Happy Friday! Today I want to talk about homeschooling with toddlers/babies around. Little ones can sometimes make it harder to get into a good daily routine teaching their older siblings. Here’s a few things I’ve learned over the years that help:
Utilize *down time* as much as possible for the more focused instruction. Babies nap a few times a day – this is a great time for lessons that require more focus! Non-napping toddlers also benefit from quiet time in the afternoon.
Plan ahead to involve toddlers as much as possible in the school day. My tots have always been excited to do what their big siblings are doing – With science or history I’ll sit them down and engage them with simple questions too! Usually their participation involves having a related coloring sheet as their “school.” For math/language I made YouTube playlists so they could learn about a “letter of the day,” also with related letter coloring pages. Toddlers don’t necessarily “need” planned lessons in general, but when you’re trying to school older kids, it’s much easier to plan something for them too.
Sibling Swapping. I’ve seen other homeschool moms talk about this one, though I haven’t personally had to do it very often. The concept here is that you have older siblings take turns playing with the toddler/baby, while you instruct another sibling in their one-on-one lessons. (Ok, this tip was definitely from one of my large family parenting groups ???♀️.) I’ve seen some moms have great success with it!
Shifting instruction time to whatever part of the day works best for the kids. This kind of ties into the nap time tip I mentioned earlier, but even for the older kids there might be a time of day they’re better able to focus. For many years, I didn’t start “school” until late morning/after lunch. I made the kids run off all their energy first ???. Lately, Hayden (9) has found she likes to get her independent work done first thing when she wakes up so that she can have as much of the day to herself as possible. There’s really no reason you have to start at 8am if you find it’s not working for your family!
Have you tried any of these tips before? Do you have any other things that have worked to help your day go smoothly with toddlers and babies around?