The following is a guest post written by Erin Walton of Calling it Progress.
One of the lovely things about homeschooling is that the family is home together much of the time.
It is part of the reason many of us homeschool, but it can also be one of the hardest logistical parts, especially with a toddler!
What can you do to keep that little one busy (but not ignored) while you work with your older kids?
1. Spend time with your toddler first.
Make meeting the emotional needs of your toddler the first priority of the day, and often your little one will be more content when you spend time with the other kids.
Cuddle on the couch and sing a few songs together, read a book or two, play together on the floor for 10 minutes- this bit of time gives your little one the attention she is looking for before she even knows she needs it.
But what about your older kids?
Teach them the next habit to make use of the time you spend with the toddler:
2. Teach your older child(ren) to self-start in at least one subject or activity.
Establishing a morning routine that includes toddler time AND the start of school can help you tremendously!
Teach your older ones to automatically pull out one subject or activity–the same thing every day–and get started. This should be work that takes no explanation or supervision from you so that once the older kids are settled in your attention can really be with your toddler.
3. Have pre-made activities or toys ready to go.
Having activities ready for your toddler can help your day run smoothly. If you are constantly trying to find something to keep them busy, then you’re spending all your time trying to keep the toddler busy instead of doing the actual schooling!
In addition to keeping a few key open-ended toys available (trains, blocks, lincoln logs, etc.), I take some time about once a month to set up bags that contain one craft or activity each and put them aside for my three-year-old.
The bags might be a seasonal coloring page I’ve printed, a cutting activity, a sticker page, or something involving glue–these have been wonderful to pull out when he wants to feel like he’s “doing school”. I make sure that these activities are something he can do on his own. When he was younger I never included projects that used glue or scissors, but now that he’s proficient with both we have even more options available to us.
4. Consider providing a separate work space for your toddler.
We set up a toddler table for our boys a few years ago, but recently moved to using a bigger table during our daily work time. The toddler table has become a favorite spot for our 3-year-old!
He loves having his own space for his activities and the space is easy to take care of–the little table tucks under the big one when not in use.
5. Cultivate a hidden stash.
Try to keep an eye for little things that you can pull out on those days when nothing seems to work:
a new sheet of stickers, homemade playdough or “emergency toys” (toys that are only pulled out and played with when mom has to accomplish something NOW) can be the trick up your sleeve to make sure math is learned or grammar explained.
How do you keep your toddler entertained while you homeschool?