This will be my first year to homeschool my 6-year-old. What can I do with my baby while I teach? The baby is one year old. I did read your Best Homeschool Secrets (thank you for the valuable tips), but I don’t have other children to help me babysit, and the baby is too young to play alone for more than 5 minutes. Besides, my baby only takes about an hour nap once a day. What did you do when your babies were young? Help!
I just kept at the task of trying to teach while trying to help the baby be happy. With a 6-year-old, you can do lots of hands-on things, nature walks, exploring, drawing and art with different mediums—all interesting stuff for a one year old, too. Also, you can read aloud while sitting on the ﬂoor “playing” with the little one such as handing him puzzle pieces and pointing to where they go so he can put them in place, playing “pegs,” etc.
I never have used nap times for school time because I needed a break from the baby, too!
Just keep your goal in mind (for example, your day’s assignments or desired work: read aloud book, painting, playing number games, doing math, etc.—whatever you choose) and patiently work at it. It may take you all day to get done, but since it is meaningful time that you are enjoying with your children, there is no pressing need to get it all done between 9 a.m. and noon.
I still have a little one, and I still do have to keep her happy and occupied while I teach my other children. I read aloud to the bigger children while sitting on the floor with her puzzles or crayoning with her. I play math games with my children and give her a little stack of cards and dice to play along or let her roll for me and help move my piece. I also have a box of “schoolwork” for the baby, such as coloring books, crayons, peg puzzles, stacking pegs, lacing shapes, buttons or other little sorting things plus a spoon or tongs and a muffin tin to sort them into, a geoboard with rubber bands, board books, etc. I set up water color painting, playdough, or another fascinating hands-on activity that will keep the little one going for awhile. As baby gets a little older, there are more activities you can add: Practice for Preschoolers.
The baby can join in for singing time, pledge of allegiance, etc. I get her school box out when it is time for school and set the little one up at a “station,” and that buys me about 10 minutes or more, if I am lucky.
It can get hairy, and often does. Isn’t motherhood just about patience?! But, they grow up very quickly. So, we try to enjoy the baby, laugh at her antics, and keep plodding towards the goal of getting each day’s work done.
Little ones learn to live in the pattern of your school day, sensing when it is time to sing, read, get out the peg puzzles, etc., and it gets a little easier as time goes on. When the youngest one just gets too restless for school time anymore, I take him outside for a few minutes to swing or play in the sandbox, letting my other children continue working or come with us.
There are lessons your older child is learning by watching you love, care for, nurture, and be patient with the baby, lessons that are not learned any other way. You are tutoring your older child in kindness, unselfishness and love. That is an incredibly valuable lesson!
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