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Homeschooling with babies and toddlers can be kind of tricky if we aren’t prepared or have a good routine in place.
How do you homeschool while you’re raising a baby or toddler? For us busy Catholic mamas, this may include multiple small children at various ages.
There are so many helpful resources available to us to help us along in our homeschool journey. But sometimes these expert tips don’t always work for everyone.
So, I’m not saying that my methods will work for all, but I am sharing my tips for balancing raising littles and homeschooling.
Homeschooling with Babies & Toddlers
Raising children is hard work. And homeschooling thrown into the midst of raising multiple children can be challenging for many different reasons.
Currently I’m homeschooling grades 1, 2, and 3, along with a toddler helper. Some days school lessons go perfectly and others it can be challenging.
When raising babies while homeschooling older children, it takes patience while tending to the needs of each child. Some days it can involve a lot of baby wearing while teaching lessons.
And on other days, it involves mom reading from the couch while snuggling babies or toddlers.
Create schedules & routines
Creating a regular routine is great for making sure that all of the necessary things are getting accomplished. Sure, babies don’t know how to tell time. But getting the rest of the family into a good routine is super helpful.
And as the younger children grow, they learn how to follow the example of the older children in following this routine.
Some things to include in this daily routine are also outside of lesson time. Creating a structured day will help with maintaining balance and teaching the little ones responsibility.
Here’s what our daily routine looks like during the school year:
- 5:00 am wake up / morning prayers
- Breakfast / cleanup / morning hygiene
- Daily household chores / homestead chores / start laundry
- By about 9:00 we are ready to begin school lessons and these go on until about noon. We do a small break for a light snack and play time for the children.
- At around noon – ish we start lunch & cleanup. If the children did not finish their lessons by noon, we will go back to the classroom to finish.
- After lessons are finished, the children have free independent play, independent reading time, handicrafts, projects, and artwork time. Some days piano lessons fall into the afternoon time.
But that’s our basic routine. I try to stick with routines vs schedules in our day. This has helped the children to build good habits and learn what is expected within our days.
Sometimes this is hard to follow with little babies and toddlers around, but it’s definitely worth the efforts!
What to do when feeling overwhelmed
Not all days are going to be the same in your homeschool. Some days definitely go better than most. So knowing that, it is helpful when something comes up and plans may need to be altered.
When things are feeling overwhelming, I’ve found it helpful to simplify our lessons. Sometimes the extras get put on hold and we spend time focusing on the core subjects.
The extras are picked up when we are able to. This may also mean that extracurricular activities are also put on hold.
When things are feeling a little overwhelming, go on a nature walk! Even if it’s just around the neighborhood or in the backyard. Spending time in nature has such a positive effect on everyone’s mood – even moms!
📚 A few helpful tips:
- create schedules & routines
- plan around babies / toddlers nap times
- get help from your older students if applicable
- baby wear – seriously, I would have been lost without doing this
- use workbooks for pre-schoolers
- have toys dedicated specifically for homeschool time & rotate them when necessary
If you have older children, it may be helpful for you to have them help out with the younger children.
All of my children are fairly young and close in age that this has not worked for me. I’ve had to rely heavily on baby wearing while raising babies and toddlers. This makes homeschooling and homemaking possible for me while the children are small.
Read aloud time includes all grades. Some days we will combine a few subjects like religion/catechism, literature, history, geography, and sometimes science lessons for read alouds. And then will have breakout / independent work based on appropriate grade levels.
Other times I will work with one of the older students on a lesson and then they’ll work independently on an assignment. This will give me time to work more in depth with one of the younger students.
Also, look at unusual pockets of time for learning. For example, I’ve had my children read to me while I’m in the kitchen cooking or baking.
Some more ideas:
- listening to audiobooks while in the car or other busy times
- if you’re children are exceptionally early risers, consider having school earlier
- we’ve had lessons on Saturday mornings when life was extra busy
Homeschooling allows the freedom and flexibility to work with what works best for your family!
Keeping young children occupied
I’ve found over the years that I want all of my children included in lessons, even at a young age. Providing them with workbooks or coloring books has been something that they enjoy doing while the older kids are working on school work.
It makes them feel like they are participating in school. However, I do not push for preschool lessons in depth…especially if they are not showing interest.
I also love the idea of creating an atmosphere of learning as is a big proponent of a Charlotte Mason education. Creating this atmosphere within our home allows children – big and old the opportunity of learning through their environment.
Provide things like nature books/magazines, picture and chapter books for free reading, have a globe or maps available for study. Allow for as much time outdoors as possible so the children can observe the world around them.
One last idea that has worked great for me is to have a bin or basket of homeschool toys for the young children. These are usually wooden or other activities that are educational, not distracting to the older kids, and fun for little ones.
These are toys that are only for play during school lessons. The Melissa & Doug brand of toys has a ton of great options and it’s what we usually go for.
I would also recommend rotating the toys occasionally so the children don’t become bored of them and they lose their effect.
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