Homeschooling more than one child is hard no matter what age or season.
Homeschooling more than one child while you have a toddler underfoot is harder!
But it CAN be done. With a little effort and a whole lot of grace.
Here are my 5 Tips to homeschooling when you have toddlers and/or preschoolers.
Tip 1: Homeschooling with littles is difficult- give yourself GRACE.
You may not be able to do all the things that you see other Homeschoolers down the road or on social media is doing with thier kids and that is ok trust me. Everyone has different ways to teaching and learning. Also school days may take longer because you are wrangling the toddler or older kids.
And that’s okay. Just prepare yourself with this mindset, and you will be able to handle the challenging days with a little more grace.
Also, this season won’t last forever. Toddlers turn into preschoolers, preschoolers turn into big kids, and so on. So be patient with yourself. Try to stay present in the season you’re in and not wish it away. The days are long, but the years are short! Enjoy the little moments that matters the most.
Tip 2: Busy Bags and Sensory Play Activities.
These are a homeschool mom’s secret weapon, or best friend, whichever description you like. I actually made a lot of busy bags and sensory play activities when my oldest was little, so I was able to use them with my younger child.
Just search Pinterest for any toddler or preschool busy bag or sensory activity. (You can find some great ideas on my board here!) Set aside a day or two to gather supplies and to prep them and put all the supplies together in bags or boxes. Simple fun toys or items for kids are so much fun.
When you are just building up your boxes, it’s a good idea to do this once every season, so that way you’ll have some prepped for a few weeks, and then by the end of the year you’ll have a whole year stashed for the next year or the next child. Going out into nature is a great way to find rocks, Accorns, sticks leafs with your kiddos.
Now here’s how this works practically on a daily basis:
I pull out the puzzles, Play doh, a water tray, bubbles, or other sensory activities the night before or first thing in the morning. I set this in a designated spot for my little to sit that is easy to clean up and easy for me to spot them.
For my son now that he is in 1st grade, he just sits at the table with us with his own activities while I do lessons with my oldest. Then we do lessons all together.
I have seen some moms use a blanket or sheet so it was easy cleanup. For active littles, a playpen is a great spot. Or, for kids who need to move, I take school outside and let the little run around and do his thing.
For times when you’re doing read-alouds or activities where you want them to sit quietly for a longer period of time I use snacks. Give them a bowl of cereal or crackers and a healthy drink and let them snack.
A quick note about screen time:
As far as screens go, I recommend not using them too much, but you can definitely use them to your advantage. I give my kids specific times when they can play specific apps, games or watch shows. So don’t be afraid of using screens, but don’t rely on them all the time. Prolonged screen usage can definitely backfire on you.
Tip 3: Schedule Activities Around Naptime.
When your little is napping, it’s a great time to take advantage.
Do activities that you need your full focus with your older kids during naptime.
Also, because of that needed nap time, schedule your out of the house activities in the morning while your little is up and about.
When my kids were a little younger, we would have play dates, and park visits, and library story time in the mornings, then we would do some school in the afternoon with my older kids while the little napped.
Tip 4: Special Time with Mom Another secret weapon.
Sometimes spending one-on-one time with your littles before you jump into a full school day really helps. I say sometimes because there can be days where they are just really craving attention or are sick and they really just want to be with mommy.
For one on one time I recommend making breakfast muffins together, or reading picture books together, doing a puzzle, or just coloring and talking.
It doesn’t even need to be educational. Something active like a walk may help.
So there you have it! Give your yourself grace, prepare some sensory activities, schedule around naptime, and spend one on one time with your little guys.
Are you looking for successful homeschooling tips? Tips to help you successfully homeschool your children. I know homeschooling is a huge responsibility, and you want to do everything correctly. There is a lot of pressure that can build up when you choose to homeschool, and doing everything can feel overwhelming at first. When we started to homeschool, I scoured the internet for information because I needed some resources. I wasn’t sure how to fill out the paperwork correctly. I needed a helping hand to understand those regulations and requirements, and don’t get me started choosing the right curriculum. In the past few years, I have been trying to gather, create and share information that I have found helpful from my experience homeschooling here in New York.
Let me share some successful homeschooling tips, but before I begin, please take a moment to pin this post to your homeschool board.
Know the law in your state
Every state is different. New York’s homeschooling laws and regulations require reporting to the Department of Education or DoE. This paperwork may seem overwhelming and terrifying at first, but it gives us each power when we learn the law well, and the resulting paperwork helps to keep us organized and well documented. Don’t rely on others, like the DoE, to inform you. Take the time to learn what is actually required by the law. You can learn about everything you need to file and when on the DoE’s calendar for homeschooling. If you live in another state, you may want to check out your state’s laws.
Finding support is essential. Whether that support is in person or online is up to you. Maybe you want the best of both worlds. Finding the right groups and communities is an important part of homeschooling. It would be best if you had support during this journey because it can be different than everyone else in your immediate circle. It can be difficult and stress-inducing. It can even be isolating. It is also a bonus if these groups extend to group field trips, co-ops, and more. Do some research, try things out, don’t be afraid to leave, and not return if the group isn’t working for you. There are all kinds of homeschoolers in all walks of life. There is a group out there for you and if you can’t find it, start one! JOIN OUR HOMESCHOOL SUPPORT GROUP BY SIGNING UP TO MY NEWSLETTER.
We have a whole line of resources and tools available on Amazon, or free printables including our Homeschool Planner, Daily Calendar Journals, Gratitude Journals and so much more.
Group Activities for Homeschoolers
Socialization is always a hot topic. That’s why I said finding support, finding other homeschoolers or group programs open to homeschoolers can help you and your kids in amazing ways. Whether you join groups or create your own group activities, they are an important part of successful homeschooling.
