Monday, September 19, 2016

How to Keep Small Children Busy While You Homeschool

One of the most asked questions that is asked when I write a homeschooling post is:

How do I keep my toddler busy so I can actually homeschool?

Homeschooling can definitely get crazy sometimes and even crazier if your toddler is not cooperating! I have found that different things have worked over the years according to our family size, season, and routine. There is really not a one size fits all kind of answer but I definitely want to share some ideas what helped us.

One of the things that has helped us the MOST is having my students work more independently. We have 9 children (two graduated now) and the more they were able to accomplish on their own the better. I purposefully selected curriculum that would help us do that and it has proved to be a blessing over the years. Math was always a challenging class for us until I moved to Teaching Textbooks. They are a game changer and now my kids love math!

It helped to print what their daily schedules looked like in the beginning of the year so that they knew what was expected from them and that they wouldn't have to ask me every single day. This would include things like "Read 3 pages in History a day".  I would not write the pages in because if they got sick or something else happened (like a spontaneous field trip with dad) we would feel like we were behind. We would just pick up where we left off and avoid all the scheduling headaches. I also like to give them a quick briefing every morning to help direct them that day.

But with that said, even the most organized routines can collapse under the hand of a busy toddler or small child if we are not mindful to keep them busy!

So here are a few tips that can help:

1. Have them "do school" alongside your students - this will work for some children but not for all. Some children will sit happily and quietly next to their siblings while they are doing school just so they could be like them. Others might last for a few minutes and start making too much noise for the older students to concentrate. This one completely depends on your child. Keep some "school supplies" around just for them with special pencils, stickers, workbooks, and the like.

2. Older children take shifts with the younger - I have many students so they like to rotate and take breaks playing with their little sibling. It gives them a break from doing school and gives them something different to do while spending "special" time with them. It is great for them to get one on one time with them to build a stronger relationship with them too.  If you are not sure what they can do together check out #5 below.

3. Schedule a nap or down time - I know moms who strategically schedule nap times around key subjects so that they can get the work done quicker. You could also have a time where a child just looks at books, watches a movie, or has blanket time and stays on a blanket to play quietly.

4. Let them play with water - My daughter loves water so I have a sand and water table on my deck and we fill it with water and sand when the weather is good. Yes, it can be messy but makes for a very happy small child--just make sure they are supervised with an older child who is on break. I have heard of moms using shaving cream and bubbles as an alternative. You can use one for indoors too like the Kitchen Spark Sink (or this Splish Splash Stove), when my daughter got hers she plays with it for hours!

5. Have a routine - some children flourish with a routine. Book Time, Snack Time, Outside Time, Playdoh Time can all be things they look forward to and helps the house to be more quiet.

6. Keep a stash of toys they normally don't use on hand. I have some small bins in my daughter's closet that is only for school time so that she would be in it interested at that time.  I really love wooden toys especially from Melissa and Doug.

Here are a few of my favorites:

I hope these tips were helpful--what tips would you add for keeping small children busy?

Leave them in the comments!

Note: This post contains affiliate links--thanks for your support!

1 comment:

Sarah Beth said...

Great list! I have a one year old baby boy with another boy on the way, so it will be a few years before utilizing these ideas. But I love reading how you homeschool your children as I aspire to do the same!


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