One of the things I love about homeschooling is the way that my toddler can participate with her older siblings. She’s soaking up so much knowledge without even knowing it. At the same time, there are challenges that come with homeschooling with a toddler. Here are some tips from my own experiences, as well as my homeschooling friends Anna and Emma, for homeschooling with a toddler.
- Let an older sibling play teacher with some of the younger ones by doing a simple art project or reading them a book.
- Do a circle time together. If you get them started with a few short stories and songs, they will amuse themselves after for quite a while. Fill up their little attention tanks with love, then try to get some work done while they happily play, rather than chasing them off with promises to pay attention to them later.
- Put on a story CD when you need do focus on the older one. Holy Heroes Glory Stories are great, as are CDs by Usborne and Barefoot Books.
- Have lots of easy snacks on hand to keep them occupied and cheerful, and special colouring books for your toddler as well for them to do their “schoolwork” in and feel a part of things.
- Use learning shows like Magic Schoolbus, Zoo Clues, etc.
- Use manipulatives like pattern blocks, stacking toys, dominoes, etc. (make sure they are big enough not to be a choking hazard). Jade can play with coins when her sisters are using pennies for math but I’ll have to be careful with those in a few months when Pearl starts crawling and exploring.
- Provide your toddler with washable felts and crayons, lots of paper, glue sticks instead of white glue, stickers, stamps, etc. and let them be creative while you work with older children. I also have some colouring and preschool activity books that Jade uses, as well as a school “notebook” just like her sisters. A whiteboard or chalkboard can be fun too.
- Use a scanner/printer or photo copier to copy fun pages the school-age kids are doing and let your toddler do the same work and feel included.
- Buy clip boards for all of your kids (even the 1-year-old). You can use them at the park, beach, in the car… endless possibilities for a bit of school and PLAY TIME!
- Know how you roll… Do you like kids crowding in on you or do you need your space? Can you hold the toddler while teaching the older kids or do you prefer if the toddler has his or her own space? Know when you work best together and plan school for optimal times. A happy family is always better the stressed school time!
Are you homeschooling with a toddler? What works for your family?