Tot School: Look for the Helping People

Wow, what a crazy month it has been!! I remember when the Boston Marathon bombing happened there was a Fred Rogers quote that went around the internet. I wasn't a mother yet, we weren't even trying to get pregnant yet, but I remembered it and thought what a great tool it would be when I had a little one to guide through tragedies. 
Now I am a mother, and the world is no less crazy. Scary things are still happening. My friends in the LGBTQ and black communities are hurting. My child is still too little to understand what's going on. He may not even be aware that something is going on, although he understands a lot these days so I try not to underestimate him. I'm not yet ready to talk to him about these scary things, so instead I'm taking one from Mama Rogers and teaching him to "look for the helpers" in this world.

Since he was about a year old I have made it a point to identify real life helpers to him. (I say a year because that seemed to be about the time he seemed to start paying attention to stuff like that.) We point out police officers, firemen, nurses, the vet, soldiers, etc. Now I have him go up and give them high fives (he's almost two) when he's feeling social. We talk about how it's important to show gratitude and say thank you.

Tot school "lessons" are so simple. We just talk and play. There's no big prep, I just talk to my kid while I sit with him. These are the things we talk about:
  • Naming: police officer, firefighter, doctor, etc.
  • Jobs: keep people safe, put out fires, take care of sick people, etc.
  • Vehicles: This is just identification for the most part, and then I point them out if we see one on the road.
  • Tools: We do not talk about anything violent right now, so there's no mention of guns or handcuffs or anthing like that. I talk about things like their badges, water hose, stethoscope, etc.
  • Uniform: What do they wear and why do they wear it?

What materials/toys are we using?

We've been collecting TOOBS for matching lately, and the Everyday Heroes TOOB has been great for talking about what each civil servant does for their job. (If you're familiar with TOOBS you know that these are a little on the small side, so I would actually recommend spending a little more and getting the Marvel Pretend Career Figures.)
Our local grocery store carries these great little diecast metal vehicles. They are so realistic, and they have a pullback that makes them zoom across the floor. The doors open, and the insides are realistic as well. It's safe to say that we are addicted, and I am just as excited about them as Everett. We've only been able to find two service vehicles there, but there are lots of options on Amazon that are the same price. (Top left, top right, bottom right, bottom left.)

We've been making our own matching cards, but I thought these puzzle cards were a great price and worth the time it saved me printing, cutting, and laminating. I love these because they can be paired together, or with our toys. There's also variety in the pictures; there are people, vehicles, equipment/tools. And they have soldiers which is something that wasn't included in any of the people figurines. I also like these flash cards that have info listed on the back. Great for later when they are reading, and great for now when mom can't think of what to say. LOL.
Everett isn't into playing dress-up yet, but that's another option for learning about helping people at a later time. I also really love felt boards, but haven't taken the time to put one together yet.

Books are of course a great way for kids to learn. Here are some we've enjoyed:

How are you talking to your kids about helpers? 


  1. This is such a great reminder for all of us parents with young children during the trying times that we seem to be facing right now. Thank you so much for sharing. Sometimes the most obvious things are not so obvious, like teaching children about helping people.

  2. Such a cool way to learn! Something that is so important too in this day and age.

  3. This is pretty awesome, identifying the helping professions in a safe way without talking about what they actually respond to is great. And you have some good products here to play with. I like the matching cards idea. We might need to try those.

  4. As a former teacher I LOVE this post!

  5. Such a great idea, and I love that Mr. Roger's quote!

  6. Such a great idea, and I love that Mr. Roger's quote!


Be kind. I'm just a mom behind a computer wearing yoga pants with unwashed hair. -k