Mom School

Building Morning Routines with The Mess Mat

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The Mess Mat has a lot of great benefits all by itself including a waterproof,
spill proof and clean, designated space to be creative. It is an easy mom-system to implement and use. But one of the other great aspects about using this technique as your free-movement classroom is that kids learn to be structured without being inhibited, directed or controlled. You build a routine for them that they get used to and then they are motivated within that organized space to create and play because they know the rules and expectations.
How I build our ROUTINE:
I use The Mess Mat three specific times per day as part of the routine; Morning, after lunch and evening. See my Toddler Schedule System HERE. My mornings are the most structured, but least guided if that makes sense. I have to do the most in the morning for the boys to be successful, but then I just sit back and watch or play too. I plan it that way because I can prep while they’re still asleep. 
  • Mornings are for quiet discovery and play
  • Afternoons are educational and progressive
  • Evenings are free choice and mom survival

But I have to enable all time blocks accordingly.

There are always options… The creative, fine motor play lesson, the education lesson, a themed book and a discovery box. He can then always choose to play in the Creativity Corner too. 
Our routine is built this way so that when Cash walks out of his room in the morning he is presented with options to dive into. I set out our lunch time activity on the desk, and other choices around the Mess Mat. I don’t know what he’s going to want to do in the morning so I give him options. He can then roam around freely and choose what he wants to do for the blocked schedule. This free-movement gives him a little bit of control.
I put the assumed least desirable lesson {hardest, most educational} literally in his walking path so he HAS to see it first. More often then not he stops at it and gives it a try… He can at least scope it out and know what he’s getting into later. He does KNOW that all 5 tasks will be visited today and that is a huge part of your teacher accountability when using The Mess Mat system beyond just creative play zones. 
Toddlers do like to have a little power once in awhile and giving them choices throughout the day really diffuses a lot of arguments later.
Sometimes he will even want to do our education lesson first thing in the morning, which is great! We then just flip flop the morning and afternoon. Or if he gets all of my education goals accomplished for the day, he can watch a movie. There is flexibility in the routine, and he knows that. He likes the options and the autonomy too.
It gives him a little control over his highly regulated schedule. This is GOOD
for your parent/toddler relationship, trust me!
How are you setting up your Mess Mats at home?
Do you teach in the morning, afternoon or evenings?
Be sure to check in on our Mess Mat Toddler School Activities every morning on Instagram & follow along
with #TheMessMat

Welcome to Mom School! This post is one of many Homeschool Preschool Lessons with #MySweetandSticky {Cash & Wyatt} As a former educator, I wanted to give them their best start before heading into public schools. (Which we LOVE!) On occasion, and throughout the summer, we continue our At-Home Learning. Cash is my Science Guy and Wyatt can’t get enough Sensory Play. Join us for every Sweet & Sticky moment.

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