Years ago, I had a boss that introduced me to a color coded, “Ideal Day” schedule. It. Changed. My. Life. I had everything scheduled out, short of bathroom breaks. But even then, the perfect time was “white space” time! That schedule made my heart so happy and it really kept me on track. Well, fast forward several years to being a work at home mom, and now my "ideal day" consists of taking a shower or not being chewed out by a two year old.
While our schedule is typically the same, there are those days when we are thrown off by an Oscar worthy tantrum, doctor's appointments, errands or unexpected visitors. So, rather than a strict schedule, I operate on a checklist (which I actually learned to do early on when my son was unpredictable with his nap schedule). I have a list of activities that I want to make sure I make available to my son a daily basis, this keeps me from getting off track and making sure that I'm providing my son with the opportunities he needs to learn through play each day.
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What are the main activities?
I’m glad you asked!
For the most part, this happens after meals while I clean up. Not only is it helpful to me but it’s great for him to learn to do things on his own.
(Usually) In the morning we have Bible time. It’s not too “structured” but it has been a priority to teach my son this habit since day one. I just pull out his My Big Handy Bible and let him flip through. I read the stories as he lands on them. I make it a point to have props on hand that might enhance the story, like our spray bottle for Noah’s Ark! We also sprinkle in songs that go with the stories.
I really believe that music is powerful in many ways. So far, it seems that my son agrees. Every day we make time to dance and sing. And I make sure to keep his instruments within reach.
This could be a splash in the pool, a walk around an outdoor shopping center, a “nature walk” down to the mailbox, playing out back on the "playground" or drawing shapes with chalk! Whatever it is, I like to make sure that every day we get out of the house, whether permitting.
Each day I like to do some type of sensory activity. It does not have to be anything extremely organized. It could be something as simple as pulling out random items from the kitchen (the best place to find sensory fun!).
My son loves his books! His book bucket is within reach to play with at any time but he usually likes to sit down and read before nap time. Right now my son’s favorite book is his iSee Me book.
Albert Einsten said that "imagination is more important than knowledge". Whether you agree with that or not, I think it's pretty undeniable that imagination is an important part of development and I make it a priority to encourage imaginative play with my son on a daily basis. It can be as simple as letting him "cook" while I'm making breakfast or pretending to talk on the phone (which he loves to do).
Some of the activities will overlap. For example, you may sing songs outside. These are just things that I feel are important for my son's development, so I want to make sure I make room for them daily.
I do want to point out, if my son is not interested in certain activities on any given day, we don't do them!
Your list may look different than mine but I think a checklist is a great way to stay on track with providing important developmental activities without being bound to a strict schedule or a structured program. All you have to do is print off this checklist each week, write down the activities and check them off. There's even a spot for making a supply list, if you need!