Monday, 26 November 2012

Keeping Toddlers Happy Whilst Home-Schooling

I have been cruising around the net looking for ideas to keep Idris busy whilst I do things with the girls. I was waiting until he went to sleep (around 10.30) to really get stuck in, but I have found that by then the girls are ensconced in a game or activity that they are not willingly extracted from, and also that it is too early in the day for a sleep for Idris as then he is so tired by four that making dinner is really tricky! So I have switched to trying to keep him going until after lunch, which we often have at 11.45 round here as a knock on from how early we have breakfast! He will happily go until after lunch - as long as he is entertained constantly! He is not a 'sitter and doer' as the girls used to be, he likes a playmate, or to climb onto the table and join in or to demand milk in a loud voice every five minutes if my attention is elsewhere! My goal is for him to be absorbed in something for about ten minutes, just long enough to explain and get the girls going with something before turning my attention (well half of it!) back to him! I want to intersperse these with blocks of full on fun and games just for him, which gives the girls some breathing space too.

So far I have come up with the following:

  • Give them your attention first so that they aren't trying to compete - we do this every day as we are up first and have some time together before the others are up.
  • Snacks - sit them down with a drink and something to nibble - Iddy isn't that motivated by snacks really but I could try some new ideas once his molars have finished coming through!
  • Sensory boxes/trays - Idris loves his metal treasure basket still and water pouring would keep him busy for a long time - wide splash zone needed as Idris has definite ideas of what water play entails!
  • Play dough and tools - this kept him happily occupied for ten minutes today, the end was signalled by a few pieces of blue dough being launched very accurately onto our game board!
  • Have one child play with your toddler whilst you focus with another child - Faith sat and looked at board books with him today on the sofa and he loved it!
Another tip that I read was to get the older children to get started on something by themselves at the start of your day whilst you are spending ten minutes with your toddler. They suggest making it the same thing every day to start the day off in a nice routine, I don't tend to do the same thing every day so I will think on this idea a little more!

Many of the activity ideas that I found were for older toddlers of 2 -3years and I am confident that I can sort  those activities when the time comes thanks to my Montessori training, I am off to trawl Pinterest now for some busy bag ideas that can be scaled up to engage him. The idea behind those would be that they only come out for a short time and are not on 'general release' so he won't get fed up with them so quickly. I am only thinking that I will need this level of input into keeping him busy during the Winter as when he is outside he is perfectly content, just too young to be out there on his own, all-in-one Winter suit or not!

And if you just need a little perspective, and a good laugh, then read this post from Confessions of a Homeschooler! I recognised many of these activities!

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