Homeschooling can pose many of it’s own challenges in the best of circumstances; add a baby, a toddler, or both and it can quickly become a complete nightmare. Don’t fret, mamas, you’re not alone and there are ways to minimize the distractions. Yes, it does take a bit of juggling, and adapting; but by this point in the game I’m sure you’re quite experienced in those departments! Take heart and keep reading to help get some ideas to make your days less stressful and more productive. Especially make a point to scroll to the end of the post and get your FREE Mama’s Homeschooling checklist!!
We’re in our 13th year of homeschooling and we have run the gamut of distractions, disorder, and pure upheaval during our homeschool days. Enough to make me romanticize about the glorious yellow cheese wagon that passes my house twice a day, and how easily it could whisk my crazy kids off to a day of someone else teaching and training them. And with that fantasy includes my toddlers going to daycare for someone else to potty train, clean up after, and corral all day long. My house would be clean and organize and my stress level would be drastically reduced. But, nope that’s not what God has called me to, that’s simply not the path for our family.
God called me to homeschool a long time ago. I fought it for some time, but literally had no peace and became vehemently ill after putting our oldest into public school for kindergarten. After three weeks we un-enrolled him and never looked back. Oh, I can assure you, I’ve threatened to send them all back, but they were always just empty threats. The days are long but the years are short. It sounds so cliché, but I can’t believe we’re about to graduate our first-born child! Has it been an easy road, absolutely NOT, but it has been 100% worthwhile and exactly what we were suppose to do.
Over the years we have developed a system which works to help keep the chaos to a minimum during our homeschool days. The more children we have had, the more we’ve had to adapt and adjust our homeschooling to accommodate the range in ages and the myriad of needs each child ‘brings to the table’. While there are many facets to our system, today I’m particularly addressing how we handle the babies and toddlers of our crazy crew. Trying to educate older children while entertaining and containing the youngest members of the family can be mighty difficult, but with these few tips I can assure you homeschooling can be done with babies and toddlers.
Homeschooling With Babies & Toddlers
- Give your day over to the Lord. Pray for your homeschool day and trust the Lord to orchestrate it the way that He sees fit. Get done what you can get done and don’t worry about the rest.
- Recognize and accept that you will have distractions. Plan accordingly for phone calls, visitors, minor accidents, and discipline needs. There are a multitude of interruptions that can occur in a day, simply acknowledge this and plan to adjust your day.
- Minimize scheduling events such as doctors appointments and extra curricular activities during your typical school time. Creating a consistent school schedule that children can depend on is beneficial for all ages.
- Don’t compare yourself to the public/private school system or other homeschooling families. What works for one family will most likely not work for another family. Evaluate your family and determine the best schedule, system, and plans which allow YOUR family to thrive.
- Group as much academic lessons as possible. Our family combines bible, history, science, writing, projects, art and all field trips. We start our day doing ‘table time’ which alternates these subjects throughout the week. I add more advanced material for the older ones and make adjustments for the younger ones as needed.
- Utilize all ‘restraining’ devices (lol). Such as high chairs, booster seats, play pins, bouncy chairs, swings, etc. We take advantage of these baby items often, especially during table time. The younger ones can typically be entertained for quite some time in a highchair with some toys or baby snacks.
- Take advantage of nap times. Schedule lessons, especially one-on-one time during baby’s nap time.
- Assign sibling play time. We schedule each of the older children to take turns playing or reading with the younger kiddos, while I’m doing one-on-one with other children. This allows the older ones a small break from school and it encourages a special connection between siblings.
- Set the toddlers to play close by you with quiet toys such as blocks, sensory boxes, and other educational toys which do not make noises. I require my toddlers and preschoolers to play quietly near me feet while I am doing one-on-one with other children. This allows me to keep a close watch on them and helps them to learn to play by themselves.
- Consider homeschooling year round. A year round homeschool schedule has been a major blessing to our family. With this type of system we are able to reduce our workload through high stress seasons and pick it back up after life settles back down. We can easily keep our daily school time to 3-4 hours, which gives us plenty of flexibility and reduces the stress of trying to get so much done in a day. I love that I can plan for a few hours of school, a few hours of home management, and then still have plenty of time leftover to devote to the little ones.
Homeschooling is truly a gift from the Lord, even when your family dynamics create challenges. Learning to ebb and flow with those challenges is perhaps the greatest lessons of the day. Teaching your children to be involve with and help with the babies and toddlers is a life lesson that will stay with them for a lifetime. Building a strong family unit through a homeschooling system which includes all the family members, even the babies and toddlers, will only improve your children’s overall academic experience. So, mamas it’s time to relax, create a simple schedule, delegate junior mama’s helpers, and enjoy your homeschool day.
P.S. To help you keep the chaos to a minimum and stay productive throughout your homeschool days. I’ve create a Mama’s Homeschooling checklist which you can print to help keep track of your one-on one time with each of your children. I simply print off a sheet for each of my kiddos at the first of the week. I write in what I plan to do with each child for the week. Then after we do their lessons I can check off each subject to make sure we’re staying on target for our academic goals. Sometimes it’s the simple things which help us simplify the most, but we’ve found these little checklists to be a super awesome asset to our homeschool days. I hope they will bless you as well.