Homeschool? When I have a toddler? How can it be done?
Homeschooling by itself can be challenging enough. Throw a toddler or preschooler in the mix and getting school work done can seem almost impossible! Pure craziness! However, with a lot of prayer and a little bit of planning you can succeed in teaching both your school-age child and your preschooler. Below is a 35 day plan for keeping your toddler busy and happy while you homeschool. And, here’s a few tips for making your homeschool day run (somewhat) smoothly for everyone.
- Start off your day with the Word of God and prayer, both individually and with your children. Matthew 6:33 “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”
- Spend a little bit of time reading with your toddler or preschooler before your start school lessons with your older child(ren).
- Whenever possible, include your toddler in a simplified version of the activity your older child is doing.
- Homeschool in “spurts” of a half hour. Spend time with your toddler between school “spurts”.
- Change the activities planned for your little ones regularly. If you do the same thing everyday with your toddler, he/she will quickly get bored.
- Recognize that when your little one is interrupting or sabotaging your homeschool day, he is probably feeling one of the following ways:
A.) Neglected: “I’m not getting enough attention. If I make a mess, Mommy will notice me.”
B.) Jealous: “Why does big brother/big sister get to do all the fun stuff and I can’t?
C.) Left Out/Bored: “There’s nothing for me to do!”
D.) Lonely: “I’m all by myself.”
E.) Unimportant: “Mommy likes spending time with big brother/big sister more than me.”
35 Day Plan for Keeping Toddler or Preschooler Busy While You Homeschool
- Week 1 Day 1: Music Lesson – Give your toddler a pile of pots and two wooden spoons. Tell him it’s his music lesson. He’ll have a great time playing the “drums”.
- Day 2: Phonics – Talking Letter Factory DVD. (See picture, right.) I highly recommend purchasing this DVD! It’s a great way for your little ones to learn the sounds for all their letters in a short period of time. To see a short clip of the video on YouTube, click HERE.
- Day 3: Science – Take a few minutes to capture a bug (inside or out). Put the bug in a clear plastic container with holes and things you think the bug might like. Your preschooler will have a great time watching it for the next 20 minutes.
- Day 4: History – Animated Hero Classics. (See picture, right.) These fantastic DVDs can be found at libraries across the country. To see a short clip of one of these videos on YouTube, click HERE.
- Day 5: Creative Day – Place chairs in your living room. Place a sheet over the chairs and secure it with some string or rubber bands. Your preschooler will have a blast playing in his tent. I got this great idea from the book Homeschool Supermom, Not! (See picture, right.) She is a homeschool mom of 10, and she includes lots of tips in her book on keeping your toddler busy. It’s my favorite homeschool book of all-time. I highly recommend it! – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
- Week 2: Day 1: Physical Education – Place a mattress on the floor in a room and let your toddler jump to his heart’s content!
- Week 2: Day 2: Phonics – Purchase a coloring book or preschool workbook. That way he has his own “schoolwork” to do.
- Week 2: Day 3: Science – Big Backyard Magazine (Now called Ranger Rick Jr.) – (See picture, right.) You can find this magazine at libraries across the country, but buying a subscription is worth it! Every month a new issue is mailed to your toddler with amazing illustrations and fun things for little ones to do. Get to a link for the magazine by clicking HERE.
- Week 2: Day 4: Cleaning/Colors – Dump all your dirty laundry on the floor and ask your toddler to sort the laundry by colors.
- Week 2: Day 5: Creative Day – Get a large box from a dollar store or grocery store. Cut circles from 4 pieces of construction paper and glue them to the 4 corners of the box. They will be your child’s “tires” to his car. Then give him some crayons, washable markers, or paint to decorate his car. – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
- Week 3: Day 1: Music – Stretch 4 or 5 rubber bands over the opening of an empty tissue box. Your toddler can now play his “violin” or “guitar”. For fun, play some classical music for him to harmonize with.
- Week 3: Day 2: Math – Take out your sales circular from last week and ask your preschooler to circle all the “1’s” he can find. If your child is good with scissors, he may enjoy cutting out all the “1’s”. (For future weeks, you can add other numbers!)
- Week 3: Day 3: Science – Give your toddler a magnet. (Make sure he does not put it near your computer or anything digital!) Then give your child a large assortment of objects (Legos, pennies, string, paperclips, etc.) Ask your child to find what sticks to the magnet?
- Week 3: Day 4: History – Animated Hero Classics. Choose a different famous person to learn about.
