Including a Toddler in Home School

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Heading into the eighth week of home school, I have a much better idea now for how to entertain an 18 month old and teach kindergarten lessons at the same time. It felt like an apt time to share some of this newfound wisdom, breaking things down into six steps.

Step 1: Start with a “busy” activity. I’ve learned to find even mundane materials that keep little hands occupied, and this is usually enough to keep Veronika happy during the first lesson of the day. To wit: today she had construction paper to tear, put in a bin, and then attach to a sheet of sticky contact paper!

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Step 2: Give them similar materials. This is usually the second tactic of the day to come into play, when Veronika tires of her busy activity. So, for example, today Travis had a math lesson involving gemstones. I gave Veronika an age-appropriate version: large wooden beads hidden in a set of nesting boxes that quickly became toddler gems and treasure!

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Step 3: Give hugs. Inevitably about mid-morning, Veronika walks up to me and says, “Hug”. She’s tired just from watching all the home schooling!

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I sit her on my lap, and soon she’s feeling better. She might just suck her thumb and watch Travis work during this period, or flip through a toddler magazine quietly as we snuggle.

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Step 4: Contain them in a high chair. If we’re involved with something messy, I strap Veronika into the high chair and make it her work station. Some go-to activities? An empty paper towel tube to scribble on with markers is perfect. Or stickers. Or both! Veronika can never have too many stickers.

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But if she fusses about being contained we head to…

Step 5: Help them feel like a big kid. Give your toddler the same thing that the older sibling has, but once more in an age-appropriate way.  So if Travis is working with real scissors, she gets safety scissors. If Travis is using permanent marker, she gets crayons. You get the idea!

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Step 6: Don’t forget the magic of food. I’ve learned to time Veronika’s snack around the lesson when Travis needs my focus the most each day. Set out favorites that your toddler can feed him- or herself. Favorite finger foods here are mini boxes of raisins, sliced olives, animal crackers, and juice boxes.

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How are you keeping a baby or toddler occupied during coronavirus home schooling? Please share in the comments!

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