Help! Homeschooling with Toddlers

I am a mother of 4 children.

My eldest son 10 1/2 will be starting year 6 in september, my second son L. is the child I homeschool and I also have two daughters age 3 (off to nursery in september) and 15 months.

L. has been home taught from March 2010 due to severe bullying at school and I have tried so far to base his education on the national curriculum.

My problem is he gets very bored easily, although being a very capable child. Due to having to care for the two younger children I worry he spends too much time sitting around watching tv and not really doing enough work. I am convinced home education is right for him yet he does miss being around other children at times. He is a very active child who prefers to be out doing stuff than sat up at a table. This is the challenge I have. I know he gets very frustrated at times when he cannot have my full attention during study periods due to his young sisters and cannot do enough practical things due to nap times and so on.

Please help ! I have considered sending him back to school and even taking his older brother out of school just to keep him company . I could really do with some help !!!

Kind regards Emma


Hi Emma. Homeschooling when you have younger children around can be a real challenge. I remember how demanding toddlers can be!

I think the key is to be really flexible. You are going to have days when you feel nothing got done, but to be honest, that happens a lot in school too. Your advantage is that you can fit in the educational stuff in short bursts at all sorts of weird times. And you can make the most of activities that don't involve sitting around a table.

Take a look at your schedule. What are the times during the day when you can give L. some one to one time? When the children are napping? Early evening after they have gone to bed? Is there a time of day when the little ones are better at entertaining themselves? Each day is going to be different and you are just going to have to go with the flow. Your son too! It is all part of family life.

I would also start to think of yourselves as a homeschooling family, rather than just L. being taught at home. You say you are following the National Curriculum so I am guessing you are using workbooks, but there are lots of active educational things you could do with the whole family.

How about nature walks with your oldest collecting then classifying items for a nature table. Do a gardening project - or do an arts and crafts project together (mine are talking about a full sized dinosaur sculpture for the garden!). If he is practical what about spending an hour showing him how to 'service' the car - wash the windscreen wipers, check the oil level and tire pressure, and check the indicators work. The little ones will be a big help if you give them a sponge and some water and let them help with washing the number plate and lights. Would he like to learn to bake? The babies can join in with playdoh or some mixing. He could make an animation for his sisters using their cuddly toys.

If you think you do need to do some sit-down study time then I would think along the lines having some 'school' ready for the toddlers too. Find some toddler activities they would enjoy (making cheerio neclaces, coloring books, 'mixing' tubs of rice and beans) and sit them down with you. You may not get long, but even 15-20 minute sessions here and there will add up. Lapbooks are great - you can download some nice toddler ones for them to color and paste, while your son works on one that interests him.

One thing that has worked really well for us is listening to audiobooks in the car and at some mealtimes. Start with something that would really catch his interest. You don't say how old he is, but perhaps The Hobbit, Wolf Brother or The Red Neclace. If you think these might upset the 3 year old, try Swallows and Amazons, Farmer Boy or Just William. We have got through masses of stories this way, and they have introduced lots of things to talk about including historical references and geography.

You say he gets bored easily and I think this is quite common for children coming out of school (and he hasn't be out very long really). They get used to being told what to do all day, and it takes them a while to rediscover their passions and interests. Give him some time and encourage him in the things he likes to do (lego? airfix? woodwork in the garage?) - all of these things are educational and will lead him onto other projects and interests. He doesn't need to be sat at a table to be learning things.

Try not to be discouraged. Keep everything as fun and active as you can for everyone - and don't forget to take 'catch up' days for yourself when you are feeling behind with chores.

Best wishes, Julie.

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Homeschool with toddler
by: Lori D.

Another couple of options....

1) get some tutor time for your son during the day - he'll feel like he's getting some one on one and it will free you up a bit when the toddlers need your attention. If you can't find a tutor another option is to co-op teach with another homeschooler with toddlers - that is one of you teach the olders while the other one "entertains" the toddlers and then one another day switch.

2) Another option is to use the computer - I don't know a kid today that doesn't mind spending some time on the computer "doing school" - there are some great cd/dvd and online options out there and it take part of the "teaching" load off of you and give him some seperate time. You will still spend time with him doing other things but it may be an option that allows you a bit more flexibility.

3) Lastly on the toddler side there is an option of bringing someone in to watch the toddlers as well - if you can find homeschool teenage girls, they love getting the experience for babysitting and you are still in the home overseeing things. Be explicit that they are to have something planned to "entertain" the toddlers with - even just an hour or two a week could help a lot. If you can't find a homeschool teen sometimes you can find someone who can come right after school but personally I just find homeschool teens usually have had the experience with their own younger siblings so "they know what to do".

I really hope some of these suggestions work and realize it is "just for a season" as the olders get older and the youngers get older it does change and things do get better, hang in there!!

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