Asalamu alaykum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatu homeschooling mamas. I hope you have had a joy-filled productive homeschool week with your kiddos.
Let’s roll right into today’s topic; homeschooling with toddlers.
For me personally, the toddler ages were harder than having a newborn because no longer is your little one satisfied with being fed and cuddled. Toddlers are not quite ready to join in, and even when they do show interest their attention span is so short that by the time you’ve explained the ‘activity’ they’ve already wandered off onto something else.
I went through a period of homeschooling where I felt guilty I wasn’t giving my toddler what he needed, or time was cut short because I had the pressure of teaching the older kids. I did write about this some time ago, but the post originally had five tips but I’ve added several more that I’ve picked up over time which helped me immensely and I hope they help you too.
Fill their love tank.
It’s easy to get caught up in chores or making a start on lunch first thing in the morning so you don’t have to worry about it later in the day. I used to do a quick tidy, meal prep, and fold laundry while my older kids got started on their first lesson.
However, when they were finished learning independently and needed my attention, my younger one would get upset (and rightly so!), especially since morning lessons for us were the most intense. He had already waited for me to finish some chores, and now I expected him to wait again! So, all my morning chores, except for a quick tidy after breakfast went out of the window and I changed up my morning routine.
So rather than start your day with the kids, perhaps wake up earlier and get a start on a few chores while the kids are still asleep and then have one on one time with your toddler while the older kids work on something independently.
Make toy cars, modeling clay, dinosaurs, reading and just lots of undivided attention an integral part of your day.; your toddler will be so much happier once his love tank is full, and your homeschool will start off on a much happier note insha’Allah.
Get outside; in the morning!
We were used to going for walks and having outdoor time in the afternoons but scheduling them first thing in the morning proved to be extremely helpful, alhamdulillah.
Because after some undivided attention from Mama, your toddler is more likely to happily play for a while you finish up the first set of subjects with your older kids as he has something else to look forward too. This is actually great for all the kiddos and you, as everyone comes back feeling refreshed and the kids have a chance to burn off some energy.
Do activities they love-not what you’ve seen others doing.
Sometimes as homeschool moms we turned to Instagram and Pinterest for new ideas we can do with our little ones, which is great. The problem we fall into is getting so caught up in what looks nice, we sometimes forget what our little ones actually like to do. I remember going out one day and buying lots of puzzles and flashcard style games because I had seen others do so. The problem was my son didn’t like puzzles!!! He liked toy cars, dinosaurs, playing with water, and us pretending to rescue people from lego buildings. He also wasn’t keen on colouring, and painting didn’t keep him excited for too long either. So now when you browse for ideas, look for things that you know will interest your child not what necessarily looks fun to you.
I’ll add to this even further. Sensory bins are not the answer to a happy intentional time with your little one. Although they are great, they don’t always interest every child, can become a little boring and sometimes, let’s be honest, Mama doesn’t have the time to set them up.
So keep it simple and do what you can. As long as you are present and engaging with your little one, even a cardboard tube and a model car will be sufficient, not to mention the joy spontaneous imaginative play brings, Alhamdulillah.
Let them sit next to you at table work time.
This might seem a little obvious to some, but I used to have a smaller desk for my son to play at while I taught the elders on a separate table when doing table work. I would set it up with all of his favorite toys, and although his table was next to us, he would still disrupt the lesson!
Then it occurred to me, he just wanted to be with us, and in particular next to me. So why not seat your little one next to you if you don’t already. The closeness allows you to be able to take an interest in what they’re doing, such as asking questions about what they’ve made/built, praise, kiss and cuddle them all whilst teaching the older kids.
Another change I made was for us to all sit together with my toddler at lunchtime and eat and play with him at the same time. Yes, we would take our lunch to his room, sit on the floor on the rug and me and the older kids would play with him whilst eating together. Again, the attention and getting involved will mean that when you start the afternoon lessons, your toddler will be more settled because he’s had plenty of interaction insha’Allah.
Get them involved in the day to day things.
The most beautiful thing about homeschool is that every opportunity can be a learning opportunity and more importantly you have the abundance of time to spend with your children. Ironically, however, as homeschool moms, it’s also easy to fall into the trap of ‘overplanning’ to the point where we if it doesn’t have some type of learning objective it can’t be done.
But this just adds unnecessary pressure and rigidity to your day, which seriously can lead to the joy being drained from your homeschool because you’ve separated home and school!
Instead, if your toddler likes gardening or baking, don’t feel the need that everything needs to be meticulously planned. Just tell them to grab a spoon and get mixing the salad dressing or bring their lego car in the garden so they can make tracks in the dirt while you do some planting.
Lastly and most importantly enjoy the homeschooling journey with your little ones. They grow so quickly subhanAllah, we don’t want to feel like we missed out on such precious moments.
Have a wonderful day!