Toddlers and Homeschooling: The Age-Old Question {7QT}

Friday, August 30, 2019

Our homeschool rhythm has changed this year and I'm not gonna lie, I was a little nervous! Last year my mom took Peter and Edith for an hour or two in the mornings so that I could get school done relatively unhindered. But this year she's started a new teaching job, so I'm on my own Monday/Wednesday/Friday! I knew it was time to pull out my WHOLE bag of tricks to make this work, and it's only been two weeks but... It's going well!

Here's what has helped with "managing" toddlers/preschoolers and homeschooling:

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 Special "school time" toys!

I have some Montessori-style "works" on trays near the table where we do our school, and also a few special toys that I keep mostly inaccessible so that they only come out when we're doing school. They're mildly educational (See and Spell and Pattern Blocks in particular), generally have lots of pieces (I'm looking at you, magnet dolls and little church), and are still easy enough for toddlers to sort and put away themselves. Each individual activity/toy will generally buy me 10-15 minutes of quiet time to get a lesson in!

When Peter was 2 & 3 he was obsessed with "big kid" legos, so I used an old Melissa and Doug tray for a little lego set for him that would only come out when we were doing school, and he would play with it the entire time! Know your audience.


 Feed them.
Maybe they want two apples at the same time. Maybe they want that special snack that you usually don't let them have. Maybe they need second or third breakfast.


If it keeps them quiet, it's generally allowed so that we can get school done. Sometimes the food becomes a "sensory experience" and then there's mess to deal with afterwards but... It's worth it for the quiet it buys.


 Who says you have to wait to take a bath?

One winter Peter was exasperating me so much that I just started letting him take mid-afternoon baths almost every day. He didn't get washed, he just poured water in the tub for ages. But it gave *me* a break (side note, these Boon Pipes and Gears are amazing) and he was good enough that I knew he wouldn't drown or pour water all over the floor. Your mileage may vary, but I'm totally using this strategy again when times get tough this year.


 A box is a magical thing.

What toddlers don't love climbing in and out of boxes, making them into trains/beds/rocket ships/whatnot? If you can, sock away your giant boxes and pull them out for those insane mornings when the toddler is ripping the history book out of your hands and you need a distraction!


Just let them dump it.

Toddler wants to dump all the duplos out of the bin? Fine. Toddler wants to dump Cheerios on the floor and eat them like a puppy? Fine. Toddler wants to dump water all over the place instead of carefully pouring it? Fine (outside).

Yes, it makes a mess. But you don't have to clean it up, you've got big kids now! And while they may complain about having to clean up somebody else's mess, it doesn't hurt to remind them that you cleaned up ALL the messes for the first several years of their lives, so it's time for some payback (I mean, cheerful giving. God loves a cheerful giver. Also offer it up, kids.).


Toddlers love special art supplies, too! (But don't be an idiot)

Do not leave them unattended with watercolors. Duh. (Don't ask me who might have done that just last week because it certainly wasn't me, I'm an all-knowing veteran by now)

But the older kids tend to get nice new art supplies when the school year starts, so why not grab some Twistables for the younger kids (bonus: they can't peel the paper off them like regular crayons, and they don't break nearly as easily)? Then get them each their own special workbook or coloring book, or be smart and buy some nice printables like Rebecca's incredible coloring page bundles and your big kids will be clamoring to color some, also!

Side note: These are actually amazing for the older kids to color while you read aloud to them, and I much prefer it to what my kids were doing, which was drawing Pokemon... And a lot of them are based on paintings by the great masters, so you can combine it with picture study!

You can also grab this digital bundle that Jenna is offering (for a super-low introductory price! and that gets you access to all future coloring pages too!) and print off simple coloring pages that correspond with feast days - toddler-friendly AND you can check the "liturgical living" box!


But when it comes down to it, you may very well have a feral toddler who cannot be tamed. You may have a child who will only nap with you next to him. You may spend the entire year trying to keep a climber from scaling the latest death-defying height.

And... It's okay.

Maybe the lesson this year is teaching independence to older kids. Or learning how to use audiobooks effectively. Or reminding yourself that in the grand scheme of things, it's okay not to check every school box if it means fostering a loving family environment.

The school work will always be there. But those toddlers grow up FAST!

Linking up with Kelly! Check out other quick takes on her blog.

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