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September 2, 2014

How Do Homeschoolers Measure Up?

Filed under: Daily News,Educational Adventures — Tags: , — dailynews @ 4:00 am

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How do homeschoolers measure up academically? From the infographic on this page–pretty darn well!

Please share this infographic with others–we’d like to get the word out.  :)

 

August 29, 2014

AskaTechTeacher.com

Filed under: Daily News,Educational Adventures — Tags: — dailynews @ 4:00 am

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This website is chocked full of great info–fyi–http://askatechteacher.wordpress.com/.

She also has a new site– http://askatechteacher.com/, although I really like the easy navigation of the wordpress site.

Just thought you’d like to know.  :)

August 28, 2014

LetsTalkScience

Filed under: Daily News,Educational Adventures — Tags: — dailynews @ 4:00 am

 

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Ever wonder about the following?

Why do raisins dance in soda pop?

How can I make an underwater volcano?

How can I change an iron nail to copper?

How can I make popcorn kernels dance?

If you weren’t before…..I bet you are now!  You can check out these fun experiments at

http://www.letstalkscience.ca/hands-on-activities/chemistry.html.

 

They offer even more experiments at

http://www.letstalkscience.ca/hands-on-activities.html.

August 27, 2014

DIY Homeschooler

Filed under: Daily News,Educational Adventures — Tags: , — dailynews @ 9:16 am

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Darn…..summer is coming to an end….

Want some fun last-minute summer activity ideas?  It’s not too late!

Visit the DIY Homeschooler–http://diyhomeschooler.com/category/activities/ Watermelon Science sure sounds interesting and fun.  And fun learning is forever learning!

Ann Simpson

August 26, 2014

The Hello World Program

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Computers are everywhere: in our homes, our cars, and our pockets. Developments in cloud-based infrastructure and the forthcoming “Internet of Things” will soon connect every aspect of our lives. With our economy now reliant upon automation and networks, it becomes increasingly important for young people to acquire the skills necessary to actively participate in the future. Unfortunately, these technological concepts are often difficult to grasp, and sometimes a little boring. A new series of youth-oriented videos and tutorials seeks to change that. It’s called The Hello World Program. Using puppets, papercraft, and animation, the project seeks to create an approachable and positive learning environment for students taking their initial steps in computer science, programming, and web development. The title is a play on the first program a beginner will often write, telling the computer to
print the phrase “Hello, World!”
The Hello World Program is the creative collaboration of brothers Jared and JR Nielsen. Growing up in rural Utah proved to be a serendipitous opportunity for the siblings. With few neighbors and structured
activities, they filled their time making puppets and short videos with their father’s camcorder. Before the Internet, they learned things the old-fashioned way: through trial-and-error and visits to the library.
“We taught ourselves the skills necessary to create our own media. Now we want to share what we know with the world,” says Jared. The brothers recognize the importance of play when tackling a new subject. Their primary goal is to make learning computer science educational and entertaining. Says JR,“The Hello World Program is the show we wish we watched as kids.”
The Hello World Program curriculum is divided into four integrated categories: computer science, Linux, Python, and web development. The host of the series, Unique ID, introduces audiences to general concepts in computer science such as, “What is a Computer?” and “What is a Robot?” In “Superusers! The Legendary GNU/Linux Show”, super friends Adelie the penguin and Aramis the gnu lead young heroes on adventures while instructing them on the basic commands necessary to master any Linux operating system, from Raspberry Pi’s to web servers. In “Daisy’s Web Dev Diary”, Daisy the fox builds web pages with her friends while guiding viewers through the basics of the foundational language of the World Wide Web, HTML. “The Nielsen Brother’s Byting Python”, a forthcoming
segment based loosely upon Monty Python’s Flying Circus, takes a completely different approach to teaching the Python programming language with humorous sketches and witty wordplay. One of the
aims of the Hello World Program is to remove the economic barrier associated with educational access.
These tools are not only free, they are rapidly gaining in popularity and provide a powerful foundation for any to student to build upon.
Not everyone needs to be a computer scientist, but every computer user, which is just about everyone, should understand the basics. The Hello World Program proves that it can be fun. You may also want to visit Dototot, the Nielsen brothers parent company, where they provide tutorials on all aspects of their media production, from puppet-making to video editing. According to the brothers, “Our goal is to empower young people to make their own media and engage critically with contemporary advances in technology.”

