How to Homeschool with a Baby or Toddler (& Enjoy It!)

Written by Jamie Martin, editor of Simple Homeschool and founder of Steady Mom

A note from Jamie: I’m on vacation for a few weeks. Picture me, chasing three children through beach waves as we happily go away while others are heading back to school. The advantages of homeschooling, yes?! With the school year starting up again, it seems like a perfect time to replay this post. It was first published on March 8, 2010. Enjoy!

When I was first considering homeschooling, it overwhelmed me to think of teaching multiple children. How do you orchestrate the day so that everyone gets enough attention?

And what if you find yourself blurry eyed from lack of sleep because of a sweet newborn? Or in the races as you daily chase a never-stay-put toddler?

Is it possible to successfully homeschool with little ones underfoot?

If you’ve ever wondered the same, here are a four ideas to keep your smile and your sanity while juggling littles and learning.

1. Practice strategic timing.

Having babies on hand requires doses of both strategy and flexibility to ensure a successful school day.

You may want to plan your most important school subjects for when your little one is napping, so you can focus on your older children. Likewise, you’ll be setting yourself up for failure if you schedule an intense science experiment right as your two-year-old is getting cranky for dinner.

So look at what you need to accomplish in a given day and plan around the needs of your littlest students.

2. Trade off with older children.

Photo by www.nicolesfromtheheart.com

If you have slightly older children in your home, they can be assigned a daily 30 minute block of time to care for or play with your littlest. Older children can practice their reading skills with a picture book as a young child listens. This playtime can take place in an adjoining room, allowing you to supervise if necessary.

This pairing off creates family bonds, allows siblings to develop deep relationships, lets your older child learn responsibility, and provides the practical break you may need to help another child with his spelling.

3. Plan activities.

Rotate a list of activities for your baby or toddler–something he or she can do to feel part of the action during school time.

When my boys were babies they had “Playpen Time” everyday. For 20-30 minutes, they entertained themselves with a few toys in their playpens. This enabled me to accomplish a short task–while knowing they were in a safe place. A homeschooling mother could use this time to work one-on-one with an older child.

Babies may enjoy time in a high chair or exersaucer (or in a snuggly attached to you!). Older toddlers and preschoolers will enjoy a variety of play tasks. I suggest a different box or bag for each day of the week. Bring it out only when you need to work with another child.

Make sure you pick activities that your little one can do without direct assistance (Some ideas: playdough, pouring/sorting beans, crayons and paper, lacing beads, blocks, and so on.)

4. Remember that flexibility is the key.

Photo by Ashlee

The only thing you can predict when you have little ones is that things will be unpredictable.

That’s why you must remember that family relationships are just as important as the other three “R’s.” Through spending extended time together each day, our children develop a closeness and security that will provide a stable foundation to their relationships as adults.

As this lovely article reminds us, the baby is the lesson. So don’t wish your little one away.

Instead kiss those little toes, chase and tickle that chubby toddler, and be thankful for the richness they add to your homeschool.

How do you orchestrate school in your home with a baby or toddler on the scene?

About Jamie Martin

Jamie is a mama to three cute kids born on three different continents. She serves as editor of Simple Homeschool, and blogs about mindful parenting at Steady Mom. Jamie is also the author of two books: Steady Days and Mindset for Moms.

Comments

  1. This year I have a 3 year old and 3 school aged children. My oldest offered to teach him his letters. (yay!) While doing they are working together upstairs, I get a good chunk of time with my other 2. I also have a great “work station” where he can draw, tape, paste, and color to his heart’s content. He also has access to plenty of books on a shelf at his level. He will also wander into the “play area” and keep himself busy and happy.
    When it’s clear he needs me to take a break ***smiles*** we all have snack time. With my 3 year it has not been too much of a challenge to homeschool the others. He knows the routine, he gets to do some school himself, and there is plenty to keep him busy.
    When things are not all peachy, I let him sit at the homeschooling table and work with our “special” math manipulatives, as long as he is quiet. :-) This has really worked well for us.
    Paige’s latest post: My Heritage In Food

  2. I just noticed a whole bunch of typos….sorry!
    Paige’s latest post: My Heritage In Food

  3. This is definitely a concern for me, as I’m just beginning this whole journey of homeschooling, with my oldest being 4 (almost 5) and my other three are aged 3, 2 and 9 months. I know it’s only Kindergarten but I’m just not too sure how it’s all going to come together quite yet.

  4. Thank you for this! THANK U THANK U THANK U!

  5. My youngster has been motivating to be homeschooled for more than a year. Your blog post has inspired me to think again and maybe even consider it seriously. Thanks for this.
    Anne-Marie’s latest post: Kidkraft Grand Gourmet Corner Kitchen Review

  6. I too am jumping into this homeschooling journey with a little one on board. She will be 2 in September, and my schooling boys will be 5 and 6. It’s times like this that I’m grateful my husband works graveyards so he can help watch my dd in the morning before he goes to bed. :)

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