Homeschooling Essentials: Entertaining the Little Ones

5 Days of Homeschooling Essentials

I am often asked how in the world do we "do school" with the older children yet keep the little ones entertained at the same time. It wasn't really anything I had to think about until this last year or so when Olivia  (age 2) became more independent and wanted to do things like her older siblings. (can ya see where I'm going with this??)

I realized I had find things for her to do during school time that imitated her siblings.

I came up with an activity basket that only comes out when the older children are doing school. Because Olivia only gets it for a little bit at a time, it keeps her attention and is something she looks forward to. She views her basket as "doing school" like her siblings. I also rotate the activities every once in awhile so there are new things for her to explore. She thinks she is having fun & playing but most of the time she is doing educational things like learning her colors, letters, counting, sorting, etc.

Making your own activity basket is really simple and can cost little to nothing. I started a Pinterest Board of toddler activities you can make yourself so I do some of these from time to time (a great way to repurpose things around the house!) I also put into the basket things I've found at yard sales.

We go to the library a lot and our library has bags of "themed" books so each time I get a themed bag for my little ones. I read the books to them, but I also have Olivia sit down for some quiet time for her to "read" when her older siblings do. I have even seen Olivia "read" to Ava and share her interpretation of the story from the pictures she sees. Even if your library doesn't have a theme bag of books, take your little ones along to the library and let them pick out a few books. It makes them feel like their big siblings!

Another thing Olivia will do is to sit with one of her siblings as they do schoolwork on the computer such as a video or online website. It's amazing what she has picked up from simply cuddling up with the kids as they do their work. Seems so simple but she loves it!

I also on occasion reference some books specifically for toddlers & preschoolers to get some ideas of educational activities to do. The 3 that I have on hand are:

-The Homegrown Preschooler: Teaching Kids in the Places They Live
-Before Five in a Row: A Treasury of Creative Ideas to Inspire Learning Readiness
-Flowering Baby

And in a pinch, I will hand her the iPad to play some games. One of her favorites is Minecraft though we do have educational apps on there she plays as well! Ahhh the joys of having older siblings!

What are some of the ways you entertain your toddlers or preschoolers while older children do their schoolwork??

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