Thursday, January 13, 2011

How to Manage Toddlers (or babies) While Homeschooling

See this dragon? He is a whirling dervish of destruction. Ya, he looks sweet enough but we all know that dragons will either burn you to a crisp with fire or eat you if you let them. Toddlers are a lot like dragons. Having a small dragon in your house while you are trying to each exponential math would be awfully distracting too. So, how do we handle dragons, or toddlers, or babies, while homeschooling?

Step 1. Train your dragon.

All peaceful households with children that you will ever visit have one thing in common the children have been trained and it took time and CONSISTENCY. I know this sounds like no fun and one would think that it would take a long time. Put those thoughts out of your head. They won't help you and are therefore a waste of time.

The training philosophy you hold to is your business but do pick something and go with it. During school hours I give my toddler things to do that are not a huge disruption (play dough, paper and pencil, paper with scissors, quiet toys, etc.). I keep my toddler with me. If my toddler is within arms reach than he is most likely not trying to flush something down the toilet, or pulling the cat's tail, or undoing all my housework. He sits on my lap. He plays by my side. He sits at the table and plays "school" while I help his older brothers. If he begins to misbehave, I handle things promptly. If he becomes a continual distraction ( and every child has their moments) then I set him in his bed for however long it takes me to get his brothers back cruising along on their lessons (typically about 5 minutes) and then I deal with him. I think it is important for the little people of the house to know that their disruptive behavior is not going to bring everything in the household to a screeching halt. That would be too much power for a toddler to handle.

Babies can be trained too. I have heard of people training babies to sit on a blanket and play with toys during school. I just wore my baby. It was simpler for me. I have always encouraged my babies to be cheerful. I do this by being cheerful with them myself and by holding them often. It works. :)

Step 2. Be Aware. You wouldn't turn your back on a fire-breathing dragon...don't turn your back on a toddler.

We all know the things that toddlers can do. I turned my back on my 3rd born once when he was a toddler only to turn back around and find him to have a mouth full of potting soil and my freshly planted flowers all dumped out of the pot. Cute. Cute and mildly annoying.

If a toddler doesn't have the opportunity to cause mischief then there will be no mischief to distract you or your other children from your studies. A problem prevented is a problem solved.

Step 3. Wear your armor. You wouldn't go into battle without wearing protection, or bringing a sword, or bringing provisions for the journey.

I know my toddler will want snacks, drinks, multiple things to do, a nap, and my attention. I prepare for these things.

It says in the Bible that we need to wear spiritual armor. Do this by praying and reading your Bible. When I run out of steam, God's word comes to me and keeps me going.

Step 4. Be patient. Dragons are unpredictable.

My toddler (baby) will be a toddler (baby). So, I try to keep myself flexible. I also try to be patient with myself. I cannot do it all and I will never be anywhere near perfect. I too will get grouchy, tired, and bored. Sometimes I also just need to cry. Moms and toddlers can be alike sometimes.

Happy dragon wrangling!


  1. Good post Angie. I used the "on the blanket" method for the toddlers. We even used it at the park so I could get some visiting in and not spend the whole time chasing.

  2. Thanks Jenny! Lucas was a good blanket baby. Benaiah was not. Speaking of parks, I want to move back to Oregon and restart our park habit. What say you?

  3. Very cute analogies with the dragons, Angie. You're such a good writer. I miss you!

    Potting soil? ... lol. Jordan lost his toddler bed privilege (now back in the crib) after he got into David's electric razor & buzzed the front of his hair a couple of months ago. It's such a fun age, isn't it? :)

  4. I miss you too, Shanna. Yes, it is an adorable age, especially now that I am old enough to enjoy it. I think my first 2 sufficiently wore me down enough that I am able to just be more present with my younger 2.