Photo: Stock Xchng/ Lonnie Bradley
What do I do with my little one while I am trying to homeschool my kids? It may be one of the most-often-asked questions about homeschooling. Hopefully this page will give you some ideas, and be of help!
One of the greatest benefits to homeschooling is the flexibility that we have! As homeschoolers, we are able to choose when we do homeschool - which days of the week and when & for how long each day, whether we school over the weekend and during holidays and even through the summer, and what we cover and when. When there is a baby/toddler around, trying to homeschool regularly, extensively, and without interruption is an exercise in frustration. But it is okay to take a break or lighten the load for a while, or homeschool when you can rather than sticking to a specific time every day! Because homeschooling is effective & efficient, in terms of time, we can make up for whatever we miss during the baby/toddler times. Here is a great article about how one mother discovered that rather than trying to "get rid of" the baby during homeschooling, the baby became the lesson.
When baby is sitting up on his/her own, and a little more "entertainable", you can start including baby in your homeschooling! There are so many toys and supplies and activities that provide not only fun for baby, but also great learning. Obviously "learning" for a baby doesn't mean phonics or addition, but there is plenty for a baby to learn, and it's all about experimenting and fun.
Here are some things that my babies played with endlessly at times. Babies require supervision by either you or a responsible, older sibling!
- A box of Kleenex. Ok, I could give my babies a simple box of tissues and they were absoutely fascinated with pulling them all out, one by one! When they are done, stuff the tissues back in the box to be pulled out next time. This requires supervision, so baby doesn't try to taste the tissues! Baby is experimenting with spatial issues, as well as something existing - seen & unseen.
- Things to make noise with. Pots, bowls, spoons, or store-bought musical instruments like maracas, are all great fun. Admittedly, this could be distracting during homeschool, but babies love to experiment with making noises!
- Fingerplays and other body games. "This Little Piggy", "Head & Shoulders, Knees & Toes", Peek-a-Boo, and the like. At first, you'll have to do the motions for baby, but eventually (s)he will learn to join in the fun!
- Feely books. If you look in the baby section of your local bookstore, you can find lots of board books that feature fuzzy animals, bumpy reptiles, scratchy starfish, and the like.
- A bowl of water. Obviously this is messy and requires constant, mature supervision. But I tell ya, my babies could splash their hands and a plastic spoon or two in a bowl of water for an hour straight!
- Active Learning for Babies. This is a fantastic book series, filled with learning activities in each area of development! There is a section for small motor skills, large motor skills, language, nature, numbers, pretend play, and maybe one or two others. You will find plenty of ideas in this book!
This is where it really gets exciting! Toddlers have so many new abilities and interests! Activities for this age are fun and hands-on, and there is lots of learning involved in even the simplest of activities!
Fine Motor Skills - lacing cards, stringing beads, play dough, sensory box (plastic bin filled with sand and little toys to feel and find with hands, for example), water painting, finger painting, puzzle and/or shape sorter
Large Motor Skills - toddler slide, little scooter, pillows to climb all over, little exercise trampoline
Games - Lucky Ducky, Elefun, Nutty Elephant, Silly6Pins
Outdoors - sandbox play, water play, picnic
At the preschool age, little ones can more fully join in the homeschooling day. Preschoolers can learn basic math skills, letter skills, do simple puzzles, color, make crafts, and more! There are a few excellent preschool homeschool blogs (in the list below) that offer more preschool activities than you could ever do! Have fun with it!
There are a few websites I have found that are amazing and absolutely full of ideas of educational, fun ideas of activities for our littlest "homeschoolers" to do! Here they are: