Homeschooling With Toddlers

Posted on October 13, 2011 by


As I am currently in my 6th year of homeschooling, you’d think that I probably have all, or maybe most, of The Answers. I really don’t. I think I probably have about 0.5% of the answers. Maybe less. One of the answers I don’t have is what to do with your toddlers when you’re homeschooling. Here are the things that I’ve tried.

1)       Turn on the TV. We don’t watch broadcast TV (unless it’s football or golf sometimes) so, it’s VeggieTales DVDs or movies we’ve purchased for them. If the movie I turn on is rather new and incredibly engaging, then they might give me the 75 minutes and watch the whole thing. What I’ve found is that the kids want to be engaged with me and not the TV. They couldn’t care less about what’s on the TV. After about 10 minutes, they wander over to the school table to see what it is that we’re doing. FAIL.

2)       Make them play in their rooms. This has worked. I’ve been able to get about an hour of (mostly) peaceful school time when I ask them to play in their rooms. The downside is that their bedrooms are absolutely destroyed. Toys, crayons and papers everywhere.

3)       Send them outside. We have a fenced in backyard with a clubhouse/swing/slide set. Especially now that the weather is nice, this is an excellent option. During the summer when it’s 100 degrees out, they don’t want to go outside at all. Nor do I want them spending that much time in the horrid heat.

4)       Give them some paper to color on and tell them to hush up. This actually works, but I must stop every few minutes and give instructions on being quiet. This is frustrating, but I think the toddlers like it best. They can see what we’re doing and be involved. Iceman likes to sit in my lap and bang on the table. This isn’t quite as distracting as it sounds and it’s quite a bit less distracting than him and Banana getting into screaming matches about toys in the next room.

5)       Naps. I often save my schooling for when the littlest ones are napping. We generally start school about 10AM, since that’s when Iceman takes his first nap. He takes another around 2:30PM. Before 10, I have the kids do independent work, like spelling, and I try to spend some time with the little ones.

6)       School when I can. We school in the morning, in the afternoon, and in the evening; we school on Saturday and Sunday if we have to. If the kids are particularly cantankerous, I just stop with school and do something else. Schooling while trying to discipline and wrangle high-maintenance toddlers (as all toddlers are) is nearly an act of futility. It just makes me angry and frustrated. So I stop school and spend some time with the kids or bake something, clean something, waste spend time on this blog. Then I take advantage of those times that everyone is in a better mood. Knowing when to stop and take a breather then pick up where you left off later is an important skill to master if you’re going to homeschool.

7)        Tricks. Put the little ones in a bath tub, and then do grammar in the bathroom. Give the Littles a snack. Go outside for school. Escape to my bedroom with the math and a pupil.

I have asked for advice from people I know who have gone before me and the only clear cut advice I got was to spend half an hour with your toddler before you begin school, that way they feel like they got some time with you and are more willing to play independently. This doesn’t work for me at all. If I give them that half an hour of personalized time, they want another hour. Maybe it’ll work for someone else, though, so I thought I’d toss it out there.

I’ve read a day in the life of at The Well-Trained Mind, and it was very helpful to me. She would fill her kitchen sink up with water, put a towel on the floor and let her toddlers play in the water. I really should try that, however I’m a bit on the OCD side when it comes to messes. Read the Fall of 2000 version of her day-in-the-life-of series. That will make anyone feel like their home school is quite normal. She has posts on schedules and schooling with multiple children that are very interesting.

How did you manage to do school with your older kids when you had toddlers? Do you have any tricks or tips I should be implementing to make my school run smoother?

Posted in: Education