Homeschooling toddlers is tricky. You sit down to teach a phonics lesson. Your toddler wanders into the bathroom to smear toothpaste all over the walls. Plants get dumped. Books are pulled off the shelf. Why can’t toddlers sit and play with toys for more than 5 minutes!
Homeschool with Toddlers Roaming the House
Amazingly enough it is actually possible to homeschool with toddlers roaming the house. It just takes a bit of planning, scheduling, and preparation.
Homeschool During Naps
Thankfully toddlers still need their afternoon naps. This is a prime opportunity to homeschool older children. You can sit and focus without worrying about what your tot is getting into now.
Nap time is the ideal time to sit down and complete those projects and experiments you really don’t want a toddler underfoot for. For instance during biology my high school teenagers had dissections to complete. Sharp knives and little fingers don’t mix. We waited until nap time before beginning the experiment.
History projects also work better without little fingers trying to eat the paint or gnaw on the cardboard.
Younger children can often complete their entire homeschool during a sibling’s nap time. Sit down and complete phonics, math, and the writing lesson. Enjoy a read aloud without a toddler banging on the piano.
Use nap times carefully and wisely for the parts of homeschooling you’d prefer to complete without a tot underfoot.
Special Time with Siblings
My toddlers have always enjoyed special times with their siblings. This is time to play in their rooms together or head outside. It’s one-on-one time just for them.
Part of my school day has included rotating the older children through playing with the toddler for 30 minutes or so. Sometimes an older child will head outside with the tot. Other times they head upstairs to play with special toys.
I use this time for tutoring the children through their schoolwork. We discuss math, writing assignments, and grammar. I ensure the children are actually completing their independent schoolwork. After all, kids are kids. If possible they’ll play instead of work.
High Chair Activities
Putting a tot in the high chair with an activity also works. This allows us to complete a group time. The toddler is part of morning time, poetry readings, and read alouds. Toddlers love to be part of the family.
It also gives us a unified family for morning time, group activities, and read alouds.
Try giving your toddler a small snack. Toddler toys also work.
Yogurt is a fun activity for toddlers. They can paint their tray with the yogurt and safely eat the yogurt. Personally I never was fond of giving toddlers finger paint. It may be non-toxic but it still isn’t meant for little stomachs.
Keep a playpen or fenced area full of toys. Toss stuffed animals in the playpen and all the other toddler toys. Playpens are great place for storing toddler toys. Pull out the bath toys for toddlers to play with.
When you’re desperate, sit down next to the playpen to work and put your toddler in the pen next to you. They’ll be surrounded by all their toys. You’ll have a chance to explain a difficult algebra problem or do a detailed edit of a writing assignment with your teenager.
Hold Your Toddler
When all else fails, hold your toddler and walk around the house. There were days my youngest son was headed for trouble the moment his feet hit the floor.
Instead of spending the day desperately chasing him, I carried him all day. We walked around the house together. We looked out the window together. And we homeschooled the older children together.
Holding a squirmy toddler isn’t easy, but it’s also excellent exercise.
A good schedule is vital for homeschooling with toddlers. You can plan your homeschool around nap times and special times with siblings. Enjoy morning time while your toddler is eating a snack or playing in the high chair.
Figure out safe activities for siblings to do together and make a list of high chair activities.
With a bit of planning and preparation you’ll be homeschooling with a toddler underfoot like a pro!
How do you homeschool with toddlers roaming the house?
Read more posts from the 31 Days to a Well-Run Homeschool series!