I’m back today with another Homeschooling 101 post for you! Today we’re talking about homeschooling with babies and toddlers in tow. I know this can be a challenging time, and I encourage you to set a schedule that works for your family during this time. Don’t worry about what other families might be doing!
Homeschooling with babies and toddlers in tow is a common occurrence for homeschoolers. And while it can be slightly daunting trying to teach math while nursing a baby, and trying to occupy a busy toddler, I can assure you it can be done.
As mentioned previously, flexibility is a key point in homeschooling. Depending on the year, school might need to be arranged to fit the needs of the younger ones in your home.
Here are some tips and tricks to homeschooling with younger children in your midst.
Include your toddler
I know it might sound crazy, but my number one tip to homeschooling with toddlers is to include them in your lessons whenever possible. Even if that means giving them a blank sheet of paper or an old workbook and letting them ‘work’ with the older ones. Not only does it make them feel like they’re part of the group, but it also occupies their time as well. I’ve found that trying to keep younger children separate is actually more distracting to everyone. If you can’t see them you’re worrying about what they’re into, and rightly so. And if they feel they are not being included, they can tend to act out to get attention.
Make school time special
Make a box or set of activities that they are only allowed to play with during school time. Consider the concept of “preschool in a bag” type activities to keep them busy during school time. Whenever necessary bring out their own “special” work for them.
Spend time with your toddler
As I mentioned previously, most toddlers are interested in spending time with you. If you have a small break between helping older students, or while they are working independently, make sure to spend some one-on-one time with your toddler. Read a quick book to them, or play a game with them. A small amount of attention in between helping older students will go a long way towards keeping your toddlers happy.
Give them their own work space
I know it sounds premature, but offing a special work area for your toddler helps give them a sense of importance and belonging. Just like the older students have a work area. If they feel like they have their own special work area, they’re much more likely to want to use it during school just like their older siblings.
Use naptime wisely
The last tip for homeschooling with babies and toddlers is to use naptime as wisely as you can. There were many years where we did our core subjects during afternoon or morning naptime. Some subjects require more of your attention and students need to be able to concentrate. Having a busy toddler distracting everyone might not go over so well. Rearranging your schedule so you are working on those subjects during naptime can alleviate a lot of stress in your day.
We make good use of the iPad in our homeschooling. There are tons of preschool and toddler level apps out there to help not only occupy your toddler, but educate them at the same time. Check out my posts on Educational iPad Apps.
Keep your babies close
If you are homeschooling with a newborn, or expecting one shortly, make sure to plan ahead. Remember that this is just a season, and it will pass quickly. You won’t ruin your children by keeping things simple during this time.
Having a new baby is wonderful, but can also be very tiring. Over planning and trying to do everything as if nothing has changed isn’t realistic. Plan to take a break when you have your baby no matter what time of year it is. Use this time to let everyone acclimate to the new addition and enjoy the time with your new baby while it lasts!
And remember, it’s only a short season, before you know it that little one will be grown up and ready for school!
For more information on curbing whining and complaining in your homeschool check out my Homeschooling 101: A guide to getting started!
If you’ve missed my previous posts make sure to check them out!