There’s always that question when you jump into home school, “What do I do with my kids that are not yet school age?”
I don’t think there was a simple answer to this question. It will look different for each family. Hang in there. Give it some trial and error and you will find a rhythm that works for your family.
Here are some ideas that I hope will give you a good starting point…
Choose a Home School Style that Fits Your Family
Find a home school approach that gives you liberty to still mother your other children.
I think this goes without saying, but consider the needs of the whole family before choosing a style of home school that is going to require intensive parental involvement.
If your approach has you sitting at the kitchen table for three hours, pouring over school with one child while your toddlers and babies run wild…might I suggest another approach?
Keep Lessons Short and Breaks Frequent
Don’t let your kids get to the point of exasperation, keep things moving. Shorter lessons help keep the homeschooler engaged while making the littles more cooperative.
(If you have a high schooler, hopefully they can be more independent. Working on longer lessons that won’t necessarily require your undivided attention.)
Spend Time with the Littles First
Sometimes just filling their ‘love tank’ is enough to satiate their constant pursuit for attention. Maybe some cuddles, or a tickle session is just what they need to give you an uninterrupted morning of homeschooling.
Have Some “School Time” Only Activities
I think this is my go-to. It doesn’t take much to entertain little people. If you pull out things that they don’t normally get to touch or play with, it usually keeps them pretty enthralled.
You might laugh, but these are the big ones at our house: Putting silicone muffin liners in the muffin tin…over…and over…and over, OR drawing on a printable folder…with a dry erase marker…that doesn’t work. (cap on, cap off, cap on,…etc.) ?
ALSO, here are some resources that I’ve made for my preschool-age kids:
Create a Baby-Safe Zone for Roaming and Play
If your space allows for it, create a baby/toddler safe zone. One where you don’t have to worry about them putting small things in their mouth, getting into things they shouldn’t, or hurting themselves on furniture.
Ideally, it would be in sight where you can monitor as you homeschooling your child.
We always start our home school day off with group reading. Everyone is welcomed to sit and listen or play quietly while listening. More often than not, they choose to cuddle and listen.
School is happening and the kids are taken care of—double win. And you might be amazed how much of the information your little ones retain.
Babysitting Practice for Older Siblings
Have an older sibling play blocks or read a book with the younger ones while you get a lesson in with the other child. (Our five-year old is getting great babysitting practice in, she will be worth her hire here in a few years. ;))
Perhaps cartoon time or an educational app is what you need to squeeze a math lesson in. Don’t feel bad, this is just a season, pretty soon those littles will be doing home school as well.
Take Advantage of Nap Time
If all else fails, just wait until the rug rats are napping to get those lessons in that require quiet or parental assistance.
Enlist Dad’s Help
Perhaps there is one subject that is not getting done, or is too demanding while a baby is fussing and a toddler is demanding… wait till dad gets home and let him share in the educating process (or at least watch the littles) while you can give the deserved attention to the task.
What do you do with your littles while you homeschool?
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