Homeschooling with Toddlers

Homeschooling Toddlers

Homeschooling with toddlers is for seriously brave mothers. Babies sleep, nurse, and ride around on your back. Toddlers, on the other hand, prefer to grab the pencil out of your 8 year old’s hand, climb onto the center of the table and track tempura paint all over the newly finished oak, and empty the recently organized cupboard while you’re busy explaining the intricate process by which you find common denominators to the 12 year old.

Search-and-destroy toddlers are delightful if you have only one and he’s the oldest and you’ve been running 10Ks and working out with weights for the past four years. They require physical energy (rather than the oh-so-scary and exhausting psychic energy of teens… don’t get me started).

What happens, though, when that toddler turns twelve and you’ve (in a moment of passion) decided to add a few more kids, at least one of whom is now a toddler demanding that you re-up your gym membership right while you want to snuggle up and do read aloud’s rather than swinging from playground apparatus?

The best and worst advice is “it gets better.”

Gee, thanks. But it does.

In the meantime, here are a few things that sometimes worked.

  • Do quiet activities or those activities that involve you when the toddler naps. It is tough if you have a baby and toddler who refuse to sleep at the same time. It is equally tough to work during the nap time if you yourself need a nap (and deserve one). Still, on the days you had a protein shake and the babies and toddlers crash, DO something you’ll feel proud of (don’t clean the toilets).
  • Give your toddler the prime seat. During reading time, I would let my toddlers sit next to me. The youngest got to sit the closest, theory being that the oldest had already sat next to me during the years the toddler didn’t exist. And we did repeat this explanation almost daily for years because “It’s not fair….”
  • Electronics. There I said it. You all know you do it. I did it. Get out your age-appropriate DVD’s, tablets, and iPads. So far, only one of our five kids is turning out poorly. (joking!) But I’m serious about the electronics.
  • Remember that everything you are trying to accomplish can be taught at other times of the day or week. If your toddler is happy playing with dad on the bed at 7 p.m., that’s the perfect time to run flashcards for the times tables with your ten year old. If the toddler is happily making a mess of a banana in a high chair at 3 in the afternoon on a Saturday, grab the older children, set the timer and do a freewrite. Remember that you are at home and not everything has to happen on weekdays, in the mornings.
  • Swap toddlers. Find a friend who is willing to take yours for an afternoon and do likewise for her. There is nothing like knowing your child is happy. Of course, four out of five of mine hated leaving my sight so it only worked one of the years. 🙂 But that was a good year!

The main things to remember about little babies and kids under three feet tall… they may get underfoot, but they will grow up. In the meantime, there is nothing that you can’t teach any child later. I mean it. Even reading. The most important job of a mom at home with lots of kids is to create an environment that fosters an interest in learning and a desire to be together. Families who like each other learn better than those who don’t.

Create an environment that fosters a desire to learn and be together.

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So try not to blame your babies and toddlers for being who they are.

Embrace them. Help your older children to embrace them too.

Before you know it, they’ll be packing boxes for college and breaking your heart.

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This year’s toddler is next year’s preschooler.

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