You’ve got a few weeks under your belt and you are finding your groove until… your toddlers decide they want attention too. Now what!?!?!? First, breathe, don’t panic- you’ve got this!
I’ve been there too. I was certain I had it all figured out. I found adorable desks for my school-aged kids, let hem decorate the walls around their little school spaces, and found a schedule that worked for us. For the first few weeks it went great. My toddlers even napped during school time, but then one Monday morning everything turned chaotic. No longer would my toddler sit on my lap quietly while I taught and nap for three hours. Suddenly this little one needed structure and activities too. But how was I supposed to do that AND teach!?!?! I thought I was doomed for failure. Those were the days before the internet-the dark ages.
Thankfully, we have the internet today and I can help you out with this. What my family found to be most effective was to have a “School Time” box for my toddlers. This was a box of quiet toys that were only allowed to be taken out during school time. Some things I included in this box were blocks, magnetic letters and numbers, coloring books and crayons, paper, and stickers. As they got a little older I included things like play dough, water color paints, sensory toys, counting bears, tangram pieces, puzzles, and wipe-off worksheets (you can either laminate a worksheet or put it in a plastic sleeve). I had two or three small baskets, I got them from Dollar Tree and would rotate them so my littles didn’t get bored. If you have a bookshelf, you can also keep these on the lowest shelf so your little can access them without needed too much assistance from you.
Another thing we didn’t have was an iPad. If you allow your toddler to use your phone or an iPad, there are many amazing and free apps you can allow them to play during school time- just a hint, you may want to get them headphones so they don’t disrupt their older siblings. Some of my favorite apps are:
Breathe, Think, Do- A Sesame Street App This app teaches children how to cope with those big feelings we all experience.
Lego Duplo Train App This app is designed for toddlers ages 1.5-5 and allows them to virtually build trains. Great game for fostering creativity, especially for those little ones who love trains.
PBS Kids Games Aimed at children aged 2-8. This app features all your children’s favorite PBS characters in a variety of games.
Fish School – 123 ABC for Kids The app is designed for ages 4+ and uses fish to teach early learning skills including: alphabet, numbers, shapes, colors, and more
PBS Kids Video Free access to thousands of PBS videos right on your iPad
Musical Me! – Kids Songs Music This app is geared for ages 4+ and focuses on music and creativity. The app teaches notes, rhythm, and pitch. Children learn to read music and get to play with virtual instruments.
Toca Apps These were some of our favorite apps. This company has grown immensely since we first used them so I’m including their website. https://tocaboca.com/apps/ Their apps are all free and include things like Toca Hair Salon, Toca Kitchen Sushi, Toca Life Pets, Toca Pet Doctor and so many more
These are just a few examples of the many, many free apps out there to keep your little ones occupied during school time.
Some other things I have learned along the way. If possible, try to give your little ones some time to run off some energy before you sit down with your school-aged kiddos. We know little ones have boundless energy, and we can’t expect them to be able to sit still and quiet all day. Giving them that opportunity to shake their wiggles out goes a long way toward a successful day.
If your older children need to read aloud, have some circle time with your little ones and let your older ones play “teacher” by reading aloud. It is great reading practice for your older child and tons of fun for your little one.
Try to plan ahead for drinks and snacks. If you can, have drinks already poured into sippy cups and be waiting in the fridge. Have snacks ready to go so when it’s time, you can just grab them. Planning ahead saves a lot of time and frustration.
Most of all, go easy on yourself. Homeschooling is not easy, especially if you are one of the many families who haven’t willingly made the choice to have your kids home for school. Everyone understands these are challenging days for all of us, especially our kids. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself or your kids. Take things one day at a time, one hour at a time. Remember you are your child’s best parent and teacher. There is no right and wrong. There will be bad days and good days. Learn from the not-so-good-days and celebrate the great days. Most of all, enjoy your children and every day you have with them!
I’d love to hear how your school days are going. Let me know your tricks and tips for making it through the day with your little ones!