Overview: Are you trying to do homeschooling with toddlers running around? Try a few of these tips to help make your homeschool days run smoother.
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Oh, toddlers! They’re so cute but so needy.
Homeschooling is challenging on its own, but it can seem like an impossible challenge if you’re homeschooling with toddlers.
Rest assured that you’re not the only mama that is homeschooling with toddlers. Almost every homeschool mom out there has been through this. You’re not alone.
Take refuge in these 10 tips for homeschooling with toddlers.
Include Your Toddler
We love homeschool unit studies. For one they combine multiple subjects into one making your day more cohesive, but they also allow for you to combine all your children.
There are many ways you can include your toddler in your homeschool. Not only does it give them something productive to do, but it also aids in their learning.
Try the following:
- Make a sensory bin or small world that relates to the unit study
- Have your toddler color a related picture while your other children do more challenging assignments
- Let them participate in experiments. Toddlers thrive with activities that involve pouring, stirring, and building.
- Give them blocks, a coloring page, or another manipulative to play with quietly while reading a longer story.
Do Toddler Homeschool
When I first started homeschooling my daughter, I intended to have my son play on the other side of the room. That only lasted about a day before he started asking for his own lessons.
Now I alternate between them for lessons. I’ll do my Kindergartener’s lessons first then I do a quick play-based activity with my toddler. I do this for both math and reading.
This gives them both some learning time with me plus a break in between subjects.
Remember your toddler doesn’t need any formal learning activities. Just plan something quick and hands-on that helps your toddler feel like they’re doing school too.
Plan Around Nap Times
Nap times were always my favorite. Unfortunately, my youngest is done with naps, so this doesn’t work for us. But nap times are the perfect time to schedule the subjects that require more focus.
I would suggest scheduling your homeschool child’s most challenging subject during nap times.
Have Special School Time Activities
When you sit down to plan your homeschool lessons, take a few extra minutes to plan special activities for your toddler. Each week you could plan a sensory bin or busy bag for them to explore.
You could also have a few toys that you keep hidden that you only bring out during school time. Make sure they are toys that keep your toddler’s attention and only bring them out when you need some quiet time to focus on school.
Spend Time With Your Toddler First
Toddlers have amazing attention spans if you let them, but they usually need some special mommy time before you see that focused attention.
I like to follow Montessori’s 3 hour work period theory. She believed that the first hour was where children needed time to get acquainted with their environment.
The second hour was called false fatigue. It’s where the child becomes restless and they may seem bored.
But she believed that if you just let them be bored, you will be rewarded with focused attention in the last hour.
You can follow this theory when homeschooling with toddlers.
Spend the first part of your day playing with your toddler. Once boredom starts to set in, let them be bored and antsy.
Eventually, you’ll notice your toddler start to calm down and have more focus on activities. This is the time when you can start your homeschool lessons.
The first few weeks of this routine may seem inconsistent, but your days will become more consistent if you stick to it.
This routine will also help your older children enter a more focused period to be ready for school lessons.
Set Expectations and Stick to Them
Charlotte Mason’s theory is big on creating habits in your children. It may seem like a daunting task, but if you stick to it, your toddler will be able to focus on something else while you do school.
There are several habits you could build with your toddler. Choose the one that fits the best with your family.
You could try:
- Having your toddler stay on a special blanket to play during school time
- Having your toddler stay in a specific section of the room/house during school time
- Wearing a special hat or placing some sort of visual signal near you to signal to your toddler that it’s school time and you cannot be interrupted
It will take a few weeks to train your toddler to follow this rule/habit, but the effort, in the beginning, will be well worth it in the end.
Invite Siblings to Help
If you have more than one older child, invite them to help babysit the toddler. In our homeschool, I rotate through each child for reading, writing, and math. You could set up a similar rotation and the children who are not working with you are responsible for keeping the toddler occupied.
Start With Family Morning Time
Toddlers thrive on a consistent schedule. They need something physical to signal transitions.
I recommend starting your school day with morning time. Keep it simple, especially for your toddler. Do calendar, weather, and read a book. It doesn’t have to be learning-focused. Use it as a signal to all your children that it’s time to start school.
This is a great way to start your day if you decide to build a habit such as your toddler playing on a special blanket during school time or if you follow the 3 hour work period.
Go Outside First
Once your children wake up and eat breakfast, their energy is at an all-time high. Let them burn some of that off by starting your day outside. Once you come back inside your toddler will be worn out and ready for a quiet activity.
Remember, You Can’t Fall Behind
You are mommy first! Homeschooling should not be your top priority. There is no such thing as ahead or behind. So if the toddler isn’t cooperating, it’s okay to take the day off and just play and build a stronger connection with your children.
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