Homeschool Troubleshooting: Homeschooling Littles

I think one of the top questions I get in homeschool settings (like our co-op) comes after fellow moms find out that I have six children, including a preschooler and a toddler.

My new friend will ask some variation of: “How do you homeschool with a baby {or toddler or preschooler or whatever} in the house?”

A homeschool mom may also ask, “How do you get it all done with six kids?” But that’s a troubleshooting post for another day…
homeschooling littles

Anyway, here’s my advice for homeschooling littles (and their older siblings):

1. Include The Littles in Your Homeschool Day

How?

Have things for them to do during “school time.” Keep a few toys out of reach that you only bring down during school time.

Hold the baby on your lap while you read. Read to the toddler first, before you read to anyone else.

Use Pinterest and have sensory bins and activities designed just for your littlest family members.

Have older children take turns with younger children.

Do what must be done while holding your littles on your lap. Use baby-wearing to your advantage. Expect interruptions and plan for things to take longer than you thought they would.

One word of caution from a mom who’s made mistakes:

Be careful with the use of screen time. Yes, it’s “easier” to keep the toddler occupied with your phone or a tablet. And sometimes putting on a video or episode of a favorite show is a good use of technology.

Sometimes it’s not a good idea.

Exercise those discernment muscles, Mama. If the toddler is disrupting all the time EXCEPT when he has a screen in front of him, or if she throws a fit until you give her a tablet, well. The time you take to address that issue is more valuable than whatever lesson plan you had for the day.

Boredom will not hurt our children. (But keep your eye on the little rascals. A bored preschooler can wreak havoc on your home or belongings!)

2. Use Naptime and Quiet Time to Your Homeschool Advantage

If you follow a consistent routine, your children will come to expect it. Boring is the name of the game here.

For us this looks like: lunch, bathroom break, one board book or short story, and then nap for the youngest family members. We avoid “getting everyone stirred up.” (That is: loud or crazy activities.) I say we avoid it, sometimes the lunchtime sillies spill over. That’s life.

(And no, the older boy, 4 at the time of this writing, doesn’t always sleep. But he’s a fan of routine so he’ll usually “rest” for the length of a music CD.)

My oldest children save their trickiest subjects for Naptime (or Quiet Time). Things are quieter then. Distractions fade. Mom can give her uninterrupted attention.

(Just keeping things real: this “do stuff that’s hard when the littles are asleep” has occasionally backfired on us. Such as when an older child saved her piano practice for when the littles were in bed. As it happens, my little guys can pretty much sleep through anything. But it wasn’t ideal!)

Even if your older child doesn’t sleep or do academic work, you can use Quiet Time for school related subjects. You could allow handicrafts while they listen to an audio book. Or you could play a classical music CD while the child reads quietly.

But no, not everything can happen in the blessed 30 minutes or and hour that we call quiet time. Which is why point #3 is important:

3. Adjust Your Expectations While Raising and Homeschooling Littles

I know, it’s easy for a mom with older children to say that. But I’ve been in the trenches with you. From age 20 until 35 I was almost always pregnant or nursing.

Little ones are time intensive. They aren’t really civilized yet. Their need for care and attention is nearly constant. It’s draining.

But littles don’t last.

My oldest is nearly 16. This is the honest truth: it feels like yesterday she was three years old and asking me “Why?” every 4.2 seconds.

You know that old saying, “The days are long but the years are short”?

It’s true.

But I also know that sometimes the days seem far too short to squeeze in everything you wanted to get done.

Mamas of Little Ones, cut yourself some slack.

Everything will not get done while you’re homeschooling littles. And that’s OK.

Some things will fall through the cracks. That’s OK, too.

You may have to repeat a lesson that the baby interrupted more than once. Yep, once again: that’s OK.

It WILL be OK.
(If you need a reminder about the realities of “falling behind” with your lesson plans, see Homeschool Troubleshooting #2.)

Homeschooling isn’t just a method of education, it’s a lifestyle. And you’re living this life with your littles, too.

Two Pinterest Boards that Might Inspire You –
Preschool Ideas


Playtime Ideas (maybe for when you’re trying to keep littles busy without screens)

Simplified Organization

homeschool troubleshooting pin

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