Sometimes Eliza is eating while we do school. Other times she’s playing with toys in her high chair (as pictured, with magnet boards). She also is happy to roam around pulling things out of baskets and making huge messes. It could be because she’s the fourth child, but I’m much more tolerant of the mess making. What? You want to pull 478 different magnet letters, puzzle pieces, shape tiles, and blocks out and mix them up while I teach your brother how to diagram sentences? Go for it, babycakes!
I’m kidding. Partially.
With older siblings around, I have the freedom to designate someone as the babysitter while I do Office Time with another child. The watcher’s main job is to keep Eliza safe, prevent her from ingesting poison, and keep her occupied. Sarah usually finishes her school work earlier than the others, so she often plays blocks or My Little Ponies with Eliza. Hannah and Jack just keep an eye on Eliza while they do other assignments.
We’re sort of in an in-between phase, but Eliza still sometimes takes a morning nap. On those days, we try to cram Office Times in while she sleeps.
Then there are the times when we look up from one-on-one teaching time and see this adorable face peering in at us. It’s hard to resist, so sometimes Eliza is allowed to crash Office Time. She tries to scribble in notebooks, pulls bookmarks out of books, climbs all over us, and otherwise
distracts us teaches us how to focus.
I do think it’s good to be able to work while there is distraction around–not all the time, but every now and then. In life, there aren’t many times when you have the luxury of completely silent focus and yet you still have to be productive.
But for the most part we rely on sibling babysitting, naps, and designated school time toys to keep Eliza occupied while I’m teaching. She sits on my lap during read-alouds and quietly plays pretty well nearby when we’re doing our subjects together.
I’m trying to make more of an effort now to read board books and picture books to Eliza. I want her to know and love the favorites we spent years with when the other kids were little. Some days I fit it in when we’re in the rocking chair up in her room, and other days it’s just here and there when she brings me a book. I know I’m not reading as many picture books to her as I did to the older kids when they were her age, but maybe it’s about the same amount of time since she does listen in on the school reading. And I do plan to keep up daily nursery rhymes, Aesop, poetry, fables, fairy tales, etc in our reading rotation because those are important for baby linguistic development as well as enjoyable for everyone else.
So that’s baby-schooling for us. If you have babies or toddlers in your homeschool, how do you handle it?