If you’ve been around very long at all, you know that my biggest struggle with homeschooling is my 2 year-old son.
That kid is a maniac!!! Maybe it’s because he’s a boy and I was used to dealing with only mildly rotten girls, but that boy keeps me on my toes.
I’ve read about how to deal with homeschooling while a “terrible two” is under the same roof. Most suggestions sound like what I’ve wanted to do, basically every single day: just throw in the towel and try homeschooling again when he’s out of this “stage.” That idea left me frustrated and still searching.
I knew something had to change and quickly.
He is not a bad kid. He really isn’t. (Although he has learned to pinch and I’m growing sick of that little trick fairly quickly.)
I have tried so hard to remind myself (multiple times a day) that he is a growing, curious toddler. He doesn’t know his boundaries, so he is testing them daily. He doesn’t understand why he can’t write in his book, while his sisters get to write in their books. He doesn’t understand that his screaming, chaotic play is disruptive to the girls’ studies… and everyone else in the neighborhood.
He is still learning, exploring, adventuring and discovering. I can’t even try to stop that.
We recently tried “tot-school” with our little Bear. It seems kind of ironic that I am using a very relaxed homeschool approach (and wishing I was a complete unschooler) with my older kids, yet trying to do “school” with my rambunctious tot.
We started by picking out a book that we all enjoy reading to Bear, Llama Llama Red Pajama. Then I sat down and spent a couple of hours creating activities to go along with the book. We worked on the color red and the letter L.
While Miss Manners was reading aloud to me, Ms. Bookworm was in charge of reading the book and doing some of the activities with Bear. While Ms. Bookworm was doing her work, Miss Manners would play and read with him.
Tot School seemed to be the answer to making our days go smoother. We still try to do it daily, but sometimes we don’t. Some days, he doesn’t cooperate and that’s fine. After all, he is only 2.
It is so easy to push our toddler’s needs to the back burner, focusing so much on school that we forget to play and interact with the smallest of our tribe. By just taking some time to give Bear one-on-one attention, he behaves so much better.
If you are anything like me and are looking for a good way to occupy your toddler while homeschooling, I suggest giving Tot Schooling a try.
Don’t know how? It’s simple.
Read to them: Take 5 minutes and have them sit on your lap and enjoy a book together. It’s amazing what a few short minutes will do to help calm down a wild little guy!
Art: Color, paint or get crazy with glue. Any way you slice it, art is FUN! Let your tot get messy and then throw him in the tub to splash around. (Let’s face it, you probably need to clean the bathroom anyways.) If you don’t have time to clean up a huge mess, try a Mini Buddha Board.
Give them some work: We’ve done d0-dot pages, using these free printables and an extra Bingo dauber from our craft box. He loves sitting at the table doing his “work” alongside the big kids.
They are the best set of farm animals I’ve found anywhere! They are the perfect size for my little farm boy’s hands and are incredibly well-made. When these bad-boys come out, I can sneak in at least 30 minutes of uninterrupted instruction time. (If you have a 2 year-old, you know how amazing ANY uninterrupted time is!)
Get dirty! Or clean: Grab a pot of water and let them splash around, using a few spoons and cups. Or grab some Play-doh and bring them to the table for some fun. I know you’re looking forward to scraping chunks of hot pink Play-doh off the floor for the next week, right?
Challenge them: Toddlers love a challenge, whether it’s trying to get you to run away from home or trying to fold himself nicely into the dishwasher. What better way to occupy them than to offer up a challenge of your own? We have this awesome Tumble Trax marble run that creates hours of fun, not just for Bear but for all of my kiddos. The run is a little hard for Bear but still challenging enough that my girls love it, too.
This is usually what they beg to do when it is their turn to occupy the boy. There are so many different ways to offer challenges to toddlers, like puzzles or stacking blocks. Heck, toddlers usually find their own challenges just fine.
Simple and quick, not to mention these puppies are perfect for entertaining the kiddos while at a restaurant. Simply add water and you’ve got yourself an art palette.
Give your tot your undivided attention: Whether it is by having a dance party in the living room or quietly snuggling on the couch, the little one simply needs our attention.
Can you imagine how hard it must be to be able to vocalize your wants, needs, fears and joys? Maybe we should slow down and snuggle them a little extra longer today.
Whether you “tot – school” or not, add some fun activities o your school day to reduce everyone’s stress.
After all, this stage will fly by. And just like that, the long days will turn into such short years.