Jump to content


Homeschooling with a Toddler

Recommended Posts

How in the world am I supposed to do it?! I'm doing Kindergarten with my 5 year old daughter and my almost-two year old son is starting to outgrow his morning naps. I've been spoiled by two years of uninterrupted, one-on-one schooling with her and I have no idea how to make the transition. I also need to add that he's NOT the type to play nicely on his own. If I look away from him for a second, he will get into as much trouble as possible.


Any thoughts, advice, etc.?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Do you have a highchair for him? If so, strap him in and rotate things for him to do, while keeping him close by. Cheerios, paper with crayons, scissors and paper, play dough, etc. Also, grab moments here and there with your 5 year old. You may not really get a large chunk of time, but if you can grab 10-15 minutes 3-4 times a day, that should be all you need for a 5 year old.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I babysat one in the fall semester of 2012. It was difficult as it had been a long time since we had had a toddler anyway :) But we did the highchair thing. We would sit for snacks, while I read to the olders (a 4 yr old I babysit/teach, and my 8 yr old.) The 10 yr old would have things she did on her own most of the time, with just a bit of checking in w/me between individual work times. I would rotate snacks, books for her to flip through, and soft toys she could bang on the highchair. I learned that plastic ones were just loud while I worked through as much w/the 4 and 8yr olds that I could. I used her afternoon nap for clean up and for a bit of one on one time w/the 8 yr old. I read aloud to all at lunch while she was again strapped in the high chair while they all ate. And I had the living area off of the dining room (where we work) gated off so that she could play free in there, right next to us, w/out actually coming in to tear up our papers and such for a while between the morning snack and lunch... We also all had a morning outside time to keep everyone refreshed and entertained. So I was busy, but the routine helped.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

No advice, just commiseration here. :unsure: This past year was my hardest year homeschooling. My oldest is 10 and then the next two doing school are 8 and 6. It is hard to actually teach them when my ADHD 4yo dd and her partner in crime, the 2yo, interrupt literally every 20-30 seconds. Oh, and I have a surprise baby coming in August. The next few months will be spent trying to figure out the best strategy for keeping the 4yo and 2yo busy this fall so that I have time to actually teach the olders. I'm thinking lots of manipulatives and hands-on activities to pull out when school time starts. Also, getting my 10 year old to be more independent would help. <_<

Link to comment
Share on other sites

It's rough. I have 6 who are all 7 and under. When we started HS'ing, I had my oldest who was 5, 3 year old twins and 1 year old twins. It was nuts! :lol: Now, I have a 7 year old (starting 2nd), 5 year old twins (doing K), 3 year old twins and an 8 month old....it's still nuts! LOL!!


Personally, I use containment...A pack and play or gated playroom or a playyard. I start using it early with my kids so they get used to it. They can play in there for 30 minutes to an hour several times a day. I've found it works better if they are not in the same room with me and can't see me. They are happier that way. If you haven't done that in the past and want to, you'll need to start slowly, 5 minutes or so at a time and work up.


I also use afternoon naptime even though I prefer not to do that.


I also school year round to give us more flexibility to get derailed often and not finish the days work often. I have 12 months to do what only takes 9. It really helps us with the stress of needed to get it done.


Of course, there is the highchair and tot school too.


Ultimately, I find that I have to just keep going despite all the interruptions. No matter how frustrating it gets, I have to just keep going back to the school table and going forward and ignoring my desire to throw my hands up and say it's pointless to try. But, just continuing on through it all, you do get it done even though it feels like spinning your wheels. Just keep going.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

It will be okay. I just finished up kindergarten with our five year-old and he has three younger siblings. :) The nice thing about the early years is that it doesn't take much time. We kept his subjects very limited: phonics, handwriting, and math. We attacked those right after breakfast every day while the other kids were still in food comas.


