Planning with toddlers

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    • June 16, 2016 at 5:00 am #14775

      Last year it really was a tremendous help for me to print up and spiral bind checklist lesson plans for the whole year. The spiral binding part was actually a huge help, because I’d tried just printing out pages for a three ring binder and it was just too unwieldy and I kept forgetting to keep it up. I’d really, really like to do it again this year BUT i just really have no idea how my toddler will behave this year. Will he drop his naps? (He’s down to forty-five minutes once a day). If so, I need to make everything as independent as possible because I’ll have to be guarding his sisters’ school supplies from him while they work and he’s the kind of kid that no amount of babyproofing has succeeded in making it safe to let him out of my sight for more than two minutes. Will he keep naps and I can plan like last year? Will he mature to the point that I can get him to play with toys or crayons or toys at the table for a while without him throwing them at someone and climbing on the table?
      I feel like I almost need three or more sets of contingency plans! How do you plan when toddlers make your year unpredictable?

    • June 16, 2016 at 5:00 am #14780

      When things are uncertain I find it better to have a general plan for the week rather than each individual day. I use my bullet journal to make a checklist of all the things I want to try to get to that week as well as the number of times for each subject. So for example, if I want to do Nature Study, History, Geography and Picture Study once each during the week I’ll have them all listed with a little checkbox next to one so I can mark it as done once we’ve gotten to it. But I don’t list them on specific days – I just aim to make sure they happen sometime that week. Things that need to happen more regularly get more checkboxes next to them (e.g. math, and language arts). It works well for me because I don’t feel that stress of not completing specific things on a specific day; instead I can just fit them in as the time presents itself and know that there’s still time during the rest of the week if I didn’t get a chance today.

      I hope that makes sense. It seems a bit convoluted when I type it out! Maybe I can try to upload a picture of my list so you can see what I mean….

    • June 16, 2016 at 5:00 am #14781

      No, I think I know what you mean, I did something similar, e. G. iI’d have four checkboxes under “handwriting” and just write down “read aloud chapter 20” under “religion” but leave the day I did it open. I guess I’m more trying to decide things like do I have time for chemistry at all? Should I schedule in any experiments during the week or just see if my husband can do one once a month on Saturday? Those kind of things.

    • June 16, 2016 at 5:00 am #14825

      I do something very similar. At the beginning of each week I make a list of exactly what each student needs to get done that week (I have 5 boys ages 13, 11, 8, 6, and 2). Then every morning I write out a list of what they need to do that day (for the older 3 only) with checkboxes next to each thing. Then if we don’t get to something that day, I just add it to the next day’s list. For that reason I try to make the lists early in the week on the heavy side, because I know that inevitably things will get pushed to the next day, and we tend to start to run out of steam by the end of the week:)

      We also do morning time every day, which really helps us to get a well-rounded school day in, even when the rest of the day goes south:) Our MT lasts about an hour and includes things like Bible, poetry, picture study, hymns and folk songs, and reading aloud (not everything every day though!). We are learning to just embrace the interruptions of a toddler as a part of life at this stage. He is SLOWLY learning how to play on his own…without making a disaster…while we do morning time!

    • June 16, 2016 at 5:00 am #15218

      What are the ages of your kids?

      When I was pregnant and had toddlers and lower elementary students only, we just kept things low-key. If we couldn’t manage the “real plan,” I had a contingency: audio books + geopuzzles or a coloring page or labeling & coloring a map or Draw Write Now books.

      When I had a toddler that was super busy and extroverted and rambunctious we just muddled through and mostly did only the essentials. He hit 4 and was still needing my attention and wasn’t very self-directed, but my oldest was 6th grade and I wanted more consistency for him – that’s when I started a mini-coop with a friend so I could do lessons uninterrupted with the 8+ crowd and she supervised free play with or read to the younger kids. That arrangement also helped my older kids take their lesson time more seriously, too, and helped give them motivation to get their math done before that started (a real-life deadline was way more effective than just me saying they should do it).

      So, how to plan really depends on the age range you have, I think. There are a lot of years, especially with certain types of toddlers, that just muddling through is the name of the game. But if those toddlers coincide with years that need challenge, then outsourcing or teaming up with someone if at all possible is really helpful – whether it’s outsourcing the older kids’ lessons or supervision of the younger ones.

      Giving the older students (9+, say) a checklist with things they can do on their own, and holding them accountable to doing those things also helps tremendously. Then when the day is derailed, they’ve still done a few things on their own anyway. Some kids have a harder time with that, too, just like some toddlers are immune to all the toddler-strategies. 🙂

      And in my opinion, Morning Time + math makes a good school day – if other things don’t happen, that’s ok, don’t sweat it. The toddler will grow out of the phase and it’ll actually be easier to fold him in as a student than try to manage him as a wild card.

      Hope that helps! Lisa, Angelique, and Jill all had great points, too! Definitely take into account the ages and types of children you have THIS year as you think about what might actually be possible to accomplish.

    • June 16, 2016 at 5:00 am #15451

      After reading some of Brandy’s low energy mom posts, I really started thinking, “what is it going to be like if I plan too much?” And I realized it would make me resent my toddler all year. So I think I’m going to try to err on the side of less mom intensive.

    • June 16, 2016 at 5:00 am #43887

      I once heard a Your Morning Basket Podcast with Sarah Mackenzie where she had stated that she does something until is is done that way you feel like you have accomplished something over the year. I have 5 kiddos (3 months, 2, 4, 6, and 10) and have found this to be extremely helpful. Morning Time is the bulk of our school work where we sing a hymn, read a Crusade magazine, do memory work, and then whatever else we are trying to get through; something like a picture study, a Shakespeare play, a read aloud, a history book, or our Nature Study read aloud. We don’t read much of these books but read them until they are finished which has made me feel so much better about having actually completed something at a time when I feel as though I get so little done in a day. I hope that helped.

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