One thing that has made me stress the most over the years of homeschooling has been going from homeschooling just one child to homeschooling two kids at the same time. But, then, we added a baby into the mix, too. How on Earth do you homeschool with a baby in the house?! Well, it’s not nearly as stressful as I thought it would be, and actually quite enjoyable! Here are 4 tips on how to homeschool with a baby (or toddler) in the house.
Homeschooling with a baby is an adjustment
Last year was the first year that I homeschooled more than one child. I was also due with our third child just a few weeks into the school year. It took some planning and a lot of letting things just happen and letting the little things go to get the job done.
When our third child, a beautiful girl, was born in September, we had already allotted time to have off after birth for me to recover and for everyone to become acquainted as a new family of five. We started school in early August so we’d already be on a roll when baby sister joined us. This was a huge stress relief! Having that time off helped keep the pressure off of me to feel like I needed to get all of the things done. I enjoyed my babymoon so much and when we were ready, we started back slowly over time.
When she finally decided to make her entrance (at 41 weeks and 3 days, my longest pregnancy!), and we were finished with our babymoon, we did what I like to call couchschooling. All of the work that we had done on tables previously moved right onto the couch.
With a baby attached to my breast or sleeping in my arms, couchschooling was perfect. It allowed me to tend to her needs as well as get the work that we needed to get done with my big kids. We could easily do our lessons together on the couch, and they could head to a table or the floor to finish anything up.
Oh, I wish our couchschooling could have lasted forever! Our sweet, relaxed school year has morphed into a little bit of chaos, but it’s still beautiful in it’s own way. We now have to have ALL school work up on the table, for fear that baby sister will tear into it or consume their work (Yum, paper). But, it’s all working great.
So, it all boils down to… do school wherever works for you. The couch, the table, outside in the yard…there are so many possibilies. Do what works for your family!
Update…. we’re welcoming baby #4!!
When I wrote this post two years ago, I was learning right along with most of you about how to make homeschooling work, not only with multiple kids, but with a baby or toddler added to the mix. Now this sweet girl is almost three, I have a newly promoted 7th and 3rd grader, and our next sweet addition is due any day.
Here is what I have learned along the way and what I plan to implement even more once our fourth bundle joins us….
4 tips for homeschooling with a baby/toddler
#1. Flexibility is key!
You see, just like any other change in life, we just have to go with the flow. Our style is forever changing and evolving, just as our kids are changing and growing. Homeschooling with a toddler in the house is definitely interesting most days, but it’s completely doable. Whether you’re a large family homeschooling and adding in baby #7 (or 8, or 9!), or adding in baby #4 like us, plan for lots of flexibility.
If you have days that you don’t get it all done, don’t stress about it. We are relaxed homeschoolers and that helps so much, but implementing some Charlotte Mason methods into our homeschool has helped us even more and has kept things stress-free and even more relaxed. Incorporating a morning bakset and a loop schedule has taken some of the pressure off with schooling multiple kids, as well as getting it all done on days where that’s just not going to happen. We know we can pick up and start tomorrow as a new day if the toddler is having a melt down or the baby has kept me up all night.
#2. Keep lesson time short
Sometimes this is easier said than done, but keeping lessons short is essential for us to make sure the littles don’t get too overwhelmed. What this may look like if you have younger elementary aged students is simply doing one subject or reading one book, then taking a small break to give your baby and toddler the attention they also need. If you have older kids, this may mean teaching a lesson then sending them off to do some indpendent work while you tend to your little one’s needs. It can be a little bit of a juggling act at first, but it’s definitely doable!
Don’t forget, homeschooling doesn’t need to look like school at home, so homeschool days can be short and sweet with plenty of learning still packed in, especially for younger kiddos.
#3. Change up your homeschool schedule
When my oldest first started his schooling, his brother was 2 and our schedule didn’t look a lot like our friend’s schedules as much as I expected, and that stressed me out. What I later learned is that we don’t need to look like any one else, we need to have a schedule that works for us! We didn’t start school in the morning like most people we knew, but started on our work around 1pm when the toddler laid down for a nap so we could have at least an hour of uninterrupted time together. This was the best adjustment we made in that phase and I was so thankful for that one-on-one time with my son.
Find a time of day and a schedule that works for your family. This may mean schooling during nap time, schooling in several chunks throughout the day, or getting it all done in the morning while the littles are happy and content. And don’t be afraid to change this day by day if you need to!
#4. Don’t be afraid to let older kids pitch in
In large families, there’s sometimes the stigma of letting older kids pitch in because the world around us says that’s not fair to our kids and that we as moms should take on all that responsibility ourselves. I say that’s a bunch of bologna. I certainly don’t expect my kids to help me raise their siblings by any means, but asking them to help out from time to time can be a great experience for all involved!
My older kids love helping with the little ones. Of course, I get the grunts from time to time when they don’t feel like it, but generally it turns into amazing sibling bonding time and teaches the older kids great responsibility. My oldest, now almost 12, loves babies. I mean, he simply adores them. I know that I will be able to count on him to hold a squirming baby or play with his sister when his younger brother needs undivided attention on a lesson. Multi-age play is great for development at all ages and something we shouldn’t worry about depriving our kids of! The idea that kids shouldn’t have responsibilty of helping with siblings or should only socialize with kids their own age is so incredibly new, and I feel that it’s hurting our youth…but that’s a whole other topic for a whole other post!
Have you homeschooled with a baby in the house? What did you do to adjust? Let me know in my online homeschool community or in the comments below!