11.11.2013

one year of tot school, a reflection

Last month marked one full year since we began doing Tot School at home. Back then, Ethan was just about sixteen months old and our Tot School room looked a little like this:

When I first started doing Tot School, people were skeptical. They couldn't understand why Ethan would want to do school at home, unable to understand the play-based curriculum and the wonderful bonding experience Ethan and I would end up sharing during our time together. With the first months a little rocky, Ethan and I both soon began to value our Tot School time above all else. Tot School began to be the first thing he asked about in the morning and the last thing he begged to do before he went to sleep.

We began with color matching and sensory activities, Ethan just learning to put sounds together and identify body parts. Somehow I blinked and now I have a two and a half year old little boy blabbering these elaborate sentences and working on counting items out. The thing is, Tot School is still his favorite thing to do. Scratch that, it's our favorite thing to do together. As a parent, it has brought me the utmost joy I could imagine life ever offering to watch him explore his creativity, gain confidence and spend each day creating something beautiful, if not only memories for the two of us to share together.

As you may be able to tell from the fact this update itself is a month late, these past few months have been hectic. Somewhere during letter M week, we had that disaster with our home and mold in the walls and had to relocate to my parents house. After printer woes and space issues (after nearly four makeovers, I still couldn't be content with our Tot School space to suit Ethan's two and a half year old needs), I found we were skipping weeks more than I would have liked. Q week is still hanging somewhere in the balance, waiting for my husband to print the printables I've worked on nearly a month ago now and me trying to figure out how to set up Ethan's classroom space so it works. Throw in some illnesses and a month of November spent with more time traveling than home, and I've found myself getting all sad whenever I pass our closed Tot School door. Ethan still asks every morning in hopes that I will swing open that door and our lesson plans will be displayed in the way he loves to uncover at the start of a new week. I'm laying on the mom guilt extra thick both because I feel it and, well, because we both sorely miss our Tot School time.

I have big plans for Tot School once we return back from our Thanksgiving travels. We have a huge home office that the previous owners removed the closet from -- more space -- that has been sitting unused since we moved in back in, oh, 2008. It holds a futon which normally just houses our laundry pile and a fold-up table from Wal-Mart that has my husband's desktop computer sitting on it and the only time the room gets used is when we need to do laundry. It is my goal to tear that room apart and turn it into a new Tot School space, a bigger space, one where everything isn't on top of everything else. What began as Tot School for a newly mobile toddler became a huge part of our lives and now even a weekly Tot School Co-Op. This space better suits it -- room for mobility, and exploration. Room to grow. With our new classroom in place, I will be back on top of our Tot School game. We won't skip weeks and I'll be prepared ahead of time in the event of illness or some major catastrophe (though I appreciate all wishes that these don't happen, because we've had our share of both).

So, right now Tot School is under construction and I hate it. Ethan hates it. It truly feels as if something major is missing from our days and that's because it is. This past year has been more incredible than I ever imagined when I took the plunge into doing Tot School with Ethan and it is one of the best choices that I ever made. I am trying to push my epic mom guilt aside and letting my mind brew with all of the fun ideas to bring our new Tot School classroom and the way we will shuffle 2013 out the door back in our usual swing of things.

It's been an awesome year.

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