child “write” with a finger on it and erase
by squishing it around. Offer fingerpaint
or play dough. Fill a large, plastic, lidded
container with dry beans or split peas and
let your child use scoops or measuring
cups to pour them from one container to
another. Yes, you’ll have to clean up the
area later, but it may buy you 30–45 min-
. . . Your homeschool
day will not look like a
classroom day during
this season of your
utes of teaching time with another child.
Additional ideas for high-chair
time can be found here: www.redshift.
3. Put the step stool up to the kitchen
sink, close the drain, and run a drizzle of
water into the sink along with a little bit
of dish soap. Give your child some plastic
cups, bowls and spoons to “wash.” He’ll feel
glad to know that he is helping with the
chores. A turkey baster and soapy water
can keep a child entertained for a while too.
4. Check out book and tape/CD kits
from the library. Your toddler can listen
to the story through headphones while
“reading” the book.
5. Read aloud to your older children
right outside the open bathroom door
while your younger child plays in the tub.
Or just read in the bathroom. Strange
perhaps, but safe!
6. Make some special toys available
during school time only. Rotate these
toys so that they are always fresh and
Divide and Conquer
1. While working on a specific subject
with one older child, have the other older
child play with the youngest child in her
room. This is a special playtime for the
two of them. Then switch for the other
sibling to have this special time.
2. Ask Dad to teach certain subjects. My
husband teaches science and logic to the
older kids. This frees me up to spend undivided time with my younger children.
3. Have middle grade students do certain subjects independently. After giving
instruction, send them off to work on the
assignment on their own.
4. Hire a homeschool teen (or ask
Grandma) to come over and play with
the youngest child while you “get serious”
with the older children.
5. Swap school time (or toddler time)
with another homeschool mom. For example, you teach a subject to her older
kids (along with yours) while she plays
with the younger ones. Or vice versa.
That way each of you can have uninterrupted school time with your older kids
and/or playtime with your younger ones.
Get Creative With School Time
1. Wait until your toddler’s naptime to
work on school subjects with your other
2. Work on some school subjects at
night while Dad is home to play with or
put the youngest to bed.
3. Do a fun activity with your toddler
before you begin school. This should help
her to be more content to play on her own
or to listen to books quietly for a while as
you give attention to the other children.
4. Don’t feel like you have to do every
subject every day. Combine subjects or
possibly double up on some schoolwork
on certain days when the baby takes a
longer nap or is playing more contentedly. That way, you can do less on other
days! For example, combine geography
with history, or do a whole week’s worth
of science on one day.
5. Be willing to do some schoolwork on
Saturday when Dad is home.
6. Use smaller amounts of time for
school. A block of four hours may not be
possible at this time, but 45 minutes to an
hour at a time may be doable.
7. Read aloud during breakfast and
lunch (while your youngest child is contentedly eating in his high chair).
8. Understand that your homeschool
day will not look like a classroom day
during this season of your family’s life.
Maybe it never will. And this is okay!
Enjoy this season of your child’s life,
knowing that it will not last forever and
that you are not alone. Your toddler will
be at this stage only for a couple of short
years, and the next thing you know, he’ll
be in kindergarten. They are only young
for such a short time, and it is a precious,
precious time. Don’t wish it away!
Make every effort to stay flexible
with your schedule and your to-do list,
as toddlers change from one day to the
next. Just when one strategy may be
Swap school time
(or toddler time)
working for your family, he’ll change
and you’ll need to try something else
to keep the school day flowing. In other
words, what worked yesterday might not
work today! Above all, give him lots of
hugs and kisses during your school day,
which will reassure you both that he is
not an interruption but a blessing.
Terri Johnson, along with her husband
Todd, founded Knowledge Quest, Inc.,
publisher of history and geography materials. Knowledge Quest is well known for
producing mapping programs such as Map
Trek and Time Trek, as well as timelines,
historical biographies, geography curriculum, software, and even mobile apps.
Visit Knowledge Quest at www.Knowledge
Healthful, fun physical
activities for children
2-6 years old.