I think the hardest thing for you may be that the little one is solo. Mine would kind of keep each other occupied. The high chair recommendation is a good one. If you're not averse to screens, pop in something educational.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks for all of your ideas and for sharing your own experiences! I put him in the highchair today while I did school with my daughter and rotated giving him blocks (which he spent the whole time throwing), art supplies, and, when he got really restless, I opened up my laptop and put on some Starfall songs for him. My daughter LOVED having him around for school and, even though I'm sure we'll have some terrible days here and there, it's good to know that she's not easily distracted by him. :001_smile:

Link to comment
Share on other sites

How in the world am I supposed to do it?! I'm doing Kindergarten with my 5 year old daughter and my almost-two year old son is starting to outgrow his morning naps. I've been spoiled by two years of uninterrupted, one-on-one schooling with her and I have no idea how to make the transition. I also need to add that he's NOT the type to play nicely on his own. If I look away from him for a second, he will get into as much trouble as possible.


Any thoughts, advice, etc.?

I mostly keep my toddler close by and she just 'toddles' around us and plays with things, comes up for cuddles, and really just hangs around me. Sometimes she sits on my knee or is up in my arms. Sometimes she will sit on the floor with books or toys. Sometimes I put her in her chair in front of a toddler dvd for a short time. She knows her boundaries and so cannot just wander around the house while I am working with someone at the dining table - she stays in the room. This way I can always keep an eye on her and she is still close by and part of what we are doing.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I had to do educational movies with my son which I was totally against tv at the time. Then I made him learn to sit in my lap for up to 5 minutes at a time. This was a worth while skill anyway and I was surprised with his sudden jump in language just by listening. I was also happier during church service because he had this skill.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

We did K, (with some 1st and 2nd grade stuff) this last year. Dd1 is now 6.5. Dd2 is now 2.5. I am still nursing, so the good and the bad is that younger dd still needs breastmilk to wake in the morning, to nap in the afternoon, to wake from nap, and other times throughout the day. This guarantees that toddler gets at least a little personal time, but it does interrupt our day.


1) Know that other moms have done this. You are very capable. You can do this, too, but homeschooling may not be the glorious vision you envision.


2) I wake dd1 before dd2. The ideal is that we do piano and at least some math before dd2 awakens. Our daily mantra is: "The best time to do schoolwork is when dd2 is asleep." If dd1 is hungry, I get her a snack to work on while doing schoolwork. We have breakfast one hour after dd2 awakens, so she is hungry after nursing.


3) We work at the little table. (I sit on a stepstool). This makes us more accessible to dd2. She may join us, or not. The little table is on the edge of the livingroom.


4) Dd1 gets 1/2 hour of free tv. She utilizes this usually while dd2 awakens, and I nurse dd2. I HIGHLY RECOMMEND A TIVO. You do not need to have Cable or HBO or Satellite for a Tivo. We bought a "Factory-renewed" DVR from Tivo, and it has outlived its 3 year warranty. Once you buy the DVR, monthly charges are only $15/month or so.


Other advantages:

--you can save all of the kids' pbs or other educational shows

--you are not limited by when to start or end a show. The tivo keeps your stopping place

--the show turns itself off at the end of 30 minutes, so you are not the bad guy to then turn the tv off


Another TIVO story: I have a nice box science curriculum for K last year. We used it twice. And yet, dd1 has the most amazing science facts come out of her life.

"Where did you learn that????"

"Wild Kratts," or "Ruff Ruffman," she replies.

What can I say as a mother, other than,"I should let you watch more tv!"


5) I Can Paste has ready made (with a little cutting from you) gluing projects for your toddler. Our dd2 is not yet ready for the other titles in the series.


If you want ready made preschool crafts that come to your house (with everything except glue and tape), try Carol's Affordable Curriculum. I have not done' any of this with dd2 yet, but possibly this autumn.


Shirley's Prepackaged Crafts will send you a box of preschool crafts every month, or, for a cheaper version, just purchase Shirley's computer cd with the patterns, and prep your own crafts.


6) We have a NOOK with many preschool apps.


7) I have 4 bins of preschool activities that come out on each subsequent school day (M-T-W-Th).


