So many homeschool families face the reality of homeschooling multiple ages. Homeschooling with toddlers is quite the challenge, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be done well.
I remember homeschooling with a baby and how much of a challenge I thought that would be. The reality is, babies still nap a lot and don’t really care about missing out on the fun.
Toddlers on the other hand – well, they want to be involved. At least, that’s been my experience.
For a while, my little girl insisted that when she was given something to color it had to have “l-m-n-o-p” on it (said sort of like la-la-la-la-p).
It can be a real challenge knowing how to involve them while also getting school work done with your older ones.
It’ll take some trial and error, but here are some things that I’ve learned work well in our home.
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How to Involve Toddlers In Your Homeschool (Without Going Crazy!)
Please remember that all families are unique and that what works for one family may not work so well for another.
The beauty of homeschooling is being able to do what fits you and your children best.
With that said, here are some tips that may serve as a jumping-off point for different things you can try.
#1 – Do Group Activities First
I’ve personally found that our days work best when I pour into my toddler first. If she feels loved and her tank is filled up then she’s usually a lot more content to quietly follow along with what we’re doing or to just do her own thing.
So, we tend to do our group subjects first. This means that your toddler will feel included in school.
For instance, we might do a picture study and then some painting.
Another thing I often do with my children is a read-aloud and while I’m reading I have them complete a page or two of their handwriting books.
I printed my toddler her own book for no other reason than that she could feel included. She absolutely loves it!
#2 – Find Extension Activities for Your Toddler
While your toddler may be able to fall into many of your group subjects, there may also be those that just aren’t flexible enough.
When those times come up I go on the hunt for extension activities.
Pinterest is full of these and much of the time you can find them for a very affordable price or entirely free.
Another great resource for this is the homeschool bundles you often see shared on Instagram. They’ve typically bundled resources for a discounted price and you can use them at your will.
I will often purchase the seasonal versions of these bundles and then print off resources that work well for my toddler and match up to what my older children are studying.
#3 – Put Together Toddler Busy Bins
At the beginning of our school year, I decided to put together some toddler busy bins for those days where my toddler wanted to be near us during school but I didn’t have relevant ways to include her.
These were so simple and affordable to put together.
I have a video showing the supplies I bought which you can view here, but some of her favorite activities have been anything to do with pom poms.
I put them in water for her, I’ve had her just sort them between muffin trays, and then she’s just made up activities all on her own.
You don’t need to overthink these activities, but what is important is that they’re only pulled out when it’s school time.
You see, the magic of them lies in the novelty. If your toddler only gets to play with those things during school time then they become valued.
#4 – Adjust Your Expectations
Homeschooling with toddlers is hard. There’s no point in saying it isn’t, but hard is not the same thing as bad.
It is so important that you as the parent adjust your expectations and attitude.
Be flexible, learn to have patience, and understand that toddlerhood is but a stage.
#5 – Save Individual Subjects for Later
While involving your toddler in your homeschool is a wonderful thing to be able to do, the reality is that there are just some times when that won’t be possible.
For us, that includes the times when I need to focus on teaching individual subjects like math or language arts with my older children.
In our home, I save those subjects for a little later in the day when my toddler is occupied elsewhere or is taking a nap.
The Joys and Struggles of Homeschooling with Toddlers
To what extent you involve your toddler in your homeschool is totally up to you. There are days in our home when my toddler is present for most of our school work and then there are other times when she’s not.
Don’t be afraid to try new and even unconventional schedules to make things balance for your family and never compare your homeschool to someone else’s.