In the past couple of weeks, I’ve had a few homeschool moms share with me the challenges they are facing while homeschooling with a toddler who is alive and well in the house. The struggle is real!
Hang in There
My first thought when a friend talks about homeschooling the older children while trying to manage the younger ones is: hang in there. Yes, it can be very frustrating trying to keep your homeschooling on track but don’t give up. You will figure out how to keep it all together if you keep working at it.
One Day at a Time
When things are especially hard, remember to just take one day at a time. If I start thinking about all the subjects I need to teach, all the housework I need to get done, all the papers I need to correct, all the places the kids need to go, I get overwhelmed. Focus on one day and what you can do that day.
Parenting and homeschooling are like juggling. Sometimes you feel great and all your juggling balls are in the air spinning smoothly. Then suddenly the baby needs to be fed, the toddler is dumping crayons all over the floor, and the first grader is yelling that she needs help with her schoolwork. Take a deep breath. The great thing is that this is normal and you can pick the balls back up and get things running smoothly again. There are starts and stops. There will be moments when you feel like everything is falling apart but that’s ok. Keep juggling!
Small Blocks of Time
Little kids switch gears quickly. Their attention spans are smaller and their curiosity unquenchable. If you are planning on doing any one thing for longer than fifteen minutes, you may find frustrations at every corner. Can you get the older ones started and then do something with the younger ones for a few minutes to help them to feel noticed? Maybe having a list handy, of things the toddler can do while the others are working would be helpful. Switch things up every fifteen minutes for your toddler to keep him busy so you can keep doing school work with the older children.
Everybody can use quiet time but toddlers especially require some quiet to prevent them from becoming overstimulated and cranky. It’s ok to put a toddler in a pack n play with toys and books in a room by themselves for an hour. If you are not in the habit of doing that, then it may take a month of starting at five minutes and working your way up to an hour. Homeschooling needs to get done. Period. Creating a quiet time is a healthy boundary in order to make some time for your school-age kids. Naptime is also an ideal time to get homeschooling done. I wanted to get all of our school work done in the morning when my youngest was smaller but he took a two-hour afternoon nap. We had to do school work during some of that time because it made it easier to not be interrupted while the toddler slept.
Homeschoolers have a lot going on all at the same time in the home. Starting your kids at an early age to learn to obey is going to pay off in the long run. If you let the toddler run wild all the time and then give up and put on the TV so you can get homeschooling done you are setting yourself up for continual frustration. However, if you work at teaching your kids obedience every day, then at some point you will start to see the rewards. For example, if you don’t want your toddler to make a huge mess then you have to teach him to obey when you tell him to pick up toys or stay out of the markers.
Homeschooling with a toddler around is not easy but you can make it work if you keep working at it. Take a deep breath, call a friend for encouragement, and focus on what IS going well.
Another helpful tool for making homeschooling with a toddler underfoot more manageable – online curriculum from United Digital Learning. Check it out today . . . at nap time, of course! 😉
Sarah Brutovski is a homeschool mom of three children. She grew up just down the street from where she and her husband are raising their family now in rural Upstate New York. When she is not teaching her kids, grocery shopping, or drinking coffee you might find her training for a half marathon, escaping for a morning at the beach, or chatting on the phone with one of her four siblings. Sarah loves writing on her blog sarahswritingcafe.blogspot.com and currently teaches creative writing at her kids’ weekly co-op.