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homeschool mom and daughter rejoicing.

Tips for homeschooling with toddlers and babies



These tips for homeschooling with toddlers and babies will hopefully offer you some encouragement! We have been homeschooling for 4 years now and have always had young kids or babies in the mix. 

Last year, when I found out I was expecting our 4th baby, I was really concerned about our homeschool staying on track. (Although we were ecstatic about adding to the family!)

We take our homeschooling very seriously, and didn’t want to let our days slide into “Well, we can count your chores for school today.”

No, I know we need to keep on track, or it will be really hard to get back on track. 

pregnant mom on phone and taking notes.

If you’re more relaxed with your homeschool, that’s great. I’m just saying, for our family and the way I’m wired, I need to keep a pretty steady structure. 

So, naturally, the idea of adding a new baby to the mix made me a little nervous! 

If you’re planning to have a baby while homeschooling, I wish to encourage you. 

I was so focused on all of the extra work and interruptions a new baby would bring, that I failed to fully embrace the joy of adding to our family. I didn’t yet realize how over-the-moon gaga in love every one of us would be with our new little guy! The big kids included!

So, if you are wondering if you’re up for the challenge, I want to cheer you on. You CAN do this. It’s hard work, but it’s possible and it is so rich and good!

bin of baby toys spilled all over the floor.

In the wise words of my sweet Grandma,

“What’s actually worth it, that isn’t hard work?”

Very true and straight to the point. So much of parenting is hard work… but it is worthy work. What you are doing is such a good thing!

God’s word says…

“Behold, children are a heritage from the LORD, the fruit of the womb a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children of one’s youth. Blessed is the man who fills his quiver with them! He shall not be put to shame when he speaks with his enemies in the gate.”

Psalm 127:3-5

Adding to the family is a GOOD thing. 

So, as we are tackling each school day on its own…how can we practically get through everything?

mom and daughter doing a high-five during homeschool.

I have a list of practical items that work well for our family at the end of this post. But first! I want to talk about mindset. 

Adjusting our expectations for homeschooling with toddlers and babies.

In order for our days to not feel like a massive failure every single day, we need to have realistic expectations. 

Yes, I think it’s really important to take homeschooling serious. But we could go too far and have no grace for our families if our day goes awry.

Sometimes school will “look” like we didn’t get anything done. But maybe we spent our day doing extra reading from our read-aloud and you realized your 4-year old is an amazing artist!

brother and sister reading a book together in a nice chair.

That’s still a good school day.

If there are young children in the mix while you’re trying to homeschool older kids, then we should expect interruptions. And that is totally okay.

It might take a little more time, but you can still get your school work done. 

This brings me to my next point. 

Take the time! 

We have to protect our homeschooling time. 

Some families homeschool best in the afternoons or evenings, but for us we function best before noon.

Whatever school time you have, you need to block it off and make sure you’re home. I know it sounds silly to say, but in order to homeschool you need to be home!

*Unless you take your school work with you, but most kids are easily distracted and have a hard time focusing when they are off their routine.

This may sound like a bit of a sidebar, but I assure you it’s crucial. If we are trying to do other things during our designated homeschool time, we will end up being very short on patience with our little people because we will feel “behind”.

mom losing her mind.

This might mean we have to say “No” to good things. Our children’s education is a top priority.

Expect distractions when homeschooling with toddlers and babies.

This might sound a bit controversial, but it’s actually okay for the older siblings to wait a minute for your help.

Sometimes, we have to do a sort of triage assessment to see which child needs our help the most RIGHT NOW. Believe it or not, even in public school kids have to wait for the teacher and it’s okay! 

Plus, remember what I said about all the older children being absolutely enamored with the baby (or toddler)? If the big kids see you tending to the younger children they will learn to see it through the lens of love.

Learning to put our needs on hold for the sake of someone we love is a very important skill to learn!

The big kids can skip ahead to the next problem or work ahead until you’re able to give them your undivided attention. 

Homeschooling with babies and toddlers during morning time.

If you start you school day with a morning time or morning basket, I’d encourage you to have the little kids join in.

Each kid is different as far as how well they will be able to sit through a bible time, history lesson, or read-aloud (whatever you choose to include in your morning time).

To help the toddlers sit well, we like to pull out the coloring pages, play-dough, and kinetic sand. (Some homeschool moms loathe kinetic sand, but we love it.)

little hands playing with lego duplos.

Our only requirement is, “no talking!” Otherwise the kids are welcome to build with blocks, water paint, or simply snuggle in a blanket while we do our morning time. 

Usually once the toddlers have sat through as much as they can handle, they are ready to go play independently.

If they want to continue on with us once we are ready to start math lessons, we will pull out “toddler school” which is just some preschool coloring pages. 

Our little babies used to be content to be nursed all through morning time. The older babies are admittedly more work.

