By Scott Stroud
Any homeschooling family with more than one child knows the challenge of keeping “Baby Kong” from tearing apart the house during school time. Now that we are teaching the oldest two of our four children, my wife, Mary, has had to develop an intricate strategy in order to have a productive day.
We would like to share with you some tips on how to deal with those unruly toddlers and make it through this difficult and often exhausting stage of homeschool life.
1. Get them involved.
It seems like our two youngest children save their worst behavior for school time. We have found that many times they just want to be included in on the fun. If we’ll give them some “school work” to do, they feel like they are involved. This could be something as simple as a special coloring book that you set aside as their home school book. Granted, this will only last a short time, but it’s a start.
2. Time their naps.
Most children in the pre-school years are still taking a daily nap. We have found that we can accomplish quite a bit during nap time. Save the most difficult subject for this time of day.
3. Baby swap.
Most home school families know of a few other families that are also experiencing the same challenge. Consider trying a kid swap. You take their younger pre-school age kids for a day and let them teach a few lessons to your older children. The next day switch places. This will mean a nice break for the kids as well, being taught in a different environment by someone else.
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4. Special toys.
Put aside a box of toys that are reserved for school time. These toys could be ones that are more educational in nature. A set of Lincoln Logs will keep their attention much longer than the same old toys they always play with. The key is to make it a toy that will not require supervision from you. Puzzles can be good if they are simple enough for them to figure out on their own.
5. Tag team.
If you are teaching more than one older child at a time, you may have one of them watch the young ones while you focus on an individual. This will teach them responsibility for their sibling as well as leadership. It will train them for the future when they may be caring for children and possibly home schooling themselves. Don’t be afraid to put the older ones in charge and instruct the younger ones to obey them. The older sibling will gain great confidence and respect from the younger ones. This will be invaluable when you are not around to keep an eye on them.
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6. The playpen.
If there is one gift that I would like to give to each of my children when they have their first child, it is a playpen. Getting the child used to it at an early age is the key. There will be times when they will wail to get out, but if you persevere, you will have a great tool to use for half hour periods when you cannot be distracted.
7. The dreaded video.
Many parents that were flooded with TV when they were young have banned it completely in their homes. This is understandable. If you have not quite reached that point yet, the occasional video can be a great help in getting the young ones to focus on something else besides digging through the garbage can. Why are they so attracted to the garbage anyways?
Home schooling is not an easy task, especially when you have toddlers. Millions of parents have done it and so can you if you take some time to strategize. The main thing is to view these little ones as the blessing that God says they are, instead of the nuisance they seem to be at the time. I always tell my wife to relax and focus more on the relationships we are creating, because the academics will follow. May God richly bless you in this rewarding adventure.
- Scott Stroud
- Contact Scott at firstname.lastname@example.org