It's been a long time since I've had a toddler in my little school on the farm. In fact, it's been about 7 years as my next youngest will be 8 in a couple of weeks. And the thing about her toddlerhood is that I also had a 3 year old....so I was only actually teaching the oldest, Miss A. Not that it wasn't a challenge, because it certainly was. I have not so fond memories of training the two youngers to stay in their rooms for "quiet time" while I taught MissA to read, and to stay on a blanket for other activities. However, most of the time the two of them played well together. In addition, you can homeschool a first grader and be completely through with all your teaching well before noon. Today, I have an 8th grader, 4th grader, and a 2nd grader....and Baby C, the toddler. He needs a buddy, but not really as he has three older kids who serve his every need and desire. He loves school time. His only issue is why on earth can't he "help" Mr. C with his math, color on Miss J's coloring sheet of Moses and the burning bush, and why oh why is it bad to throw Miss A's 300 Latin flashcards over the stair railing? He especially loves to see it rain Latin. So I'm rolling up my sleeves and trying out some new things..or rather bringing back some old ideas from the deep recesses of my sad middle aged brain. We can't just school while he naps, because of course, he isn't a huge napper and besides, with that many grades, it takes me from early morning until 2 or 3 of no distractions and serious school focus to get everyone taught in a day. If we have toddler terror (quite common), then we will be looking at still having a few things left to read or work on when Mr. P walks in the door from work. So yeah, I have a full time job even though I don't leave my house.
So first things first, I am taking my vitamins and even some spirulina every day so I have more energy. Prayer is another way to help meet all the demands in your day. And I can't speak enough good things about a cup of coffee around 2 in the afternoon! Somehow reading aloud at that time just makes me soooo sleepy. So I've learned to make my coffee and have it before read aloud time.
I need to "blanket train" Baby C. I did this with the other kids and it is invaluable. When I took allergy shots weekly, I always had all 3 kids. All I had to do was tell them to sit in a line and they did. No running about and digging in forbidden drawers, no screaming/yelling, no whining. They sat, "criss cross applesauce" and watched while I got my shot. Maybe they thought if they moved I would have them get shots? Anyway, due to being trained at a young age to stay in a defined area (the blanket), we could later use that training for things like waiting at the doctor, etc.
It is also time to institute the "box time" with Baby C. Basically you have about a dozen plastic shoe boxes with lids. Each box holds an activity. My only dilemma is do I hunt down all the boxes or just make it easy on myself and go by new? I have purchased no less than 50 over the course of teaching, but somehow I never have an empty one about. They always get put to use. They are one of my favorite things ever.
Here is a list of things I will put in Baby C's boxes. 1 activity per box. stacking cups snap beads board books baby lego (the big kind) blocks with letters small balls (we have a variety because he LOVES balls of any kind) musical instruments (you can find them in a set at wal-mart, teacher's store, etc) fabric squares made silk, wool, minky, batiste, cotton, linen, metallic, etc...cut with pinking shears rice and a measuring cup...not for the faint of heart! puzzles pom poms, spoon and plastic cup or small bowl foam letters lincoln logs (with older toddlers/preschoolers...presents a choking hazard) farm animal set small trucks and cars his little plastic "laptop" play dough (we limit this to only being used at the high chair with close supervision) board books cotton balls and clothespins or plastic salad tongs (they love to try and grab the cotton balls with them...or if they are really young, they just dump the cotton balls and throw them) wooden blocks (his cousins made these super cool blocks that are little chunks of tree limbs...they are round and some even still have the bark for tactile discovery...they don't fit in a shoe box, but have their own bigger box) You can even have one box with a snack (ie, fruit squeezie and cheerios or rice chex)
The blanket training helps immensely in both teaching discipline as well as clean up. Basically you only allow ONE box at a time. You also remove the box and it's contents BEFORE the toddler is bored with it. Since you have one box at a time and they are sitting on a blanket or beach towel, then clean up of little pieces is a breeze. Just pick up all four corners of the blanket/towel and dump back into the box. If some pieces are not on the blanket or towel, then have the toddler pick them up. It only took twice for Mr. C to realize that if he kept his lincoln logs on the blanket then he didn't have to pick up anything. Replace the blanket/towel on the floor and give baby a new box.
Now I would like to add a note about the blanket/towel training. If you do not put a towel/blanket down and your kids are trained to it, then the kids will definitely scatter toys to each and every corner of your room and you'll be picking them up for centuries...don't ask me how I know. Somehow, I missed the transitional training of I'm a big kid and don't need to leave legos/barbie shoes all over the house.
And now that I've reminded myself of how to manage the toddler at school, I will head up to find some boxes and start working on the blanket training with Baby C. Wish me luck!
I am mama to 5 sweet and busy children ages 2-17. I currently am teaching K, 6th, 8th, and 12th grades using Tapestry of Grace with swirls of Charlotte Mason elements throughout. When I'm not teaching, I'm chasing my 2 year old, or climbing Mount Washmore, or spending way too much time on pinterest and not nearly enough time cleaning house or doing laundry.