Lots of mums who are either starting out in home education, or have been doing it for a while but find they have a toddler or two makiing their presence felt, ask, how do you home educate with bababies and toddlers?
It seems to depend a lot on the toddler. I did go through a phase of wondering if it was humanly possible to get the older ones learning while a tornado lived with us. However, she is three now and has calmed down to mild-hurricane, making life much easier.
My main strategy with little ones was always to make them feel part of the action. They had paper, crayons, manipulatives or whatever the others had in some form and could do their own thing while the others did lesson time. Gradually, as they got older they would do more of their own learning, sort of, as they went along. So Heleyna has learned shapes, numbers,, some letters and so on, just because she has played with them and learned as she went along. We have taught all the children to count to 15 fairly early simply by counting up and down the stairs.
A lot of things are made much easier by these considerations: we have a wooden floor where a lot of the messy work happens; it can cope with glue, paint, play doh, chalk, yoghurt and squashed grapes with ease.
We had a cheap plastic high chair from Ikea which could also cope with all that was thrown at it.
If you haven’t got this I recommend a large plastic sheet for the floor. We have one for the table which has been used on the floor for some stuff and even out on the lawn. It can be wiped down or put through the washing machine.
Toddlers with paint and other such things can be naked – it’s easier to put them in the bath afterwards, than get clothes clean.
I tended to do the really messy stuff in the summer so that some of it could be done outside – chalking, dying things, making volcanos and so on.
Now Wednesfays are for the younger ones. The older ones get to play all day while the little ones get together and play. Then we do two short lessons. the girls are aged 2, 3 and 4. We do Geography. I have printed up a large map of the world and backed it on good contruction card stuff. It folds up neatly for storage. The girls have to find which ever country we are talking about today and colour it in. Gradually the map will be coloured all over. Then I tell them a story from that country. Today we did Ireland and so I read them Tomie dePaola’s Patrick book- as it’s his feast day tomorrow. After that we do a page from Maps, Charts, Graphs A.
The other lesson we do is music. I had started with nursery rhymes, some rythmn and showing them what notes look like. Now I am using the workbooks from Kinderbach with some added bits and they are doing the Aventus lessons together at the keyboard. As they do more I will have to give them one lesson each – but at the moment it works well as a shared lesson. It also means they are learning to take turns as well as share and cooperate.
The older ones often help out. I think it’s good for them to have a day that is more focused on the little ones. For those who might be wondering how I keep my 8 and 6 yr old on top of their work if they only do four days a week of “formal” learning, let me reasurre you that they are still learning plenty. I do try and avoid the “What are they doing in school?” mentality. Why do so many of us go through this form of self torture? However from what I can gather they are both way ahead of where schools would expect them to be for their age. If they weren’t i admit I would be having guilt trips – which is silly, but thankfully for my silliness, they are.