In a homeschooling house full of 7 kids & 3 guniea pigs....there is never a dull moment! A lot of people show genuine concern for us and want to know how we are doing, as the road we've left behind was not a pleasant one. So, here I am, to tell some of our stories...share some of our days...and open up a part of our world to you! Come join us on our journey so you won't miss the moments that take our breath away!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Tips for Homeschooling with a TODDLER!

How to entertain and incorporate a toddler/preschooler into an older child’s school day!
Anyone who has tried to school an older child when there is a toddler in the house, knows that this is quite a task! As a homeschooling mother of 6 children (three of whom are all almost exactly 1 year apart) I have learned some creative ways to keep the little ones busy!

Someone was asking for tips and as I typed this up for them, I decided there may be other people who would find some of these tips useful, so I decided to share it with everyone.

When I had the room, I had a big storage bin of rice with sand toys, and also a play doh bin with tons of cookie cutters, etc. I sat the box in the center of a plastic baby pool. It kept my little ones entertained for quite some time and when they were done, I just swept the rice up and dumped it back in the bin. Now we have about half as much space as we used to, so we have a plastic shoebox bin full of beans instead. They use measuring cups and bowls and just dump them back and forth (if you put them on a cookie sheet, clean up is easy). It is sometimes hard for them to control themselves, but when they start throwing the rice it gets taken away.

Keep a box of toys that they are only allowed to use during "school time". I always reserve more educational toys such as shape sorters, puzzles, lacing beads, stacking cups, building blocks, Lincoln logs, legos, etc.

I have found that if I spend some one on one time with my younger ones first thing in the morning…read a story, do a workbook page, play a game or something...and they will tend to entertain themselves much better and you can work with the older one.

I also take full advantage of nap time!!! You can sometimes get half or more of your school day done while a little one is sleeping.

It's amazing how much the little ones pick up just by sitting in on lessons. Here are some ways to include them:

Have some scrap pieces of paper and let your little one write when the older kid is writing something, assign the younger one something to write too…be sure to give them a stamp or sticker for their hard work and job well done!

Try and find a color page for whatever you are reading about in LA and let the little one color while you read the story.

We almost always find some craft or activity to go with the story we are reading and the little ones understand that if they don't sit and listen to the story they don't get to make the helps to let them turn the page.

Go to the $1 store and get some magnetic alphabet and numbers and if you don't have an old cookie sheet, get one of those. When you are doing phonics let your little one either play freely with their own "phonics" kit or you could pick out the letters you are using that day and limit him/her to using those letters just like you.

Put shaving cream in a gallon size Ziploc bag and zip and tape it shut (to keep them from being tempted to open it). Put it on a cookie sheet (just in case it leaks or breaks and to provide a nice flat surface) Let them use their finger to copy the letter you are working on (chances are they will get caught up playing with it and forget all about you an your phonics lesson (don’t be offended).

My little ones also have their own whiteboard to write on and they love that or you can get wipe on/off board books with letters and let them use those during phonics as well
Let them use their magnetic numbers and cookie sheet during math. It’s fun for them to try and find the numbers and model the numbers you are working with.

If you are using manipulatives with your older one, try dividing them and allowing your little one to work along side or you, or get them their own counters, etc. Just today, my little ones had a blast with the plane figures, they even built a castle.

During math, let your little one use pattern blocks, there are a lot of free printable templates for them to use…my little ones stay busy with these for quite some time!

We love “Learning Resources” learning toys…we have the Counting Cookie Jar (teaches numbers and counting), Rainbow Color Cones (teaches colors and counting), Sorting Shapes Cupcakes (teaches shapes and matching).

Dinosaur counters are a great tool for math

Lacing beads

Plastic sorting buttons

Little ones love to cut! Give them a pair of safety scissors (the ones that will ONLY cut paper) and draw some lines on a sheet of paper….this will buy you lots of time!

Join or start a Preschool Activity Bag Swap and if you can’t, make your own! A few hours of your time will provide your toddler/preschooler with countless hours of self entertaining! If you have a toddler or a preschooler, activity bags are a MUST have, trust me! ( I will have a list of activity ideas at a later time).

The MOST important thing you can do is reserve these things ONLY for school time! Rotate your ideas so that they do not get bored and NEVER give in and let them play with any of these things outside of school time.
Get about 6 plastic shoebox storage bins from the $1 store. Pick 6 things from the list above and put one activity in each box. Let them sit in with your older child and pull the boxes that coordinate best with your older child’s lesson.

There are many wonderful sites/ideas out there…here are of my favorites:

I hope you find some of these ideas useful and it gives you some ideas as you experience and try to survive homeschooling with a toddler in your house! Remember, you are blessed and you will get through these days!  I often have to remind myself of that!

~Mother Goose

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