Our current crawler is very curious and is always getting into things. This just requires plenty of setting our read-aloud down to retrieve him from his mischief. The school age kids just giggle at their little brother.

Again, we all love him dearly, so his distractions aren’t as offensive as one might expect.

As a young baby is brought up around homeschooling, the expectations will be baked in. There will be no confusion about what our school time is expected to be like. (Not perfectly, but consistently!)

Homeschooling with toddlers and babies by “Keeping the bus moving!”

I wish I could remember where I first heard the expression, but it’s a perfect description for homeschooling older kids and younger kids together.

Get everyone started working in the school room (or dining table) and mom can bounce from kid to kid as needed. This will include our fore-mentioned “triage” of deciding who needs your help right away and who can wait (or move on and come back to their issue when you’re available).

mom between two sons helping with school work.

You might be running to help a potty training toddler wipe a bottom in between spelling “cease” for a second grader. It will feel a bit like juggling. But the bus will continue moving. That’s the goal here.

Homeschooling toddlers and babies while taking field trips.

This is something that our whole family ALWAYS loves, but we often fail to schedule it in.

On our homeschool journey, it’s a goal of ours to take in more field trips. Try to see what you have around you, or ask a seasoned homeschool vet what they recommend.

As far as going places with little ones in tow… just do your best! Make sure to check out what the big kids are most excited for during a field trip, that way when (when not if) the younger siblings expire, you can still count it as a win.

Also, don’t be afraid to go see a certain exhibit even if you haven’t thoroughly studied it beforehand! If we wait until everything is perfect, we will never do any field trips.

BONUS! Invite some of your best homeschool friends to join your field trip. There is power in numbers and then the kiddos get some extra friend time. 

Homeschooling with toddlers and babies is hard work!

mom drinking coffee with a baby on her lap, while working on her laptop.

This isn’t meant to discourage in the least. But we have to be honest about what we are doing!

If we sent our kids to a public school and they were taught by someone else, it would be THEIR full time job.

They wouldn’t also try to go on lunch dates or buy groceries during their shift at school. No. This is a time consuming endeavor. 

Practical things that can help when homeschooling toddlers and babies.

I will share a few things that have worked well for our family, but I will implore you to resist the urge to buy all the things. I know when you’re in a tough season of homeschool, it’s tempting to just buy anything that might help.

I’ve been there many times.

But homeschool is NOT cheap the way it is!

We have acquired lots of fun school stuff second-hand. 

But, every once-in-a-while, you find something that is a great blessing to your homeschool and that’s a great investment!

As I mentioned above, we like to employ play dough, kinetic sand, and coloring book or two for the toddler. Another great thing to entertain a toddler is letting them cut up some construction paper or even shred some scratch paper.

left half photo magnet tiles, right half photo small boy playing kinetic sand.

A special stack of board books that only come out during school time is a wonderful idea to keep them engaged.

Usually the toddlers don’t require a lot of time, they just want a little bit of your full attention. ​
If we are intentional to give our little ones some quality time, they will have their cups filled up and will be much more likely to be content playing independently later on. 

We have enjoyed threading beads onto pipe cleaners. Some puff balls and jars have been surprisingly entertaining as well. (Even for the bigger kids!) 

Puzzles, sticker books, and dominoes are a great source of occupation too. 

This will look different for your particular toddler, but ours loves to build things and can whip up incredible magnet tile mansions in a moment’s notice.

If your toddler is a little more energetic, then perhaps a fun counting game with jumping on pieces of paper with the correct number or color. You can use a full sheet of printer paper for each letter or number and have them say them while they jump. It’s a great time!

A color “scavenger hunt” is a blast for preschoolers too! We give them a basket or tiny shopping cart and they go around and collect things of a certain color.  

They might thoroughly destroy the living room during school time, but at least we’re getting school done! 

Homeschooling with a baby. 

A baby carrier might be just the trick you need for now. Babies are typically very content as long as they’re being held, or as long as they can see you.

It’s really incredible all the things you can accomplish while you breastfeed a baby! It makes for a wonderful reading time on the couch with the whole family. 

You CAN homeschool with a baby and toddler!

There will be days when things don’t go as smoothly as you’d like. That’s okay!

But there will be beautiful days.

Just because it’s hard, doesn’t mean it’s bad.

If you utilize a quiet time/nap time in the afternoon, you can always look forward to that time for a moment of peace. (I highly recommend doing this!) 

Take a deep breath and keep pressing forward Mama! You’re doing great.

What are some of your favorite things for babies and toddlers to play with during homeschool time? 

Hi, I’m Stephanie! I’m a Christian wife, mom of 4, homeschooler, and a technically trained chef. I love creating a simple, beautiful life with our sweet family.

I’m so glad you’re here!

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