Keeping Toddlers Busy While Homeschooling

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Author’s note:  The post that follows is the one that people come to most on my blog after typing “how to keep a toddler busy while homeschooling”, or something very similar, into a search engine.  For a list of all my posts on how to keep your toddler busy while homeschooling your older children, click here.  I am, by no means, an expert, but this is what has worked for me at various times over the past year and a half. When it stopped working, I moved on to another solution.  And I am glad to report that it does get easier.   ~Julie

If you’ve read my blog before, you know I am on an ongoing quest to keep my very active two-year-old busy when trying to do math, reading, etc. with my older two kids.  One way that I’ve done this lately is to scour thrift stores and children’s consignment sales for interesting, activity based toys that are, most importantly, cheap.   I usually don’t pay any more that $5 for any one item.  I keep them stashed in a closet where the kids can’t get to them, because they are only for school time.

Some of the things I've found recently.

Each day, I try to put one or two things into Love Bug’s “workbox”.  It’s more like a play box, really, but it looks just like his older siblings workboxes.  When they delve into their workboxes each morning at 9:30, Love Bug can open his and find something fun to play with.

My goal is to be vigilant about putting the toys away at the end of each school day and then reintroducing them at some future point. We’ve had a few tears shed, (although mostly from my preschooler) about the toys being put away but I haven’t caved so far.  I figure the key to my homeschooling sanity is keeping Love Bug occupied and if I have to dry a few tears from my preschooler over toys, then I can live with that.

Other things I’ve used to occupy Love Bug include toys designed for older children.  For example, he loves our Connect Four game and will sit for a long time putting all the checkers in and then dumping them out. I’ve taken board games, like Monopoly Junior, removed the board, paper money and cards. That leaves him with the box and the little houses and other game pieces.  He thinks this is great fun.

When I embarked on our homeschooling journey last summer, one of my biggest concerns was how to keep my youngest child occupied.  Most of the advice I found was to keep crayons and play dough handy.  I thought, “That’s it?”  I knew that would keep my kiddo occupied for about five or ten minutes.  What, I wondered, was I going to do the rest of the day?

Of course, I took full advantage of nap times, but now that he is not napping much anymore, I’m on a quest to find new and creative ways to keep him occupied. What creative ideas do you have for keeping toddlers busy? If you’ve written about it on your blog, put a link in the comments section below.