Homeschooling With Babies and Toddlers
One of the best and worst parts of homeschooling is having babies and toddlers at the same time. I miss it! I did it for nine years. But I'm also enjoying this stage in which my children don't need me quite as much. Right now my kitchen is a mess as we are redoing everything but the basic layout. It's kind of like having a baby or toddler around. Before we talk about homeschooling with little ones, I want to share the…
Teaching Tip of the Week
which is Your Best Homeschool Year Ever Online Summit on July 15, 2016th. I'll be sharing how to organize your homeschool life this year and you'll hear from inspiring speakers like Tricia Hodges who will tell us how to feed our families, Lori Lane who will share how to create a homeschool schedule that works for our family, and Leah Boden who will tell us how to homeschool from a Charlotte Mason philosophy. You won't need childcare for your babies or toddlers to attend this summit.
Organized Homeschool Challenge of the Week
How to Homeschool With Babies and Toddlers
I have a friend who will begin her homeschooling journey this fall. She has been asking some excellent questions like this one: how do you homeschool with toddlers and newborns? I homeschooled for nine years with toddlers and newborns and while I didn’t do a perfect job of it, I do have some things to share.
- The first and most important way to homeschool with little ones is to reign in your expectations. In this regard, I had an advantage because I had never homeschooled WITHOUT toddlers and newborns in my home. If I had, I probably would have been tearing my hair out! As it was, it was all I knew. If you are picturing school at home rather than a home that is a school, you will end up frustrated. Babies and toddlers aren’t allowed at traditional schools. It’s impossible to create the same quiet, orderly atmosphere at home as a classroom teacher can when you have little ones. But that doesn’t mean your homeschool is inferior!
- Recognize that there are advantages to having babies and toddlers in your homeschool. They aren’t an interruption in your school day; they are the reason you are teaching. Having older children experience young children is a part of their education. I taught a college developmental psychology course and had to ask the students to find a way to spend time with young children. The sad fact is that in our lower birthrate, age-segregated society, having a lot of experience with young children is rare. Younger siblings teach your older children to be gentle, patient, and less self-absorbed. The olders learn how to teach the youngers. The youngers learn from their siblings and listen in as you teach the olders.
- Homeschool in the most baby-friendly area of your home. The last thing you need to worry about is the littles getting hurt while you’re explaining long division to junior. The room I used as our primary school room was attached to our playroom. I allowed the youngers to move from room to room as they chose. Lower shelves in our school room had toddler-friendly books and toys. Consider having a box of school time toys that are only available at set times.
- Buy your toddlers the same workbooks as their siblings. David Hazell of My Father’s World does an excellent talk on the subject of occupying toddlers. One of his best suggestions has to do with the fact that we homeschoolers buy all kinds of new school goodies for our elementary kids every fall and nothing for the toddlers. David calls this “Christmas Without Me.” He recommends buying identical workbooks even if it costs you a little dough. The peace you get in return is well worth it!
- Schedule projects that aren’t baby-friendly during nap time. I spent lots of time reading to my older kids while nursing babies. When it came time to do the timed science experiments, the baking, or the obstacle course races, I made sure the little guys were sleeping. Does that always work? Nope! Some days there is no nap. That’s when you reign in your expectations. Tomorrow is another day.
- Schedule play dates with other homeschooling moms with young kids. You’ll discover you’re not alone and your friends will help you reign in those expectations. For several years, I participated in a Bible study with other moms while a teen watched our youngsters. A Mothers of Preschoolers group is another great way to connect with moms in the trenches.
- Make sure you have “me” time. When I had lots of little ones, I had a housekeeper come in twice a month. I also had my niece watch the kids for me a couple of hours every week. Occasionally, I would use that respite time to go on dates with my husband. It helped me enormously! If you can’t afford these options, swap babysitting duties with a friend or clean together. I’ve used these approaches, too. Having some time away isn’t selfish; it helps you to be a better mom and wife.
- Remember that this is a short season. Even though I had nine years’ worth of little ones in my homeschool, it flew by. Now I wonder why I had such a fit about all the books being pulled off the shelves, the toys scattered everywhere, and the lessons we didn’t finish. These are precious days. Enjoy learning together.
Today's Action Steps
Get your ticket for Your Best Homeschool Year Ever. If you're going to be homeschooling with babies or toddlers, expect life to be a little crazy. Know that there's a blessing in the craziness. My kids love young children as a result of being around them in our homeschool. Plan your best homeschool year keeping babies and toddlers in mind. Join the online summit as your “me” time. Remember that you'll be just as surprised as I am that your little ones are going off to college.
Today's episode has been brought to you by The Organized Homeschool Life, your week-by-week guide to homeschool sanity.
Have a happy homeschool week!