Homeschooling With a Toddler, Part 2

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.

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8 Responses to Homeschooling With a Toddler, Part 2

  1. Emily Boesch says:

    3 is so much easier than 2. It really does get better! The best part is how much trickles down from the bigs to the littles…even if he’s just sitting in the room, he takes some of that learning in, I love that part. Great post! I’m glad things are getting easier! Enjoy your journey!

  2. Natalie says:

    My terrorist turns three the first week of Jan, but he is still no where near working with us – as in, not being so disruptive all we can do is repeat, ‘I can not kill him. I can not kill him.’ while we eat chocolate and exhale. Sigh.

    He is only now on the cusp of giving up his nap – in that awesome in between land where if he naps he can’t fall asleep at night, but if he doesn’t nap, he is so terribly unsettled that no one in the house can function. Double Sigh.

    We too are just rolling with it though. Just a stage, and a great reminder that home education isn’t about me teaching our children so much as about us all growing well where we are planted.

    I confess I would like one more child, but the thought of having to go through the toddler stage again, let alone going through the home educating with a toddler stage, gives me great pause. 🙂

    I’m so glad to hear it is getting easier at your house!! 🙂

  3. Glad things are getting easier for you! 🙂

  4. April says:

    Thanks for sharing. Glad to hear that it will improve eventually… I’m struggling with my 18 month old at the moment. Some days I feel it is impossible to accomplish anything. Great post and thanks for the tips 🙂

  5. Mrs. H says:

    Yea for things getting easier for you!
    My toddler is 25 months but he does fairly well. He loves dominoes and our counting animals so if he wants to sit at the table while we are doing school I often just pull one of those out and he is good to go. He also loves to color so I have a stack of “school” coloring pages for him that I pull out when we are doing school. They are really just pieces of scratch paper but it works!
    I do know what you mean about the clawing and climbing all over when they want something. My guy grabs my arm and just starts yanking and screaming at me. Often with a bowl in one hand.
    I think it greatly depends on the child. My current toddler has always been pretty easy going. His sister on the other hand…just glad I didn’t start homeschooling until she as past the toddler stage. 🙂

  6. Sarah says:

    I’m sure you are right. My youngest is a similar age and is much easier than a year ago. I think that reading to him, lots, along with his slightly older sister may have helped but much must just be maturity. It is interesting that you comment about being able to occupy himself for longer-we’ve noticed the same and Brio and Duplo have come into their own.

  7. I did giggle a little as I read your post and pictured my own son who is almost three tormenting his sister who was quietly working on something. He is really interested in tot school activities now and often asks to do them even when we are not doing “tot school”.

  8. Amber says:

    I can’t tell you how helpful this post is to read. My youngest is two. Last year was impossible. This year is still fairly impossible. My own terrorist is the “pull over a chair to climb on the kitchen counter to grab the knives” type of child. Every project attempt is completely ruined and/or interrupted. My older son gets terribly frustrated. We were part of a homeschooling co-op at a park where the kids did group projects and we had to stop going because I couldn’t help out my older son while chasing down my two year old the whole time. It was stressful for all of us and disrupting everyone else there. I keep telling myself that every year it will be different and it won’t always be this hard, but last year and this year have really shaken my homeschooling confidence. So thank you for these posts and words of hope.

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