I just realized something. Homeschooling with a toddler around is getting easier. Shhhh! Don’t tell him I said that. I just had to share that, for all the lamenting I did last year about how hard it was. And it was hard. But I am here to tell you, Homeschooling Mommas Who Also Have Toddlers, IT WILL GET EASIER!
Love Bug was a challenge. He was 20 months old when we first started homeschooling. Now he is on the cusp of three years old. And more and more, he is doing his own little version of things right along side us, rather than ripping up all our papers. And other times, he is playing quietly on the floor next to us, with the things I’ve left for him each day, versus throwing them at my head. He is able to wait five minutes for me to get him a snack when I am right in the middle of a math problem with my seven year old, as opposed to clawing and climbing on me and screeching. And he loves to sit next to his sister when she is on the computer, rather than smashing the keyboard and poking her in the ear. You see the difference? It’s subtle, but important.
It was rough last year. We mostly didn’t get much done unless he was asleep. When he gave up naps, I panicked. Then I went all unschooly for a while because, well, what else could I do? It was the only way. Love Bug is a very active little guy and last school year, he spent much of his time earning his nickname, The Homeschool Terrorist.
Now, before you judge me for clearly ignoring his needs, you should know that I tried many, many tactics. I read him lots of books, played with him every day, created many games and little activities for him to do, tried including him in what my other kids were working on, got him lots of outside playtime, let him make lots of messes, did school with my other kids on weekends and holidays when my husband could entertain him. And so on. But it just was not easy. And finally, I decided to switch to a much more relaxed model of schooling so that we could be out and about every day, with an increased amount of playtime. And you know what? My other kids learned anyway. Firefly’s reading improved a thousand percent. The Queen Bee started reading herself. We did a ton of science experiments. We squeezed in some math.
And then, as we slowly, quietly started to structure our day around learning after taking a bit of time off at the beginning of the summer, I noticed it. Love Bug became interested in what we were doing. Sometimes, he became darn right fascinated. For example, as we began to study ancient Egypt, he picked up a few things, like “Nile River” and “Mummies” and “Pyramids” and then when he saw them in our books, in the videos we watched, at the museum exhibits we went to, he shrieked with delight.
And now, he clearly understands that we have a routine. At 9:30, when I sit down to do seat work or read alouds or some whatever project we are working on, he sits, too. He grabs something off the shelf or delves into what I’ve left for him at the table. He does stuff like this:
All stuff he found, set up and occupied himself with for a very long time. Now, for those of you who have sweet, calm, reserved and otherwise angelic toddlers, you are thinking, What is the big deal? I remind you of this and this and this. All a very accurate glimpse into what our last year was like with a very active and curious little guy.
Could it be that all that advice I read to homeschooling moms about simply giving them crayons or play dough or a copy of their sibling’s worksheet was aimed at a much older toddler? I’m not sure but I do know that that would be much more applicable to Love Bug now than a year ago.
So if you have a young toddler, I have no magic solution for you. There are some things that make it easier at times but they don’t always work. Mostly, what you need, is time. Your older kids will be okay. They will learn, they will arrive at their academic destination. And one day, you, too, will realize that your toddler has finally fit in with your homeschooling routine, rather than working with the force of an army against it. Or maybe you will catch on to that faster than I did and just relax. I highly recommend that.