March 25, 2012

Keeping Toddlers Occupied

Toddlers are so very cute. The twinkle in their eye and their mischievous little grin are almost enough to make up for the fact that they just dumped an entire bag of cereal on the floor. Almost.

Homeschooling with a toddler around can be quite...interesting. They're loud. They don't sit still for very long. They leave a trail of destruction wherever they go. On the homeschooling boards I frequent, more than one harried mother has asked how others homeschool with a toddler in the house. Before a few months ago, I didn't bother paying much attention to the advice. Pigby and I only did sit down lessons while Digby was taking his afternoon nap. We had two hours to get everything done. Reading, grammar, spelling, writing only took about 1 hour. After that he'd get to play on the computer or we'd play a game.

But a few months ago, Digby started changing the routine. He is in the process of cutting out his afternoon nap and boy is it a process. Now if he takes a nap at all, it's only about an hour. On days when he's super tired, he'll fall asleep for two. But there is no rhyme or reason to any of it. There is no predicting how long Pigby and I will have to get our work done.

The decision to add Digby to our homeschool routine was one in which I dragged my feet. Knowing his penchant for chaos, I figured that my life would be a million times more difficult. In order to keep up with him, I knew I'd have to be super organized. That is not a strength of mine AT ALL!

In order to prepare, I got two small filing cabinets. It was imperative that the drawers locked. Everything messy and fun went into those drawers and he could only access one thing at a time. This prevents him from making a super huge mess of EVERYTHING. Now he can only make a small mess with one thing.

Some things I have:

~Triangular crayons and chalk for when he wants to color.

~Balloons filled with various squishy items (lentils, rice, sugar, navy beans, etc).

~Pom poms, a set of plastic tongs, and a tray with three sections obtained from the dollar store. He uses the tongs to move the pom poms from section to section. I also have glass beads he can use with the tongs and the tray.

~Scissors and scrap paper. He could cut paper all day.

~Play-Doh. I haven't gotten it out yet and let him use it. I dislike Play-Doh because of the mess it makes. Some day when I have gathered my braves, we'll have a wild Play-Doh party.

~Books. He does like looking through books at all the pictures. His favorite is Llama, Llama, Red Pajama.

~Puzzles. He doesn't really like these for much beyond throwing the pieces everywhere.

~Lace and trace cards. Again, only good for throwing at this point.

~Handwriting sheets and Pigby's unused math sheets. These came about because Digby was always trying to steal them from Pigby. I made some just for him and he loves them. They are probably his favorite.

So far, adding Digby to our school day has been the best idea I've had all year. He's old enough to sit for a few minutes and knows the meaning of, "No." This keeps him from doing things he oughtn't and buys me some time with Pigby. I want it understood that in no way do I really try and do formal school with him. He gets up and wanders frequently. Sometimes he'll go and find a snack. Other times he'll go play with another toy. But he is always welcome to sit at the school table with us should he choose to. Surprisingly, he chooses to quite often. He's often back and forth, back and forth. He loves pretending to do school like big brother.

I have a feeling I'll be in trouble in a few months when baby girl drops down to one nap. Life will be so much more interesting then!

Megan is the mother to three sweet children: Pigby (boy, age 6), Digby (boy, age 2), and Chuck (girl, age 1). You get a cookie if you know where those nicknames come from. She likes reading, crocheting, and teaching herself how to sew. Slowly but surely, she is learning to enjoy cleaning. Listening to an audiobook makes it much more enjoyable!

5 comments - Add a comment below -:

Mama Rachel said...

There are some GREAT ideas, here. It really does help to have something special for the little ones that they get to do ONLY during school time.

Great post!!!

Kristy said...

I'm not a fan of Play-doh either and I recently found Moon Dough. It is dry and doesn't dry out, but can still be formed and shaped. The best thing is that I can sweep up the little parts that drop on the floor and it doesn't grind into the carpet (so far, but there is always a first time). I can vacuum those pieces that find their way to the carpet.

Rachael Patterson said...

Awesome nicknames and I'm pretty sure they come from Pushing Daisies! What a great show!!

Andrea said...

Haha, I wish we could come to your wild Play-doh party. Sounds like a good time.

Anonymous said...

We love home made play-doh. Yeah it can still get messy but if it gets on a carpet, pants, etc it comes right up with wet cloth!!