Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Homeschooling with a Toddler

Homeschooling with a toddler (18 months) is hard.  In fact, for the majority of this year, I've avoided trying to get any school work done until she goes down for her nap after lunch.  Once she's laid down, it's a mad dash to begin as I hope like crazy that she stays asleep until we're through or at least the majority of the way through our subjects.  This was working pretty well most days, but it meant that we didn't finish school until almost supper time and I need time to make supper.  More than that, I need a reprieve between school and making supper.

You know, for my sanity.

Since Christmas break, we're trying something different and it seems to be working pretty well.  Around 10am, I do a short read aloud (sometimes with Miriam beside me looking at her own book) and then Sam does his handwriting and spelling on his own (although my eagle eye is always watching).  After this, Sam does the review portions of his Saxon math worksheets.  He completes the new portions after I do the teaching later in the afternoon.  This takes care of some of the time consuming parts of school without requiring 100% of my attention, shortening our afternoon school time.

Since I still keep close by, this means Miriam is close by and this can lead to trouble.  Having quiet activities to do with her at this time is crucial.  I don't want to distract Sam, but I also don't want to leave him to his own devices completely.  The most popular quiet activity in our house right now is a gift my parents gave to Miriam for Christmas.  I passed the Rainbow Resource gift catalog onto my mom prior to Christmas because Sam had Bristle Bots on his list (also a hit around here).  She came across this book and got it for Miriam.  I've seen these before- they've been around for ages.  This one, called Busy Bible, is well made and simply precious.

I'll let the photos speak for themselves...

A warning came with the book that it is not for children under three.  There are a lot of pieces that are held in pockets (like the animals with Noah's ark and the nativity scene people and animals) that could end up in a little one's mouth or lost to the world.  (My mom attached some of the characters, like Jonah, to a ribbon so they wouldn't be lost- thanks, Mom!)

This is why we save this book for special times, like school, when I can look at it with Miriam.  I've overheard Sam say that he wishes we had three of these books so they could each have one, so as far as the age cap?  I'm not sure there is one.

The book has 12 pages and comes in a clear, sturdy plastic carrying case.  The book itself velcros shut.  It also comes with a sheet of paper that summarizes the Bible stories that go along with each page.

You know.  Just in case you're a little rusty.

What tricks do you have for homeschooling with a toddler?

No one asked me to talk about this book.  We just love it, is all.
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  1. Just posted about schooling with my two year old the other day. Maybe you can find some ideas. I have had a toddler/preschooler for the last 26 years and am always looking for more ideas. I wanted to get one of those books for our family worship time, but hated to spend the big bucks on it. I may try to get my daughters to make one!

  2. i have a 7th grader (who pretty much does everything on his own), 2 preschoolers and a toddler (and i'm expecting #5 in may). i make lesson plans for my oldest and he can easily work on his own, at his own pace. if he has a question, he can ask. i grade papers at night or on weekends. as for the preschooler (3 and 4 y/o), i do 1-2 hours of school with them while my toddler takes her nap after lunch. i can do story time and "box time" (boxes full of play-doh, blocks, lacing cards, etc) when the toddler is awake because she can join in. not sure what i am going to do when the new one is here next school year and i have a kindergartener, but it will work out.

  3. The thought of homeschooling with a toddler is the only thing that concerns me (and puts me off) about homeschooling. I have a particularly needy two and a half year old - and then a 14 month old, so for my sanity my eldest has started nursery play group for 3hrs twice a week. Im hoping that when he is ready to start school, I can homeschool and let number 2 go to nursery play school for a few hours each day, as its one road away. The difficulty for me is that my boys are only 16months apart.

    I DO however have a great idea for keeping an 18month old busy - Im not sure if you have threading beads? These kept my eldest busy for ages. I got large ones that he couldnt put into his mouth. At my mum's I just used pasta wheels and twine - and it worked just as well!

  4. I've been pondering and praying about homeschooling since my daughter went to kindergarten this heart tells me it would be the right choice but my head says....HOW ON EARTH would I ever be able to accomplish anything with 4 little ones underfoot??? I've got ages 4, 3, 2, and 1, plus the 6 year old. (2 are my sister's kids, whom I watch during the day, while she, ironically, teaches 2nd grade) Thanks for your take on it!

    Also, I LOVE LOVE LOVE that quiet Bible. I'm checking out that link now!

  5. Educational and adorable book. I can see why it is so appealing to little ones.

  6. This is a much needed post for myself that I will need for the next school year. I've already been thinking of how to make it all work. I will for sure check out the quiet bible link.

  7. I love quiet books! I never buy them because I figure I can make one, but then I never do.

  8. love that activity book. so many great interactive pieces!!

