Do you have a toddler exploring your house, delighting in the world of toilet paper rolls and silverware to be dumped? Been there, done that! Most of my years of homeschooling have been spent with a little one wandering the house, looking for attention.
Here’s some of my best advice if you’re homeschooling with a toddler in the house.
You Can Homeschool with a Toddler in the House
Baby Proof the House
This probably goes without saying, but baby proof your house as much as possible. The amount of mischief your little one can find will plummet in a tidy and safe environment. You’ll breathe more easily and your toddler will enjoy exploring the delights to be found in the toy bin.
While you’re babyproofing, also think about keeping safe items for toddlers to explore on low shelves. For instance pots and pans are too large to be swallowed but will keep your little one noisily occupied while you work with an older child.
A wooden spoon and an old pot makes an awesome drum when you’re two!
Homeschool During Naps
Homeschool while your toddler is sleeping. I know afternoon naps interfere with co-ops, activities, and field trips.
But they also provide the perfect time to spend one-on-one time with your older child. Use this time to complete science experiments, history projects, and explain the math lesson.
Don’t treat this time as yet another task to be checked off. Remember, we’re looking to ignite a love of learning in our kids. Use naptime to explore the topics you’re studying, discuss the ramifications, and have fun while you study with your older children.
Special Play Time
Special play time is when an older child plays with a younger child. I love this technique myself and still use it to this day.
The older kids enjoy a break from their morning work while my toddlers adored the time with a sibling. Now it gives my high school teens a chance to hang out with a younger sibling.
With two or more older children, I was always able to rotate children through play time with preschoolers and toddlers. Butspecial play time can even work if you only have two children or have one older child and twin toddlers.
Use the special play time as a time to plan the next week’s homeschool, grade papers, or pay bills.
Use it to give yourself a well-deserved break. After all, seeing mom curled up in a chair enjoying a good book encourages a love of reading in children.
High Chair Activities
If you’re working at the kitchen table, stick your toddler in their high chair next to you while you homeschool.
Give your toddler paint like food such as pudding or yogurt to play with. I never liked giving my toddlers paint, even if it is non-toxic. Everything went in their mouths and who wants their kid eating paint?
Also try crayons, washable markers, or colored water and a paintbrush.
Keep a few toddler puzzles available along with board books. Hand the bath toys to your little one as well. It’s amazing how much fun bath toys are even out of the bath tub!
A busy toddler next to you in the high chair is a toddler out of trouble. You won’t need to worry about silverware being dumped while you teach!
Homeschool in the Evenings
Homeschool in the evenings when your husband is home. One parent can play with the toddler while the other parent teachers your older child. Remember to switch off duty!
The kids get one-on-one time with each parent, and both parents are involved in the homeschool. Try catering to each other’s strengths. If dad loves history and mom adores math, teach what you love.
Make homeschooling truly a family learning experience by pulling out the board games, watching documentaries, and enjoying read alouds as a family.
Divide Up Your Day
Divide up your day in to 15-20 minute segments instead of trying to get everything done in one fell swoop.
Plan on spending a few minutes working on phonics with your older child, then play games with your toddler. Put your little one in the high chair while you teach your oldest a math lesson. Then chase the kids outside to run around.
Life with a toddler in the house means you’re going to be interrupted. It’s impossible to find an hour or two so you can truly focus and get things done.
So bow to the inevitable and plan your time in 15-20 minute segments.
Include Your Toddler
Have all the kids curl up with a favorite book for independent reading. Your toddler can chew through a series of board books while your oldest reads chapter books.
Create busy bags for your toddler to enjoy while your older kids complete their math.
With a bit of thought, you can find similar activities to keep your little one busy with an age-appropriate homeschool while you educate your older children.
Let’s face it. Life with a toddler exploring the house is unpredictable. Plants get dumped, diapers are filled, and toys go down the toilet. Add time into your schedule to deal with the unexpected.
You’ll need a few extra minutes to change the diaper, save the plants, and plunge the toilet.
Build a few extra minutes into everything you schedule during the day. Those few minutes will save your sanity!
Special toys are a life saver when you’re homeschooling with a toddler. It’s best to keep a bucket of special toys that only come out during homeschool hours. I’d also encourage you to rotate through a series of toys.
New toys fascinate little children. By rotating the special toys and only pulling them out during school hours, the toys will be new to your toddler each time.
You’ll have several minutes of quiet play time during which you can tutor your older kids.
Keep a Journal
The worst part of homeschooling with a toddler is you always feel like you’re running behind. Sure you’ve changed a dozen diapers. You’ve fed and clothed your offspring and saved the dog.
But what actually happened in the homeschool?
Keep a journal and write down exactly what you do each day. That’s actually one of the uses for the homeschool planning page of the Homeschool and Day Planner. While I use it to plan the week, I also jot down notes of what actually happened during the week.
Did my daughter read 1/3 page or 3 pages of Phonics Pathways? Write it down!
When you write down what you did for math, for reading, for handwriting, you’ll discover you actually accomplished a great deal more than you thought.
Homeschooling with a toddler in the house is challenging! But with a few tricks under your sleeves, you’ll find it’s not only manageable, but enjoyable as well. Beautiful memories are made of children curled up reading together, coloring together, and playing together.
You can homeschool with a toddler in the house!