A number of years ago I had the wonderful opportunity of presenting “Homeschooling With Toddlers” at a local library’s homeschool support group. I am happy to share my notes here in the hope that it will help others and give links to much more information than I was able to present there.
Homeschooling with toddlers is not easy! It’s frustrating and tiring to continually have interruptions and chaos and noise while you’re trying to homeschool. But, it’s a good life, and it can work and work well. Here are some of my best ideas and resources that have helped me homeschool the first 13 years–when I continually had toddlers in the home!
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Homeschooling With Toddlers:
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. 2 Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3 Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.
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Practical Tips for Homeschooling with Toddlers:
1. Don’t overdo it (just a few outside activities). It was years before I felt able to join a co-op.
2. Have a daily Quiet Time with the Lord before the children wake up (or while you’re nursing, or read the Bible aloud, etc.). It helps with sanity. 🙂 And I love the Unglued Devotional.
3. Lower your expectations. The house is going to be messy when you’re homeschooling with toddlers. You probably won’t get to everything you’d like to each day.
5. Consistent discipline system. Start early. Have appropriate rules and consequences.
6. Don’t let toddlers get tired or hungry. Have regular naptimes, bedtimes, and mealtimes.
See Our Life in Action:
Discipline Focus on your relationship first—not just “behavior modification” to get the child to do what you want. For disciplining children, look at Doorposts.net products such as For Instruction in Righteousness, Brother Offended Chart, If-Then Chart, and Blessing Chart.
Teach them about God: I love using Leading Little Ones to God and The Jesus Storybook Bible, as well as the Bible.
Memorize Scripture with them: With my preschoolers, we memorized a shortened verse from each book of the Old Testament.
Naptime Reading Routine:
Use picture books to teach about animals, colors, letters, numbers, sounds, etc. Some of my favorites are Goodnight Moon (Margaret Wise Brown), Teddy Bear, Teddy Bear (ill. Michael Hague), Inside Outside Upside Down (Stan and Jan Berenstain), I Love You As Much. . . (Laura Krauss Melmed), The Veggiecational Book (Phil Vischer), In the Ocean (Maurice Pledger), Good Night, Sweet Butterflies (Dawn Bentley), Chicka Chicka Boom Boom (Bill Martin Jr. and John Archambault), Blue Hat, Green Hat (Sandra Boynton), Dr. Seuss’s ABC Book (Dr. Seuss), My ABC of God Loves Me (Fiona Boon)
“Ten things to do before age 10” from the Bluedorns — great guideline to follow when planning your homeschool year.
Best Toys to Have: Trains, Zoobs, Dollhouse, Duplos, Kitchen, Gears, Dress-up. Have these in separate boxes that you only take out during school time.
Table-time Activities: Play foam, puzzles, Wiki Sticks, Playdough
Hands-On Activities: For Science (Janice VanCleave), Arts and Crafts (The Little Hands Art Book by Judy Press), Sensory Boxes, Cooking. Try the Preschool Block Challenge.
Join a Co-op Group: To Make Preschool Activities in a Bag or Quiet Book pages
Puzzle organizing tip: Label the backs of each piece and its corresponding box with a specific letter or number.
Nature Study: Nature Walks (park, forest preserve). Find different colors, shapes, textures, animals, etc.
For Babies 0 – 12 months: Try these infant development activities.
Musical Environment for Homeschooling with Toddlers
1. Expose kids to a musical environment at an early age to help them be musical later on.
2. Provide variety in rhythms, harmonies, instrumentation, and style.
3. Provide your children with examples of beautiful, excellent, on-pitch singing which will help them sing beautifully and on pitch themselves one day!
4. It’s important to help children increase readiness for audiation, the ability to hear the music and beat in one’s mind when no music is played.
5. We want our young children to form as many neural pathways and connections as possible in their rapidly growing brains. This is one reason why musical children typically do better at learning in many other areas of life.
Ways to “Teach” Music Sing, Listen to Classical Music, Dance, Play Simple Rhythm Instruments, and Play Singing Games
Sing Great Christian Songs: Amazing Grace, This Little Light of Mine, Victory in Jesus, Oh How He Loves You and Me, I’ll Fly Away, How Great Thou Art, Because He Lives, He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands, Just a Closer Walk With Thee, You Are My Hiding Place, This is My Father’s World, Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing, I Have Decided to Follow Jesus, Be Thou My Vision, Jesus Loves Me, God is So Good, How Great Thou Art, Oh, How I Love Jesus, Holy, Holy, Holy and Trust and Obey.
