We started homeschooling our oldest at the end of his kindergarten year, when our youngest was almost a year old. I didn’t know what I was going to do with him. How was I going to school one young child who needed a lot of attention, while still caring for a toddler?
Of course, I went to my main resource when I questions like these, my mom (a.k.a. Grandma from Grandma’s Corner - She’s great! Go check her out!). She said, “Why don’t you have special toys for him just to use during homeschooling time?” Great idea! Why didn’t I think of that?
So I put together a few toy boxes. I gathered shoe boxes and put special toys in each box. I put the boxes on the top shelf in my boys’ closet and took one down at a time when I needed it. I also put a blanket up there to be his “schooling blanket” as well as put aside some special books for him to look through. He needed to stay on his special blanket and play with his toys. This gave him boundaries that he needed to stay in. This worked great. When I noticed that he was getting a little fidgety, we would pick up the toys and put them back into the box. Notice how I said we? I would use this time to teach him how to put his toys away. This teaches him and also takes time. It actually would turn into a game for him.
Once the toys were put into the box, we would put the lid on the box, and I would switch out the boxes or give him some of the special books. This would continue until it was time for his morning nap. I would have his older brother work on something that wasn’t difficult for him while I was trying to put him down for a nap.
Once he was down for a nap, this was the time I would do the difficult subjects. I had to be flexible with our schedule and keep the subjects that needed more focused attention for when the baby was down for a nap and my oldest could have my undivided attention.
As our youngest continued to grow older, he wanted to “do school” too. I would just change out his boxes with different things. I would put foam letters, magnet numbers, and shapes in a box. I would put items to be sorted, stacked, and counted in another.
The school boxes continued to work even when he was ready to start school. They are a flexible way to occupy younger children with purpose. You choose what you want to put in the boxes. The trick is that they only get to use them during school time.
The key to homeschooling with a toddler is to be flexible. They’ll need their diaper changed, need a bottle, or just simply need a hug. Make sure they are getting their needs met while still meeting the needs of your schooling children. Flexibility from all is the key to success.