Our children span almost 25 years in age. For the vast majority of those years, we have been homeschooling with babies and toddlers underfoot. It has been a challenge, and it remains a challenge in my home.
However, over the years I have learned a few methods to keep your smaller children happy and busy while your attention is focused on school-aged children.
Keeping some kind of routine is an absolute must. If you know nap time is the same time each day, it’s easy to schedule time for activities that might need a little more of your attention. It also allows for the unexpected visitor or phone call. Better yet, if the children know the routine and are used to staying with the plan, then if you have to step away for a few minutes, they can continue without you.
Something that has worked well for us is the to have centers in our home designed for specific time segments during the day. Some examples of our centers include home living, blocks, hot wheels, and dinosaurs.
Done in 20 minute increments, each center doesn’t last long enough for the child to lose interest. They still learn as they explore different activities during the day.
Assigning an Older Child to a Younger Child
During various periods of the day, have an older child assigned to teach a younger child. It gives that older child a sense of responsibility and accomplishment. It also helps the older child reinforce their own homeschool lessons.
Have a more active play time scheduled into the morning and afternoon. Small children have lots of energy to burn. It can be frustrating to everyone in a house when the littles are acting up. Many times, just running off some of that energy will help the entire house to calm down enough to focus on school again.
Instead of allowing your little ones to play freely in your home during school time, you might find it easier if you assign them to a designated area of the house during school hours. They can sure make a mess and this keeps the mess contained in one area instead of an entire home.
If you have a structured learning time with your little ones, they might already have table time during the day. If not, designating some time for them to sit and do school is fun for them. They feel like big kids! There are many resources online for printing free worksheets and learning materials for small children, but printed workbooks are inexpensive and can be found easily.
Have short, designated story time in the middle of school time. Sometimes smaller children just need a few minutes of focused attention to make them happy to play for a little while during school hours. Although the school day can be very long for them, breaking it into smaller chunks of time makes it more manageable for them and for the rest of the family.
Young children are such a blessing in a home. While school does require a parent’s attention, so do those little ones. Applying some simple ideas into your day will lessen the stress in your home, and make for happier children!