I frequently get questions from moms having difficulty homeschooling with babies and toddlers in the house. Typically, there is an older child trying to school kindergarten or 1st grade while mom has his younger siblings under foot.
In the story, one of the siblings is very little — usually a newborn with typical infant needs – and the other is somewhere around 18 -36 months — just beginning to explore the world (i.e., needs constant supervision).
In a nutshell, if mothering itself wasn’t enough, now homeschooling has been added to the routine.
In this scenario, mom becomes frustrated by not “completing” homeschooling by the end of every day. The school-age child is not being served, she feels, plus the babies are not receiving the attention they deserve, either.
Several weeks into the homeschooling experiment, mom becomes exhausted performing this dance, trying desperately to be both “good” homeschool parent and “good” mom to all 3 children.
Ultimately, in many, many cases, the situation leads to the inevitable discussion about placing the older child in school — at least for now, until the babies get a little older.
This is a recurring complaint.
Many, many, many, many moms have expressed it before.
I can absolutely relate to the frustration and exhaustion felt by the end of a very unsatisfying, totally unproductive day.
HERE’S WHAT I RECOMMEND that has worked for me, and has worked for countless other moms in the same situation. And though (for some of you) this may shatter the image you have long held of homeschooling, remember it is a temporary solution to a problem, can always be changed back at any time — plus…IT WORKS.
1. Give up the curriculum.
Put all structured curriculum products on a shelf for the time being. If the thought of it sitting there bothers you, hide it or loan it to a friend to get it out of the house for a little while. While you’re at it, put away all time-consuming, day-by-day, planning-type sit-down-at-the-table kinds of activities, at least for now.
2. (Optional) Stock up on workbooks.
Many families like seeing production in homeschool, and many kids like the fun and stimulation offered by completing pages of school work. Some dads, in particular those not completely sold on the concept of homeschooling quite yet, sometimes want to monitor learning and progress, too. If this sounds like your family, stock up on inexpensive workbooks (not worktexts) and offer them at times you believe school work is in order.
3. Read about alternate methods of homeschooling (those that do not involve structured learning).
If you haven’t already, learn about relaxed ways to homeschool and ways that children learn without formal schooling. Also study lapbook creation, notebooking, copywork, unit studies, plus anything that families can do together (indoors or out) without being chained to a table and chair. Start HERE if you need a reference point.
4. Get lots and lots of books.
This can be done as a family, and can become an ongoing project in the household, too. Scour closets and drawers for books you already own, then begin stocking up at clearance and warehouse sales for everything from early readers to reference materials. Whether this becomes an actual homeschool library or simply baskets of books scattered throughout the home, make books accessible to every child in the family, and encourage reading every day, throughout the day.
5. Add fun to every day.
In later years, you may question whether homeschooling must always be fun, but during these years, try adding something fun to each and every day while the children are young. Take a nature walk, go to the park, blow bubbles and make chalk drawings outside, make Play Doh sculptures, or do anything that adds an element of pleasure each day. This strategy helps ease tensions that can build up, plus it means you all go to bed at night remembering something positive about the day.
I have written much about this topic. Click below to learn more about homeschooling with little ones around, then click links within each post to navigate this topic on my web site:
And if I can help you select products to free up your time, create schedules to outline your days, help you determine if learning is really happening, or anything else to put you at ease, please CONTACT ME. I’d be honored to help.
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