A true homeschool day isn’t complete without a little tumult, but during some seasons of your homeschooling life the chaos seems to take over. Amidst babies and toddlers, homeschooling can easily descend into complete disorder and a cacophony of small voices clamoring for your attention. Here are a few tips on how to homeschool with toddlers and babies so your home can be more peaceful (and productive).
Pour some love into the littles before you begin your day.
I find if I take some time with each of my smallest kids before we get too deep into the rest of our school day with my oldest, the littles are more contented to play with each other or alone while I’m focusing on my older students. This makes everyone more relaxed. A great time to do this is at or right after breakfast, during Morning Time if that’s something you do regularly.
Work on the same subject at the same time.
This sounds counterintuitive, but I’ve found that if I can involve my toddler with math or handwriting that’s down to her level while my second grader is doing his work, it makes her feel special and “big” like she’s “doing school” too, just like her big bro. This drastically reduces tantrum-throwing in my house. If we’re practicing math facts with flash cards, I’ll pass her a card now and then and tell her what each of the numerals are. She learns to recognize numerals, while he learns his math facts. It’s blissful.
Give them breaks for play.
This tip is the tip of all tips for kid productivity. This works especially well during the winter when everthing is cold and dreary and it’s sometimes hard to focus. Kids and moms alike need breaks from the drudgery with some refreshing play. Get them outside if you can, but inside works too. Whether it’s building a quick blanket fort for upcoming read-aloud time, a game of tag in the backyard, or just plain running around the house and wrestling, everyone is more energized for mental work when their bodies get a little motion. (This is a great book on how the science supports this.) Littles can continue the play while you settle the big kids into the next lesson.
Maybe I’m lazy, but I definitely don’t use this option all the time. But when I do, goodness is it a lifesaver! Here are just a few of my favorite benefits:
- The baby (or toddler) can see what Mommy’s busy doing,
- I have both hands free!
- Baby feels like I’m giving her quality attention & snuggles,
- I can move around,
- And the baby just might end up taking a nap (win!)
And lastly there’s the tried and true…
If all else fails, this one usually works. Everyone will concentrate better if they’re not kicking each other on the couch or taking up each other’s space at the kitchen table. Setting up the littles with a play area away from where my big kid is working is priceless. Even better, and we can’t do this all the time, but we try to get a lot done around here when the littles are napping. The littles have a hard time interrupting if they’re busy snoozing away. Hint: Grab a $25 lap desk for each kid, so they each have a portable, personalized, flat work surface. This way they can comfortably get any kind of work done anywhere in the house. I’ve found these are great for getting work done in the car, too.
And if none of these tips are working for you right now, just remember that the season of having small kids in the house doesn’t last forever. Before you know it, the littles will be the big kids, so try to savor the chaos while you can 😉