Homeschooling with Babies, Toddlers, and Preschoolers: Part I

Jessie Wilcox Smith

Years ago a public schoolteacher in our former church would ask me with true concern each time she learned I was once again pregnant, “Are you still going to homeschool after you have this baby?” This well-intentioned older woman was not completely sold on the idea to start with, and she could not imagine how I could add another baby and continue to adequately instruct the other children. The truth was that adding the new baby would probably not be that difficult. The question she ought to have been asking was how I was going to homeschool with two or three toddlers! 

Probably the homeschooling question I've been asked, often by a frazzled mom, more than any other through the years is, “But what do I do with my toddler (and/or baby) while I’m trying to teach the other kids?” Our first twenty or so years of homeschooling we always had at least one, often two or three, and for a time, four children in the preschool and under crowd. So these past few years when all the children are school age and above have felt like the oddity. Happily, since my memory is like a sieve, I have notes I made years ago when I was in the thick of things.

First, some preliminaries that apply no matter what the number and ages of your children. First, remember that it is God who has ordered your family! So, you don't need to waste time thinking that if only you didn't have a baby/toddler/preschooler (or four teenagers, I could add these days!) things would be different. You'd be able to accomplish more, like Mrs. So-and-so. No! For your family, including for each one of your children, the arrangement He has given is best – for all of you! 

When I am tempted to think this way I remember a family we knew years ago when we lived in Asheville, NC. One of the boys in Tim's junior high youth group had ADHD and had trouble transitioning to junior high, so his parents decided that it would be helpful to bring him home for school for a year or two. His mother, a former teacher, was an excellent instructor, but her life was already full with the care of several other siblings and many young foster children who lived in their happy, but crowded mobile home. Paul did not have a quiet place to study, but he worked amidst the creative clamor of the little guys. An interesting thing happened: Paul learned to tune out the noise of the toddlers and to focus in ways he never had when he was attending public school. The next year he applied for and earned a fantastic scholarship to a prestigious private school in the area, and, yes, he was able to pay attention and study hard in the bricks and mortar school. His time at home amid the little people had given him the gift of focus.

One more note. The task of raising godly children is more than you can handle. It is far more than I can handle. Don't try to do it on your own. PRAY daily for grace, wisdom, and strength. Your own power will never make the grade, but God's provision will be sufficient.

Next: Homeschooling with babies


Anonymous said…
Thank you for this timely post! Due date is Tuesday, and I'm hoping this little one comes after laundry and housecleaning get finished, and before they get undone again;-) It was good to be reminded that God's timing (short term or long term) is good. I'm looking forward to the rest of the series.
Jessi Thornhill said…
I am so glad you took notes. :) Next year, I'll have a preschooler and toddler around while we start our first year of homeschooling. (And a baby is completely possible, God willing.)

I'm looking forward to reading the rest of this, and thank you for the admonition to turn to God in prayer and not try to do things on my own power.
Anne said…
Sure hope that what is coming will be truly helpful to those of you with little ones! I'm up to my eyeballs with finishing Peter's high school records so he can get his college applications in, but as soon as that's done, I hope to finish this series.

Becky - can't wait to hear that your little one has arrived!

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