August 25, 2014

Record Keeping Made Simple

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MySchoolYear.com: an easy to use and comprehensive record keeping system

 

Since 2002, MySchoolYear.com has been enabling homeschool teachers to track, organize, and record all of their student’s education from kindergarten to high school. Homeschoolers themselves, the husband and wife team have always put simplicity in the design while still maintaining a large feature set. MySchoolYear.com has numerous lesson planning tools as well as some uncommon but highly useful portfolio tracking options like volunteer work and organization involvements.

With such a long history in the homeschool record keeping realm, MySchoolYear.com has used a simple design and helpful wizards to help members quickly understand the system and start using it while not being confused with unneeded options and cluttering the screen with an abundance of input controls. Homeschoolers need to be teaching and not fighting with an overly complex system.

To start, sign up is quick and easy, and everyone gets a free month long trial. After the trial, you easily subscribe for a price much lower than its competitors – helping your wallet. Once you sign up, so long as you maintain your subscription, your locked-in annual price will never go up. A tremendous help for long-term homeschooling on a budget.

After signup, MySchoolYear.com walks its members through an initial setup of students and terms. After that, it is off to the races. The navigational structure is color coded and the sections are comparable to a traditional school so it quite easy to navigate. After initial setup, you then proceed to create each student’s classes and lesson plans.

The lesson plan tools include Create-A-Plan, Share-A-Plan, copying plans, and rescheduling. Create-A-Plan has two options: Quick Split and Rapid Repeat. Quick Split is used to break out materials in evenly divisible lesson plans. For example, you can break out a 483 page book into 36 lessons plans of 13-14 pages a piece. Rapid Repeat allows you to create repeating assignments like reading units 1, 2, 3, and so on or create commonly scheduled events, like “soccer practice” or “piano lesson”. Regardless of which Create-A-Plan option you use, MySchoolYear.com walks you through a step by step wizard to help select options like materials, grade type, days to schedule class, any days off, and Share-A-Plan before generating your lesson plans. It takes less than a minute to create an entire year’s worth of lesson plans.

The Share-A-Plan tool allows you to use the same lesson plan for multiple children. This feature is great for students enrolled in the same grade (like twins or triplets) or enrolled in the same class. You only enter the lesson plan in once, but the system creates it in both students’ classes. For multiple students, the Copy Plan feature allows to select any or all of one student’s lesson plans into another student’s class. An awesome time saving tool when younger students start entering grades and classes that their elder siblings completed.

And for those homeschoolers that assign dates to lesson plans, the rescheduling tool is a life saver. We all know life happens, kids get sick, appointments run long and the assignments for the day are not completed. Not a problem. MySchoolYear.com allows you to easily reschedule your assignments so that you stay on track. Just a couple of clicks, and your homeschool is back in order.

Speaking of staying on track, the student’s profile page gives great visual feedback on where each student stands with respect to class assignment completion as well as days and hours attended. To stay on top of things, MySchoolYear.com offers 2 different automated options for date and hour tracking. It also has automatic grading options with default and customized settings. All of the automation is simple to use and saves you time and energy.

Of course, no record keeping system would be complete without downloadable reports. MySchoolYear.com has numerous reports including lesson plans, transcripts, report cards, standardized testing, event attendance and the list goes on.

While this article does not contain all the features of MySchoolYear.com, it would be much better to signup yourself and take advantage of its free trial. If you do happen to run into any questions, MySchoolYear.com has numerous tutorial videos, helpful forums, email and a toll-free phone support.

Use MySchoolYear.com for your recording keeping needs; you will be glad you did.

 

August 22, 2014

Homeschool Inspirational Readings

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Need Encouragement? Read a Book!

(Homeschool Inspirational Readings)

Written by Erin Kaufman

This is an inspirational and helpful article–and is one of the many informative articles in Homeschool.com’s newest e-magazine–Back to Homeschool

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Every homeschooler needs a good support system. There is nothing better than being encouraged and instructed by people who have already been down the same road. As homeschooling increases in popularity, it is now becoming easier to find others in your area that can be your support system. But sometimes those groups are either not available, or they are not the right type of group for your homeschooling philosophy.

