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Advice for Homeschooling with a New Baby or Toddlers
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Could someone please give me advice for homeschooling my children with a newborn or little one in our home?

I often see this question in the Facebook newsfeed and enjoy reading through the encouraging comments that mothers have for each other. Although I understand the joys of having multiple children and juggling the responsibilities and blessings of being a working mom, I have not actually homeschooled, let alone done it with one or more little ones in the mix. As part of the HomeWorks team, I'm able to meet many of you at conventions, interact with more of you on social media, and also work with the many wonderful consultants who homeschool their children. I see those with special needs, many with little ones, those who are fostering or adopting, and those who are grandparents with young children at home, and I am constantly amazed at the depth of your dedication to educate your children for the glory of God. All that to say, it is a blessing to be part of a homeschooling community that can help you bear one another’s burdens and share good advice.

So, back to the original question. Here is a compilation of advice from consultants who have survived and lived to tell about it. Please share yours in our comments!

GENERAL

  • Call grandparents for an occasional break. (You know who offered this suggestion.)
  • We plan for both the expected and the unexpected—we just take our time. I never want to sacrifice a quality education by rushing my children through their lessons. Start the school year a few weeks early so you won’t feel the pressure to homeschool during those precious times that should be treasured. One of the benefits of Distance Learning is that my children were still able to do school while I recovered from surgery!
  • I use the distance learning option. This has been a LIFE-SAVER! I can have my children start their classes while I'm taking care of baby needs.


REST

  • Be sure to take a nap!
  • I had a new baby last September in addition to a 3 year old and homeschooling 1st, 4th, 5th, 8th, 11th, and 12th grade kids. It was a tough year but we plowed through. The best part of our schedule was a 1 1/2 hour mandatory quiet time right after lunch. Everyone 5th grade and younger had to nap or read a book quietly in their room while I took a nap/rested. The days this didn’t happen, I felt like I was going to climb the walls! The older children continued school quietly. I had a special desk where my 3 year old could color and play. I did a lot of baby wearing because this baby was fussy. Kids thrive on structure, so we did/do the same routine every day starting with Bible reading, chores, breakfast, then school. Distance learning has been my salvation these last 10 years. Now my 2 oldest are in college!
  • My day is flexible. We may not start school at 8 or 9 am simply because I may have been up all night. That's ok! Everyone will be MUCH happier if you are more rested and not feeling like you are rushing to play catch-up all day.
  • Maximize nap time! If baby is sleeping, don't be afraid to stop one subject and work on another that requires more of your presence with your children. This may be a subject that you are teaching yourself, or it could be an activity or an experiment that your child needs supervision and/or help with. You can always have them return to the subjects that they are more independent with when baby requires more of your attention.
  • Know that there are just 'those days'. The days when baby has blowout after blowout—screams all morning (after a LONG night), or any other 'stressful mama moment'. It is OK to give the other children a list of simple assignments and just go back to bed. Whatever they complete is a win for you . Anything not completed can get done the next day, and they will still learn. Also, realize that you may need to take a few days or weeks off when that baby is born, just so you and your family can adjust. This only means a few more days at the end of the year and it will be easy then when you have slept better. I say this as a new mom of a 2 week old!
  • MAXIMIZE nap time!! With a younger toddler, you still usually can count on a few hours of quiet in the afternoon; if not, maybe have the toddler have 'quiet book time’ in their room for a while. This is the perfect time to do some of those more 'mom-intensive' classes and/or projects/experiments.


ROUTINE

  • Having daily routines with meal times, nap times, learning times, etc. around the same time every day, really can make your life easier and your preschooler calmer.
  • We try to follow the same schedule every day. That obviously means we are home. I try to schedule being out of the house on only one day per week.
  • Children thrive in a well-ordered and organized environment. I make sure my little ones (ages 2-5) have chores—the same ones every day. I basically run my house like a small preschool. They have chores, playtime, and a special place for them to play when I am helping older ones with school. They can't touch the special play stuff unless it's school time—that makes it special for them.
  • A schedule gives children a sense of stability and being loved. A child needs to be taught early on to obey, or else we homeschool moms will have chaos. A predictable preschool schedule helps my child to know what will happen next and when it will happen—this gives him security. Learning by playing, exploring, questioning, and experimenting all can happen within the home, giving you, as the parent, opportunities to teach character.


