How do I Homeschool with a Toddler Underfoot: An Introduction, and The Buddy System

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Sometimes I hang out on Homeschool message boards, and see these amazing women homeschooling 7 kids and making it look easy- and I think to myself…. how the heck is that even possible?

I have three kiddos, and a lot of the time, I’m drowning.

The oldest two boys are trying to find their footing in this world. They both are diligent students, but they are so, so young. Learning in this house requires a lot of hand holding. Constant supervision is required. There is no such thing as independent work, outside of the very short period of time I can get a little boy brain to focus on a workbook (seriously, I should time it. I think we get about 2 minutes out of them).

Teaching them wouldn’t be so bad, but I have a little tornado in my home. She’s the most beautiful thing I have laid on. She’s so sweet, and fun, and playful. She also likes to help me clean, buy wiping down the walls with toilet water. She likes to decorate, with a sharpie on the couch. She likes to be held, preferably when I am trying to help the boys with a time sensitive, hands on experiment. She makes life really wonderful, and really really hard.

Homeschooling with a toddler

This week, I am setting out on the {seemingly} impossible task of explaining how, in theory, one Homeschools with a toddler underfoot.

I say in theory, because this week, it was pointed out to me, again, that people are somehow mistaking this blog of the most beautiful snippets from my {admittedly amazing, blessed} life as the constant reality of my life.

Yes, I do teach the kids all the things I say I do. Yes, we do have a ton of fun homeschooling, and yes, I feel like we are doing a stand up job educating these little people. I love to take pictures and tell you all about it, but those pretty pictures only last a split second, and they are one of seven shots I took, and the only shot where Little Miss isn’t running through with a toilet brush in her mouth.

Life isn’t perfect, y’all. Not for me, not for you, not for your favorite blogger. Life is darn beautiful, but it sure as heck ain’t perfect.

How do I teach with a toddler

So let’s talk about how we can get this schooling done with tornado toddlers in our imperfect Homeschool.

I want to start with the one thing I found the most helpful for Homeschooling with a toddler:

The Buddy System

 Use the Buddy System with your toddlers!

Those older kids you are trying to teach are a wonderful resource to keep that Toddler from painting the walls. Use them.

In our home, I know I have to have one on one time with each of the boys. They don’t have terribly long attention spans, so it works perfectly to rotate every 15 minutes or so between subjects. In the morning while I am working with Mr. Man on handwriting, Bug is baby’s Buddy. His job is to stay by her side. Normally, this is the time that he fixes both of them a snack, almost always peanut butter on a spoon and a banana to share. They sit at the table and snack on the treat Bug “cooked” and are happy as a clam.

When Mr. Man is done with the handwriting, I help him get a snack, and then it’s his job to be the Buddy. He typically plays blocks or something with Little Miss. They are three years apart in age, but are thick as thieves, and just as devious, so I make sure they stay in the living room where I can watch out of the corner of my eye while I work with Bug.

We also use the Buddy system for reading time, Bug and Mr. Man both take a little time to read to Little Miss. Sometimes they look at pictures, sometimes they read the book, either way, it’s beneficial to all of them.

Toddlers like to be involved. They like to feel important and a part of the action. The buddy system fills their little buckets so they are happy, and it means they are distracted, entertained, and safely doing an activity with their siblings. Look at your day, and see if there is any time where you can pair up an older and younger child. Make a list of things they can do together, delegate things like snack time, stories, or even simple crafts- and put those kids of yours to work!

The added bonus is that it helps siblings foster friendships, and teaches older siblings to be compassionate and caring with the toddler. It’s nothing but good things (when it works- most of the time it works for us. Sometimes, Little Miss wants nothing to do with her brothers. Those are rough days!). Your school day may last a little longer by adding in the buddy system, but trust me, once you get into a routine with it, life is so much easier!

Read the whole series!

This week, I have lots to share with you- more ideas for a smoother day, some fun activities, some of our favorite toys for toddlers (and, some freebies too!). Come back tomorrow for the next post in the series, or subscribe by email so you don’t miss a thing! {Just plug your email into the sidebar form!}

This series is a part of a Blog Series brought to you by some of my favorite Homeschool Bloggers. Check out their series all in one place over at Enchanted Homeschooling Mom.

How Do I Teach ... 5 Day Blog Series

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  1. Loved this post. My little guy is very similar to your little one, sharpie to the couch included! We’re trying the buddy system this year, but with about a half hour. It’s been working variably, might have to try a shorter stint:)

  2. I do this with my toddler, and it does help tremendously. I can accomplish at least a few things, my older children gain experience, build relationships like you mentioned, and my reluctant reader has enjoyed reading to him. Great post and very true!

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