Your Child’s Interests and Learning Style
Homeschooling gives you and your child the ability to dive deep into their interests. Ask your child if they can learn absolutely anything, what would it be? Give your child room to explore. If they can learn:
Engineer / Build anything they wanted
any musical instrument
art style or art history
any culture or part of the world.
any time period
write or perform plays, songs, poetry
The list is endless. These are just a few broad topics to choose from, but if you gave your child the opportunity to learn whatever they like or even yourself, for that matter, what would they choose? What would you?
Three days is all you need to give your child to really think and answer the question, giving them the freedom to change their mind at any point in time. Take their answers seriously. What may seem silly to you may be the world to them. Give them each thoughtful consideration, including your own interests.
If your child is having difficulty choosing and you really don’t know your child’s interests have them do little deep dives into different areas during your deschooling period which means letting them learn on their own pace and creativity, visit the library and choose something that grabs them at that moment and dive into it, grab the laptop or tablet, watch videos, visit museums or events and go for it. Spend the time with your child, go out for walks in nature and talk, notice what they get excited about what attracts their gaze. Do they notice a flyer for soccer or a new pet store in the neighborhood? Please take it as an invitation to dive into those areas.
Every one of us has our own learning style. Some of us learn best from reading, while others learn best from watching or listening. Still, others learn best by having the experience and doing it. Some of us need absolute quiet for concentration, while others need the radio or some background noise. Many of us getting started don’t know our child’s learning style. Be vigilant of what works best for your child, try things out, and don’t feel guilty to let things go. You can also check out many amazing books and resources that includes a series of simple checklists that can help you identify your child’s learning style.
Finding your child’s learning style will help lessen the frustration for both you and your child. It will also improve learning efficiency. Sometimes all you need is some simple modifications to your day or school structure to make a big difference. There is no one size fits all method or structure. What works for you may not work for your child, and one child may be very different from your second child. It is important to be flexible and follow your child’s lead and needs. It may seem overwhelming, but sticking to one step at a time and taking your time to get each thing in place will help overall. Learning styles can also change, so it may be beneficial to reassess their learning styles and your teaching methods at the beginning of each homeschool year.
Interest Led Homeschool Teacher
We have explored how important it is to know your child’s learning style, but if you are a homeschool teacher, you are critical. It is easy to feel overwhelmed and overworked as a parent. Sometimes, it’s easy to forget what interests us, what excited us as children, what we loved to do, and things we weren’t being requested to do. Did you enjoy playing games, playing baseball or soccer, dancing, drawing or painting, reading, acting or singing. Dive into those interests, or something that interests you now. It will help you homeschool, diving into your own interests. Maybe that looks like a book club, or a pottery class, or writing class, or learning photography. It will breathe life into you, and you can breathe life into your homeschool. You can take that photography interest and then teach it to your children, or teach science, art, math, history and reading all through photography. Thinking outside the box is another important aspect of homeschooling, we all have these ideas of what school should look like, throw them away and realize learning doesn’t only happen at a desk.
Research, Research, Research
Research is key to a successful homeschool. No one has all the answers, but there are a lot of answers out there. A little research goes a long way. Research is essential for getting information, recommendations, teaching ideas, lesson plans, textbooks, resources, and inspiration.
Where can you research? You can turn to your support groups; you can search online like this website and countless others, you can check out the library, Youtube, podcasts, and even social media.
There is plenty of information and inspiration out there. Remember to keep your and your child’s best interest at heart. Don’t try to make every moment “Instagram perfect.” It isn’t the case for any homeschooler. Focus on one thing at a time, don’t overwhelm yourself, make sure you don’t over plan your homeschool, and leave plenty of room to keep things flexible.
Use Your Environment
What is going on in your neck of the woods? It is a good idea to learn more about what is happening in your local area. Before this pandemic restrictions I would call or visit the websites of the museums, zoos, libraries, theaters, and schools (especially colleges) and ask about classes and internships for homeschoolers. If you are looking for a specific internship, google search for your area, speak to your neighbors, visit local shops and services, and learn about what’s in your area. Don’t be afraid to ask for internship opportunities or “after-school” jobs at your local vet or pet store. Now because of the current restrictions in New York we are having to be more creative in our plans but Homeschoolers have the advantage of a flexible schedule where your child can explore their interests, unlike most times in traditional school.
Paperwork- Keeping Records
Now that you know the law, the requirements, and regulations of the state, it’s time to fill out the paperwork and put them together yourself, This would be the (ihip) Individualized Home Instruction Plan and Quarterly Reports if you are in the New York area.
Storing your records is also important. You are responsible to keep a record for yourself. Therefore, everything you report to the DoE should have a full copy that you keep, permanently. I recently began keeping all my files in a binder, I have page protectors and each year of paperwork for each child is in their individual page protectors, this makes things easier to find when or if needed.
Creating A Love For Learning
Learning never ends. We are constantly learning and growing. This should be more enjoyable than not. Does that mean it’s easy? No. There will always be challenges and things to overcome.
Check out local colleges for offerings listed under continued education or pre-college courses. They may waive any prerequisite, age, and diploma requirements. It doesn’t hurt to ask. Internships and apprenticeships can sometimes offer a superior education than college, depending on the individual and their goals.
Teaching our kids how to learn and how to love it will help them become life long learners. Remember to keep alive their interests and spark joy by digging deep, even if it’s Minecraft. Always be on a journey that is filled with learning new things along the way.
Successful Homeschooling Tips
My goal with my homeschooling posts and resources is to inspire and offer creative approaches to teaching and positive parenting.
I hope these successful homeschooling tips lead you and your children to a happy and healthy homeschool. I hope they have filled you with excitement to get started, to jump in headfirst, and to breathe away any overwhelm. Homeschooling isn’t always easy but it is worth it. You can do this.