What other moms have put into the bins:

Here is what is in our boxes and these are BIG boxes 40QT sterilite boxes:

Each box has a coloring book w/ a new box of crayons and several puzzles. Some are typical wooden and some are 2-piece matching puzzles. I also have some creative 3-D-ish type things

In addition:


Monday's box:

Play Doh

Fisher Price Go-Fish game

Fashion Plates and Monster Plates

Mosaic game from Discovery Toys

VTech computer

Silly Faces Colorform book


Tuesday's box:

stringing beads

Clever Castle logic game

AlphaBert (computer)


Rush Hour Safari (she can't solve the puzzles but she is quite occupied by arranging the pieces on the board)


Wednesday's box:

Cranium Hullabaloo

Paint with water book

Pattern Blocks

Oreo Cookie shape match game

Cat in the Hat book w/ magnetic pieces


Thursday's Box:

Quantum leap pad

Lacing Shapes

Look and Find Book

Rush Hour Jr.


Friday's Box:

magnetic "paper" dolls

Wooden pizza w/ velcro toppings

stamps and ink pad


And yet another mom:



1. Paint color strips and scissors to cut apart on the lines. Also bits and pieces of paper and foam.

2. Large plastic buttons in different colors and shapes with -a piece of paper with some traced to match up, -different color plastic bowls to sort them into, -pipe cleaners to thread them on.

3. different color pompoms and small bowls or cups to sort them into.

4. wood tangrams puzzles (Melissa & Doug)

5. Stickers and paper (rotate between foam and paper stickers)

6. simple wood puzzles

7. wipe off books on numbers and letters - dd loves these.

8. Dabber paints and worksheets from makinglearningfun.com (I use the ones called Magnet pages but don't give dd magnets at this point - she colors them using the dabber paints - relatively mess free).

9. Round stickers (multi-colored reinforcements) and dabber pages.

10. Playdoh, but I'd rather not.

11. Magic pen books (one pen makes many colors)

12. Paint with water books using a stamp moistener or sponge

13. wooden dowels and large wood beads to thread on them.

14, Lacing cards


I did multi-colored pony beads once but put them back away when ds (!!!) put one up his nose.


We do have a rice bin that I put out on a table for both kids (ds would never work while it was out). It's not nearly as bad or as hard to clean up as I thought it would be.


8) Do a search online for "free coloring pages [subject]." I print one coloring page for each girl. Dd2 responds with genuine interest in coloring if she can pick her own page to color. (Dd1 saves her coloring page for when dd2 is nursed to nap). If I am focused, I cut and paste the coloring page onto Powerpoint, and write the word on the page. We briefly discuss the letters.


9) We are unafraid to do schoolwork after supper or on the weekends. It's not public school, after all. We school on our schedule.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I wanted to add to my post (#12) that I have two 9"x13" cake pans that rarely get used for cake. They are irreplaceable for keeping toddler crafts self-contained.


They keep the mess within a limited space, and they are an easy way to pick up the craft and move to another area while drying. They fit a piece of paper perfectly in the space.


Crafts we do in the cake pan:

play doh


glue and glitter

rainbow rice

painting with water (from a book or painting on a sheet of construction paper)


Link to comment
Share on other sites

What helps me the most is to think of homeschooling in terms of equipping vs. stuffing their little heads with random facts.


This next year I'll be graduating my first homeschooled child. She was homeschooled her entire life.


What I've figured out is that often we push on unnecessary, nice but unnecessary things, and then we don't have time for the truly important! For example: You would be better served by 2 or 3 short phonics sessions each day than you would by doing any science or history. You know why? Because once your child is off and flying solidly reading, your life becomes infinitely easier.


I know of mamas who managed to fit in every subject *but* didn't focus on phonics, or later good handwriting, or most of all, obedience. And they pay for it dearly later in burnout or in having to direct every subject for a couple of years longer than they need or want.


Your oldest is five. Focus on obedience, reading skills, and read aloud. Now WHAT you read can be history (SOTW perhaps) or science (Burgess Animal Books of CLP Nature Readers) or excellent children's literature, but really, truly, read aloud A LOT and focus on those reading skills. Interact with him, talk to him, direct him, read to him. All of these can be done with a two year old as well except the phonics - I highly suggest that at least one of those be saved for naptime. Another session can be the five year old "helping" teach sounds to the 2 year old.


And, at the end of the day, I can honestly promise you if you do nothing but what I suggested, you will go into first grade in a great spot. But if you don't.... Well, next year will be the same boat.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.


  • Create New...