Homeschooling with Babies and Toddlers – MBFLP 212

Homeschooling with Babies and Toddlers

We homeschooled from the very beginning, which meant that we’ve always had babies and toddlers in the mix. We’ve always had multiple ages to deal with!

What’s the number one thing we wish we’d known?  That it gets easier!

The struggle is real. When you have little children, the burden is mostly Mom’s. It takes two hours to get ready to go anywhere, as you fight through the necessary clothing changes, diaper changes, baby nursings, and so on before you depart. When you have three little ones and only two hands, that’s reality. Don’t be surprised that you’re overwhelmed – give yourself some grace!

We wish we’d known that having an eighth child at 45 would be less of a jolt than having a third child at 31. We didn’t realize that as new babies joined the family, the older children were growing more and more capable and helpful. With some training, even your six- or seven-year-old can take some of your load off! Don’t miss out on that help – make the investment to teach them household skills, and you’ll be training them for life as well as getting a hand up on your present-day stress.

Don’t Freak Out!

If you’re just starting homeschooling, you might be worried – can I really do this? What if I mess them up?

With the younger ones, you really can’t wreck their education. Preschoolers and toddlers need you to read them stories and let them play, pretend, and explore. Don’t try and push them into academics too early – if they’re not developmentally ready, it won’t work, and it will only convince them that school is unpleasant. Don’t destroy their natural curiosity and love of learning!

What about babies? We never centered school around the kitchen table or a row of desks. Rather, Melanie found a comfortable chair (she liked the recliner) so she could nurse the baby or cuddle them while they slept. A book case on one side held the school materials and a child-sized table and chair on the other kept everything within arm’s reach. Homeschooling isn’t like a classroom and doesn’t have to look like one. We found babies really weren’t disrupters at all.

Toddlers, now, are disrupters, and no mistake. Remember little ones have little attention spans. Don’t expect them to sit still for long at all. When they run up to you and interrupt the formal school, it’s best to let them – don’t try to say, “We’ll be done in 20 minutes, Sweety,” because the one thing they can concentrate on is whining. Instead, tell the older students what to do for a few minutes, then take the toddler in your lap, give them three or four minutes of eye contact and interaction, and then let them go play again. First attention is the fastest!

In fact, they’ll learn what they need at the early ages if you just keep them nearby and talk to them. You can teach colors, numbers, and other basic facts just in the course of family life. Keep some quiet toys in the school room, buy them some child size household tools (brooms and such), and let them help with tasks like folding towels or sorting the silverware.

And when you’re starting your primary students, don’t push them too hard either. Whatever you teach them at six years old, they’ll be seeing and practicing over and over for years to come. It won’t hurt if you need to skip a day or go back and repeat something. We’ve had four graduate homeschooling and go to college on scholarships; there’s a time to step up the academic game, but it’s not in primary school!

Be sure you adapt your household expectations. Your family is on a mission from God, and that mission probably isn’t “Be ready to welcome the camera crew from Architectural Digest.” If your home is occupied 24/7 instead of empty all day, and doubles as a school, laboratory, and business center as well as dormitory … then make the house work for you, and not you for the house!  Disposable products, simpler menus, and children’s help on the chores (i.e., not up to Grandma’s skill level) can give you the time and energy to do more important things in the lives of your family, church, and community. (And Dad – don’t expect angels to sing if you help out around the house. It’s just the right thing to do.)

Want to know more? Need more practical ideas? Then listen in!

RESOURCES WE MENTIONED

No Longer Little: Parenting Tweens with Grace and Hope by Hal and Melanie Young

Interested in having Hal or Melanie speak at your event? CLICK HERE for information!

Come Away Weekend – our marriage retreat and giveaway – Flat Rock, NC – October 19-21

Special Needs Conference for Gifted and Struggling Learners – Orlando, FL – November 16-17