In Part 1 I told you the key to homeschooling with little ones has to start with mindset. Today we’ll get more practical and focus in on those precious infants and toddlers.
To be clear I am talking about kids age newborn – two, but this could seep into the early third year, as well.
Disclaimer: I am not a medical professional. I do not have a degree in early childhood development. I am just a mom who’s been there.
Also, this post contains affiliate links. If you choose to click a link and purchase anything I’ve suggested I will earn a very small commission that helps fuel this blog. Thank you!
Remember, infants need touch time and toddlers need to explore.
A Note on Infants
Of all the early stages, an infant has got to be the easiest to merge into your homeschool. Now before you bleary-eyed, sleep-deprived, over-caffeinated moms want to kill me for saying that, hear me out. Infants need touch time and that is really easy to do while homeschooling. Yes, you are essentially a walking zombie, but your baby is not yet mobile which make her easier to hang on to.
The trick for the infant years is to keep your baby close.
- Babywear: if you are unsure what babywearing is or unsure if it’s something you could do, please read this and consider buying The Attachment Parenting Book. I daresay I could not have homeschooled with an infant WITHOUT babywearing.
- Nurse in a sling: this frees up your hands. If your baby is not easily distracted during nursing, you could use this time to teach.
- Use bouncers, exer-saucers, playpens and Johnny jumps but remember, keep baby close so she can soak in what’s going on and be a part of things.
- Be aware of your ATMOSPHERE. No day will go perfectly, but it helps to know that, as Charlotte Mason put it…
“Cleanliness, order, neatness, regularity, punctuality, are all ‘branches’ of infant education. They should be about the child like the air he breathes, and he will take them in as unconsciously.”
- Work with baby’s routine: in direct opposition to the idea of “scheduling” your baby, I suggest you help baby find her natural sleeping and eating routine and allow your homeschool to be flexible during this time. Once there is a more predictable routine happening you can plug homeschool activities in accordingly.
- If your baby is napping regularly, save anything that requires a lot of instruction for this time (think core subjects like reading and math).
- Keep a flexible attitude, low expectations and a positive mindset: this is a season. Most of my mama meltdowns have been a reaction to an unmet expectation.
A Note on Toddlers
Toddlers want to know everything. Everything is new because they are now so very aware. It’s the first summer. The first popsicle. The first Christmas tree. The first leaf pile to jump in. Imagine you had never painted. Imagine you had never felt sand run through your fingers or mud in between your toes. Literally everyday brings new excitement for a toddler. And they want all in. Toddlers want to be included in whatever the big kids are doing and should be to the extent that everyone can enjoy it ;).
The trick for the toddler years is to keep your baby curious.
- Continue to Babywear: I wore Little Miss well into her third year. This is my favorite sling for the toddler years, but it can be used well before that.
- Get your toddler involved: by this age, your little one can start participating in your older kids’ academics when it is natural and enjoyable. She can sit in during read-aloud (just be sure she’s got something to do with her hands) and even do memory work!
- Be sure your homeschool day includes things she will want to participate in: singing, sensory play, nature study, field trips, and of course, reading great books aloud.
- Be outdoors as often as possible. This is good for everyone and helps your toddler stretch his muscles of exploring. Nature study, park days, playing in the backyard and outdoor field trips are all great.
- Expose your toddler to lots of sensory play. This is a crucial time for their developing systems.
- Begin habit training with your toddler. In the early years, Charlotte Mason suggested starting with obedience and attention.
- At this age, your toddler can start to be alone for very small periods of time within your eyesight. Have a special box of activities that you only pull out during big kids homeschool time and lay out a blanket nearby for your toddler to play on. I wouldn’t be real rigid with this, but encourage your toddler to stay put for one minute, then three minutes, etc.
- Your toddler will begin to fall into your home rhythm and routines at this age. Be sure you have them ;).