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Homeschooling With Babies and Toddlers

Homeschooling With Babies and toddlers

The picture shown here is from my first year homeschooling. I had a new baby, a  five, four and two year old.

How Can I Homeschool With Babies & Toddlers ?

Recently I received this letter from a mum wanting to homeschool. I thought I’d share with you my response.

I’m a mother of 3 (4 in a couple of months!) girls that I am passionately wanting to homeschool. I actually began last year with my eldest daughter (now 6), but found it very difficult to fall into enough of a routine to get work done. Juggling the younger two at the same time, and trying to keep my daughter motivated among the clutter of daily life in a small house of young children I became discouraged and dilapidated. I ended up enrolling my daughter at the beginning of the year in a small private Christian school, but still don’t feel content with the decision.

I’m a very creative person with creative children and can see that the school’s system is not supporting my daughter that way. I’m feeling like the right thing to do is to try homeschooling again, but am unsure as to how I can manage it this time. It seems that the minute I provide an activity to occupy the younger children, my daughter becomes unmotivated to do her schoolwork and wants to join in with her sisters. Without age appropriate stimulus, though, it isn’t long before her behaviour breaks down and she’s teasing and provoking her younger sisters.

Part of our problem is a small living space, and school stuff has to be packed onto a shelf beside the dining table, where the formal sit-down school work takes place.

I guess I need some pointers from somebody who has juggled different aged children. I am desperate to know how to get it to work! My second eldest will be ready to start kindy next year, which may help because they can do their work together, but then I will also have a 6 month and three year old to look after as well…

Yes!  It Is Difficult

I have heard this similar scenario many times. And let me say outright—it is difficult! Everyone talks about all the glories of homeschool and how to actually get it done but in the early years it does take a great deal of effort to make it happen.

Homeschooling Early Days

But This Will Make Homeschooling With Babies And Toddlers Easier

1.CHILL OUT

I have seen so many new homeschooling mothers beat themselves over the head for not doing “enough school work”. Really you do not need to more than one hour per day when they are 5 and 6. This can be simple math and learning to read. The rest of the day can be family oriented activities, reading books as a family and conversational learning.

2.GET RID OF EXTRA ACTIVITIES

It is a transition to start school and I found that I needed to reduce my other commitments in order to homeschool. That may mean not attending morning Bible studies or giving up activities that are not working for all the kids. Plan to be home so that you can establish a good routine.

3.START A SCHOOL BOX

Work out what you want to achieve daily in school lessons with your child and put all the resources in that box. Be realistic. If you have some writing activity and a little bit of a math game put it all there.

4.TAKE TIME OFF

Interruptions happen. If you only manage sit down academic work three or four days a week, that’s OK till they are around 8 (or longer). I only did sit down lessons  three-four days per week for ten years. I left one day per week as my day off to socialize and or do some errands.

5.CHOOSE FAMILY FRIENDLY CURRICULUM

By this I mean something that is going to work for your family. If you choose a curriculum that requires the child to be isolated and work alone you will probably find they feel lonely and won’t work. We used to use a school room and we have tried working in their room but for us the kitchen table works best. Everyone is about and we all work together. If your chosen curriculum requires you to give undivided attention to one child with no interruptions,  it’s bound to fail, for with little ones there are always distractions. I have ditched curriculum because I couldn’t ban the kids to the other room. Reading aloud (and curriculums based around that) are very family friendly as everyone in the family can be included. I have read many books with a boomerang pillow around my waist breastfeeding a baby.

Homeschooling with babies and toddlers

6.PULL THE PHONE OUT OF THE HOOK

Train your friends and family to give you some time out in the morning.

7.HAVE A SLEEP DURING THE DAY

I slept in the afternoon for the first few years of homeschooling. When the baby went for a nap, I went for a nap also. Don’t use this time as a time to rush around and do things. All the kids were trained to have an afternoon rest time. It was not a TV time but rather a time in their rooms with books or Lego. They were not allowed out for at least half an hour. If they came out then they had to play quietly for a time. I usually was dead to the world as soon as my head hit the pillow. It was a big sanity saver for me.