If the right type of support system is not available to you, one of my favorite resources to find encouragement is a book. There are so many wonderful books geared toward homeschoolers that can provide you with tools, instruction, and a boost in morale without ever leaving your home. Many books are written specifically for a certain homeschooling philosophy, but there are many others that can benefit any type of homeschooler. I would love to share with you a few books that I have enjoyed and would encourage any homeschooler to read.

Simplicity Parenting by Kim John Payne

It may sound strange to list a parenting book as one of my favorite homeschooling books, but when you think about it, so much of our homeschool time is also parenting time. We don’t turn off the parenting clock as homeschoolers; it is always running. Therefore, I find that encouragement in parenting is crucial to our homeschool running well. Simplicity Parenting is all about keeping our children’s lives free from too much, whether that be too many activities, too many toys, too much schoolwork, or too many decisions. Most of us have felt at times that there is just too much going on in our lives. This needlessly stresses out not only us, but also our children! This book guides you in the steps necessary to take back those carefree days and create a more calm and secure environment in your home.

As a result of reading Simplicity Parenting, we have changed several things about our home and the way we school. Our focus now is on the basics. We get our school done in an efficient amount of time so our children have the opportunity to just play. We recently completed a massive de-clutter of our home, which has helped us all focus and stay on task. I no longer need to take breaks from schooling in order to clean up large amounts of toys. I am no longer distracted by too many books on our bookshelves. We keep what is used and what we need, and the rest is now out the door! Our lives feel calm now, and that is enough to make any homeschooling mom happy!

For the Children’s Sake by Susan Schaeffer Macaulay

Although this book lends itself well to the Charlotte Mason philosophy of education, the concepts presented can encourage any homeschooling mom. The main idea behind this book is that children need a love of learning. If you feel as if you taught them nothing else (which I am sure would never be the case), but they love to learn, then you will have succeeded! Children are much more capable of many things than what we give them credit for, and they deserve to have their minds challenged. They are people, not parrots. For the Children’s Sake describes how we can create an atmosphere of education for our children where every opportunity can be taken to learn something new. This book also discusses how important it is to let children learn through play. Playtime seems to get a bad rap these days, but it should not be that way. Children learn so much when they play and explore the world around them.

This year our homeschool looks more child-focused that it ever did before. I am meeting my children at their level and challenging their minds to grow, instead of pulling them along behind me as we trudge through our schoolwork. Books have become a central part of their education (and mine too!). Each book they read takes them to a place they have never been before and introduces them to so much more than I could tell them about. We travel around to different times and locations through our readings. We read the classics and learn new vocabulary words every day. Play time is now scheduled in our days just like schoolwork is. I am amazed at what they learn just by exploring their world. Their play time provides them a wonderful opportunity to unwind from schoolwork and apply some of their new knowledge.

Home Learning Year by Year by Rebecca Rupp

If you talk to any homeschooler about what they fear, I would imagine most of them fear leaving gaps in their children’s education. It can be overwhelming when you think of all of the subjects that need to be taught. Home Learning Year by Year walks you through each grade, from preschool through high school, and explains exactly what your child needs to learn. Each subject is listed along with suggestions for possible curriculum and book lists when available. There are also specific standards of what a child in that grade level needs to know.

We live in a state where we must report our intended curriculum for the upcoming school year to our local school district. I am always concerned that I will leave a subject off that is required. With this book, it is so easy to read through the appropriate grade level and find the resources we need to teach the necessary subjects. There are so many books and resources that I never would have found without Home Learning Year by Year. I find myself using this book several times a year to encourage and reassure myself that we are on the correct path and learning what needs to be learned.

These three books are only a small sampling of the many books homeschoolers can turn to for encouragement. Below you will find a list of some others that you may enjoy, depending on your homeschool philosophy. Just remember, you may not have a local homeschool support group, but you can find encouragement through a good book!