Online Course ideas: 10 Songs All Preschoolers Should Learn:
Or, Singing Made Easy Level 1 for ages 3 and up!
Get Out of the House
Find educational FREE things to do: Check your library, Free museum dates (Shedd Aquarium, Museum of Science and Industry, Field Museum)
“No TV” Ideas for Homeschooling with Toddlers
No TV: Turn off the TV! Only have it on in the late afternoon or evening. Only 30 minutes a day of an educational video. Movies only on weekend nights.
Books Mom should read:
For the Children’s Sake by Susan Schaeffer MacCauley
A Charlotte Mason Companion by Karen Andreola
A Pocketful of Pinecones by Karen Andreola
Homeschooling With a Meek and Quiet Spirit by Maxwell
Managers of Their Homes by Maxwell
Managers of Their Chores by Maxwell
Don’t Expect “Easy” When Homeschooling with Toddlers
Proverbs 31:27-28 She watches over the affairs of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness. Her children arise and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her. Colossians 3:23-24 Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.
It Ends Too Soon: Song for a Fifth Child poem (aka Babies Don’t Keep) by Ruth Hulbert Hamilton
Ways to Homeschool Older Kids When You Have Toddlers
1. Do “Circle Time” to keep the family together. (Idea from Kendra at Preschoolers and Peace.) After you put the baby down for a morning nap or afternoon nap, get all the kids together for group teaching.
- Ideas for Circle Time–choose some of these each day:
- Bible reading Scripture memorization and other memorization
- Read History (Mystery of History or Story of the World)
- Read Science (Apologia Exploring Creation elementary series)
- Sing/ hymn study
- Poetry reading (one poem/day)
- Practice for our public speaking class (they memorize a speech, story, or poem to recite every 2 weeks)
- Worldview (Who Am I? and others from Apologia)
- Biography/ Novel
2. Unit Studies: Pick a subject and work on it with the whole family for a whole month. Read library books; work on lapbooks/notebooks; science experiments; history projects; music and art projects. Suggestions of topics: Art Appreciation, Oceans, Desert animals, Rainforest, Great Britain, Healthy Eating, Bees
3. Use less teacher-intensive curricula for some subjects: I recommend and have used both Math-U-See which has the math taught on DVD and Teaching Textbooks, which is available through an app.
4. Keep those Toddler Naptimes! Do the hardest work (most teacher-intensive) during naptime or teach the preschoolers to read or play quietly in their rooms. Use audio learning.
5. Teach older kids to be independent as soon as they can: Write the next lessons on their assignment sheet or planner. Check their answers in the teacher book. Make decisions on which curriculum they’d like to use.
6. Utilize Charts/Assignment Sheets Use Homeschooling Assignment Sheets and Chore Charts. Or a check-off list of what you did each day.
7. Have a Child-Safe Home Make your home as child-safe as possible so you don’t have to watch them every moment. Try to have a playroom or basement that they can go play in while you work with older kids. Have a fenced-in backyard.
8. Save “Formal” Math for 3rd or even 4th grade. In the earlier years, just let them learn math through real life—in the kitchen, cooking, and games. [Update: My two oldest boys are graduating from college in two months, one of them with a degree in mechanical engineering. My third child started college this year, too]
9. Hire Help someone to come over to help watch the little one(s) while you work with the older kids. Junior High or High School girl. Or pay a college student? I did this for one year and had a young lady come over from 9-12 every day to help teach my preschoolers so I could focus those hours on my older children.
10. Utilize Audio Learning: Books on CD (Little House on the Prairie and Chronicles of Narnia), Jonathan Park, Brinkman Adventures, Jim Hodges audio books, Jim Weiss. Many of these can be found in the library.
Pray Without Ceasing. Pray for Wisdom.
Expect Interruptions from your toddlers.
Lower Your Expectations on things that don’t matter as much (perfectly clean or decorated house, gourmet meals)
Choose to be Grateful and Choose to be Joyful!
Philippians 3:13-15 Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Let those of us who are mature think this way, and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal that also to you.
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Homeschooling with Toddlers Related Posts:
- Sanity With Toddlers
- What Makes the Charlotte Mason Method of Homeschooling Delightful
- 15 Pretty and Fun Preschool Crafts for Valentine’s Day
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