Here’s a questions I’ve been promising to answer on my blog for about a year and a half:
What do you recommend I do with my babies and toddlers while I’m trying to teach my bigger kids?
You mean besides strap them into their high chairs for three hours and hand them candy and cookies to keep them quiet?
Yeah, I don’t recommend that.
What’s funny about trying to answer this question is that even though I home schooled for several years with little bitty guys running (or crawling) around…I’ve had to rack my brain coming up with the answer to this question.
What DID I do with my babies and toddlers while I was schooling my bigger boys (who were at the time quite little themselves)?
There is no simple answer or formula. I don’t have anything to just hand you. I can’t just say, “Oh, my little guys did X, Y and Z while the bigger kids were schooling.” We just sort of did it. I’m pretty sure it looked a little chaotic half the time. That’s just life with little ones.
I would read history or read aloud books while I was nursing a baby (sometimes the bigger boy would have to hold the book). I would squeeze in school work during the little one’s morning nap.
I would take all of us into a room with toys, close the door so that the little guys were contained and I would do school work with the big boys. That way everyone was safe and happy and I knew exactly where everyone was at all times.
If we were using tiny objects like cuisenaire rods, the bigger kid took them to a table and I kept the littler ones away from the table, hollering my help from afar.
Once the babies were 2 or 3…I had several play options on our school room shelves. These were some of our favorites:
Melissa and Dug Food Cutting Set
Bead Buckets (I’d give my kids a big container of beads, some plates and a spoon. They’d spoon out beads and separate the colors onto plates. You could do this with beans or buttons too!)
Wood Peg Puzzles
I called each of these options “Rug Work” and the kids got to pick one activity off the shelf, go to a rug, sit on it and play. These options were only allowed to be played with on the rug and during school time. When they were finished, they put the activity back on the shelf and got something else to play with.
I usually had a Veggie Tale or an educational video each day that I reserved for the time I needed to do more difficult schooling with my bigger boys. That would ensure that I had 30 minutes of uninterrupted work time.
I certainly remember having moments of frustration…feeling like I was trying to read a book around a bunch of craziness…trying to keep my baby from eating books off the shelf and trying to keep the toddler from screaming when he didn’t get his way…all while trying to teach a 2nd grader what a fraction was.
Ultimately, everyone learned to be patient. The big kids learned to be patient and wait until mommy could answer their questions. The toddlers learned to be patient until mommy could get their favorite puzzle off the shelf. The babies learned to be patient…yeah right. The babies screamed until they were fed. The mommy learned to be patient because school time is fun and loud and full of hubbub and hardly ever goes according to her perfect and ideal plan.
The beauty of it is that school time didn’t take hours and hours each day (still doesn’t even with bigger kids). A couple solid hours of concentrated school time (with some diaper changing breaks here and there)…we got it done.
And somehow, we all survived to tell about it!
Hey everyone…share your fun ideas for keeping babies and todders happy and occupied during school time!