*Homeschooling And Loving It! by Rebecca Kochenderfer (a great general primer on homeschooling, with her own family examples mixed in)

*A Charlotte Mason Companion by Karen Andreola (a great “how-to” if you are interested in Charlotte Mason)

*The Well-Trained Mind by Susan Wise Bauer (a guide for classical education – there are three editions and I prefer the first since it provides more detail of how to put things together yourself)

*Educating the Whole Hearted Child by Clay and Sally Clarkson (a great how-to homeschool resource with some great book lists and help for planning)

*The Read-Aloud Handbook by Jim Trelease (discusses the importance of reading aloud to your children and suggests many books that are great to read aloud)

*The Three R’s by Ruth Beechick (an encouraging tool to show you how to teach reading, writing, and arithmetic in the younger grades)

*Honey for a Child’s Heart by Gladys Hunt (a guide in how to use books and how to choose good books in your home)

*101 Top Picks for Homeschool Curriculum by Cathy Duffy (helps you choose curriculum based on your child’s learning style and includes the author’s top picks)

*Joy in the Journey by Lori Hatcher (a homeschool mom shares encouragement based on her own homeschooling journey)

 

Written by Erin Kaufman.  You can visit her blog at http://wateronthefloor.wordpress.com/

August 21, 2014

Homeschooling High School

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Homeschooling High School – And Enjoying It!

Written by Trish Madonia

This is just one of the MANY interesting/informative homeschooling articles in Homeschool.com’s newest e-magazine–Back to Homeschool

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Homeschooling high school can seem daunting, but I’m here to tell you that it’s challenging – and fun!

We need to start the conversation about homeschooling high school by discussing the regulations. KNOW your state’s regulations before anything else. I find it helpful to have a basic outline of my state’s requirements for all four years in front of me, and sketch in curriculum I think I want to use, as well as electives I feel are important. I do this in the summer before 9th grade. After that, our challenge as parents lies in following the law without squashing our children’s love of learning! To me that’s a much more difficult challenge than covering those pesky subjects such as algebra and chemistry.

DISCLAIMER- There are as many ways to cover high school as there are families. This is my second time around and my younger son’s high school looks nothing like my older’s! What follows is a) my opinion and b) how our family tackles high school. I hope to help and inspire others who want to take on this challenge, but your journey will and should look different from ours. This is due to the uniqueness of each child and every family.

When my son was young we followed a literature based curriculum. It was such a blessing to us – the learning occurred effortlessly, meaningfully and with joy! Then came high school. I was terrified that I wouldn’t “cover” everything. We started out with separate texts for each subject, working for about an hour per subject each day. It didn’t take long to see that this made no sense for our family. So we went back to using great literature as a spine. I have many great books at the ready and I let my son choose which ones he wanted to read. Back came the enjoyment and excitement to “school”! Now, we look up vocabulary, discuss situations from the reading, and take note of the wonderful wording – the cultural and historical modes of speech. We read about the countries and regions where the stories take place – the geography, the culture, and the history. This I carefully document under the various subjects to eventually include on his transcript. We do use separate texts for science and math but it’s easier to tie those subjects to real life – nature, relationships, wildlife, health; word problems, measurement, evaluation of data and abstract thinking. And in case you’re wondering, we use the internet and our personal library to figure out what we can’t figure out! I’ve discovered that algebra is actually pretty cool. This is the beauty of homeschooling – you can do what works, throw out what doesn’t and try something else. I also love learning alongside my son; not only is it exciting to learn new and interesting things, but you immediately know what your child finds interesting and you can follow his/her lead. That is what makes learning meaningful – not memorizing random facts to pass a test.

So that is how we handle the required subjects. But there is so much more! I feel that the high school years are the time to prepare our teens for life. So we cook together, clean together, talk constantly about situations my son might come up against regarding character, relationships, responsibility, driving, drugs, alcohol – the list goes on and on. We also have the time and freedom to allow our son to follow his passion – music – his likely life’s work. Homeschooling high school gives him the time and flexibility to practice, play musicals, gig until late – everything that goes with a budding career. This was actually one of our initial reasons for homeschooling this son – to allow him the freedom to pursue music and not be tied to the school calendar.