- Week 3: Day 5: Creative Day – Take a roll of old Christmas Wrapping paper and roll it out, white side up. Ask your toddler to lay on it while you trace around him. Then have your preschooler draw in his face and clothes. If he’s good with scissors, he can cut out his shape as well. – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
- Week 4: Day 1: Cleaning – Ask your preschooler to take all the spoons and forks out of the dishwasher and put them away.
- Week 4: Day 2: Phonics – Talking Letter Factory DVD. It’s worth watching again and again!
- Week 4: Day 3: Science – Fill a large bowl with water and give your toddler an assortment of items. (Pennies, Legos, crayons, bits of sponge, plastic spoon, tooth picks.) Ask your child to see what floats and what sinks.
- Week 4: Day 4: Physical Education – Have your toddler see what is the highest number he can count to while going up and down the stairs.
- Week 4: Day 5: Creative Day – Give your child some brown paper lunch bags, some shapes cut from construction paper and a glue stick. Ask your toddler to design his own puppets using the supplies you’ve given him. – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
- Week 5: Day 1: Music – Fill 5 glasses of equal size with different amounts of water. Give your child a metal spoon and have him tap gently on the sides of the glasses to make his own music.
- Week 5: Day 2: Phonics – Have your child work from his coloring book or preschool workbook.
- Week 5: Day 3: Science – Give your child an empty egg carton. Ask him to fill it with 12 different rocks he finds outside.
- Week 5: Day 4: History – Animated Hero Classics again!
- Week 5: Day 5: Creative Day – Have your child color in his own mask using a template from one of these websites. Click HERE and type in the words “Masks for kids printable”. – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
- Week 6: Day 1: Cleaning – Give your child a slightly damp rag and ask him to dust the stairs or around the edges of your book shelves, etc.
- Week 6: Day 2: Science – Next Issue of Big Backyard Magazine!
- Week 6: Day 3: Phonics – Take out your sales flyer from last week. Have your child find and circle all the letter “A’s” he can find. (Kids can also use scissors to cut out “A’s”.) For future weeks do other letters of the alphabet.
- Week 6: Day 4: Colors – Put out 6 pieces of construction paper: yellow, red, blue, green, black, and white. Then give your child a pile of Legos and ask them to sort them by color.
- Week 6: Day 5: Creative Day – Give your preschooler some play dough and cookie cutters. See what new things they create! – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
- Week 7: Day 1: Puzzle Fun – Fill a bowl with pennies and pieces from a puzzle he can do. Ask him to find all the puzzle pieces and then put it together. (I got this idea and idea # 30 from this website: http://kellythekitchenkop.com/2012/09/12-tips-for-keeping-toddlers-busy-while-homeschooling.html.)
- Week 7: Day 2: Phonics – Talking Letter Factory DVD. It’s worth watching again and again!
- Week 7: Day 3: Creative Day – Tape several pieces of black construction paper together to make one giant black background. Then give your toddler some chalk to create stars and his own “night sky.”
- Week 7: Day 4: Animated Hero Classics!
- Week 7: Day 5: Creative Day – Give your child some yarn and ziti or large macaroni noodles. Have him string the noodles to make a giant necklace.
More Tips for Toddlers
- When my kids were little, I always started the day with a story from the Young Reader’s Bible. I highly recommend it!
- Young children have fantastic memories! Consider having your little ones practice a daily Bible memory verse.
- Preschoolers love having their own “assignments”, just like their big brothers or sisters. If you are using the “Workbox System” (For more info, Click HERE ) for organizing your homeschool, consider setting up workboxes for your toddler as well.
- Toddlers love stickers! Consider setting up a “sticker chart” for work completed. (This is also a great tool for potty training!)
- Before 5 In A Row has a great book list for toddlers. Most of these books can be found at your local library. To check it out, scroll down to the bottom of the site. You can get to the site by clicking HERE.
- Letter of the Week is a fantastic free online curriculum for toddlers. To check it out, click HERE.
- 1 + 1 + 1 = 1 is a site with a lot of fun worksheets for toddlers. To check it out, click HERE.
Hopefully some of these sites, tips, tools, and resources will aid you in your upcoming homeschool adventure! May God bless you and keep you! May His face shine upon you as you seek to carry out this great work!
Matthew 18:10 “See that you do not look down on one of these little ones. For I tell you that their angels in heaven always see the face of my Father in heaven.”
Matthew 19:14 Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.”
Psalm 127: 4 – 5 “Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are sons born in one’s youth. Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them.”
Original Copyright August 15th, 2013 by Gwen Fredette
All Scripture taken from NIV (New International Version)