Oh. You thought I had the answer to this question, didya now? Well, goodness, if I did, I’d probably be a best-selling author by now! But I have learned a thing or two this past year!
When it comes to teaching with a toddler in the room, let’s just say, given the choice, I’d much prefer not to! I was laughing at myself the other day, thinking that even one-room schoolhouses probably didn’t have babies running about underfoot!
When I say toddler, I think of children between 12-24 months, as prior to this time, the baby took a morning nap, and probably after 24 months, he’ll be ready for activities that keep him a bit more engaged.
So what DO you do with toddlers while you homeschool? Here’s a few tips:
Timing is everything
Plan your homeschooling activities around baby’s naps or times when they are most agreeable and self-entertaining. For us, and I imagine a lot of other parents, this usually means first thing in the morning, right after breakfast. Much later, and the baby is hungry, tired, cranky, and nothing will get done.
As with all of life, flexibility will keep you from getting frustrated and disappointed. Build in snack times, transition times, break times, and the ability to swap the order of activities if needed.
Plan activities kids can do together
I hold the baby on my lap on the couch while we read the Bible story and other books, and as reading is the majority of our homeschool program right now, this helps contain him for quite some time. I also like to have our older son “review” concepts with the baby, naming colors, counting objects, ide
ntifying letters. Although these activities are extremely short-lived, it’s usually enough time to transition to or set up another activity.
Have all your lesson plans for your older children prepped and ready to go – supplies, paperwork, etc. Also be prepared with activities for your toddler! Trust me, you can just go on Pinterest and find any number of activity bag ideas for toddlers and homeschooling, but here’s some that work well for us:
- Sticker sheets / paper
- Coloring book / crayons (or just a blank exam book)
- Sensory bins (try this Valentine’s sensory bin!) or tactile squares
- Fill & Spill games (any container with smallish items will do, but lately our son likes stuffing pom poms into a snack cup)
- Magnets on the fridge – these animal magnets from Melissa & Doug are great for this age (Amazon affiliate)
- DIY Flip books – I just stick flash cards into dollar store photo albums for a quick look book for the baby
- Baby magazines are great – I got a Babybug subscription last year and it’s the perfect size and length for teeny ones!
Ask God to guide your homeschool time and bless it with peace (relative!) and success, as well as grace and patience for you, mama! Homeschooling with a baby is definitely a changing and challenging endeavor, and even the best laid plans… well, babies have a way of surprising!
I’d love to say that every day of homeschooling goes smoothly, but that wouldn’t be true, or realistic. We still have
our off days days I am tearing my hair out. But I definitely think when I put all these strategies into play, the day comes off well!
If you have tips to share for occupying toddlers while homeschooling your older kids, please share them in the comments!
Also, visit my friend Courtney at Crunchy Beach Mama to see how her home preschool is going – she’s great at coming up with craft ideas to fit the stories (I go to her before Pinterest even because she knows what works!).