There are also electives to consider. Here’s where homeschoolers can really shine! You can gear your electives to your child’s passions or needs before college. I will have Life Skills as one year’s elective. You can decide what skills you feel are important and put in the required time to teach them. Examples can be banking, automobile maintenance, cooking, cleaning, mending, menu planning, budgeting, first aid…even public speaking. My son is also interested in film so he’ll do a course in filmmaking, as well as music theory and jazz history. He was able to fill a history requirement this year with a course called Discovering Music: 300 Years in Interaction in Western Music, Arts, History and Culture (by Carol Reynolds). I use the internet to look for curriculum that corresponds with my son’s interests.

Finding what will work for your family takes time and research. Does your son or daughter want to go to college? If so, start looking at colleges and their enrollment requirements. 9th grade is NOT too early! If your child wants to learn a trade, find him/her opportunities to get involved while still in high school. They’ll have a time and experiential advantage. I fully intend to take advantage of dual enrollment community college classes as my son nears graduation, and will look for on-line courses if I feel unable to help cover a required subject. I don’t ever think I can teach him everything, but I do know that we can figure it out together. I keep careful records of everything we read and cover, and that will make creating his transcripts easy.

Finally, are you worried about what your teen might be missing by being homeschooled through high school?  I can tell you what they are NOT missing – love, acceptance, respect, socialization, moral leadership and freedom to pursue their passions as they see fit. Education is as much about a child’s heart as it is their head. I feel that this is more than enough reason to take on the challenge of the high school years.

 

Bio–Trish Madonia lives in Clinton NY with her husband Scott and sons Schuyler and Scottie. Her family has homeschooled for 10 years, and Trish has a passion for helping new homeschoolers gain confidence in this important venture. Aside from homeschooling she loves to spend time with her family, teach private music lessons to children, and ride horses.

 

 

August 20, 2014

Homeschooling Different Ages

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Homeschooling Different Ages in Different Stages

Written by Jordyn Coffin

This is just one (there are over 15 articles!) of the informative/important articles in Homeschool.com’s newest e-magazine–Back to Homeschool

It’s four o’clock, dinner is in the oven, the house is fairly clean and all 6 of my children have been successfully schooled for the day. Days like these are the norm now, but that wasn’t always the case.

After my 5th was born I started to feel like I was drowning and that my kids were not getting the education they deserved. In all honesty I was overwhelmed with the fact that there were so many of them to teach now. Each of them at a different level, each of them with different strengths, weaknesses and learning styles. I would sit down with the older kids and not five minutes in a younger kid would need something, or want to show me something, or just want to flail on the floor in a 10 minute tantrum for no reason.

It went on and on like this for months, and I really started to feel hopeless, lost and so very overwhelmed. Clearly I was not equipped for this homeschooling journey, clearly I was not supermom, and clearly I was a big, fat failure.

At the time this was all going on my husband traveled 50% of the time, my family was too far away to help, and I had no friends that homeschooled. I was truly on my own. I could let it overtake me or I could face the problem head on, find a solution and make this work. I chose the latter, I decided to implement some new routines, activities and solutions to this homeschool problem and I’m so glad I didn’t give up! I feel like I stuck with something and am now reaping the rewards. It would have been so easy to throw in the towel and just hand them off to someone else, but ultimately that wasn’t what I wanted for my kids.

So I’m sure you are wondering what life changing, earth shattering tips and tricks I have for y’all. I hate to disappoint, but nothing I do is at all that revolutionary or even very creative, but it does work and it has made all the difference in our lives.

My kids are 15, 12, 10, 7, 5 & 3. One of the biggest things I had to learn was to give up control and to stop being so hard on myself. My kids were going to be fine, I wasn’t going to miss something and even if I did, we could always go back and fix it. As long as they can read, write and do math, the rest would fall into place.

So let me break down a typical day for you, when we are at home (when we are on the road is a whole different article!). We have breakfast, get chores done, and my 15 year old gets her assignments from me for the day and vanishes to her room, only to be seen if Khan Academy or YouTube fail her. My 10 and 12 year olds aren’t quite that independent, they like to do school at the kitchen table so that I can be reached for quick questions or serious help if needed. While they are doing their independent study, I give my three year old something out of the Monday box (we have boxes for every school day of the week, more on that later) and I sit down with my 7 & 5 year old. They are both at the same level academically for the time being, so it makes it really easy to teach them. I read to them, they read to me, we add, subtract, work on patterns, (if I really feel like a hot shot mom I throw in a little algebra and trig), do a few worksheets, and call it a day. If my older ones seem to be sailing through their lessons, the littles and I watch an episode or two of Magic School Bus, Wild Kratz or some other educational show.

