Here’s this week’s practical tip ~
A question new homeschool moms often ask veteran homeschoolers is,
“How do I keep my toddler busy while I teach the older kids?“
Most moms of toddlers, trying to homeschool older children, find themselves constantly diverted to direct or keep toddlers quietly busy while older children work and find themselves frustrated and exhausted.
Busy Bags are the answer! These toddler activity bags are wonderful for other times too, like travelling, church, doctor’s waiting rooms and restaurants. May I add that grannies or babysitters can enjoy pulling out a busy bag when toddlers come to visit!
Having a stash of busy bags in rotation can bring some calm and sanity for at least some of the morning.
Here’s some tips ~
- First find some suitable ideas. Pinterest and Google searches will provide endless ideas for every age group.
- Vary the type of activity. Sorting, colors, arranging, grouping are very similar. Try include activities for all senses, new skills like threading, counting, creative play and pre-writing skills.
- Pack away bags! These are for formal learning time and not for general play. They are your focussed homeschool time. If toddlers play with them when ever they chose, they will be bored with them at school time.
- Rotate bags every week.
- Share your resources with another mom or your group. This will provide a wonderful variety and collection in a very short time. If there are 3 moms in the group, each mom makes 3 copies of each activity. Then at the next get-together, give a quick demo and swap and share with the others. Sometimes these meetings provide new, additional concepts or applications for the activity that we could use or adapt.
- Store busy bags in a basket high up on a shelf, or in a box, or drawer and take out the bags for the day. See examples at Small Potatoes and All Our Days
- Train your toddler. Show them where to sit and how to do the activity. Importantly, teach them to pack away everything afterwards before taking out the next bag.
- Toddlers love repetition. Don’t worry about their request to do the activity over and over. They love the feeling of mastery. When they are done, they usually have learnt the skill and are ready to move on.
- If the activity doesn’t “work” or “fit” your toddler’s ability or interest, gently and quietly pack it away for a few months and try again later.
- Similarly to the workbox method of preparing activities for each child for the week, busy bags can be adapted for older children when they are finished their work and are waiting for mom’s attention.
- Older children’s activity bags could include recipe card and ingredients, science experiment equipment with instructions, sewing, beading or craft kits, memorization cards, project or hands-on activity instructions, maths drills or something simple and fun!
Hope these tips help you in your homeschooling!