How We Homeschool: Homeschooling With a Toddler Underfoot

Please be advised that this post does not offer a solution to the seeming impossibility of getting through a day of homeschooling older children with a toddler underfoot without frustration, tears, or an disastrously messy house. I’ve read all those posts, and frankly, the impossibility is not seeming, it is actual.

No,  I’m not going to share with you 10 ways to keep your toddler busy for a solid hour so that you will be freed up to study Shakespeare uninterrupted with your older children because:

(A) all those pinteresty toddler activities require more time to set-up/clean-up than you will get back in peace and quiet, and

(B) toddlers are only completely occupied when they are up to no good. Ahem.

Homeschool with a toddler?! We can't even manage to empty the dishwasher!
Homeschool with a toddler?! We can’t even manage to empty the dishwasher!

I’m just going to share with you how I am currently homeschooling my 8 and 5 year olds while my 19 month old attempts to burn the house down,  electrocute herself, or make herself a snack. I’m sure she was trying to do one of those things yesterday when I caught her putting a knife in the toaster and pressing the lever….

So this is how we homeschool with a toddler underfoot (or under the table, or ON the table):

We do morning time or read alouds until i get tired of having the book ripped from my hand or sat on. Then we do something else and try again later.

We keep our lessons short and my girls take turns playing with or reading to the toddler while I work with their sibling. We move on to something else or take a break when said toddler climbs on top of the table, finds a pen and destroys someone’s work, or hangs off of mama’s leg sobbing.

We do our memory work with our memory card box during meals when the toddler is strapped into the high chair and can’t dump all the cards on the floor (which of course irreparably effects the whole system).

We stack unused chairs on the table or bungee them to the table to keep our little climber off, especially if we are working with paint, chalks, or markers.

Homeschooling with a Toddler Underfoot
Putting all the chairs on top of the table doesn’t help much when you’re so cute you get an invite onto a lap!

We allow her to sit with us at the table and scribble or play with the math manipulatives until she climbs on the table or starts writing on the papers of others.

Homeschooling with a Toddler Underfoot

We kiss, tickle, and smile at her every time we walk past her.

We laugh at her antics.

We try to get her to repeat funny words or imitate funny faces and laugh with her often.

We try to enjoy just about every moment of her cuteness and love her to bits. She’s just so much fun, and we know that all too soon she will be past this challenging stage and into another.

Homeschooling with a Toddler Underfoot - Doesn't she look studious?
Doesn’t she look studious?

Are you homeschooling with a toddler underfoot?


Classically Homeschooling


  1. Erin @Nourishing My Scholar December 14, 2015 at 12:46 pm

    Whoa! This sounds like our toddler! You captured the constant mischievousness perfectly!

    1. Learning Mama December 14, 2015 at 3:28 pm

      Constant mischievousness is exactly right! This one is my busiest toddler yet — or it could also be that she is my least supervised toddler yet LOL!

  2. Amy December 21, 2015 at 10:15 pm

    I love how you are just plain realistic here =) I think having the older kids take turns playing/watching the toddler sounds like the best plan…but what do I know…no toddlers here right now…it just SOUNDS good =)

    1. Learning Mama December 22, 2015 at 7:30 am

      It’s the only thing that is even remotely working at this time …. 🙂

  3. Sarah March 3, 2016 at 2:04 pm

    I definitely need to start having the older kids take turns playing with our toddler. I think he is slowing taking away any shred of sanity I still had!

    1. Learning Mama March 3, 2016 at 2:08 pm

      Shred of sanity LOL! That about sums it up, doesn’t it?

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