It’s now about lunch time so we all break for lunch and clean up. My littles go off and find something to do and it’s my time to go over assignments and offer help where needed with my older kids. It works almost flawlessly– my littles feel like they have had mommy’s attention long enough and are content to go off and play, giving me time to work with the bigs without having to deal with constant interruptions and begging to do school too.

Now don’t get me wrong, it isn’t always like this. We have days where everybody seems to be struggling and where everyone seems to be needy, and I’m pulled in 6 different directions. But I can handle those days so much better now that they are few and far between.

While I still don’t have it all figured out, here are the tips that have worked for me for the last 5 years while homeschooling children of all different ages:

  1. Have an age appropriate “busy” box for each day of the week for younger children. Having a different box for each day of the week keeps the content new and their interest lasts far longer. Garage sales and the dollar stores are great for filling a busy box!
  2. Have school with your younger kids right after breakfast. This helps them feel like their school time is important too and makes them less likely to interrupt lessons with the older kids.
  3. Have school outside or at the park. On particularly rough days when the younger kids just want to interrupt every five seconds, we call outside school day. Sometimes fresh air makes all the difference in the world for miserable attitudes and the “I’m boooooored” phenomenon.
  4. Don’t fight the digital age. I know that no one wants their children in front of screens 24/7 but there are so many educational benefits to limited computer/tablet time. My younger girls LOVE their learning apps and games and they have saved my sanity while helping my older kids more times than I can count. Reserve the computer and tablet time for when you are working with your older kids.

It is not always easy to homeschool several children that are different ages and levels, but it can be done without losing your sanity, you just have to implement a few strategies and you will be well on your way to homeschool bliss (okay not completely, but it’s a start!).

 

Written by Jordyn Coffin: I’m a homeschooling mom of 6 and Supermom in training. I am trying to do it all and most days failing miserably. Follow our adventures and misadventures at AlmostSupermom.com. You can also connect with me at http://www.facebook.com/almostsupermom, and http://twitter.com/almostsupermom.

 

August 19, 2014

Homeschooling with Toddlers in Tow

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Homeschooling with Toddlers in Tow!

Written by Katie Dugdale 

This is just one of the informative must-read articles in Homeschool.com’s

newest e-magazine–Back to Homeschool

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One morning while we were doing school, I noticed my toddler had been quiet for an unusual amount of time. I realized I had lost track of her and had no idea what she had been doing. I also realized the door to my bedroom was open. I walked into a dark room and heard a faint strumming of a guitar. We keep the guitars in my husband’s closet. I don’t know how long she had been in there, but when I opened the door, I found my two year old standing in the dark closet dropping picks one by one into the guitar. She also re-tuned it for us and made sure all the strings were working well.

Toddlers and homeschooling are an interesting puzzle to figure out. My toddlers, and I’ve had four of them, have been passionate. By passionate, I mean wiggly, loud and bursting with personality that cannot be ignored. I have been homeschooling for six years in some form or another. Every year we have homeschooled, we have had a toddler or baby in our home. I have had to learn to embrace flexibility and to not hold too tightly to my routine. I remember when my oldest was two and people would tell me how quickly the preschool years would pass. I knew they were right, although at times, I didn’t believe them. As I am hunting down my toddler who has been suspiciously quiet while I am in the middle of doing school with my older children, I have to be careful not to wish away the toddler years. I need to be intentional to embrace every stage and make adjustments to our day as needed.

How do I homeschool with a toddler in the home? I cannot give a formula for success. I cannot give you a strategy that will work every time. What works today will likely not work tomorrow. You’ll need to have several tricks up your sleeve to make it work! I feel like I have tried everything under the sun to keep our toddlers busy while we do school. Sometimes we wait until the toddler’s nap time to do school. Sometimes the toddler watches a video. Sometimes we have a special area set up with markers and crayons so the toddler can do school with us. I have had to experiment to find our rhythm. As the babies and toddlers enter a new stage, that rhythm has to change to keep up with them.