8.SORT OUT THE HOUSEWORK

In the early days although we were on a tight budget we had a cleaner. We had a very small home and it didn’t take her long to clean the bathroom, wash the floors and do the ironing. Not having to worry about that job was one huge burden off my back. I also used the drier whenever I needed to and washed in big batches so that I had a few wash free days.

9.COOK DOUBLE

This works for a while (until the family gets too big). I would also plan for two quiches, double Beef Stroganoff, big lasagna and extra Spaghetti Bolognese. There was a book I used called Once A Month Cooking that helped me get some good recipes to make this happen.

10.TRAIN GOOD HABITS

into your kids. Teach them how to tidy, hang washing on the line, unpack the dishwasher, put their clothes away, clear the table, make breakfast and make lunch. The more they can do for themselves the less you have to do for them. Please, please, please take the view that this is a journey. That they will grow older and if you take the time now training in the little things, of good behaviour and good habits, the days will run smoother as time goes by.

One Final Observation

  • Mummy is the most popular person around. Everyone including daddy wants her full attention.
  • Mummy feels torn every which way.
  • The little ones work out ways to ensure mummy stays around; they cuddle, they chat, they fight, they whinge, they cling, they cry.

When Mummy gives attention to one child exclusively this often makes the other children jealous.

We often interpret this jealousy as us failing to meet our child’s need (and sometimes it may well be ) BUT often we need to teach our sweet little toddler not to be selfish and help them understand that it’s not all about them. This takes some time with immature little souls.

homeschooling with babies and toddlers

Now that I have no little children any more life seems so much easier. My workload is fairly similar but I no longer feel chronically tired and I get far more time to think about what I want to do next, rather than being pushed from one needy child to the other.

Homeschool family
You’ll be here before you know it!

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Comments

  1. Jacinda  May 16, 2017

    Thank you so much for this article Michelle I really needed all that inspiring information and am so glad I came across while I’m in the midst of it all.

    reply
    • MR Morrow  June 24, 2017

      My friend and I who both have 3 graduated children look back on those times in almost disbelief that we made it. One steep and a time. All the best. Michelle

      reply
  2. Renee  February 16, 2016

    Thanks for this article.

    I wish I had of found it earlier.

    I have been homeschooling a special needs child for almost two years with an older child at regular school and a toddler in tow. It took me a very long time to get the idea that homeschooling is nothing like regular school and doesn’t need to be.

    Once I got that, everything has started to fall into place.
    My house is cleaner, I have time to do the food shopping, non of us are stressed out.

    Finally getting into a rhythm.

    Renee.

    reply
  3. Megan  October 19, 2015

    I know I am reading this 3 years after you wrote it, but it is exactly what I needed to read today. I am feeling completely overwhelmed home schooling a 7,5,3 and 1 year old. It is so comforting to hear that the early years are not always easy. Thank you for taking the time to write this. I will learn to relax and enjoy them at the ages they are. xx

    reply
    • Michelle  October 19, 2015

      I’m glad it helped. It is a special time but it’s very hard work!

      reply
  4. Janet  March 21, 2012

    This is great, thanks heaps. The only thing I would add is: take a multivitamin!

    reply
  5. Jo Thomson  March 16, 2012

    thanks, this was very helpful… I like number 7. If I don’t incorporate that somehow my day ends in tears all round.

    reply
  6. Ruby  March 16, 2012

    A very good post. You are fortunate to be able to remember the early days (wink, wink)

    reply
  7. Kylie  March 16, 2012

    This is a great post, I’m going to share it over at http://connectinghomeschoolers.ning.com/

    reply
  8. angela  March 16, 2012

    Encouraging, empowering and inspiring advice. Thanks Michelle!

    reply

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