TOT SCHOOL: The letter A

So we finally decided to jump on board with “Tot School.” I felt like I wasn’t giving Eva enough structured play time. She’s always been very independent and seems to prefer exploring and playing on her own. Lately she’s been really interested in learning, though. Her favorite thing is numbers, and she learned 1-10 without much formal instruction. So I thought I’d follower her lead and start actively teaching her things. I’ve found two really great resources, The Kavanaugh Report (the author of which is also an “attorney-at-mom”) and 1+1=1 (where I downloaded all the printables from this week for free!).
Because she seems to have the basic numbers down fairly well, I thought I’d start Tot School with letters. Each week, I’ll be choosing a letter, color, and shape to drill into her little head. I don’t know if I’ll update on the blog every week (I guess we’ll play it by ear), but I’d love getting feedback and ideas from anyone else doing Tot School.
The first week went pretty well. We did about 3 10-minute sessions every day. That’s all Eva would allow for now. At least one of the sessions each day was focused on the letter A (where I put the strongest focus) and the other sessions had other things involved as well. The color and shape thing ended up being more of a light focus.
There was one thing that went on that tested my patience, though. Eva started Tot School at least knowing A, B, C, and a quite a few other letters down the line. She would “sing” the alphabet and play with those little letters that stick to the side of the bathtub. But this week, whenever I pointed to “A” and asked her what letter it was, she would say, “M.” I KNOW she knows it’s an A. If I asked her where the A was among a few other letters, she’d point to the A. If I asked her to sing her ABC’s, she’d sing at least the first few letters correctly. If I showed her a picture of A with an apple next to it, she’d say, “A, apple!” But when I simple pointed to an A and asked, “Now what letter is this, sweetie?” she’d respond, “M.” This went on ALL WEEK LONG. Yes, she’d answer correctly every now and then, but not most of the time. It got to the point where I thought she was just saying, “M” because she realized how crazy it was making me. Don’t get me wrong, I tried to remain very calm and patient. I corrected her and encouraged her and moved on. But Tot School made me realize one thing- I could NEVER EVER EVER be a teacher. I simply do not have the patience for it. I’d be one of those teachers you’d hear about on the news for just walking out of her kindergarden class and driving away without notifying anyone. Some kid would be found wandering in traffic outside of the school an hour later…

So it looks like Tot School will be a learning experience for both of us. I will need to work on my patience. I’m a stay-at-home-mom now, and this does not mean I get to sit around, sip wine, and watch novelas all day. (Darn it.)

But honestly, aside from that, we both had a lot of fun with Tot School. I mean, you can just see it on her face:

 For this exercise I just drew a line of A’s at the top, then I took her hand and guided it to draw the A’s you see on the bottom. After that I let her just scribble wherever she wanted:

This exercise called for drawing a line from the big A to the little A. I took her hand and helped her do the top and bottom one, then I let her do the middle on on her own.

 For the next activity I just went around the house looking for anything I could find with an “A” on it and let her organize them in the apple.

You are supposed to have a red dot thingie to mark all the A’s for the following exercise but I didn’t have one so I just let her circle them. I circled a bunch of them and then let her take over. She’s actually pretty good at drawing circles.
For this exercise I let her try to match her flashcard numbers with the numbers on the printouts:

For this exercise I told her to draw on the shape as I called them out, but she lost interest and just started drawing everywhere after a while.
And here’s a little something I made myself. I didn’t want to just print shapes out because I wanted to be able to utilize it not only as flashcards that I can take with me on the go, but also as a supplement to her shape sorter toy thingie. I wanted to be able to give her a star and say, “Match the star,” for example. So I just traced them with a permanent marker. It’s not my prettiest work but it gets the job done. Eva loved it, and got all the shapes first try except for the oval, which she confused with the circle.


  1. I think its great that you want to start teaching Eva yourself. We’re doing at-home preschool work, ourselves, and I know firsthand your frustrations! My oldest is 4, and I *know* she knows her letters, which ones make which sounds, start different words, etc. But there are still times when she does the same thing – tells me something other than the correct answer. Not because she believes it to be true, but because she is messing around. But I’ve also spoken with other moms — moms who were once preschool or kindy teachers, who have the same problems. Sometimes its just a matter of different learning styles. I guess thats a drawn out way of saying: Don’t let it get to you! : )

  2. Teaching kids, especially young ones, is very tough. I used to teach English to Russian twins. They were three years old so they barely spoke Russian at this stage. It seemed crazy, but they did pick things up slowly. Kids have such a short attention span, but they love to play so my best teaching tip is to switch things up as often as possible (a minute or two per activity) and if they want to go off and play just go with it. It does sink in eventually.

  3. “I’m a stay-at-home-mom now, and this does not mean I get to sit around, sip wine, and watch novelas all day.”
    Funny! I’ve been a stay at home mom since Eloise was born [well, stay at home wife since I was 20 weeks pregnant] and it’s exhausting, I can’t wait to start part-time work.

    Anyways, I’m so glad you’re doing Tot School. I’ve been reading The Kavanaugh Report for a while and I’m looking forward to Eloise being old enough to really enjoy something like this!

  4. I never thought I would have the patience to do what I do. I’m much more patient now than in the beginning, but I don’t know how it happened, LOL. My little Bo teased me too, in the beginning. Here is an idea that I use with my little ones – I pretend *I* don’t know what something is and they feel so smart telling me. I especially love to do this to test them in what they know. Btw, I love seeing the printables in action – we are on letter Ww and while I am ready to be done with this series, it was a good one! Enjoy!

    {Visiting from 1+1+1=1!}

  5. Oh your little gal seems a lot like my Ladybug! She LOVED Tot School Printables! Oh, and I AM an early childhood education major, former Kindergarten teacher but my own kids drive me BONKERS most of the time. Patience is not my strong point as a homeschooling momma. I am definitely a work in progress. 😉

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