While I do not have a proven strategy, I will share strategies I have up my sleeve, that have helped keep our toddlers occupied and even included during/in our homeschool day –

Include your toddler when possible – If you can include your little one in any way (modifying a lesson, reading to them, letting them do a craft project with you, letting them sit at the table and work on a “worksheet” while his siblings are working on theirs, etc.), they will enjoy the experience—I don’t know a toddler that doesn’t want to do “big kid” things. Plus, your toddler will learn something too (even if it’s to pay attention for seven minutes)!

Busy Bags – Busy bags are a way of organizing little activities for preschoolers and toddlers. These activities usually focus on some type of readiness skill like color matching, fine motor skills such as lacing and tracing, counting and more. I have several busy bag activities. I keep them all in a big tub in our kitchen/school room. I only get a few activities out at a time for our toddler. Each activity is in its own pouch. I use zipper pencil cases with the clear front you can find at stores like Wal-Mart or Target. If you need ideas for busy bags or want to learn more about them, you will find all kinds of great ideas on Pinterest!

Special Toys – I keep a basket of special toys that only comes out during school time. My toddler can sit in the Pack and Play and have some time with these toys. The toys include a Tag Junior (a toy that reads certain board books to the child), Lego Duplo Blocks, Puzzles, and Magnetic Dolls from Melissa and Doug. Rotate toys when you can to keep things fresh/novel.

Play Dough or Water Colors – When we are doing table work, I let my toddler sit with us and have play dough on a special tray with toys or water color paints. These things are minimal when it comes to mess and clean up.

Netflix – I admit, there are times when I just need my toddler to be occupied so I can focus on the needs of an older child. It’s at these times that I might sit her in her Pack and Play and let her watch educational shows such as Leap Frog Letter Factory, Leap Frog Phonics Farm, Signing Time, and a number of other preschool and toddler friendly videos.

Nap Time – If your older children can manage well in the afternoon, there is no reason you cannot take advantage of the quiet to get some school work done. My children are usually tired and have a shortened attention span in the afternoon so this doesn’t always work.

Older Children – I have a nine year old, a seven year old, a four year old and a two year old. The older two finish school at different times and the four year old doesn’t do school every day. I often ask a child who is not involved with school work to play or read books with a younger child. As you can imagine, this benefits both kids.

Any one of the above mentioned strategies can buy you anywhere from fifteen minutes to an hour of time. I try to use that time to get our group activities such as calendar time, read alouds, Bible memory and more completed. My older children work independently with workboxes for the majority of their school time. If I can keep my toddler entertained for the beginning of school, I can be available to her as the older ones are working. She needs to know that she is valued and important to me. I try to spend time reading books to her or playing with her.

When I had small babies in the house, I relied heavily on morning nap time to get school done. I tried to make our lessons short and sweet. I made sure the kids and I were ready to get started as soon as that little one went down for a nap. We often had our read aloud time when I was feeding a baby. Listening to audio books together as a family during that time is great, when you do not have free hands.

The time with toddlers and babies will pass. It will pass quickly. I have heard it said over and over that the days are long, but the years are short. I am finding this to be true. So, as I am seeking to occupy my little ones so I can accomplish school with my older ones, I am trying to be intentional to see the joy in all the stages of this journey.

The beauty I have found in homeschooling is realizing I am not recreating a classroom setting in my home. We are home educating. We are doing life together. Babies and toddlers have real needs and provide real distraction and interruptions. My children and I are learning to be flexible and roll with the punches. Sometimes we have to take a step back and realize something isn’t working. We may need to pack it in for the day and head outside. We may need to take a snack break. We might even need to stop what we are doing and have a dance party!

 

Author Bio:

Katie Dugdale is a child of God, wife to a wonderful man, mama to four little blessings and a crafter on the side. Her life is a series of adventures. She has moved five times in ten years of marriage and has had four children in four different states. She has a heart for homeschooling and loves creating and sharing resources to help others who are on the same journey. You can visit her at www.wellnurturedplantsandpillars.com. You can also find her on Twitter and Pinterest under the user name mama_monkey.

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