SummaryKathryn Trudeau, a homeschooling mother and author, offers her four tried-and-true ways to make homeschooling easier while caring for your baby or toddler.
Homeschooling provides many opportunities for families to grow and bond, both emotionally and spiritually.
Siblings forge strong bonds as they can spend the day with each other. While homeschooling provides siblings this opportunity, it also presents a unique set of hurdles. For instance, how does a homeschooling family satisfy school responsibilities while meeting the needs of a baby or toddler? Babies are quick to let their needs be known while toddlers are kings of mess making.
As a homeschooling mother with a baby in tow, I know firsthand that homeschooling with young children is full of surprises. I also know that careful planning can help eliminate the stress of homeschooling while entertaining a baby or toddler. Follow these tips, and you’ll be able to gain control and peace in your homeschooling day.
When asked about the most necessary baby product, I quickly resort to a monolog about my Ergo carrier, but the truth is I am not partial to just an Ergo. I have four carriers, and they have all proved invaluable in both my homemaker duties and homeschooling responsibilities. Babywearing makes parenting easier, especially when trying to instruct older children. Babywearing:
- Keeps the baby close to Mama and siblings and promotes a sense of familial unity and closeness
- Feeding while babywearing means fewer interruptions during school lessons
- Fussy babies are easily soothed, which means less crying during school
- Even a toddler in a back carrier can nap or easily watch siblings work
Let the baby join in
Children are naturally curious and are natural imitators. I have often witnessed my younger son attempting to copy my older son during school. Even though my toddler isn’t being formally schooled, I still include him as part of our daily school activities.
Tip: Keep a special box for an older baby or toddler to use during school. Not only will this keep him/her occupied, but the toddler will also feel included. Consider adding a coloring book or a shape sorter to the box. When school starts, my toddler knows he can select an activity from his “school” box. Before the creation of this box, he often felt left out and therefore was needier during school.
Be prepared for an extra mess or two if your baby joins in, but don’t fret too much; Magic Eraser removes crayon markings off the wall. Ask me how I know!
Baby proof the room
Where the actual school lessons take place is a personal preference that varies from family to family. Some families prefer a “school” room that is solely devoted to school while some families learn at the kitchen table. Regardless of where you teach, if you are homeschooling with a baby or toddler, the key is to work in a baby-proofed room.
When I began my homeschooling journey, we kept a work desk in the living for my older son. While he diligently worked, his younger (and extremely rambunctious brother) constantly tested my patience. Whether he was trying to jump off the couch or scale the bay window, I constantly stopped lessons to save my toddler.
Finally, I realized I needed to change the learning environment. After I had moved the desk to a smaller, safer room, our school atmosphere changed instantly. I was no longer trying to save the toddler from his dangerous stunts, but he paid more attention to what his brother was doing.
Utilize nap time
Despite careful planning and baby-proofed rooms filled with stimulating toys, sometimes, our days just don’t go as planned. One of the best tips on these days is to take advantage of the freedom homeschooling allows us and alter our schedule. Sometimes, we take a walk around the block or have a snack in the courtyard.
Once everyone is happy, and the toddler is peacefully asleep, school may resume. Two other benefits of teaching during nap time:
- Increased one-on-one time with the older child
- Certain projects (like an extra messy craft) are easier to complete when the toddler is not in the room
Homeschooling with a baby or toddler is not always easy; in fact, it is frequently loud, messy, and chaotic.
However, homeschooling extends beyond the textbooks; homeschooling allows us to teach our children how to grow to be imitators of Christ. Never forget that the baby is also a lesson to your older children – a lesson in patience, a lesson in nurturing, and a lesson in love.
What are your tried-and-true tips for homeschooling with a baby? Leave a comment; we’d love to hear from you!