Adding little ones to the mix means your homeschool journey will be disrupted for at least a few years. Here are some tips for homeschooling with little ones that can help you along the way.
Aww. Bless your heart. You thought the homeschool year would be just fine with little ones in the mix now? I am sorry to not have more fluffy words for you here.
Homeschool can be even more challenging when you have little ones in the home. That isn’t really what new or expectant moms want to hear. We want to hear that we can still do it all with a baby and that just may not be true for many of us.
I mean there may be some of you that can fly through multi-age homeschooling with a little one like nobody’s business.
I have a few friends like that. I usually call them Mary Poppins. Like Literally I have a friend from here where I live and I call her my Tongan Mary Poppins. My lovely homeschool friend from New Zealand, I call her my Kiwi Mary Poppins.
They seem to have it all together when comes to home education, wifedom, and mommydom. I know they don’t, but they are just a notch above the rest and I love them.
For the rest of us, there are a few white hairs that every homeschool year tacks on to our heads, an additional wrinkle or two we owe solely to the challenging stressors of life.
Let’s just lay the facts out there for you. Homeschooling with little ones (i.e. toddlers, babies, infants, etc.) can be downright tough.
One morning I was getting out of my car to stop by Target. I parked right next to this lady I went to church with. I never really talked to her much, but she was trying to get all of her kids out of her car.
She had four kids, however one was a newborn. As she turned around from closing her passenger door, all her kids in tow (in some way or the other), I noticed something.
Her face showed clear signs of homeschool mom’s overwhelm. She was crying, had a red nose, even weeping almost. Raise your hand if you have been there? I would raise both hands if they weren’t needed to type.
She was just spent; it was too much for her. Who knows what else she could have been dealing with that I would never know. However at that moment my heart sank for her.
I didn’t care who she was, all I knew was she was a sister in Christ. As I approached, her baby stopped crying, and we were able to talk. She felt safe to just weep.
I prayed with her and I am unsure if we ever talked about that day again. I got her and God met her right where she was that day.
Just like this special lady, we too can feel the overwhelm, especially when it comes to homeschooling when we also have a little one in tow.
How can we make it all better? How can we make the stress go away? The reality is that we may never be the Jamesville Mary Poppins, but there are some things we can do to homeschool well.
Even when we have little ones who don’t understand that mommy has to teach and train big brother and sister in the way they should go.
Homeschooling with little ones may not be perfect but it is doable, and here are some things that might help.
Some of the tips below can help if you have a tiny infant and others are for parents with school-age kids and toddlers.
I hope they help some at least.
It is not enough to wing it. When you have little ones and are trying to homeschool, it is not a time for you to willingly let homeschooling be chaotic. Life does enough of that of its own.
Busy bags, simple activities, and preparing “school” work for your little ones will never be a regret. You will be so grateful on those days you need a little extra time teaching a subject or if your lessons go a little over what you thought they would.
Here are some busy bag ideas, simple activities, and work that little ones see as “doing school.” NOTE: Also have extra work for your older kids, should you need to take a moment to put the little ones to sleep for a nap or clean up an accident.
Here is a trick. Make these busy bags and simple activities things your little ones can only do during “school.” This will motivate them to cooperate in school time and even look forward to it.
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“By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” -Benjamin Franklin
Make a checklist.
Keep yourself organized and make a checklist of two different things.
1. Make a checklist of all the busy bags, simple activities, and work you have prepared for your little eons. That way you can keep track of what you do during the week, what they have liked the most, and what you may need to prepare for next week.
2. Make a checklist of what you need to get done during the week that is a MUST do. This way, if life is a little chaotic (colicky baby, doctor appointments, crying, tantrums, etc.), if you can get to this list you feel as if you have at least accomplished the necessary things, and let the other things not stress you out.
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Remember that keeping them busy is not the main objective.
The main objective is keeping them quiet too. KIDDING. No. Delete that. Your little ones can be productive while they are busy.
The goal is to train children in the way they should go. Don’t just keep your little ones busy, they can also be involved and be engaged while your other children are learning as well.
Embrace the outdoors.
The days of staying indoors for school may have to take a hiatus. Your older kids may have to take their work outdoors while you push your baby in the carriage or rock the carriage so the baby can sleep.
Toddlers can take a break and run outside, get their wiggles out, and burn up some energy. Let the older kids take a break as well. Let them run and be free. I once read that “homeschooling isn’t an emergency.”
Although it consumes much of our lives for our children’s school age, we are the principals and we can adjust to fit everything in, or not. We can slow down or speed up, skip a day, or jumble up lessons. Moving lessons outside can be a better strategy than you might think.
Taking Home Education Outdoors
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Use techie tools to your advantage.
Using educational games for little ones is a great tool while your other kids are on the PC or during their lessons. They are perfect for “only” school time, meaning they only can use the smart devices during school. It motivates and gets them excited about school.
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Include the little ones in as many lessons and activities as you can.
I understand babies are different but your little ones can be included in almost anything with some creativity. Your young learners want to feel like homeschooling is for them just as much as they want to feel like they are big kids.
You will see that your little ones have a desire to learn as they see their bigger brother or sisters learning. They will not be satisfied with playing with toys when their siblings are accomplishing STEAM, art projects, morning baskets, or experiments.
Give them a job in some lessons and include them as much as you can. Use plenty of manipulatives with your own children and set some aside for your little eons to play/do school.
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Most of all, be flexible.
Roll with the interruptions and obstacles that may come up. I don’t mean every interruption. What I mean is that there will be things that come up, unavoidable happenstances.
Some of these interruptions mean you will have to choose to either cry, go insane, or just go with the flow. Give yourself grace, don’t beat yourself up or take it out on your husband when he pops in.
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It may seem simple enough, right? Be flexible. Prioritize lessons, stick to your routine as much as possible, schedule catch-up days, but then just let it go.
Life is too short to get stressed about homeschooling when you actually have the freedom to slow, stop, and catch-up at the principal’s discretion.
So enjoy your little ones, stay prepared, include them whenever you can, and be flexible enough to appreciate every moment, even if it doesn’t look exactly the way you planned it.
Jeannette is a wife, mother and homeschooling mom. She has been mightily, saved by grace and is grateful for God’s sovereignty throughout her life’s journey. She has a Bachelor in English Education and her MBA. Jeannette is bi-lingual and currently lives in the Tongan Islands of the South Pacific. She posts daily freebies for homeschoolers!