by Susan Beatty

One of the questions I am asked most frequently is “How do you homeschool with a baby and/or toddler?”

My first inclination is to answer that with a, “You just do it.” But somehow I don’t think that’s going to be a satisfactory answer for most of you reading this article.

In answer to this same question, an unnamed source said, “Dimetapp ®. Lot’s of Dimetapp” Mmm…………Seriously, now.

Some of you want a 1-2-3 answer that you can follow step-by-step with a guarantee it will work. But I can’t give you that either.

Homeschooling does not come with any guarantees.

Probably the most worthwhile answer I can give you is “Relax. Give yourself permission to do only what you can do.” Take baby steps (pun intended).

If your other children are still pretty young, maybe you’re trying to do too much in the academics. If your children are older, expect them to be more independent in their schoolwork.

In any case, major on the spiritual, not the academics. Of course, academic studies cannot be non-existent for 12 years; you do have to cover them, but put the spiritual first.

If you have at least two older children, have one occupy the baby or toddler, while you work with the other child.

Have special toddler or baby toys available and used only during times you are working with the older children.

Include that toddler in lessons. You might be surprised how much they will pick up while they are just nearby. Including them is particularly important when it’s reading time; they can and should get used to read aloud sessions. My toddler loved this even when he was too young to understand what was being read. I think it had to do with being held in Mommy’s lap and listening to the soothing cadence of my voice.

Don’t overlook naptime. Do as much as you can with the older ones during the little one’s naptime and if that’s all you can do, that’s all you can do.

How about exchanging childcare with a friend? Have her take your little one while you have some uninterrupted time with your older ones and do her the same favor. You could even hire a friend or neighbor’s teen a couple hours a week to occupy the little one while you teach. Or have the teen do a little housekeeping to free up a little more of your time.

We’ve only scratched the surface here. Maybe your veteran homeschool friends have even better ideas.

But the best ideas come after praying to our Lord. He is infinitely more creative than we are and loves you so much that He wants to see you succeed even more than we do.

And, oh yes, put away that Dimetapp. I was just kidding.

Used by permission. Originally published in The California Parent Educator.

This and other inspiring devotions can be found in CHEA’s new devotional, Time and Time Again.

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Susan K. Beatty is the co-founder and now retired general manager of CHEA of California. She and her husband Larry began homeschooling in 1982, teaching all three children through high school and graduating the last child in 1998. The Beattys spend their time in Anaheim (although Susan spent a lot of her time at the CHEA office).