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When toddlers just want to join in…

Plan as you might, some days toddlers just won’t get with the programme. It’s not always easy home educating older siblings with toddlers around but there are some ways to make it easier.

Involve toddlers in the lesson

  • Give curious toddlers paper to ‘write’ on/pencils to sort/rulers to use – use stationary supplies you wouldn’t normally offer them (felt-tip pens and such like) so the activity is a novelty.
  • Let them ‘read’ along. ‘School books’ with pictures are great for occupying toddlers, who feel grown up ‘reading’ their sibling’s books, or offer books with similar themes – ‘Look your book has a digger too!

Use highchair games to occupy toddlers

Occupying toddlers with activities that can be done in a highchair means as a parent-teacher you’re able to focus on the lesson knowing the toddler is safe. Toddler classics like playdough, ‘scoop and tip’ games and painting activities all work well.

Screen share

Allow the toddler some of their screen time during lesson time – if they refuse to leave their sibling’s side, screen-sharing works well! (Turn the sound off for the toddler’s screen and give them fiddle toys to play with.)

Move the class to where the toddler wants to be!

The thing about home education is it gives you flexibility as to where the classroom is. If the only thing that will pacify a teething tot is water, pop them in the bath and bring reading books to the bathroom; grab easels for home learners and take the lesson to the park.

No, toddlers shouldn’t rule the roost but occasionally it won’t harm anyone if they do.

Use a baby carrier

Channel the energy of Professor Ramata Sissoko Cissé, the wonderful professor who stepped up to enable their student to attend class, and put the toddler on your back.

I love Ergobaby carriers. The toddlers weight is distributed so well you can move around with ease. Mr 2 (15kg) regularly spends hours at a time happily hanging out on my back.

Give them one-to-one time beforehand

Before starting a lesson that is going to need your attention as a teacher, spend 15 minutes of one-on-one time with your toddler. It will satisfy their needs and make them more amenable to entertaining themselves for a while.

If it’s their sibling they want to be with, sneak in a read aloud lesson for the homeschooler by asking them to read a book or two with their sibling, again filling that emotional cup.

Use snacks!

Toddlers like snacks. Choose ones that will take them the longest amount of time to eat…bananas to peel and with a (blunt) knife and fork to eat it with, toddler-friendly trail mix, chopped salad. For older toddlers, adding child-friendly chopsticks into the mix can extend a snack for hours!