The art of homeschooling with a toddler!

As with a lot of homeschooling mom’s I have a diverse age group now from 2- 15. With this being said this week I thought I was on track to finally getting a grip on my “homeschooling with my toddler” struggles. My Toddler Amaziyah (Ami) is so busy and his attention span is only 2 minutes, well I could be exaggerating a bit, but in the midst of a lesson it sure seems that short---In reality it is more like 5 to 7 minutes long. I have tried everything from a large play yard ---- which I thought would be a winner, it gave Ami room to play, and fenced him out of our school stuff. But as with any well-developed American toddler Ami longed for more, more space and more freedom. Ami is a bright and intuitive child and solved his problem in two ways 1st) He would move the whole play yard and when that didn’t work the 2nd) Plan was to try to stack items and crawl over the play yard all together. Now his intuitive ways did make me laugh, but he spoiled my peace in the class room plan, but his quest for his freedom earned my respect.
I understand that we all go through this faze at one time or another, when we have or add the dynamic of a baby or toddler into our homeschool rotation. Maybe until this point you have had great success in homeschooling your older children. You have a great schedule and you have set academic goals for them, you’ve picked your curriculum well, developed a method that not only seems to work but that you have down to a science. But now the baby is older and is moving around, your toddler is demanding a lot more attention. At this point the question is how to adequately care and nurture your little one without compromising all the work you've invested and without your older children’s educational needs going up in smoke, oh and let us not forget the day to day of family life.
I pray that what follows will help you miss some of the headaches;
1) Prioritize Take the time to make a list and put your things in order make sure to put first things first. What you put on your list of priorities will be different from my list as it will change for each family, and different tasks have to be juggled on different days, so this is a very detailed process. For my family our priorities were: faith, family relationships, academic learning, and home management. What I had to learn was not everything needs to be done perfectly every day. What you want to remember is that you just want to meet your goals daily. It helped me to remember that homeschooling, is 24/7/365, not from 8:00 AM to 3:00 PM, Monday through Friday, for. Some days all we did was talk about expectations, then there were the days that it seemed that all I did all day was emphasize character-building, problem solved and dealt with social issues. If you’re like me it may be very frustrating not to do so much "teaching," but we catch up quite easily on other days. It is defiantly a balance--so set your priorities for your family and keep them in some kind of order, go day by day and don’t be so hard on yourself.
2) The development of a good routine. Or Schedule, is a good thing just take it from me and don’t let it become your task-master . Routine, DEFINITELY. Everything goes much smoother if everyone knows what to expect and when to expect it in the course of each day. For me making time for spiritual things such as prayer and meditation was very important to me , and if this is a priority for you make sure to set time for it. Fit in chores, school time, free time for the children, some family time, extra-curricular activities (well-considered), and whatever else is on your priority list.
3) Make sure that you Integrate life and school together as, much as possible. consider how multiple objectives can be met concurrently. Think about the things that need doing daily, like keeping the young ones occupied during school time, schooling the older kids, character building, home management and ministry or service within the community. And of course, it's important to always enjoy just being a family! Some examples of integration: let one of your older children spend some time reading with the little ones. While another set listens to a teaching tape or watch an educational video, while you work with a child that might need a little more attention or help. Chores can be done in two ways. 1) Assign everyone a daily chore and during the school day take small breaks to work on home management , or 2) Have a daily 30-minute chore time where everyone helps in some aspect of home management or food preparation these are not assigned chores everyone just helps. While washing dishes or doing chores, practice math drills out loud, We read aloud daily this is where I allow everyone including myself to take turns reading, at times I might take this reading time to verbally review what the children have learned in their lessons during the morning or the day before. I make learning boxes for the little ones, this is where I might put in colors, paper, large plastic dice, math manipulatives, and other things that can be played with by a toddler without having to be watched every second. Hand out for the smaller children, or a book on tape (using ear phones), while the big kids do their writing or teacher lead lessons. True there’s a lot going on and It may be a bit distracting, but it keeps the family unified and lets the little ones feel included--thus, they are often less disruptive.

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