Blog Archive

This post contains links to products on Amazon. If you purchase items through these links, I receive a small percentage of every sale.

Transitioning Your Toddler into Your Homeschool Environment

Sunshine turned 3 years old last week.  

I can not believe my baby is a big girl now! It seems like yesterday she was a baby.  

Over the past 6 months Sunshine has been joining us for some, if not all of learning time.  

It has been a BIG adjustment for everyone, especially me.  For the most part we've moved past the hurdles.  We've learned a TON and the transition has been a success!

I wanted to be sure to share our experience and give some tips about transitioning your toddler into your homeschool environment in hopes you can avoid any unnecessary stress during the transition.

Transitioning Your Toddler into Your Homeschool Environment

When we started transitioning Sunshine into our learning time, I asked several other homeschooling mothers of multiple kiddos, just how they did it.  

There were a few who felt confident in their success with the transition, but there were many others who were struggling with it.  

I also remember talking to mothers who were not only transitioning toddlers into classrooms with their older kiddos, but introducing a baby into the classroom with their toddler.  Either situation is a challenge.  

The more I talked with others about it, the more I wished my toddler hadn't grown out of their naps. Lol.

But she has, so here's what we've learned and want to share!

6 Tips for Transitioning Your Toddler into Your Homeschool Environment

Classroom Set Up

Position your toddler as close to their activities and/or supplies as possible.  

This helps to keep their physical activity at a minimum, and provides less chances of spilling, dumping, and dropping.  

It also provides a special space, just for your toddler and no one else.  

If your toddler is in their own space, your other kiddos will be able to keep their space to themselves.

Less distractions equals more productivity!  

Sunshine has her own special table in our learning environment.  It is right next to her shelves and is on the opposite wall as the other kiddos' activities and table.

This is not to say, your three year old is going to stay in one space.  I know Sunshine doesn't.  Provide a separate area for you toddler, away from learning time all together to get those wiggles out.  

When your toddler needs a break or decides they're done for the day, they can go to this space to relax, play, and/or run around.  

Our learning time room is right next to our living room.  If I leave the door open I can easily see Sunshine running around in the living room as the others work.

Promote Togetherness

Whether it be your calendar time, singing time, instruction time and/or reading time, include your toddler.  

Your toddler could simply hold up a picture or hold a manipulative of some kind, while you teach the others.  

When other siblings are taking turns, include your toddler, even if she's unable to actually participate effectively.  

Toddlers are very good at coming up with their own adaptations to activities you may think they're not ready for.  

Sunshine LOVES to be included, and quite frankly demands it.  Learning time is much easier when I've made sure to include her in everything we do in some way shape or form.

Encourage Independence

Plan and prepare activities for your toddler that don't require you to set up, clean up, help with, or do together during learning time.  

Your time and attention is going to be focused on your older kiddos (or baby).  

Of course if everyone else is busy, working independently, and successfully, it's fabulous to have the time to sit with your toddler and work together, but most often this is NOT going to be the case.  

When Sunshine first joined us, I was creating activities for her that required so much supervision and assistance from me.  I couldn't be in two places at once.  The consequences were quite disastrous. Neither one of us were enjoying ourselves.  

Now that she can work independently, without having to wait for me to help her, she's quiet, smiling, and working hard.  I love to see the expression on her face when she's completed a task successfully and independently!

We then set aside a special time together for just the two of us while the older kids are expected to work independently.

Focus on the Basics

Toddlers are learning at such a fast pace! Their little bodies and brains are growing and developing so rapidly.  I love how they have such a strong desire to learn and discover new things.  

As easy as it is to take advantage of this phase, and plan as many elaborate activities as you can, stick to the basics.  

So much of learning and developing occurs naturally in toddlers. When in a positive environment, they will thrive.  

Just remember this happens at their pace, which may be different than your expectations.

If you're reading this post, chances are you're already a parent who is providing a rich and positive environment for your child, full of opportunities for growth.  

When it comes to learning time, focus on the basics:

  • Colors
  • Shapes
  • Numbers
  • Letters
  • Vocabulary Skills  

If you're child's not ready for that yet, focus on simple fine motor tasks.  

Include some music, art, and physical activity, and learning time is sure to be a hit!  

Toddlers aren't going to do much writing, so the activities you plan will always include components that help develop fine motor skills and all that other stuff.

Remember that learning doesn't just take place in the classroom, it's happening during every minute of every day.  

My favorite teaching moments with Sunshine occur at the dinner table, when we go for walks, and/or at bedtime, as we read stories together, not necessarily in the classroom.

Sunshine wants to be in the classroom, so I follow her lead. If she did not want that, I would ensure she didn't have to.

Materials Are Everything!

In order to keep Sunshine entertained and occupied for any period of time, I need to provide her with materials that will keep her hands busy.  They must be her size and 100% safe and child friendly.

I find myself building up quite a collection of materials to keep on hand. So long as you have the space, don't hesitate in grabbing fun accessories for activities any time you see them. You can never have enough to rotate out.

Just be sure to not overwhelm your toddler with too many choices at one time.

Some of our favorite materials include:

Since all of my kiddos have sensory needs, I also always try to include some type of sensory experience on our shelves. The following are my go to fillers or bases.

  • Dried Beans
  • Uncooked Pasta
  • Corn Kernels
  • Play Dough
  • Uncooked White Rice
  • Food Coloring

It's also nice to be able to provide an easel, reading chair etc. 

At times these items just aren't possible due to room and/or finances.  This is okay!

Focus on Interests

Your toddler is going to be more willing to participate and stay occupied for longer periods of time when they're learning more about something they already love.  

As toddlers, all of my kiddos had very specific interests.  

Dinomite loved dinosaurs and emergency vehicles. 

Bulldozer was so passionate about whales and construction vehicles.  

Princess loved princesses.  (Go figure.)  

Sunshine loves animals and art.  

No matter what interest your child has, there's always a way to teach the basics we've talked about above.  

Perhaps your child loves farm animals and/or tractors? The possibilities are endless!  I can seriously picture an entire shelving unit filled with hands on activities in my head right now.  

Let your child guide you!

I hope this post is of help when transitioning your own toddler to a homeschool environment with older siblings or baby.  

The process can be quite the challenge.  

Remember to be patient with yourself, your child, and siblings.  

It's going to take time before everything goes as smoothly as you would like.  

After all toddlers are toddlers.  If we can make it through the transition, you can!

If you enjoyed this post, you may also enjoy the resources below.

Toddler Activities and Free Printables How Our Family Came to the Decision to Homeschool A Day in the Life of a Montessori Family With Special Needs Tot School ThemesMontessori-inspired Math Bead Bar Play Dough Mats Bundle Montessori Letters and Sounds Play Dough Mats

1 comment:

  1. Great information! I will have to take note when the next child comes along... ;)