You don't have to lose your sanity when it comes to homeschooling with babies and toddlers in the house. Here are my tips to manage the chaos and keep the peace in your homeschool. But above all, remember that this is a SEASON and have realistic expectations! It's going to be messy, but you can do this!
1. SET "ANCHORS" FOR YOUR DAY
Anchors are the parts of your day that are consistent regardless of what the day may throw at you. Some examples could be Morning Basket, Lunch, or Nap Time. When you are consistent with these anchors, it helps the day to get back on track when "life" happens!
Here is an example of how using an "anchor" could be helpful amidst everyday life:
"The morning is off to a crazy start. The toddler woke up early and your dog was running loose through the neighborhood. It's time to start homeschooling with Morning Basket. Instead of delaying to attend to the dirty breakfast dishes that have piled up, you choose to gather everyone for Morning Basket (an "anchor" you have chosen for your schedule) and start reading."
As you can see in this example, dirty dishes were not the most important thing in that moment, and having an "anchor" kept the day moving in the right direction!
(By the way, if you aren't familiar with "Morning Basket," it is a common phrase amongst homeschoolers for a time in the day when everyone in the family can come together and learn together about specific subjects.
2. USE SMALL BINS TO ORGANIZE TOYS EXCLUSIVELY FOR HOMESCHOOL TIME
Use small bins to organize toys and stow them away in a closet. Take them out ONLY for homeschool time. There are also a plethora of "busy bin" ideas on the internet, using simple items that could be found at the Dollar Store. You can even label the bins with the days of the week in order to keep a rotation running smoothly.
We simply operate by the rule that you can take 1-2 bins out at a time, and have to put them back before taking out a new one. Like any rule, if you are consistent with it, the children will catch on and follow it.
HOMESCHOOL TOY FAVORITES:
3. ASSIGN OLDER SIBLINGS TO A SPECIFIC ACTIVITY WITH THE YOUNGER SIBLINGS
This tags on to number two, but won't necessarily work for every family depending on the size/ages. Assign an older sibling to a younger sibling when you are occupied with teaching a lesson. Give the older sibling a specific activity to do with them.
For example, while you are teaching one of your children their phonics lesson, another child is assigned to do stickers with the toddler. You could even keep a list of activities hung up, so that the older siblings can take ownership of their job and take out the activity without even needing help.
4. IMPLEMENT A DAILY QUIET TIME
Whether you have napping children or not, implementing a daily quiet time is beneficial to everyone. Assign each child a special spot with a favorite blanket, books and quiet toys. Talk about how much better everyone will feel after quiet time. Consider using a special snack or game as positive reinforcement at the end. Some children might resist quiet time, so a timer is helpful. If you are consistent with quiet time (even if its only 30 minutes to begin), it will eventually become an "anchor" in your day.
6. MY "GO-TO" MOVES
Go OUTSIDE. When tensions are running high, drop the schoolwork and go outside. It's really amazing how fresh air can calm the mind. Whether its simply blowing bubbles on the porch, or putting on rain gear to splash in puddles, you will be glad you didn't lose your patience and chose something better for everyone.
Turn on MUSIC. This is another simple fix that can quickly change everyone's mood. Turn on classical to keep everyone working and focused, turn on a fun dance song to get the wiggles out, or turn on a family favorite to calm emotions.