A few weeks ago, I wrote a some posts giving ideas for HOW TO HOMESCHOOL WHILE PREGNANT and HOW TO HOMESCHOOL WITH A BABY. Homeschooling while pregnant or with a baby can be a unique challenge, however in my opinion, homeschooling with a toddler takes the cake! Here are my best tips for homeschooling with toddlers in the house.
Video of My Best Tips for Homeschooling with Toddlers in the House
Toddlers are into EVERYTHING! They pull things out, dump, and scatter. They are little monkeys and can be quite a distraction when you are trying to help your school age kids focus on their work. Is it possible for a mom to homeschool and care for toddlers at the same time? Yes!! Here are my best tips for homeschooling with toddlers in the house.
Give them their own “work” to do to make them feel a part of your school day. Some moms like to create busy bins. Toddlers might appreciate having their own workbox or whatever storage system you have for your school age children’s work. In their bin they can have their “school” work, maybe a coloring book, crayons, busy toys, etc. Let them sit at the table and “do their school work” along with the rest of the crew.
I wouldn’t always include them. You need to have time alone to work with your other children. But including them at the start of the day will give them a good start. Helping them feel included might be just the push they need to then go off and play on their own for a bit.
Establish a Routine for your Toddler
Toddlers thrive on routine. If you don’t have one already, this is the perfect time to establish a routine for a toddler. While a timed schedule can be restrictive for a toddler, a routine instead helps her to know what to expect next. It establishes safe boundaries for her.
Wake up, get dressed, brush teeth, make bed
Outside/Inside Play (depending on weather)
Read aloud to them
Snack and play time
Take Your Toddlers Outside!
Being outside is such a great place for toddlers because there is so much to engage their senses outside. This is important for kids who are at a stage where they are exploring and learning mostly through their five senses. They can’t communicate or reason very well yet, so everything they see and hear and smell stimulates their curiosity.
A fenced in yard is so useful for everyone to be able to go outside. You can be available to school kids who might be working at a table and also keep an eye on your toddler playing in the yard. If you don’t have a fenced in yard, let them play on the deck or patio with a water table or a dish pan with soapy water and cups.
When the weather is too cold to be outside for too long, it is still helpful to take them out, even for just a little bit. Yes, dressing them for the weather takes a bit more work, but being outside can be a great mood changer for everyone.
The biggest reason to taking toddlers outside is that it wears them out! So for that reason alone, it is worth the work!
Put Things Out of Sight and Limit the Toys That Are Out
It took me having about 3 or 4 toddlers to figure this out, but wow, was it a lifesaver! One day when I was in the thick of homeschooling a few of our older kids, I went down into the basement to find that the toddler at that time had gone down and pulled everything off of our shelves and dumped it. It was such a mess. It took me over an hour to clean it up. This was not the first time this had happened, but this particular morning, I decided it would be the last.
I went online and purchased a few small wardrobes with doors. I put (almost) all our toys, especially the ones with small parts: puzzles, Lincoln logs, blocks, etc into these wardrobes. Having the toys out of sight really helped us to be able to get out activities as needed, but also not have them accessible to destructive hands. (Having doors on the wardrobes was enough for that toddler, but if needed, I would have put locks on them.)
Give Your Toddler Snacks in Their Booster Seat
Giving snacks to a toddler in their booster seat can really buy some time while you are working with your school age kids at the table. If you do this at a regular time, for example, a mid-morning snack, they will gradually be more content to sit there and play for extended periods of time.
Make a List of Entertaining Activities
This is one that I learned in a moment of desperation. Once when I had the (all too familiar) scenario of trying to work with my school age kids while my toddler was monkeying around the house pulling out one thing after another, I desperately pulled out a sheet of paper and wrote down all the activities that could hold her attention for short periods of time. I took this list and put it on my refrigerator so that when I was in that overwhelming moment, I didn’t have to think. I could just refer to the list and pick an activity for them to do.
Need some ideas to keep your toddlers entertained while you homeschool? Take a look at my list of busy ideas for toddlers. Sign up for a FREE printable download.
Wear a Toddler
Often moms will wear a baby while they are working around the house to help them to get things done while homeschooling. But don’t forget that you can wear a toddler too!
I often wear my babies in the first several months, but then when they start walking I wear them less and less since they want to be down exploring. BUT when they hit that 18ish months stage and tend to get needy and whiny, I sometimes forget how helpful it can be to wear a toddler.
Get Things Done During Nap or Quiet Time
Toddlers need a nap time, but I think moms need toddler nap time even more! When toddlers nap in the afternoon, this a great time to do the things you aren’t able to do when your toddler is up. Read aloud to your older kids, work one on one with whoever needs help, catch up on house work, or if needed, take a nap!
What if your toddler is slowly not needing a nap any more? Then make it a priority to have a quiet time. If she has difficulty learning to stay in her room or bed (or wherever she has quiet time), it is worth stopping everything and taking the time to teach her to stay quiet for quiet time.
If you have a young toddler who is moving from two naps to only an afternoon nap, it may be helpful to still have a 1/2 hour or so of morning quiet time in her crib every couple of days.
If a toddler is unhappy, here is a rule of thumb I try to remember. Whenever a toddler is inconsolable, fussy, or generally cannot be appeased, she is probably tired and needs a nap! This can be easy to forget in the moment.
Moms With All Young Kids
Finally, if you are a mom with all young kids, please know that this will get easier! When your oldest child is in Kindergarten or 1st grade and you have younger children at home as well, it can be such a juggle to manage everything because your kids are ALL dependent on you. They can do so little for themselves.
Additionally, you are probably just trying to find your way with a curriculum, schedule, and a community of homeschooling friends. Maybe you’re even questioning if you can do homeschooling.
As your kids get older, they become more and more independent. Also, with experience, you find your rhythm in homeschooling and it becomes familiar territory. So, if you are a mom with all young kids, hang in there! It gets easier AND the benefits of homeschooling are worth the temporary challenges of homeschooling with a toddler!
For more of the best tips for homeschooling with toddlers in the house, read THE ULTIMATE GUIDE TO HOMESCHOOLING WITH BABIES AND TODDLERS from the blog The Simple Balance. This article has links to 20+ blog posts from experienced homeschool moms specifically on the topic of homeschooling with toddlers.
You might also enjoy this interview I had with a fellow homeschool mom of littles JUGGLING HOMESCHOOLING AND PRESCHOOLERS: AN INTERVIEW WITH BETH.
Resources and Encouragement
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Also find inspiration for your homeschool by checking out my gallery of MOM INTERVIEWS!