TODDLERS

  • My little ones follow me around during the morning hours, "helping” me with small chores. For example, wiping the walls as I dust or sorting socks as I throw a load in. I try to include them so they stay busy and I'm not ignoring them or they don't feel left out. It also ensures that, as I clean up the house, they are not tearing it up in another room. As soon as the house is straightened, I give the littlest his special toys in his special place so I can help the rest with school.
  • I use the distance learning option. AGAIN, this have saved my days!!! I can have my older children completing the instruction portion of the classes while I get meals for my toddler, set up a play area for my toddler, or potty train my toddler!
  • I involve my toddler in the schooling of my older children. My toddler loves her older siblings and wants to be just like them. It is not uncommon that she wants to have one of their textbooks (even something like Biology) just to look at the book and pretend that she too is 'doing school'. I also have an area for her to color and 'read books' so she feels like she is 'doing school' along with them.
  • Flexibility! This may mean that we do a subject and take a break, then do another subject and take a break. The older kids will like it and the toddler needs those breaks for attention. If you have multiple children in school, you could even stagger their 'breaks' so that they can spend a few moments with the toddler while you teach another student.
  • A toddler's attention span is short, so I have a rotation of 'busy boxes' for my toddler to play with during school time. They range from fine motor activities (blocks, beads, 'sewing cards', plastic tweezers with rubber bugs) to art boxes to music boxes (those can get loud but are a great distraction for her!) to visual boxes (view master, 3D cards) to game boxes (Memory, Ants in the Pants). Each day is a different box with fun activities that they get during a certain time of day. I have found that even as my kids go into K5, they want the 'reward' of the boxes at the end of the day!
  • You will have 'those days' with a toddler—when potty training is...um...not going so well, the toddler has the flu, temper tantrums abound—you know the days! It’s ok to give your older kids simple assignments to complete while you focus on your toddler’s needs. Tomorrow will be better and you can then catch up on a few subjects, and even if you do lose a few weeks, adding them at the end of the year or on other 'days off' isn't really that bad. It’s certainly better than trying to balance a toddler disaster AND being there for everything your school-aged children require.


TOGETHERNESS

  • I feed baby in an area where the others are schooling. This allows me to multi-task. I can supervise my children doing school, I can even teach a class or two, I can grade papers, AND I can feed the baby! Two things can be accomplished at the same time! WIN-WIN!!
  • I have baby equipment in the same area as others are schooling. I like to use a baby swing, vibrator seat (for the littlest ones), a quilt and/or play gym for playtime and tummy time, and an Exersaucer®. Depending on their age, they can move from various items to another entertainment source. One of my sweetest memories is when my 3 year old daughter was only a few months old and trying to roll over. My four older children stopped their activities, we all gathered around her and cheered her on until she rolled over for the first time! I followed up with a short 'extra' lesson on gross motor development stages for us to watch for next!
  • Use a sling, swing, or playpen to keep your little one close by while you help your other children. It’s good for those doing schoolwork to see that homeschooling is a family affair and being a mommy means wearing many hats at once.


Our HomeWorks Consultants are committed to encouraging you in your homeschooling journey and they offer great advice! You can find one near you by clicking here. I’d also urge you to join our HomeWorks Facebook page so you can interact with some of our consultants and other homeschooling parents. In addition, we offer a webinar on balancing your homeschool journey. Other workshops and webinars are in the works as well, so stay tuned!


Picture courtesy of HomeWorks by Precept Consultants Michael and Cassandra Deleon http://www.homeworksbyprecept.com/michael-deleon

On behalf of the HomeWorks team,
Sharon Fisher

Manager | Curriculum Specialist, Speaker Coordinator, Social Media
HomeWorks by Precept


 

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