Suzanne's Top Ten Suggested Solutions for Handling Homeschooling While There's a Toddler in the House (Or Two)
- The Containment Solution: Enclose small children in a playpen, playroom, or an outside deck where they can be seen easily enough. Give them balls or favorite toys that are only used during school time.
- The Great Outdoors Solution: Weather permitting, take it outside. Small children are usually happier outdoors. While they swing or play in the sandbox, you can work with older children at a pic-nic table.
- TV/Books-on-Tape Solution: While we don't want to just "plug" our little ones in and forget about them, we shouldn't feel guilty about buying time in this way, especially if we choose wholesome entertainment.
- Make the Most of Nap Times: Need I say more?
- Whole-Family Education: As much as possible, plan activities in which the whole family can participate, each at their own level. Take a nature walk, tour a museum, or go to the zoo. At home indoors, read lower age level books so all can follow along. One of our favorite "whole-family" books is an illustrated dictionary. The younger children like the illustrations, the preschoolers build vocabulary, and the older children learn second or third meanings of words they already knew.
- Change Your Perspective: Look at the whole day, or maybe even the whole week as an opportunity to get work done. Do not limit yourself to the first few hours of the morning Monday through Friday. While those hours are generally the best for concentration, they may not work for you and your family every day. Also, rethink where learning is done. Use driving time and times when you are folding laundry or preparing food to work one-on-one with a child. (Tip: Clipboards are very useful for making worksheets portable.)
- Use Smaller Blocks of Time: I suppose this is a corollary to the last one. The logic is simple, buying 10-45 minutes from a toddler is easier than buying 3 hours.
- Rotate Subjects in the Best Time Slot: Determine the time slot in which you get the most done. Is it first thing in the morning, nap time, or in the evening when Dad is home? Rotate the subject studied in that time slot to gain a more uniform benefit.
- Get Some Help:If you don't have older children to help out with the little ones, consider getting some extra help. A mother's helper or a grandmother could make life a little easier at this time.
- Make A Plan: No one of these solutions will serve you all day, every day. Variety is key to keeping the little ones happy and you on track to providing all the children with a well rounded education. Take some time each week to lay out a reasonable plan of action. For example, solution one may work well on Mondays and solution three on Tuesdays...etc.
11. If You can't beat Them, Let Them Join you: My little ones liked being at the school table with us and having their own "work" to get done. Scissors, crayons, glue and Kumon books are great for this. Button sorting on a mat or playing in a sink of soapy water nearby works well, too.
12. Hold Em and Teach: I think I'll be homeschooling with Micah in my arms most of this year. He's happy so long as he's with me. He'll be grabbing at everything and so I'll keep some baby toys handy.