So often homeschool moms ask me, “How can I homeschool the older kids and keep the younger kids from interrupting and making school time so difficult?”
That’s when I take a trip down memory lane to 1994. I felt exactly the same way!
I had been homeschooling Katie Beth, but now I added Julianna to the mix, teaching her to read and basic math. Right after starting my first year homeschooling 2 children instead of just 1, Jenny Rose celebrated her second birthday.
This was a very challenging time for me as a homeschool mom. I found myself trying to get Jenny Rose out of the way during school hours because she climbed all over us, wanted to grab our books and materials, and seemed to be at her fussiest no matter what time we started our homeschool lessons. I found myself neglecting areas of training and discipline with Jenny Rose that I had been very consistent on with the older girls. And it seemed to take forever to finish our lessons!
I was frustrated with her and
frustrated with myself.
The next year went better, although I had to deal with the fruit of the poor training and discipline neglect.
Why The Next Year Went Better
God had to deal with my attitude first.
He showed me that Jenny Rose is not an “interruption” in my schooling but she is a gift and a blessing. (It’s important to remember that when children are toddlers!) The size and spacing of my family was not a mistake but God’s best for me. God also reminded me not to miss this phase of her life—Jenny Rose will never be a toddler again, doing and saying all those cute little things!
After my attitude was dealt with, I had to change my expectations.
Simplifying & Staying Flexible
Simplifying our schedule and
lowering our extracurricular activity level helped a lot. Less is sometimes
more. Then I asked God to show me the simplest and most effective way to
teach. That way I’m not wading through mounds and mounds of useless “busy work.”
Here is what I learned the hard way: I need to interact with my little ones often, which sometimes slows down the schedule.
Often when Jenny Rose was fussy, two minutes of cuddling and hugging in the rocking chair would change her whole perspective on life and allow me to continue schooling. I also need to be vigilant so I could train and discipline as circumstances arose.
Raising children is not convenient for Moms!
Scheduling Time with Toddlers
“Teaching” time with Jenny Rose had to be added to my schedule now since so much was going on with the older children. Being the mother of 3 or more children is challenging and sometimes you have to be very proactive to make sure no child is lost in the shuffle.
I planned time with Jenny Rose to play dolls, work on puzzles, or finger paint.
The New Normal: Older Kids Reading to Younger Kids
I also assigned the older girls 15 minutes a day to read to or “teach” Jenny Rose something fun.
This helped my children grow as readers so much! It also helped my children to bond and to have a nurturing hard for their younger siblings.
Jenny Rose would pick out a book for one of her older sisters to read to her. Or they would play a game or bake together.
Activities for Toddlers While Mom Homeschools
I have met moms that have a special tote for their toddlers that only comes out during school hours for the older kids. I love that! It makes school time for the big kids special for the toddler, too.
Eventually I discovered that Jenny Rose, a very social little girl, like to be with us when we school, but she needed some quiet activities to keep her occupied.
Here are some activities that Jenny Rose engaged in while the older ones were doing school with Mom:
- Playing quietly nearby with blocks, dolls, “Little People”, Legos, or puzzles
- Painting (Paint with Water books) at the kitchen table while we schooled at the same table
- Using her art box (blank paper, crayons, washable markers, coloring books, and stickers) at the kitchen table while we schooled at the same table
- Playing in the “kitchen and house” area (play appliances, furniture, dishes, and dolls) on our screened porch while we schooled in the family room just inside the sliding glass doors
- Putting pegs into the light bright board (unplugged, of course!)
- Drawing on a white board with wipe-off markers
- Coloring a picture and listening in to what we are reading
Over the years I had more children and I realized that all my toddlers learned so much by being part of our school time. Even though they were doing their own thing, they were listening and absorbing information. It also made homeschool something pleasant, not something they were shut out of.
Homeschooling with little ones in the house can be a challenge, but not an insurmountable one! And it all starts with placing high value on our little ones and remembering that they are a blessing, not an interruption.
Yes, schooling looks different with little ones, but it builds kindness and compassion in mom and older siblings—something our world desperately needs!
Resources for Homeschooling
If you are looking for practical advice about homeschooling, you will love Joyful and Successful Homeschooling, available in paperback at Amazon. The E-book is available at PowerlineProd.com, PayHip and TeachersPayTeachers.
Full of tips, practical wisdom, and family stories from our own family that’s been homeschooling since 1991 and is now in the second generation of homeschooling, Joyful and Successful Homeschooling has been a blessing to many homeschooling families with help on management, how to teach, educational philosophies, family dynamics, learning styles, ways to keep your home running smoothly, and help to teach each subject with curriculum suggestions. This book is a one-stop resource for everything you ever wanted to know about homeschooling!
Learn more about Joyful and Successful Homeschooling HERE!
Blessings to you and your family! Please share your own stories and tips in the comments below on homeschooling toddlers.
Until next time, Happy Homeschooling!