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Teaching Toddlers WITHOUT The School

John

As I was packing up the last of the bottles floating around my kitchen for good, it all of a sudden hit me! I HAVE TODDLERS! I start looking around and realized that my high chairs have been replaced with a mini table and chairs, my fridge has ABC magnets all over it (well more like 5 of the letters lol), there are sippy cups EVERYWHERE, snack cups & tiny adorable plates are taking over my sink, and what once was a room full of jumpers, tummytime mats, and rattles is now PACKED full of puzzles, crayons, and a HUGE kitchen and vanity set! Where have the last 15 months gone? Permission to freak out please! Don't get me wrong, I am SO thrilled to be able to start this new journey with the girls and (of course) am jumping for joy at the chance to research and learn all about the changes we are getting ready to face! But, as always, knowing where to start is somewhat of a challenge......

One of the things that hit home for me as far as needing to embrace the fact that the girls are growing up has been their CONSTANT DESIRE to explore EVERYTHING and chit chat ALL DAY! My wake up call was a few days ago when the girls brought me the paper and crayons from their nursery that I had forgotten to clean up the other day. As with ANYTHING we do, I followed their lead, and we all ended up coloring in the kitchen.. Now I am a sucker for coloring, so every time we sit down to color I usually doodle their names (or at least the first letter of their names). This one particular day it REALLY caught their attention, so I just went with it. (Eventually me and Mi had some more arts and crafts time later that week and glued stars on her name. N had no interest in gluing, and neither have an interest to let the glue try to do its job lol. But as with everything else, I will let them figure it out at their own pace. I'm just interested in keeping gluey stars out of mouths for now!)

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They loved their pretty pictures SO much (I can't draw, but I sure can color! lol), so I rubber cemented some "advertisement magnets" to them (at least they came in handy right?) When I cook, the girls love to run around the kitchen playing with their ABC magnets and their kitchen toys. Eventually, we started a game of "Find your name on the fridge" and now the girls can pick out their own names!!!!! Since this little escapade turned into such a beautiful and stress-free win for all of us, with fun being the name of the game,  of course my curiosity peaked.

Ever since the girls were born, I have always read to them and engaged them to their environment/activities with conversation. (Yet another reason I LOVE babywearing! I had a chance to have my babies eye level and  2 free hands to point and chat about our surroundings!) "This is a GREEN apple. And this is a RED apple. Apples are fruits! They grow on trees." (You get the idea!) I have done this pretty much since day one, and I am glad that I stuck with it for so long (even through the times I felt a little silly).

Nowadays the girls can tell you:

-the cow goes "MOOOO" -the dog goes "*pants* and gives kisses *licks* -the ghost goes "BOOO" -the monkey goes "oooo aaaaa eeeeee" -the big truck goes "err err" (with the arm pull lol) -the car goes "vrrrrrrooooooooommmmm" -"whoooooo" after you say "GO FALCONS" -"mwahhh" for kisses (when they give/blow kisses they make this sound :)) -where their feet are -where their heads are -where their tongues are

They can sign/understand:

eat, drink, milk, more, bathtime, bedtime, sleep, baby, i love you, toilet, play, sit, all done, and dog! oh yes, and EVERYTHING IS THAT! ("tha, tha, tha!"). and they know "so big" (they open their arms all the way)

So with all this being said, this brings me to the concept of "unschooling" and what it means to us. Now don't close the page just yet, because this is NOT going to become a discussion about schools/schooling (I'll save that topic for a rainy day ;) ) BUT I DO want to touch on it a little bit so that you can understand the "basis" for the NEW STRUCTURE of our day!

"Well wait a second, WHAT IS UNSCHOOLING??" is what you are thinking right now I'm sure. Pretty much  "natural learning", "experience-based learning", or "independent learning." I have always liked to think along the lines of  learning something doesn't HAVE to be a forced (or stressful) experience, it happens all around us EVERYDAY.  (ANNNNND, here is where my TRUE inner nerd REALLY gets a chance to shine!) I secretly have been waiting for the day that we (3 girls) can start exploring and learning about the world around us! But did you know that day has already come?? It came A REALLY long time ago! (15 mo to be exact!) 

I stumbled upon the concept of unschooling around the time the girls were born, and have always kept it in the back of my mind. I just never knew how to approach it. But here's the thing. You don't really have to "approach it," it just NATURALLY HAPPENS!!! I am going to be spending the next week finding some activities that we LOVE and develop some sort of "plan" for them to continue to have their regular day. I definitely want to continue to have our playtimes, since that is what children thrive and learn from best, but I want THEM to have more say in what we do and when we do it!  There will be NO school type setting enforced if thats what you are thinking , BUT there will be some really fun games that have a "hidden agenda."

If  my plans for the week may still be unclear, just imagine being stuck in MY head right now lol. but don't worry! You KNOW I'm coming back to you to report on both SUCCESSES AND FAILS. You will also be able to find ALL of  the activities that we end up loving on our PINTEREST! (I will be pinning them ALL to the "TODDLER ACTIVITY BOARD" )

Also, in case you haven't quite made it to this point in YOUR OWN baby adventures, don't worry I have a WHOLE section about our routines from BIRTH to CURRENT HERE. (Please note that our routine is NOT a schedule!) And I am working VERY HARD to get all of our activities from that time frame posted as well! (I need more hours in the day!) I'm going to do a post schooling in general... but I have a little while before that digging needs to be done!

I'm SO amped up for the week and can't wait to bring you DAILY updates about how our transitions are going! We do our best to make life easy for you, so make sure you are FOLLOW OUR BLOG!  That way we can report DIRECTLY to your inbox! <3