One of my biggest challenges as a homeschooling momma is juggling a toddler (and infant) while I teach the other children. Keeping my toddler Daniel busy while I homeschool can be a little like nailing Jello to the wall.
Today, I’m sharing some of my best tips that help us manage our homeschooling days with a toddler tornado in the house.
Let’s take a look.
1. Get Up Early
My first rule for keeping toddlers busy while homeschooling is to stay a step ahead.
As much as I’d love to sleep in, smoother mornings start early around here. If I’m able to catch a half hour of time alone in the morning before the day starts, I have a better attitude and I’m primed for success.
2. Feed the Hobbits Well
Around here, food is fuel. If I’m starting everyone with junk in their tank, then they’ll run out of gas quickly.
On school days, I try to make sure everyone’s gotten a good dose of protein to fill their bellies and get the day started right.
3. Create Simple Routines
Every family’s homeschool routine looks different – the key is finding a routine that works for you.
We start off our day after breakfast, and move on to school or field trips. Toddlers learn best by repetition, so it’s best to keep them simple and consistent.
Take a look at these tips for helping to establish a routine for your family.
4. Consider a Circle Time
Toddlers aren’t very patient, so you’ll need to tend to their needs first.
Start out your day with circle time, focused on your little one, with plenty of songs, books and fingerplays just for them.
Once you fill their tanks, toddlers can snuggle on your lap or play close by while you teach lessons. If you’ve got a toddler you can’t put down, think about baby wearing.
Wearing your toddler keeps them close and connected to you.
5. Be Just Like the Big kids
My toddler doesn’t seem to notice that her older siblings are taller, stronger and more coordinated than she. She thinks that she can do anything they do, no matter if it’s painting a picture or riding a scooter.
I see the most success in my homeschool days when I plan a toddler sized activity to coincide with our lesson plans. If we’re reading aloud, I make sure we have board books on hand as well.
Working on math skills with manipulatives?
I make sure my toddler has her own set of blocks to explore. We even incorporate small canteens, tiny lunchboxes or desks so that our toddler feels like she’s part of the action.
6. Our Favorite Supplies, Tools and Ideas
I created a box of toys and activities especially for Maeve. I keep them put away when we’re not doing school. She knows that these items are special, and she’s excited when I bring them out.
What do we keep in our special school box for toddlers?
More Ideas for Keeping Toddlers Busy While Homeschooling
- Foam Stickers
Foam stickers are great for toddlers and preschoolers! They’re a great way to practice fine motor skills, counting, sorting and more!
- Do-a-Dot Markers
- Stringing beads
- Play dough for strengthening muscles that will later be used for writing
- Felt board with felt story pieces
- Small hand puppets
- Paper Plate Craft Kits
I like to be able to have everything ready to go at once, and these paper plate craft kits fit the bill. If we’re studying ocean animals, it’s great to have a craft ready to go that matches my theme.
- Foam Dice
We use foam dice as a math tool with the older children, so I needed to grab Maeve a set of her own. She loves rolling them, throwing them and pretending to count the dots.
- Ice Tongs
Another fine motor skill tool – we use ice tongs for transferring pompoms from container to container. We tried them with the ping pong balls, but they weren’t quite flexible enough.
We use pompoms for counting, sorting and all kinds of activities here! Maeve loves pouring them into a bowl and ‘mixing’ them, or plucking them with a set of tongs.
- Mini Writing Tablets
Grab crayons or some of the foam stickers and let your toddler play. Maeve likes to write or place stickers on the pages.
- Sticker Assortment
Stickers are fun for counting, sorting, or wearing as temporary tattoos!
- Jumbo Crayons
- Take and Toss Containers
Perfect for snacks, or playing with pompoms, ping pong balls or water beads.
- Mini Bubbles
Bubbles keep Maeve occupied for at least an hour. These tiny containers are perfect size for her, with minimal mess.
- Bead Necklaces
We use bead necklaces in sensory bins, or just for fun. My kids love to take them on and off, over and over again.
- Water Beads
If you haven’t tried water beads …. you’re missing out! These are tiny polymer beads that grow in water, then shrink back when dry. So much fun for sensory play!
- Create a Town Sticker Scenes
We love these fun sticker scenes – I help Maeve identify the different parts of the town. Great for fine motor skills and literacy/vocabulary.
- Color in Sticker Set
Let your little ones make their own fun stickers with this color-in sticker set.
- Construction Paper Pad
- Ping Pong Balls
I picked these up on a whim, and they’ve been a huge success. Maeve loves pouring the ping pong balls from bowl to bowl, ‘mixing’ them with a serving spoon, and counting them.
Don’t miss our Resource Page for a complete list of helpful toys, tools and activities we use to keep our toddlers busy.
What’s your favorite way to keep your toddler or preschooler busy while you work with older students? I’d love to hear about it!
P.S. If you’ve got a preschooler at home, don’t miss our playful preschool ideas!