There is always a little girl quietly chattering away while I’m doing a phonics or math lesson. She’s usually twirling around in the center of the room as we are working on a science lesson. She keeps me on toes as I am trying to work around her busy self.
Some days, though, especially when she’s sick or extra clingy, she wants to be more disruptive instead of playing quietly to herself. Those days pose quite a challenge to keep her entertained while teaching my little learners well.
I know I’m not alone in this struggle. Many of us are homeschooling while having a toddler underfoot.
This is our second year of homeschooling. My second year of learning how to wrangle a toddler or two while trying to teach.
As the mama and teacher, it is up to us to plan how things will go. If we don’t take the time to plan then we are essentially planning to fail.
While you are preparing for school, be sure to plan what it is that you are going to do with your little ones during school time. We all know that a child left to himself brings his mother to shame (Proverbs 29:15).
Kids love stickers and toddlers are no different. Buy stickers in bulk or on clearance any chance you get. Stock up and always keep it stocked. If you can find stickers that appeal to your little one, you’ll be even better off.
My Little Lady will sit at her desk for half of school time just putting stickers on a piece of paper. She loves and she only gets to do it during school time.
This year we added an animal and alphabet stamp sets to our school supplies. This keeps my toddlers very entertained! I love that we get educational use out of them but they double as a way to keep the toddler busy.
Since we do a lot of crafts, we have an abundance of scrap pieces. I have a special basket that these pieces go in. I will often grab a handful, a glue stick and a piece of paper and let my little one go to down creating her own craft. She feels like she is doing school creating her own masterpiece. This works so well! It is one of her favorites and it costs pennies!
I honestly stumbled upon this trick this school year. I wish I had done it last year when I had 2 toddlers. I simply underestimated how much they are capable of doing. My Little Lady can take these puzzles apart and do them all by herself. It keeps her busy and concentrated as she is thinking and not “playing”.
When I try to get my toddler to color with crayons, it never lasts long. Why color during school time, when they can color any other time of the day? If they are set on being entertained and involved, regular coloring typically doesn’t last long, in my experience. But if I give them a dot to dot marker and a coloring page, you better believe that that will work for 20 minutes or more! That’s the kind of activity that we are searching for.
During School Time Only Toys
It is a good idea to have a bin of toys that are special because they only get played with during school. This will make the enjoyment from them last longer because they get put away when it’s not school time. Puzzles, blocks, or anything that interests your little one will work great. That may mean Thomas trains for your little guy or a tea party set for you little lady.
I don’t typically like my kids to play on my iPad, so this doesn’t happen much with her. But it worked wonders last year when my then 3-year-old wasn’t doing preschool yet. He’s very tech savvy and could handle the iPad well enough to have it on his own. There are so many free games to choose from. I bought special kid headphones and he was set with little help from me. If you have a toddler who is like this, then this will be a great option for you. My Little Lady would need help every 5 seconds so we don’t go this route with her often.
This is a last resort activity. I hate playdough! If she is set on making sure her presence is known, I will get out a container of playdough and hand her some mini plastic cookie cutters. She’s all set. Becuase this is rare, she is usually entertained for the remainder of the school time. Then I have to let everyone do playdough.
Special TV Show or Movie
This is another last resort option. We rarely watch movies and TV shows so when they get a chance to they are excited!
We typically get hit with constant sickness in the winter, often during this time she is out of control cranky. I will set up a special show and get her comfy before starting school. She enjoys this because it’s such a treat.
Don’t feel guilty if you have to resort to this option! Sometimes it will be the only thing that allows you teach a critical phonics lesson. Sometimes we need to have our full attention on teaching the fundamental lessons in school. You are not a bad mom or teacher if you need to utilize this!
After two years of homeschooling with a toddler or two, these are my tried and true ways to entertain them. Many times my Little Lady is content to play quietly at her desk or on the floor, sometimes she’s happy to sit on my lap quietly and other times she’s a handful that needs to be entertained. When those times occur it is smart to already have activities on hand that you can pull out at a moment’s notice.
Your turn! How do you entertain your toddler during homeschooling? What would you add to the list? Let’s talk in the comments below!
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