The question all homeschool moms of many kids get is “How do you keep the younger ones busy while the older ones do schoolwork?” This answer is different for every family and it’s not always easy. Everyday is also different.
My daughter is my oldest with 2 younger brothers so she and I don’t even know what it’s like without someone under foot while we do schoolwork. So I thought I would share with you what has worked for us so far.
This year I have a 5, 3 and 1 year old. We are doing Kindergarten and Preschool. My 3 year old only does preschool work as long as he wants to. Some days it’s not at all. Since our homeschool space is attached to our playroom, he is usually pretty good about just playing by himself or with his younger brother while I do schoolwork with my daughter. On those days that he needs something to do I have a few things for him.
1) Blocks. We have a lot of different types of building toys, so I’ll pull out a new one each time and have him build. Shapemags, Lincoln logs, lego duplos, or just pull out the game of Jenga and let him play with the pieces. We also have this bin of blocks with a shape sorter on the top. I will dump them all out and tell him he has to put them all back through the shape slots.
2) Stickers. My son loves stickers! I can give him a page of stickers and a piece of paper and he will stick all the stickers to the page. For a simple activity I will put some numbers in boxes and have him place that many stickers in each box.
3) Puzzles. I will pull out a wooden puzzle and make it different by putting the pieces around the room for him to find or hiding them inside our stackable blocks/cups. I also made this color matching puzzle just using clothespins and paint swatches from Home Depot.
When we are all at the table together doing schoolwork, my 1 year old usually wants to be at the table also, getting into everything- crayons, pencils, notebooks, math manipulatives, everything! So I try to be pro active and have some things set aside just for him. My kids call this “baby school.” 😆
1) “New toys.” On Sunday nights I will go through the kids toys and pull out a few things and put it in this bin. I keep this bin hidden in the closet all week. Each day I will bring out a toy from the bin and since they haven’t seen it in a while it’s like it is “new” and gets played with forever. 🙌🏼
2) Sometimes I also put together activities and have them ready to keep him busy.
This O-ball and ribbon has been PRICELESS for our school-time! I took his toy O-ball and put a bunch of colorful ribbon inside. He loves to sit and pull the ribbon pieces out. Great fine motor practice and he will do this over and over!
I have a bin of large pom pom balls and an old Gerber Puff’s snack container that he puts them in. He will sit and play with these pom poms for a while putting them in and out of different cups, bowls, etc.
***To find TONS more ideas to keep their hands busy check out my Challenge Jar post HERE.
3) Panda Crates from KiwiCo. These are AMAZING! KiwiCo is a subscription box full of hands on learning activities for ages 0 up to 18 years old. Each delivery includes age- and stage-specific products (stem activities, games, and toys) designed by experts and backed by researchers. We have tried the Koala crate and Kiwi crate boxes and love them! Now we get the Panda crate bimonthly for my youngest and it has been so great!
Our first box was the “Count with Me” box and it is packed with quality made toys and activities that he can explore and play with while we do schoolwork. Counting cards, stacking cups, color matching puzzle, sorting bags, shape puzzles and a book we’re all in his box this month! They also come with an small magazine and activity cards for ideas on other ways to use each item. He is loving it and we can’t wait to get out next one!
For more information on KiwiCo subscription boxes check them out HERE.
Use the link HERE to get a $10 off your first box! Be sure to purchase through this link to get the $10 off. We pay $19 every other month (and you can cancel at any time), so you could get your first box, like this one, for just $9 with this discount! 👏🏻
4) SNACKS! You can never go wrong with keeping their hands and mouths busy with some snacks. ☺️
Everyday with little ones and homeschool looks different. Somedays work out great and they are occupied while we get schoolwork done, other days I have a screaming baby on my hip and one yelling he is bored. I try to stay screen free as much as possible, but sometimes you just have those days when you have to turn on a show or movie for the younger ones. Somedays we are able to do schoolwork outside while they run around and play. Somedays we even just have to wait until nap time to get anything done.
In the end, I enjoy that we are all together. It can be challenging, but this is just a stage that will end all too soon. We have to enjoy it and make the best of it while we can. 😊