Getting Started Homeschooling Post 5- How Do I Homeschool With All These Little People in the House?

This is the fifth post in my Getting Started Homeschooling series. You can find the previous four posts here:
1- The Big Picture
2- What Kind of Homeschooler Are You?
3-What Do You Really Believe About School and Learning?
4-Where Do I Find Support?

One of the biggest concerns I hear from new (and even veteran) homeschoolers is what to do with preschoolers and toddlers while you homeschool your older children.

Homeschooling with little ones

I have to admit that my worst year of homeschooling ever was when Kathryne was a 1st grader, Charles was in K5, and Ashlyne was turning one. Ashlyne was very mobile very early. She was not happy unless she was right with us while we were doing school, but she didn’t want to be held of contained in any way. She wanted to crawl and then toddle around getting into any and everything.

 I tried it all. I put up a baby gate at the door to the schoolroom so she could see us and not get to us. She screamed. I put up a baby gate at the door of her room. She screamed, but we couldn’t hear her as loudly. I tried putting her in the high chair and giving her food or papers and crayons. It would last about 15 minutes. Then she was done.

 Finally, a homeschooling mom much wiser than I suggested I change my expectations for what school was going to be that year. If I could put Ashlyne in the tub and let her play while sitting in the bathroom reading to Charles and Kathryne, that was school. If I could squeeze in some school work while Ashlyne napped and before I collapsed in exhaustion, that was school. If I could do some school work in the evening while Jason was home to help corral the wild one, that was school. I won’t say it made my year easier, but it did help to get through it.

The next year was better- even though I had an infant and a one and a half year old. Rachel would sleep contentedly in a sling while I schooled, and Ashlyne by that time, was old enough to have a little more of an attention span to sit and color or play play-do or do puzzles.

Every year after that has gotten easier because Ashlyne and Rachel would entertain each other. the only other really difficult patch we’ve had was a perios of time where Ashlyne and Rachel seemed to go around the house hunting for things to destroy while I schooled the older kids. Thankfully that stage has passed. We dealt with it by keeping them in the same room with me all the time- no exceptions – and with me directing their play a little more.

So, now that you know my first hand experiences, here are some thoughts I have about homeschooling with little ones:

*Keep the little ones close. They will be happier if they feel like they are a part, and there will be less destruction when you are watching.

* Don’t be afraid to have contained messiness. Play-do, chocolate pudding on a high chair tray, finger paint, tearing and gluing bits of paper can all go a long way in keeping little ones entertained.

* Keep some tpys or supplies that you only get out for the little ones during school. This can be their school time and make them feel a part as well as keep them busy.

* Workboxes are great. I have begun using them this year- especially with my preschoolers. You can learn more about the workbox system here, and see my setup here.

Don’t be afraid to change your perception of what school is. As the wise homeschooling mom told me when Ashlyne was a baby, school can come in small snatches at irregular times. Part of homeschooling is learning how to live life as a family. And part of living in a family is caring for the little ones.

I wrote a blog post back in the winter about homeschooling preschoolers. You may find some ideas you can use there.

In my next Getting Started post, I’ll be including some online resources and helps to homeschool cheaply.

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