my hope that X man will settle down a bit after experiencing more age-appropriate, organized activities over the summer.

To capture their attention and get them excited for Tot Time, I plan on using popular children’s songs and books, as well as Catholic based.  I will include Catholic children’s books as well to help in their faith formation.  Crafts and whole body movement activities are always a big hit with this age group as well.

Tot Time will be relaxed.   Learning should be fun!  I want to harness their energy and help them love to learn.

I will use mostly books and music that we have here.  Also, my love of Pinterest will come in handy for book and craft ideas.  I’ll be sure to share what I find here *wink*.

My “schedule” (I use this term loosely-I tend to just go with the flow and if we get sidetracked, so be it!) will be:

  • Prayer (I neglected to put this on printable planner-prayer before any activity is just a given for me…I will start with a simple prayer like: Sign of the Cross-Dear God, Please bless our Tot Time.  Amen.-Sign of the Cross)
  • Opening song
  • Calendar/Weather (from our Morning Gathering board)
  • Songs/Fingerplays (many of the songs that I will be using will be from this source, Kelly’s Kindergarten)
  • Learning Focus (Colors, Shapes, Numbers, or Letters)
  • Book
  • Craft/Activity

I created this blank Relaxed Tot Time planner to use for each theme.  I am planning on using one a week(M-F) but if we finish early may just move ahead.  I made Relaxed Tot Time planner because when I take the time to write something down, I am much more likely to follow through with doing it!

Click on image below to download.
(font is blurry on this image but will print clear!)

 Here are a 9 tips for helping Relaxed Homeschool Tot Time go well:

  1. Place Tot Time Planner (and any other papers) in clear page protectors or laminate.  Little fingers can be quick and grab at/rip papers in their excitement.  I like the clear page protectors because I then place in a binder to organize and preserve.
  2. Prepare all materials the night before!  Little ones lose focus quickly while Mommy is busy finding paper or scrounging in craft supplies cabinet.
  3. Let your little ones move!  Encourage clapping to songs, moving to finger plays, and pointing to pictures.  Harness their energy and excitement and channel it into fun learning!
  4. Gently redirect.  As stated in #2, attention can wane quickly.  In soft voice, remind little ones that Tot Time is going on & need to follow rules.
  5. Spread out a blanket or carpet and let little ones know that this is their special Tot Time area.
  6. Allow little ones to use manipulatives.  For example, if you are reading Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? put out manipulatives that coordinate with reading.  Bear counters, stuffed animals, blocks to represent animals, and story cards are just a few of the many possibilities that can keep little hands busy and help them sit (relatively) still to listen.
  7. (Relaxed) rules!  In easy to understand words, go over ground rules.  Each Tot Time will look different.  What are your expectations?  What would you like your little ones to take away from this experience?  Jot them down and explain as simply as possible.  And be ready to repeat and reinforce!  My rules for Tot Time are simple:  stay on blanket, body parts to self, lips zipped, ears open.
  8. Break up activities.  Do 5 minutes of songs and reading then move on to craft.  Switch to gross motor activity and then practice sorting.
  9. Read your little ones behavior.  Stay in tune with their reactions and willingness to cooperate.  Ask yourself:  should I gently push this now or is it time to stop for the day? We all have “bad” days and maybe your little ones are just in need of play time and fun with the family.  Go with it!  Little ones will have plenty of time to learn. Stop Tot Time on a positive note and you will find that your little ones will be asking for more very soon!


Follow Busy Boys Brigade on Pinterest for even more ideas & tips on Tot Time!
Follow busyboysbrigade's board Toddler Time on Pinterest. Follow busyboysbrigade's board Homeschool PreK on Pinterest.

I will be adding my Relaxed {Summer} Tot Time plans, pictures, and experiences here.  I would love to hear how you teach your toddlers and preschoolers-especially if you combine ages!  Please share your ideas here!


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