Homeschooling with children of multiple ages can be a bit stressful, especially when you have a baby or a toddler. Trying to find a balance while meeting everyone's needs may have you questioning your sanity at times, so it's important to remember WHY you homeschool.
Having juggled newborn twins, a toddler, and a kindergartner, I’ve come up with tips to keep little ones occupied while I work one on one with the older students in my home.
Give Younger Children a Classroom Too
Whether you work in a designated room or all over the home while teaching, provide your younger children with a classroom too. If you have your own school room, give them a corner that has toys and tools for their age range to use that are educational.
Babies and toddlers do well with stacking rings, blocks, and large wooden puzzles. Preschool-aged children might like to work in coloring books or activity books learning shapes and colors or even with a small board and alphabet magnets for letter recognition. Many of these activities are easy to store and allow them to “work” independently.
Give Them Special Time and Attention
Often as a homeschool parent you may spend hours working on one specific problem area with an older student. Your younger child may start to feel left out because brother or sister got so much dedicated time. Be sure to schedule in Mommy/Baby time to play, watch a special show, or even snuggle for a nap together. No matter the activity, make sure they know they have your love and attention also. This helps considerably in removing unwanted interruptions.
Set a Timer
Grab a traditional kitchen timer or use one on your phone but always set timers so you don’t get caught up and find an hour has gone by and your younger child has not had attention from you. Although typical classrooms work in 45-50 minute blocks. I find that setting my timer for 30-45 minutes works much more efficiently.
As children get older a more traditional time period will work but the younger ones need more time more often. If a lesson will take more than 30 minutes, find a good stopping point and take a mini break. If that means snack time, get up and stretch or simply seek out the younger child to let them know you are there and want a hug from them it helps to break up the day into smaller more manageable fragments.
Make them your helper
Working on the white board with equations? Let your younger one help you erase as you do new problems. Need the classroom dusted? Give them a damp cloth and let them walk around wiping down what is at their level. For younger children give them a simple shoe box filled with colored pebbles or even two types of beans and have them sort by color. Letting them “help” you by doing little chores or educational projects of their own will help them feel big. This will free up some time you need to work with your older student.
Invest in Good Educational Movies and TV Shows
We never want to use the television as a babysitter but there are days when we truly need something to give us some uninterrupted time. Schoolhouse Rocks, Liberty Kids, The Magic Schoolhouse and even classics like Gumby, Davey and Goliath and Sesame Street are very popular with all ages in our home.
Some days Mom just needs the quiet time and time to work one on one with an older student and the DVD gets popped in to occupy younger children. Baby Signing Time was one of my favorites because we had a nonverbal 3-year-old and ASL allowed us to all communicate plus the twins loved watching it while I worked with the older two on math or language.
Every family and every classroom is different but these are some common ways on how to keep little ones occupied during homeschool lessons. All are easy to adapt for toddlers through preschool aged children and can be specifically suited to your family dynamic. Don’t lose heart, many of us have been there and can sympathize with the often “hair pulling” days that lay ahead. Remember the goal and stand strong. Home educating our children is worth it.
Julie @ Logger's Wife
I only have one child right now. She’s 3. We’re doing kind of a mini-preschool thing right now. While I don’t need these tips for homeschooling older children, I think they will be great for when I need to do work. Thank you for sharing them. 🙂
(visiting from Mom 2 Mom Mondays)
Thank you! I’ve found they also work well for when you need 5 minutes to breathe or fold laundry 🙂
These are some great suggestions. I’m going to be needing to incorporate my toddler into our school day more as I begin kinder with my #3 (her biggest playmate)! I appreciate how you were honest about the need to incorporate some TV to help manage the day. I’ve found a great show for preschooler called Tumbleleaf on Amazon Prime. 🙂 I hopped over from the Mom2Mom link up 🙂
We love TumbleLeaf! My Amazon Prime account really comes in handy since there are so many educational shows on there!
These are great suggestions! I’m pinning this to use in September!!!
Thank you! I know how difficult it can be homeschooling different age groups or homeschooling with infants, so I had to share some tips that worked for me!
It was difficult for me to homeschool this year with my younger kids because they are getting older and want more one-on-one attention. They see the older kids getting homeschooled and they get jealous of that attention. This is a great list of ideas for the little ones to stay distracted and us focused on them.
Thanks for sharing your suggestions at Inspire Me Monday!
What a great ideas! Thanks for sharing on the Thoughtful Spot Blog Hop!
Blog shares really great set of points about homeschooling and the tips shared in the blog are very much useful for all of the homeschoolers. This article serves as a great set of inspiration for many of us. Loved to read the blog and it’s really useful.