Here are a few tips from one parent to another on how to keep school going, keep your sanity, and keep a toddler safe, cared for, and occupied at the same time.
- Create a safe room or floor in your house, that is as free from choking hazards, poisons, or other general safety risks as possible. This will allow you to let your toddler toddle about a little without grave concern (as long as the area is pretty open, allowing you a somewhat constant view of your little one).
- Don't be afraid to use the crib as a cage (I meant play pen, of course). We have set up cribs in the television room, and T.V.s in the room with the crib, in order to allow our little one to have some quiet viewing time. Adding a few hundred of those ball pit balls to the crib can make for a very festive time for while. Just remember, all those balls will eventually be tossed all over the room, and have to be picked back up.
- Let you toddler have some "homework" in the form of a coloring sheet. Those color wonder sets by crayola are great for keeping down the mess.
- Try to keep the toy scattering limited to one or two rooms in the house. Toys all around can be distracting to the children trying to study, and discouraging to you if you find chaos a little bit difficult to deal with.
- Be flexible in you school schedule. This is probably not the best time to start a really rigid curriculum that requires a specific number of hours to be spent on each subject each day. You need to be able to squeeze in a subject here or there as your little one is occupied.
- Take turns working with your older children, and enlist the ones not doing school work to help with toddler duty - if you don't have multiple children to rotate through, then work with Grandma or Dad, when their available, to watch after the toddler while you get in some quality teaching time.
- Be understanding but firm with your older children. Yes, it can be difficult to concentrate on multiplication problems when someone is banging on pots and pans in the kitchen, but there will be distractions in the workplace too. Not everyone gets to work in complete silence with no interruptions. It's best to learn to concentrate despite the distractions now.
- Spend time with your toddler. Sometimes an especially fussy or destructive child just wants some one on one time. Hold them until they want to get down. They usually behave better if they know they are still getting their share of care.
- If all else fails, and things seem to be getting out of control, fall back to the basics. Pick one or two subjects that you absolutely have to get through each day, and let the rest fall to videos or educational video games for a while. This season in homeschooling will pass quickly - it's better to get some learning done than none at all.
- Remember that learning can happen in many different ways. Not all school work involves sitting in front of a workbook filling in answers. A lot of it happens while playing games, going for walks, visiting places around town, and just going about your normal day - these are all things your toddler can participate in - make the most every learning opportunity.
It's great to be a homeschooler!