I approached a woman in my church who has become the go-to person for all things homeschooling. She has graduated three highly intelligent girls and still is in the process of schooling her younger two. She has been in charge of the local community homeschool co-op for years and is highly resourceful and knowledgeable. I approached her about how in the world one can handle homeschooling with a newborn! I currently homeschool three children six and under. The thought of adding a newborn to the mix just makes me nervous! Her response, “Newborns are easy, it’s those toddlers you need to watch out for,” she says while glancing down at my ever-so-sweet yet curious little girl.
Newborns may tire you out but it’s the toddlers that you need to keep your eye on constantly! I have come across mothers with several little ones nervous about beginning homeschooling because they don’t know what to do with their toddler. Most of the time they are remember how their older child was as a toddler and don’t want to have to deal with similar issues while having to homeschool! One statement I love from Gary and Ann Marie Ezzo, authors of the Growing Kids God’s Way series is that when a child is born, they are born into a family unit. Meaning, the husband and wife should already have an established “family” with goals, routines, morals, etc that the child comes into.
Many times when a child is born, life is now centered around them, primarily because we don’t know any other way. That is typical in our current society. But when we welcome a child into our already established family unit, there is security and freedom for that child. I am finding that same principle true with homeschooling. When you have your first child, yes, you are learning how to establish structure and routine with your schooling. It may seem a little hectic at first, but once it becomes an established part of your family’s lifestyle it will be a smoother transition when child number two, or three, enters the scene!
For example, when you go to church or other commitments each week, it is not an option for your child. They learn to adjust and so do you. It’s the same thing with schooling. When a child realizes, even at a young age, that this is what is expected of them no matter what, the transition becomes much easier.
5 Ways To Include Your Toddler In Your Homeschool
1- Create a Space
Whether you use desks, the living room couch or your backyard as your schoolroom. Provide a “space” for your toddler just as you do your older children. If your older kids have their own areas to learn or their own desks as mine do, provide one for your toddler! They will feel special and a part of what is going on. If you do workboxes, folders or journals for each of your children, include your toddler as well! It may mean more work for you in the beginning but it’s getting them into the habit and routine.
2- Find Multi-Age Unit Studies
Pick a subject or two to do with all your children together. I prefer Bible, science and some aspects of history. Also, depending on their ages, if I have a pre-schooler then we will do a study together where we learn a “letter a week” and incorporate many crafts, books, worksheets and activities with that letter. Perfect for including your toddler who will pick up more than you might realize! Even if it seems as though your toddler won’t sit still or be a part, make the activities engaging and allow them to be included. If they are included in some of these subject then they can go and play with toys geared towards their own age when the older students are working on writing or math.
This is where I can tend to use up most of my printer ink, printing out coloring pages and worksheets for my little ones! If the older children are learning about penguins for example, I would print out a cute penguin coloring sheet from online. This works great for holidays too, the older kids may have a lesson about Thanksgiving or Columbus day so I’ll print out some coloring sheets for my toddler as well. Sometimes I just keep coloring books on hand to keep my toddler busy while the older ones are doing their work.
4- Read Alouds
Read alouds have been a huge part of our schooling this past year. My older children could listen, understand and dictate back to me what had been read. This is usually my favorite part of the day. I used to let my toddler go off and play by herself during this time but now I like to include her. It’s a great opportunity to teach her and prepare her to stay still for longer than three minutes and again, it’s important that she feels included!
5- Toddler Friendly Activities
Most of what I have mentioned includes your toddler with the older students. But obviously they are not going to be able to be a part of every single subject that you are teaching the others. Toddlers need time on their own to discover, learn and be engaged in a way that is on their level. I like to have different puzzles, games, educational toys, etc that she can play with during certain times of the school day. Sometimes it is because the older ones get jealous that “she gets to play while we work!” I simply tell them that when they are done with their work they can play as well!