Home schooling with toddlers can be challenging, but your toddler is also a precious blessing that provides your home school with excitement, enthusiasm, laughter, joy, and freedom from boredom and dull routines.
Little ones need a normal childhood, with Mom available to listen, train, and give hugs. We need to nurture and care for our toddlers, making sure our actions reflect a heart felt attitude that toddlers are a blessing and an asset to our families.
With all the busyness of home schooling, it is easy to forget that we have a responsibility to train our toddlers. We need to train them in many areas, such as obedience, sitting still, good hygiene, kindness, sharing…the list could go on and on. I try to focus on specific training, such as teaching Becca to come, in the morning, after the morning chores are finished, and the oldest children have started their school work, but before I start teaching Isaac.
We have all had days, weeks, and sometimes years, of trying to teach our older children while our toddler ate the dog food, cleaned out the cabinets, or unfolded all the laundry we had just folded. We will address some of the things you can do to keep him entertained and allow you time to teach.
* Meet the needs of the little ones first. Take time to enjoy and train him first so he will be contented later when you have to do other things.
* Let your toddler help with morning chores, such as clearing his own place after breakfast, drying dishes, and putting laundry into the washer. He loves to feel needed.
- Offer special high chair activities or a snack.
- Put the step stool at the kitchen sink, run some water & let him wash his play dishes.
- Have an older sibling play with him at specific times while you teach.
- Teach difficult subjects during naptime.
- After giving instruction, have older students work independently.
- Read aloud during breakfast and lunch (while toddler is contentedly eating)
- Ask Grandma to read him some books on tape. Have a special corner where he can listen to the tape and look at the book.
- When it’s time for ―school‖, keep him busy, by dividing his toys into separate bins. Allow him to get out one bin at a time, play with the toys, pick them up and return the bin to the proper place before getting out another bin. Bin ideas are varied and numerous (see last page.)
- Don’t set unrealistic goals for the older children. Keep lessons short and sweet. Make the most of the teachable moments that occur in the course of the day. Young children are so curious about everything and want to learn new things—capture their interests.
- Have a regular routine for your toddler. A lot of toddler misbehavior can be avoided, simply by doing the same things at the same time everyday.
- Home school four days a week, then use the fifth day to catch up or for home economics.
- Keep life as simple as possible –there will be time for more elaborate projects later when your toddler is no longer a toddler. Time passes so quickly!
- Consider saving special tutoring sessions for evening when Dad is home to either help with the toddlers or home schooling. Fifteen to twenty minutes of UNINTERRUPTED time goes a long way.
- Train your toddler to spend small segments of time (15-20 minutes) playing in his room.
Toddlers love to be in the middle of things, so don’t force him to spend too much time in his room, but it’s helpful for a short period so you can work with an older child. I did not do this very often, simply because I believe toddlers learn best by following their parents around, ―acting like little adults‖. I have trained Becca to stay and play on the oval rug we have in our living room for 15 minutes at a time. She takes one toy and has to stay there and play until the timer goes off. That gives me 15 minutes to explain a problem or listen to Isaac read without interruption. But for the majority of the day, she is ―learning‖ along with everyone else.
- Alternate quiet and active activities. Take a quick nature walk around the back yard to help work off some energy and provide a change of scenery for your toddler.
- Schedule a regular time for reading good books aloud together. You could read to the older children, after lunch, as you rock your toddler to sleep, or before bed.
- Schedule regular naps or quiet times for all. I always needed a nap as much or more than my toddler. Resting in the afternoons preserved my sanity and refreshed me so I could really ENJOY my children—and actually accomplish some things later in the afternoon, without collapsing from exhaustion.
- If your toddler is causing chaos, stop and take care of his needs first. You may have to get him interested in an activity, give him a snack, or put him down for a nap; and then continue with school. A peaceful atmosphere is conducive to a good education, whereas chaos is not.
- Remember to praise your toddler’s efforts. I try to encourage my children to good works, rather than constantly tearing them down. Obviously, toddlers need discipline, and it is easy, when life is so busy to become short tempered and impatient. A toddler can be led just about anywhere, but he can’t be pushed. If you exhibit Christ’s patience and love, so will he.
In summary, the key elements to successfully home schooling with toddlers are: A sense of humor
A positive attitude
Consistent Biblical child-training
A positive attitude
Consistent Biblical child-training
Home schooling in spurtsof fifteen to twenty minutes
Making the most of teachable moments
A lot of love
Abiding in Christ
Be encouraged that the same Lord who has blessed you with these little ones and called you to home school will enable you. He will give you wisdom in teaching, training, and nurturing your children so that they will be a blessing and not a burden. He has a perfect home schooling plan for your family—let Him lead the way.
"He shall feed His flock like a shepherd: He shall gather the lambs with His arms, and carry them in His bosom, and shall gently lead those that are with young." Isaiah 40:11
"And all thy children shall be taught of the Lord; and great shall be the peace of thy children." Isaiah 54:13
Art bin, scissors, paper, crayons, glue
Play dough, cookie cutters, rolling pin
Snap cubes, math manipulative
Split peas or rice, measuring cups, bowls
Sewing cards, shoestrings or yarn with tape on end
Coloring books, crayons
White board, marker, eraser
Alphabet blocks, index cards with words (cat, dog, etc.)
Clothespins, doll clothes, line (tie between two chairs)
Colored wheel macaroni, yarn needle
Practice golf balls, tongs, bowl
Piggy bank and plastic coins
Painting: watercolors, paint brush, paint book, smock
Chalk on dark construction paper
Scissors and paper (no other objective in mind!)
Writing tray: cake pan with cornmeal
Make a tunnel of kitchen chairs
Scrap wood, hammer, nails (use discretion!)
Nuts and bolts, bowls (same or different)
Stickers, paper plates
Beanbags and a bucket
Magnets, washers, nails, paper clips, etc.
One doll, clothes, bottle, pacifier
Paper towel tube, small car, or ball
Metal cake pan with lid, magnetic alphabet letters