1. It is always a balancing act! Let me see, we’ve had one or more toddlers and babies every year of homeschool so far (my oldest is in 5th this year). One of the absolute best things we’ve done is seat trained the toddlers. We have booster seats around the table and the toddler boosters have seatbelts. 😀 When we sit to do seatwork they are welcomed to the table and given toys or things to do. IN the beginning they play and then throw things on the floor. I don’t give them back. They quickly learn that it is more fun to play with what they are given than to toss it on the floor and have nothing to do during “seatwork”. Depending on their age they are expected to sit for 10 minutes or much longer. I did a whole post about it here: http://ourbusyhomeschool.blogspot.com/2010/11/homeschool-hint-1seatbelts-at-table.html

  2. I see that Tristan is helping you. Let me say, I have gotten so many wonderful ideas from her and I have no idea how she manages everything and still encourages her blogging friends.

    I like all of your thoughts, Amy. I’m sure you will have a great year!

    On a different note — I’m in metro ATL… I have a feeling you are just a state or two away from me? You can send me an email if you don’t want to reply publicly: homegrownlearners2 at gmail dot com


  3. Jocelyne

    I look forward to watching your year unfold with DLM. I have a newborn and will be right where you are next year!

    On another note, I’d love to know what books were hiding in that box 🙂

  4. I think in all honesty the thing that worked best for me (and it’s still an issue here with a fiesty almost 2 yr old) is to manage my own expectations. To tolerate a messier house. To put aside expectations of gathering around and reading a book all the way through as my perfect quiet children listen in rapt attention. To limit my own distractions (email, message boards, other online stuff). I also really had to let go of the “getting school done by x time”. A lot of days we were still “doing school” at 5 pm but it was ok. It didn’t mean that we were really “doing school” all day, it usually meant the toddler had been more challenging earlier in the day or that what we were doing was technically school but fun. I also struggle with the tension between wanting to foster “a lifestyle of learning” and not wanting to “do school” all the time. But that’s a whole post on it’s own. 🙂

    Other tips….
    Water. It’s your friend. Many times I’d put my daughter in the bath and we’d read in the hallway outside. Or I’d put our babybath on the kitchen floor and let her play in it. Or I’d send her and the 4 yr old out to play with the hose….you get the idea.

    Mine does well with sitting in a booster seat with paper taped to the table and something like markers or paint that she normally isn’t allowed to have. If it’s washable, it’s not that big a mess and if she’s strapped in, it’s contained.

    Snacks. I tend to give her a snack when it’s a time when I need to concentrate more with my oldest.

    But really the biggest lessons for me last year were that whatever I tried, it would work a little bit but it’s just a stage that you have to get through. And that it was much more about getting my own expectations in line with reality than really in finding a fix.

  5. Amy

    Thanks so much for chiming in and sharing your experience, and especially thanks for reminding me that it’s mostly about my expectations. Those are wise words indeed!

  6. Your ideas all sound really good, Amy. My youngest was a toddler when I started homeschooling my oldest, but a older than your DLM (3). I never felt good about the way I managed it — basically throwing her on her own resources for a chunk of the morning, when she would jump on the beds and make messes. I also relied on Sesame Street, and let her play on Starfall occasionally. She enjoyed listening in on history and sometimes science. School never took more than 2 hours or so with Older Daughter, so these things kept her occupied — but left her more alone, and me more technology-dependent, than I felt good about. You sound like you’re on a very good track with it all.

  7. Um, what you said. : ) Since the boy is a bit younger than yours, he is still taking two decent naps a day and that helps. We are also working on rotating girls helping with him, but to be truthful, N1 does the best with this. She is charge of getting him up from his morning nap and entertaining him while I finish working with N2. It also helps that we have a dedicated school room/play room and what is down for him to access to is all ok to play with the first 1/2 hour or so that we start school before he goes down for a nap. We have had a few bumps, but I’m trying (like you) to not have HUGE expectations because as soon as I think we will have hit a groove in this schedule, he will shake it up a bit.

    Now, if I could just get a little more sleep at night … : )

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