    My best friend homeschools and she has 2 toddlers not yet schooling. She keeps the girls busy with baskets filled with fun stuff. They only get to play with them during school time and she rotates and adds to them on occasion to keep the girls from getting bored with it. It seems to work well for them.

    I also wanted to let you know that I opened an etsy shop. A while back you left me a message on my blog telling me to tell you when I did.
    Thanks for putting all the great etsy shops on your blog. It's fun to see what other people create. mine is

    have a great week!

  9. This was a helpful post as my 7 yr old, David, goes to a Christian school where he goes to the school a few days a week and then is homeschooled the other days. The homeschooled studies are giving to us by the teachers and flows w/ his days at the school. It has worked wonderfully for the last 3 years but for financial reasons, we had to make the hard decision to homeschool full-time next year. Anyway, I have another son, Daniel, who is 27 mos old. I had a very hard time keeping Daniel, occupied last year. So, since he likes to do everything his older brother does, I include him in some of the lessons when we do things such as counting. I have my 7 yr old, David, do some of his independent work while Daniel helps me make breakfast, After I am done writing on the chalkboard, I hand the chalk over to him and let him draw. When we are counting coins, I also, give him a small cups w/ a few coins. I even went to the dollar store and got a few math and Pre-K letter books for him to write/draw in when my older son is doing his writing lesson. I then do my older son's read potion when the little guy is napping.

    I love the Busy Bible book and may havee my mother get that for Daniel for his next birthday. And I love the other ideas. I will be putting a lot of them to good use!

  10. I miss the toddler/preschool years! My children are spaced similar to Jeanine {above} our oldest was 7 when the twins were born... We began our homeschooling adventure when the twins were 8 months old. When she was 10 our fourth child was born and when she was 12 our fifth. We had 4 children under four and a busy 12 {almost 13 year old} talk about two worlds!!! I was even writing her curriculum back then as we never found a pre-written curriculum for her {no internet back then!!} I kept the little ones busy with lots of toys. We had the duplos, wooden magnet trains, dollies, kitchen stuff, wooden blocks, cars, puzzles, pattern blocks etc. We tried to make their play educational. Lakeshore Learning Store was a big help. We could buy a few things from them here and there, but mostly I'd use the catalogue to create my own versions of play things.

    When our baby {now almost 10} was the only one not doing at the table homeschool, I had to come up with ways of keeping her busy. How I did that was to structure her day and give her a routine. I also used the preschool workbooks and the Little Jewel books published by Rod and Staff for her; she was a full reader by the age of 4, simply due to the fact that she saw everyone else reading. She's a full grade ahead of her age. This is our sixth year using the full curriculum from Rod and Staff, for all.

    I love the busy Bible, you've shared. I'm thinking that a certain toddler that visits our home {and her parents} might enjoy it, she has a birthday coming up this spring.

  11. My daily struggle and my youngest is no longer a toddler! But keeping everyone engaged is a huge task. My favorite is when we can all sit at the kitchen table and each child work on his own school quietly and respectively. I am there right with them helping when needed. But this would be ideal - most of the time someone is disturbing or making comments they shouldn't be or interrupting me while I go over a math problem with their sibling! You know what I am saying?

    Right now my youngest, who is four years old loves puzzles so that is what is working for us. He stays pretty engaged and quiet except when he is not! :) I've used a lot of Montessori type activities over the years that have helped a lot!

  12. I've often wondered how homeschooling families work around the younger children in the family. So, thanks for the peek into your day. I think that children's Bible is just precious. And, what a good idea keeping certain items set aside for special times so they still are fresh and exciting!

  13. A friend of mine uses many of the activities from Tot School.
    She make up tot trays with different activities.

  14. Oh, my. I have LOVED reading about all your ideas and experiences. Thank you so much for sharing!

    Anita (first comment),
    You post has some great ideas in it- thank you.

    The Renwicks,
    Your concern is a valid one. Your home must be hopping! One thing that may be an encouragement to you is that kindergarten (at least for us with Sam) took only about an hour a day, so the amount of time your little ones have to be entertained (or possibly napping) will be shorter as you start out. I'm not saying it won't be a challenge, it just might not be a challenge for as long as you imagine:-). Blessings to you!

  15. Its a good technique, try different techniques with kids so that they dont get bored

  16. THANKS for sharing this with us - looks awesome for the young ones. I wanted to pass along something for the kids that you may want to share with your readers. Over the holidays a new application, Children's Bible, was shared with our family. I thought I'd share because as parents, we strive to read & share the Bible with our children every chance we get. And we decided it was a great way to kick off the New Year. Children's is where you can find it, but we have found it to be a really neat way to get our children started off on the right foot with reading the Bible. Designed for children 3-13 the comics cover & share the most important stories from the Bible. It's a cool interactive way to share the Word with the kids. Our kids love it & I just had to pass along to other young Christian moms. Thanks for all you share with us & have an amazing weekend!


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