Homeschoolers have a unique challenge that schoolteachers don’t have – we often have to entertain babies and toddlers while we’re teaching.
Babies are generally easy to handle while homeschooling. They tend to do a lot of nursing, sleeping, kicking around in the bouncy seat or on a blanket, or they will sit contentedly on your lap while you go through the day’s lesson with older learners.
Toddlers, however, don’t just hang out. Sometimes, Lady A wants to do what Big Brother is doing. Kind of. She’ll try to scribble her crayon over his writing practice, or climb atop the dining room table to help him subtract – i.e., snatch away his counting coins.
Other times she’ll see homeschool lesson time as an opportunity to run around and destroy things.
It helps all involved to have some activities for toddlers for Lady A’s more restless moments. That way, she feels that she’s being included, and she’s out of Hoss’ hair so he can do what he needs to do.
Activities for Toddlers to Keep Them Busy While Homeschooling Older Children
Play Doh or Modeling Clay. Lady A is almost two, so we’re beyond the everything-in-the-mouth stage. So, she’s content to squish, roll, and cookie-cut for a good while.
Alex’s Tots Art Start. We got this box as a gift, and it was a lifesaver a few times! It includes these peel-away pages that create a sticky surface to attach all of the pretty paper pieces of different shapes and textures. It also includes stickers and patterned paper to keep her creating (at the table, instead of on my walls).
Bean Transfer (pictured above). I learned about this activity in Teach Me to Do It Myself: Montessori Activities for You and Your Child. Here, you provide a large container full of dried beans, a smaller empty container, and a scoop or spoon. Show her how to transfer from the larger to the smaller container.
Talk about engrossing! She wouldn’t stop until she transferred every last bean. A few ended up on the floor and a few were thrown at her brother, but all in all, it was a success.
Coloring. Sometimes just a coloring book will suffice. It’s more likely to hold her if the activity her brother is doing involves coloring.
Lacing Beads. We have a set similar to the one pictured above, but a shoelace and some loose beads with large enough holes will suffice.
Finger Paints. What one- to two-year-old doesn’t want to make a mess in the name of art?
Puzzles. Some kids will sit for puzzles, others won’t. You may have to show her what to do at first, but she may surprise you.
Texture Books. Sometimes, a stack of books with vibrant pictures and texture panels are enough for exploring.
Sensory Bags. Homeschoolers do crafts and projects, right? It’s likely you have some leftover craft supplies like pom poms, pipe cleaners or wooden clothespins lying around. Put them all in a bag and see what your toddler comes up with.
Building Blocks. Your toddler can build an impressive tower right at your feet while you and your older children do their homeschool activities for the day.
And then, there are the days when nothing is working, and we have to put everything away and wait for nap time. You can’t plan for everything, but it certainly helps when she feels that she’s being included in the homeschooling fun.
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