Keeping Toddlers Busy While Homeschooling

Author’s note:  The post that follows is the one that people come to most on my blog after typing “how to keep a toddler busy while homeschooling”, or something very similar, into a search engine.  For a list of all my posts on how to keep your toddler busy while homeschooling your older children, click here.  I am, by no means, an expert, but this is what has worked for me at various times over the past year and a half. When it stopped working, I moved on to another solution.  And I am glad to report that it does get easier.   ~Julie

If you’ve read my blog before, you know I am on an ongoing quest to keep my very active two-year-old busy when trying to do math, reading, etc. with my older two kids.  One way that I’ve done this lately is to scour thrift stores and children’s consignment sales for interesting, activity based toys that are, most importantly, cheap.   I usually don’t pay any more that $5 for any one item.  I keep them stashed in a closet where the kids can’t get to them, because they are only for school time.

Some of the things I've found recently.

Each day, I try to put one or two things into Love Bug’s “workbox”.  It’s more like a play box, really, but it looks just like his older siblings workboxes.  When they delve into their workboxes each morning at 9:30, Love Bug can open his and find something fun to play with.

My goal is to be vigilant about putting the toys away at the end of each school day and then reintroducing them at some future point. We’ve had a few tears shed, (although mostly from my preschooler) about the toys being put away but I haven’t caved so far.  I figure the key to my homeschooling sanity is keeping Love Bug occupied and if I have to dry a few tears from my preschooler over toys, then I can live with that.

Other things I’ve used to occupy Love Bug include toys designed for older children.  For example, he loves our Connect Four game and will sit for a long time putting all the checkers in and then dumping them out. I’ve taken board games, like Monopoly Junior, removed the board, paper money and cards. That leaves him with the box and the little houses and other game pieces.  He thinks this is great fun.

When I embarked on our homeschooling journey last summer, one of my biggest concerns was how to keep my youngest child occupied.  Most of the advice I found was to keep crayons and play dough handy.  I thought, “That’s it?”  I knew that would keep my kiddo occupied for about five or ten minutes.  What, I wondered, was I going to do the rest of the day?

Of course, I took full advantage of nap times, but now that he is not napping much anymore, I’m on a quest to find new and creative ways to keep him occupied. What creative ideas do you have for keeping toddlers busy? If you’ve written about it on your blog, put a link in the comments section below.

This entry was posted in homeschooling, keeping toddlers busy so you can actually educate your older children, toddlers, workboxes. Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Keeping Toddlers Busy While Homeschooling

  1. Ashley says:

    Great idea… we are hoping to get PG this fall with the help of IVF and I was wondering how I would accomplish it all with a little wanting something fun to do while their big sister was working….thanks

  2. Rivka says:

    I posted about it a few days ago. I tend to try to find ways to draw my 2-year-old into our lessons, but I bet I wouldn’t do that if I had two school-aged kids to keep track of.

  3. Jess says:

    I also use the “workbox” approach with my almost three year old.

    Our day usually starts with calendar and read aloud for everyone, then when my oldest is doing independent work, the younger one and I work on some preschool stuff (letters, numbers, shapes, colors, etc.). He loves doing his school work and will work on it sitting quietly next to his older sister. Then he uses his workbox and when he gets tired of that I let him use the kid computer.

    We use Zoodles for the kids. It’s a free website where you create a profile and sign in for each child and they are then supplied with games, videos, online books, and such that is age appropriate. It also blocks the desktop and needs a password to end so he can play almost independently.

  4. It doesn’t last for long, but I have special CD’s of music that my little ones love that they can only listen to during school time. Some parents are against it but I don’t have a problem with a small amount of tv time so I go to the library every week and pick out a few age appropriate and educational shows that my little ones will be interested in (but my oldest won’t!) We also have 3 medium size drawers that are only for “school items”, (toys, crayons, puzzles, games, etc..), very similar to your “workbox” idea. They also love to draw on their white boards, even my 1 year old has to have her own 🙂

  5. Tiffany says:

    I use workboxes for my toddler, too. It’s a great help!!! Stopped by from weekly wrap up.

  6. Sarah says:

    This is a challenge for me too.
    My toddler likes simple books and if all else fails, allowing him to stand and pour at the kitchen sink is usually successful.
    BTW, I loved your Madeline post and have linked to it in a post today.

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