How do I homeschool with a toddler or a baby?
How do I homeschool with a preschool age child?
Should I send my preschooler to preschool outside the home so I can focus on my baby/or older child?
I see these asked quite often in the internet homeschool community.
We have homeschooled, as of this writing 6 years. So in that we've had 3 children and schooled not only during babyhood, toddlerhood and preschool years but also while moving, I think three times (all while pregnant as well, just to add a bit more fun to the whole experience of moving).
The best advice I've ever seen which can cover all the stages of concern, was an article shared by a Mother named Robin on the Sonlight forum. The article is called "The baby is the Lesson". I have a link to it in the right side of my blog Titled "Homeschooling With A Baby". It's a great reminder that we are setting examples for our older children in the way and manner we care for their younger siblings. Be it a baby who is fussing during "school time", a toddler who has ants in his or her pants or a preschooler who wants to be right in the thick of it.
My children have only been in the home for their schooling.
The thought of sending one of the younger kids to preschool would just never work for me. I could not imagine having my little ones outside the home and not being a part of our days. I also don't want to have to un-teach any bad habits they might have picked up. I like that I get to be the ones to teach them so many firsts and that I do not miss a moment. I'm home, I could not see a reason to send them outside the home, when I their mother am a full time stay at home mom.
These are just my thoughts mind you and only apply to me, not what is or is not right or should be done in another family.
So far for me the most challenging transition was when my son began walking. We were in a new home, still working out the best place to keep our school supplies and a good place to use as a sit down area for anything that needed a flat surface to write on (coloring, crafts, handwriting, a place for math blocks, a page of phonics). We were using a small kids table for the girls to have a writing surface, in the back of our long family room.
Once he began pulling up he would pull at their papers, books, toys, or anything else they were trying to do there. That definitely became quite a challenge as he was napping less and less and grabbing things more and more. I have never seen a child grab as much off a desk as he did with just one swing of his little newly toddling hand. After some thought I decided to just break for a bit. Instead of spending the time being annoyed or frustrated with his cute curious self, we just put a pause on all but my reading to the kids, and them just playing together. Nobody was any worse for wear from that, just some great family bonding time.
It's funny because today at 3, my son loves being in the school room (converted formal dining room to school room). He has his own workboxes. I have info on my blog about what types of things my son does in his boxes. He does no workbooks, just lots of hands on fun. And before any of that was in play, he just enjoyed sitting at the table with us, coloring, or playing with his toys.
I do think it's easy to train a 2 year old to play quietly using an indoor voice in the same room while schooling the other children. He's done it and continues to do so for over a year now.
My 10 month old, (unless she is napping) is in the mix with us as well. She stands next to my 3 year old and watches him do his workboxes or play with cars. Or she sits on the floor playing with her own toys.
I never did a playpen or playard with any of my kids. But opted to use one from time to time with her. She loves standing and dancing in that, yes she is always dancing when I'm playing music. I don't use it often, just times like when I'm in the kitchen cooking or cleaning up and can't watch her crawling around. I've not tried it in the school room but I might to see how it works out.
All this rambling to say. It is pretty easy to school with a young child or baby in the home. You might have to readjust your expectations for your older children. If they are all so young that they still need your help with everything then maybe cutting down bare bones and keeping it very simple might work best until they are more independent.